4 Tips That Helped Me Organize My Closet

And I (kind of) achieved that goal.

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That's not even all of it, because I'm ashamed to show the rest to you, my friends.

I think I can confidently say I have one of the worst closets in America.

I can barely close the door because it's so piled up with clothes—a mix of clean and dirty, because it truly is mayhem in there—towels, sheets, and aprons. (I've been trying to cook, OK?) I think there are even some nail polish bottles sprinkled in there.

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So when Anuschka Rees's book, The Curated Closet, landed on my desk, I saw my shining opportunity to finally clean out the skeletons in my closet! Because at that particular moment, I couldn't tell you with any real certainty whether there were any actual bones in there.

If my clothing rack looked like this, my life would be so great. I just know it.
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Rees is the blogger behind Into Mind, and she wants to help you edit down your wardrobe to make room for the items that really matter. Minimalism is a running theme throughout her writing, and she aims to inspire her readers to focus on quality, rather than fast-fashion quantity. Unlike Marie Kondo's organization manual, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—which I tried, and inevitably failed to adopt because of the urgency to "tidy up" in one day—Rees's guide is more about curating your wardrobe around how you live.

That's Anuschka Rees—the wardrobe queen. Photograph courtesy of Benjamin Thies

So I decided to put some of Rees's principles to the test. What better time to try to turn a corner than when the seasons are also mid-transition?

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Here's how I modified, learned, and captured the spirit of Rees's closet philosophy.

Principle No. 1: Document Your Style

The first part of my assignment is to take photos of all the outfits I've worn over a two-week period. My schedule isn't consistent enough to accommodate much of a routine—aside from my skin-care regimen, of course—so I skip the photo-a-day thing. Instead, I work from memory.

But seriously, will I be?
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A questionnaire is provided in the book, and I answer the questions honestly. What was my favorite outfit of the past couple of weeks? It would have to be the one with my cropped jeans, white T-shirt, beaded jacket, and Michael Kors boots, because I felt casual and also super put-together while wearing it.


This might be my favorite outfit of 2016.
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My worst outfit? Black jeans with a T-shirt riddled with stains—I mostly hate this one because the pants grew baggy over the day (an indicator of their cheapness), and I was worried people thought I looked dirty because of the stains. Sigh.

Identifying my least favorite outfits is useful because it helps me determine which pieces I already don't like wearing. Instead of hanging onto those, and wearing them with a less-than-confident attitude, I should eliminate them altogether to make room for the clothes that really make me feel good. Time to come to terms with some harsh realities.

Principle No. 2: Describe Your Aesthetic In Words

It's a little tricky for me to describe my style. I do have a method for getting dressed, which involves mixing and matching similar-looking tops and bottoms throughout the week (or until I do laundry again), but I have a hard time defining my actual "style," or what I want it to be.

Still, I give it a shot.

I guess this is the real me.

The words that come to me are: simple, weird, sophisticated, and cool. I think I'm halfway there—but, due to the sheer amount of stuff in my closet, I often struggle to find the right clothing combinations through which to build a sophisticated look. Rees's method dictates that once you define how you dress, it will be easier to pick out what pieces fit into the aesthetic you're trying to create. Basically, why crowd your rack with things that you wouldn't actually want to wear?

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Principle No. 3: Weed Out the Unnecessary

I have a lot of unwanted things in my wardrobe, items that are clearly no longer relevant to my life.

I have green hair, for God's sake.

I dump all of my clothes in the middle of the floor, separating them into the categories Rees recommends: trash, keepsake, donate, and sell.

The keepsake pile is problematic. It's meant to be filled only with items I both love and know how to work into my style profile, but, of course, there are still some losers in the pile when all of my arranging is done.

This is a perfectly nice dress, but it's just not for me. The last time I wore it was at my friend's 21st birthday dinner. She turned 25 last week.

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Pikachu, Nikes, and Crocs—is there a theme or nah?

There's the cool sheer black lace dress that I've had in my closet for two years, but have worn only worn once. But I still think I can do something with it in the future, so it's a keeper.

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I found this sheer dress at a vintage shop in Austin, Texas, so it has some sentimental value, which counts!

Those bright green crocs? They're definitely here to stay, because comfort is key.

I'm too overwhelmed to do this all in one day, so I decide to shove everything that's leaving the building back into my closet, and hang up the things I love on my garment rack.

This is a good restart, I think!

Principle No. 4: Edit the Way You Shop

I'm not the best shopper, according to Rees, as fast-fashion buys and low-quality garments aren't the answer—and that's usually the way I go. I rummage through sale racks and bins because that's a skill that runs in my family. But, as I've gotten older, I've become more particular, so I've been slowly but surely moving toward the practices Rees wants me to live by.

She's definitely watching me shop. For sure.

I read reviews for the first time ever, and opt out of getting something because it was rated poorly—despite its tempting $11 price—and I actually buy the higher-quality items available. Finally, I have a white T-shirt that won't rip within a month! Instead of burning through them, I can have a few that last, thus saving money. And really, I mostly just care about saving money!

I also buy some other things that I consider to be crucial basics: gray and black tees, a white button up, and two more pairs of jeans to round out my bottoms rotation for the cooler season. Go, me!

In the end, my closet still isn't super-organized, but once I send off the donation boxes and take out the trash pile, I'll be well on my way to having a more minimal closet. Stay tuned to my Snapchat, @chanelinezp, to see if I'll ever reach my #wardrobegoals.

Starting today, find The Curated Closet for $25 on penguinrandomhouse.com.

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