Home organization shows make for fine TV. The disheveled "before" shot juxtaposed with the tidy "after" one indulges viewers almost as much as a glamorous makeover. Brenda Prinzavalli, local organizing strategist, has just one problem with those shows.
"Their downfall is that they make people think they can do it in 20 minutes," she says.
If anything disproves that notion, it's a woman's closet. Prinzavalli typically spends four to six hours on these projects, but at least one consumed 12 hours.
The time comes down to the emotions involved. A woman's closet stores the items that determine her self-image, with which she can have a love-hate relationship. It also holds sentiment, pieces of clothing she associates with monumental moments. Organizing all that can get ugly. But, if done right, the result makes for a very pretty "after" shot.
Here's how to get an organized closet of your own.
This isn't strictly about size, as most women will insist they need an expansion. Rather, it's about effectively working with what you've already got.
Determine how much folded, stacked clothing you have and how much hanging and double-hanging clothing you have. Next, accommodate it. Shelves, dividers, peg holes and drawers can all transform the way you see your clothes, which will impact the way you dress.
All too often, Prinzavalli says, clothes are out of sight out and of mind. If everything is visible, you won't have to go digging for the day's wares. All it takes is a little compartmentalizing.
Before rushing out to The Container Store, be sure to measure each designated space and consider its function. Ask yourself, "What's going in the container?" says Prinzavalli. "If it's a drawer, does it need to be deep or shallow?"
Next, consider grouping. Divide all the skirts, dresses and jackets so that they hang with like items. Color coordinate them from white to black. This way, finding your beige high-waist slacks amid a sea of slacks becomes a cinch. You can do the same with tops and pants, or you can switch it up.
Tops can be categorized according to style, instead of color. Strappy tops, long-sleeve blouses and tunics all grouped together, for instance.
The hardest part of organizing a closet will always be its contents. Laura Rubeli, local image consultant, has a three-question system she uses for every garment in a closet.
1. Would you buy it if you saw it in a store today?
2. Does the article of clothing fit into your life now?
3. Does it represent the image you want to portray?
"Those questions are guaranteed to get rid of 50 percent of what's cluttering your closet," she says.
And, less clutter means less stress getting dressed every morning.
A common problem will be that you answer all three questions positively, but have nothing to pair the garment with. If that's the case, take a picture of the article of clothing and take it on your next shopping trip. You might also ask a friend to style a few challenging pieces for you and photograph them for memory.
Keep the camera handy when you organize your shoes. Rubeli recommends storing footwear in the same boxes they came in. Take a photo of them and tape it to the outside of the box, so you don't have to rifle through each one to find what you're looking for.
NEAR AND DEAR
One of the most difficult aspects of organizing a closet, Rubeli says, is the sentimental value some garments have.
If Aunt Tilly bestowed you with a sweater a month before she passed, feel free to hold onto it - but not in your closet. Rubeli recommends storing it away, the same way you would with seasonal clothing. She ultimately tries to persuade clients to remove it completely, though.
"Keep the love, get rid of the gift," she advises.
Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.