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Your Closet, Your Life

When my clients say, “I have nothing to wear,” it isn’t because they don’t have closets full of clothes. Often they have dressers full, chairs draped, guest room closets stuffed and a bed covered with garments. Quantity is not the problem.

Americans tend to own a lot of clothing. Remember the 1970s “Day of the Week” underpants? In the new millennium, some of us have a pair for every day of the year, and socks to match. We’ve got ballgowns and baseball uniforms, rain gear and snow gear, skinny jeans from high school and so many cocktail dresses our hangers are tipsy. Too much of the wrong clothing leaves us naked at the banquet of fashion.

Designer Diane von Furstenburg said, “It’s not the dress, it’s the life you live in the dress.” To use that statement for closet organizing purposes, the No. 1 reason you might feel you have nothing to wear is that your closet does not accurately represent your life.

If you are an active mom, currently out of the work force, but your closet is 50 percent business suits, 20 percent evening wear, 20 percent yoga gear and only 10 percent day wear, you will often feel short on options for a day of errands or lunch with friends. These percentages would be better for a person in the corporate world.

The better we know ourselves, aka maturity, the more balance we tend to have in our closets. In my teens and 20s, I scoured second-hand stores for witchy Stevie Nicks-style clothes and had drawers full of colorful aerobics outfits, but didn’t own a single pair of blue jeans. Obviously, I was always at a loss for what to wear outside of exercise class and bohemian parties.

When you coordinate the contents of your closet to proportionately reflect the activities of your life, you are almost guaranteed to be well-dressed, or at the very least, appropriately dressed.

The other reason people feel they have nothing to wear is that their closets are unorganized. First, if you don’t put away your clothing each night and don’t immediately dry clean or launder clothes as needed, you will already be shorting yourself. Ideally, each morning the closet should look like a personal boutique — everything in it fits and flatters, is properly hung by style and color, accessories are easy to see and choose from, and there is plenty of room to move and good light to see by. It’s more about good habits than money.

Give yourself an extra 20 minutes to get dressed each day. If something doesn’t work for that day, don’t throw it on the floor or on a chair; hang it right back up. Those piles on the floor somehow grow overnight like mushrooms or a snowbank and become hard to keep up with.

Keep a bag or box near the closet for consignment and donation. Anything you try on that no longer fits works for you can be tossed in right away. Your laundry hamper and dry cleaning bag should also be in close range.

The bullet points

Coordinate your closet with your life. Try to keep your entire wardrobe in one place so that you can see all of your options at a glance. Keep it clean and store items neatly. You’ll always have something to wear.