Monthly Archives: October 2009

How I learned to purge my clothes closet

Now that the fall season is upon us and winter is at our heels, I finally got down to business yesterday cleaning my clothes closets. I do this periodically, in season or not, only because I can’t stand a messy closet. My motto: Clean closet, restful soul. The same goes for what’s under my bed.

But after a morning spent purging, folding, hanging and sorting, I barely made a dent. Oh sure, I dumped the obvious – a stained blouse, shoes that are painful to wear (no matter how many Dr. Scholl pads I put in them), boxy, unfitted jackets and forest green trousers that make my ass look twice its size (what was I thinking?)

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The purple boots get tossed

But I held onto items – a pair of purple tweed boots with stiletto heels and a green quilted suede jacket, for example, things I had not worn in years. I had no compelling reason to keep it or to toss it. I was in organizational limbo.

As a result, I still had a closet full of clothes and shoes and handbags taking up precious space. And to be honest, the excuse for holding on to these things has nothing to do with sentimental attachment  (like when it’s time to let go of your daughters’ baby clothes). Nope. It’s because, you never know when you’ll need a pair of purple ankle boots. Right.  Everybody knows that defense would never hold up in the Stacy and Clinton court of law.

This morning I worked on a client’s SWOT analysis, a method used to evaluate a business project based on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When I was a kid, my dad called this “The Ben Franklin Method.” Probably, Ben used this method to determine that a volunteer fire department was a good idea or that this country needed a post office.

Indeed, a SWOT analysis can be highly effective in determining whether an organization keeps or nixes a project . So I was thinking: could it work for deciding whether to toss a pair of shoes?  

As it turns out, it can.

Although a SWOT analysis can be complex, delving into such issues as budget constraints, local and global competition, market saturation and user acceptance, I used the basic analysis methodology – the grid – and it looks like this:

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

My first item: the purple tweed boots

Strengths

Very sassy looking

Moderately comfortable

Jazzes up a pair of black pants

Could wear with Halloween witch costume

Weaknesses

Style is dated

Could wear with a witch costume

Heels are high and difficult to walk on

Can only wear with black

The zipper gets stuck

Haven’t worn them in three years

Have lost their initial Wow! Those are sassy appeal

Opportunities

Could come back in style

I might dress up as a witch for Halloween and need them

Might be a conversation starter

Could consign them to Linda’s and maybe someone, looking for shoes to wear with a witch costume will buy them. Could make a couple of bucks.

Threats

Could twist an ankle trying to walk in them

Break a nail trying to pull up the zipper

Become a forgotten item taking up space in my closet

Be seen wearing them with a witch’s costume

I tossed the purple tweed boots.

Next item: Green suede jacket.

Strengths

It’s a great “in between” seasons jacket

Stand out color

Suede is soft

Weaknesses

Boxy shape

Stiff

Slightly oversized

Color is odd

Wore it only one season

Haven’t worn it in two years

Opportunities

Could keep it in the back of my car just in case I needed a light weight green suede jacket

All it needs is the right scarf to complete the look

Threats

It’s expensive to clean

Could be mistaken for a Coldwater Creek model while wearing it.

Bye-bye green suede jacket.

So it went on like this for a few more items, but once I got into the groove it wasn’t necessary to actually fill out the grid. I did the rest in my head, which then became a mental exercise in getting a grip. Toss, toss, toss became my motto. I culled 33 items (in under two hours) – four pairs of pants, two cocktail dresses, five skirts, six shirts, six sweaters, a pair of boots, three jackets and six belts.  I didn’t do the analysis for every item, just the ones I had a hard time pitching. And as it turned out, there wasn’t one item that I was on the fence on that I kept – go figure.

Using the SWOT analysis to clean my closet was frankly, brilliant and I highly recommend it to anyone staring into their closets at this moment wondering what to wear tomorrow.  

Now, open my closet and it’s lined with only my favorites, my white T-shirts with bright white collars organized by sleeve length, long dresses and trousers hung just so they skim the closet floor, knee length skirts lounge in a wide palette of color and texture and every pair of shoes has a box. It makes me giddy.

My closet is no longer a dark and mysterious jungle. My closet is neat. My soul is restful. Let’s go shopping.

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