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Closet Organization and Fashion Upkeep Advice

by habituallychic

01 . 08 . 24

I took some time off last week for a quick trip to Boston but now that I’m back, I need to get started on all my apartment organizing and decluttering projects. The big issue most people tackle in the new year is the dreaded closet clean out. I usually post a closet inspiration post each year but I thought it would be better to post some practical advice and products to help you this year. I’ve posted many of them in my Instagram Stories in the past but it will be nice to have them all in one place now too.

The best advice I can give when it comes to cleaning out your closet is to do one at a time. Most of you probably live in big houses with multiple closets so try not to take on more than you can handle in one day or weekend so you don’t get overwhelmed. Even in NYC, I’m lucky enough to have a large clothing closet and a hall coat closet. That’s my coat closet on the left after I organized it a few years ago. It definitely doesn’t look that neat and tidy now. This month is a great time to clean out coats since there are coat drives happening in most cities. I know in NYC you can drop them off at firehouses but you may want to double check that they are all accepting coats before you head there with a pile. It’s also a great time to give away and donate clothing and coats your children have outgrown.

If you have a little more time, ambition, and energy, you may want to paint or decorate your closet. I loved the palm wallpaper in my closet at the Edition Hotel in Miami. The double bar was a little weird though so I don’t recommend that impractical system.

It is also a good time to take everything out and dust and clean the closet interior as well. It’s more time consuming but when you take everything out, you can see things that have been hiding in the back that you haven’t seen in a while.

The general rule of thumb is to donate, sell, or give away clothing you haven’t worn in a year. Can you create new outfits with a piece you haven’t worn or is it time to finally get rid of it? It’s also a good time to try things on to make sure they still fit or need alterations or repair. I think a lot of us aren’t judicious enough when we clean out our closets and maybe now is the time to finally be ruthless.

I have a habit of buying clothing I like in multiple colors. Sometimes I wear and love them all but other times, they languish in the closet. I wore the navy Cos knit cardigan and matching skirt to death this fall but I have yet to wear the brown set. If I don’t wear it this spring, it might be time to donate that color. I’d really like to be a bit more careful with how much I buy this year as well. I really don’t need anymore grey cashmere sweaters no matter how much I think I do. And don’t get me started on how many shoes I own for a person who works at home.

Once you’ve pulled out what you want to donate, I highly recommend putting the stuff in these Extra Large Checked Bags. I cannot take credit for these. My friend Marguerite suggested them to me and the fact that they have a zipper top and handle make them much easier to transport than garbage bags.

In NYC, many of us drop things off at Housing Works who have many locations around the city. The hardest part is making the donation without buying something new on the way out. They will only come to your apartment to pick up furniture but you can also give them clothing donations when they do.

I have a few designer pieces I need to sell but I haven’t sold anything on commission in a long time. Places to look into for reselling designer clothing and accessories are ReSee, Fashionphile, and Rebag. ReSee actually has the products the are selling in their procession and mails them out directly which I appreciate. The RealReal is getting very mixed reviews lately. They tend to list items very low which is great for buyers but not sellers. I’ve also had mixed experiences with Vestiaire lately. It’s frustrating that sellers who do not answer messages or send the item you purchased are allowed to continue selling on their platform. Poshmark is also a bit of a mixed bag but it’s great for finding less expensive designers and pieces you want to replace. I don’t have any experience with ThredUp and I’m unclear on how you can make any money selling when they resell items for such low prices.

You can also check out consignment shops in your area to resell clothing and accessories.

My most important advice for this year is to find a tailor you like and trust. I can always tell when a celebrity has borrowed a blazer or coat when the sleeves are too long. I get the majority of my clothing tailored because it’s rare that something off the rack will fit people of different heights and weights. I will even take pieces from Zara to be tailored so the hem or sleeve length is perfect.

In NYC, I have been going to the Nordstrom UES local outpost for tailoring. I usually book an appointment with the same tailor who pins and fits clothing so she now knows my preferences. The problem is that she doesn’t tailor all my pieces. I’m finding that the quality of the work can vary which is frustrating especially when they have raised their prices significantly.

I’ve also used Ignacio Tailor in New York who are great with tailored items and menswear but they are also very expensive.

Another less expensive option is to ask your drycleaner if they can do alternations. I used to go to mine all the time until she closed. I have tried a few others and it works best when I pin my own clothes and take them to them to just shorten a hem. If you are new to getting your clothes altered, I suggest working with a tailor first who can advise you on the best lengths for your height. Make sure you take the shoes you plan to wear with the trousers, skirts, and dresses you plan to have hemmed because the shoe style and heel height will make a difference.

Now that you’ve cleaned out your closet, it’s time to look at your hangers. I’ll be honest, I don’t love velvet hangers. I gave them a try but they felt cheap and would often break. Last year, I switched to Neat Method Everyday Hangers and I’ve been very happy with that choice. The hangers are very thin yet strong and are rubberized to grip clothing. I have black on black but they also offer black hangers with gold hardware and white with black or gold. I just ordered the Everyday Hanger Clips so I can hang the matching skirt underneath the top and save more room in my closet.

For pants, I have the Black Wooden Hangers with Clips. I prefer to have as much hanging in my closet as possible, even knits (I know, gasp), so things are wrinkle free and ready to be worn.

To store off season pieces like sweaters, I use these Cotton/PEVA Natural Sweater Bags that come in a set of two. They are great because they are breathable but you can see what’s in them. The larger size is great for blankets and bulkier items. I also have the Cotton Gusseted Natural Bag in Jacket and Coat lengths to store wool items in the summer.

One thing you need to realize regarding moths is that they are attracted to the food stains on your wool sweaters more than the actual sweater itself. Make sure you clean your wool and cashmere sweaters and other pieces before you put them back in your closet. But it’s good to use cedar pieces to deter them in the first place. I am thinking of swapping out all my coat hangers for these Cedar Coat Hangers. If you need more cedar hangers, I suggest this 30 Pack of Red Cedar Hangers. A great thing to line your sweater shelves and drawers with is this Cedar Drawer and Closet Shelf Liner. I bought cedar rings to hang on my hangers from a sweater company but these Cedar Essence Rings are much less expensive.

I prefer to do my own laundry since we have two washers and two dryers in my building. Most drop off laundry places in NYC are too harsh on clothes.

I think this year might be the one where I try to go Free and Clear when it comes to my laundry detergent. OxiClean is amazing at getting out stains and reviving whites and I just noticed they have a version Free of Dyes and Perfumes now. You do need to be careful when you use it with colors. It’s my own fault. By leaving some sit on a stain on my duvet cover with liquid detergent, it got on the trim color took some of the color out but luckily it was on the bottom hem and not too noticeable. The Gel Stick is great for getting out makeup on a collar if you use it with a little brush.

I only hand wash some thin cashmere sweaters in my sink with The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo. I know drycleaning is bad but it takes too long for the heavy sweaters to dry. Chemical drycleaning is the only thing that will kill moths so I dryclean all my wool and cashmere pieces at the end of the season before I put them away.

I can’t remember who it is but someone on Instagram washes their cashmere sweaters in the washer. I have a pair of merino wool lounge pants and I think I might try to wash them with one sweater I own in multiples to see how they fare. The merino wool pieces I bought from Cos and Banana Republic for fall come out perfectly when I machine wash them and hang them to dry.

I own multiple delicate bags so I can separate my different colored lingerie, socks, and tights for the wash. If you need a new laundry bag, these two pack of Extra Large Cotton Laundry Bags are a good neutral choice. You can use them inside laundry hampers so you can just pull out the bag and keep the hamper itself clean.

Not sure if you can see in the photo but there is a drying rack sitting in front of the open window in Paris. Most French apartments have washers but not all have dryers. I actually hang up a lot of clothes to dry because I think clothes last longer when you don’t subject them to the heat of the dryer.

When I went to find the Foldable Laundry Rack I own, the website said I purchased it in 2015 so I can attest that it is durable and lasts a long time. The Gullwing Drying Rack is the one you often see in Europe and the Sweater Drying Rack is the best for drying knits.

Some people like Martha Stewart find ironing relaxing. I used to find it more pleasurable and would often put on a movie or tv show while I ironed. Now I find myself too busy to fully appreciate the task but I don’t trust anyone to iron up to my standards. I’m one of those who prefers ironed sheets and no one can can get them to look as perfect, especially for photo shoots.

They key to ironing is a good iron and Rowenta makes the best. The Rowenta Pro Master Stainless Steel Soleplate Steam Iron is the one I use now. You will never get a cotton shirt or dress crisp if you don’t use an iron but Rowenta are great because you can also steam horizontally and vertically when you just want to refresh an item. However, you must wait for the iron to get hot before you try to use the steam function or it will just drip and spit water onto your clothes.

There really isn’t much difference in ironing boards but if you want to hang it up, you need one with a straight t-leg like this Full Size Ironing Board. Someone really needs to make more attractive covers but this Floral Ironing Board Cover and Pad is a good start.

In order to get cotton shirts and sheets very crisp and wrinkle free, you need to spray them with water from a spray bottle and use starch. I prefer Niagra Heavy Starch which I only use on shirt collars and dress belts but it’s especially great for sheets if you need them to look absolutely perfect for a photo shoot.

For those of you who prefer steamers, I do own this cute Portable Travel Steamer. I thought it would be great for winter when I mostly wear knits but I rarely use it because I prefer to iron so I can get a crease in my trousers.

Every year when I post cashmere sweaters, the big question that comes up is do they pill. I hate to break it to you but almost all sweaters pill. We can’t have reasonable prices, soft cashmere, and no pills but even the expensive cashmere pills because of rubbing. Some people claim it’s because the yarn isn’t made how it used to be but the sweaters that didn’t pill in the past were probably scratchy wool. I’ll take soft cashmere and a sweater that pills any day over itchy wool.

I used to love the small Evercare Sweater Shaver because they were small and easy to pack for travel. They stopped working as well and the new replacement wasn’t any better so I decided to upgrade to this two speed Beautural Fabric Shaver and Lint Remover. It is the best decision I ever made since it’s the Rolls Royce of shavers. It comes with two extra blades, a guard, a cover, little brush, and a storage bag. It takes batteries which I prefer to a rechargeable battery because I cannot plug one more thing in to charge in my apartment without losing my mind. They are never ready when you want to use them and die quickly while batteries work much longer.

If you’ve never shaved a sweater before, start on the low setting with the guard. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase the speed. I use the shaver without the guard on high speed on heavy cashmere sweaters but you must be extra careful with featherweight and thin cashmere sweaters so you don’t create a hole.

I learned the hard way in 2014 that European lint rollers are no where near as good at removing lint as American ones. I love the Evercare Extreme Stick Lint Rollers and always make sure there is one in my suitcase when I travel.

Winter is also a great time to take a look and your spring and summer shoes. Did you get them repaired or resoled after you wore them all summer? Of course you didn’t, so take the time now to get them freshened up so they are ready for when you need them.

I read that Kiwi shoe polish is hard to find now because fewer people are polishing their shoes. That’s a depressing thought. I think it’s good to have some on hand so you can touch up little spots between trips to the cobbler. This 12 Piece Travel Shoe Polish Kit is nice because everything you need is contained in one place. I had to take a new pair of loafers to my shoe guy to be stretched and then back again because it felt like they hadn’t even done the right shoe. I’m buying this Foot Matters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretch Spray so I can stretch some pairs at home.

One thing I’ve noticed this past year is that some designer shoes don’t have elastic under the strap buckle. This makes sandals a bit tight in warm weather when your feet swell. my shoe guy can add it which I’ve had him do a few times and it makes a big difference. Cobblers can also stretch boots shafts and narrow ones that are too big. Before you get rid of a pair of boots or shoes that have an issue, see if they can be fixed.

Another thing you should think of using to prolong the life of your shoes are cedar shoe trees. These shoe trees come in two packs for men and women. They “naturally absorb moisture, sweat, and odor, keeping your shoes smelling fresh and new”.

You should also try not to wear the same shoes, boots, or sneakers two days in a row so they can dry out. I especially try to do this when I am in Paris walking more every day.

I hope this gives you the motivation to do some closet organizing and clothing repair soon. If you didn’t feel motivated to do anything so far this month, all the astrologers are saying that the new moon on Thursday, January 11th is going to be the best time to start new projects for 2024.

Happy New Year!