I walked into my closet the other day and just walked right back out. I'd been putting it off cleaning out the closet forever, but the time has come that I must get rid of some things. (Disclosure - my closet is not some Pinterest paradise closet, I designed it to hang almost everything and there's no fancy wooden cabinets, etc, but it works for me!).
Here are some tips I have learned over the years that have worked when I implement them (and sometimes I'm a 12 year old child whose clothes end up on the floor). A lot of what I've been doing over the years is also listed in Chalene Johnson's podcast about cleaning out the closet, if you need additional motivation, take a listen to her on Itunes.
1) This one is obvious, but get rid of what you are not wearing. For realz. Sometimes I hold on to a piece because I want to be that person who wears that little black skirt and look so cute. The reality is that little black skirt is two sizes too small and it's no where near cute on me. Be honest with yourself on what works and what doesn't. (confession: I may hold on to a classic, quality piece that I love even if it's a little snug IF I HAVE THE ROOM. You can't totally kill the dream all in one day. Surely I can lose five pounds??But if there's no room, the skirt goes).
2) Hang up as much as you can. If you have the room, hang it so that you can see it and it doesn't end up all wadded up in some drawer and you forget about it. Bonus - less wrinkles too! In my first house, my closet was half this size, but it still worked for me because I was pretty good at just keeping what I truly wore.
3) Organize clothes by color, long sleeves, short sleeves, pants and jackets/coats. I did this about two years ago and shockingly it's still in place and I LOVE IT! Why? Because in the past I'd spend 15-20 minutes searching for my blue shirt, only to finally remember it was wadded up in the laundry basket. Now I can go to the long sleeve section, look in the blue shirt area and see that it's not there, and that there's a hanger waiting for it, so it's obviously dirty. Game changer! It's also kind of neat to notice what color you obviously like to wear (blue/black) and what colors you hardly ever buy (why don't I have anything cute and purple??).
4) Use hanging shoe racks and other hanging organizers. These are fabulous for everything under the sun. I put pajamas and yoga pants in the larger ones, so I can just grab what's on top and go. The only thing I keep in drawers are undies, tights/hose and socks.
I put a china cabinet in my closet that holds those in the drawer and my scarves are kept behind the glass doors so it's easy to see what I have. (It was my grandmother's, I'm pretty sure she would be appalled that undies are in there instead of china). My shoes are in the bottom. I know, right? Where are all the shoes??? Purses?? I'm just not a 100 pairs of shoes/purses kinda girl. I get rid of what I don't wear/use every year so I just don't need that much space for shoes and accessories (but I do love them!). I use decorative boxes on the top shelf to hold things I rarely use (my bathing suit, lol).
If you don't have hanging space and need to put more into drawers, my friend, Sheri Bertolini is an amazing organizer, and has taught me when using smaller drawers, if possible set each piece vertically with the fold facing up, as if they were hanging files. You can see what you have and not take up near as much room. Here's that post on her site and browse around if you'd like a huge amount of great organizing tips!
4) Decorate your closet, make it a nice place to be. It doesn't have to be a large walk-in to make it pleasant. Use matching hangers. I have wooden ones (Ebay). I like how they look and I have the space for them so it works for me, however, I'd recommend velvet hangers if you have a smaller closet because the wooden ones take up A LOT of space. I don't know if there is a difference in quality regarding the velvet ones, but I saw a large bundle of them at Burke's yesterday for $10. If you do have the space, hang pics, a little chandelier, fuzzy rug, an ottoman, whatever makes you happy, because if you're like me, you are in there a lot! (Ahem, I may or may not have hidden from my children and eaten chocolate in there at one time or another. Cleaning out the closet does have it's advantages).
If you are in the same boat and need to purge, good luck on cleaning out your closet! Spring is almost here and you'll have a headstart!