A Quick-And-Easy New Year’s Closet and Style Refresh

New Year, new wardrobe! At least, that’s what some of us style-minded folks like to believe. I’m seasoned enough now to know that an ALL-MAGICAL SUPER-BEST NEW YOU doesn’t just happen when the new year comes — but it’s still nice to do a quick, simple closet re-org and refresh.

If you’re a veteran of closet clean-outs — or even already do a wardrobe refresh for each fashion season — this is pretty quick and a nice little way to welcome in a new year. But even if you’ve never considered a massive declutter of your closet space before, think of this as a nice quick-start guide!

What You Can Do Quickly

+ Take out all the empty hangers. If you’re like me, hangers tend to orphan themselves from their clothes easily and imperceptibly — and yet the space they take up can add up. One of the easiest first steps you can do for a quick and easy closet clean-out is to remove them. It’s amazing how much space you can free up.

+ Take out all the clothes that don’t fit the season. This is another one of those changes that are high-impact yet rarely made. It boils down to treating your closet less like a storage space and more like your own personal favorite boutique. Your favorite store wouldn’t be selling winter coats in summer; your closet could follow similar principles. Store non-seasonal clothes under your bed, in another closet or — here’s my former New Yorker speaking here — even in a suitcase stowed away elsewhere.

+ Toss out stuff that is broken beyond reckoning, too worn out or you just will never ever vibe with again, ever. This is straightforward, but it’s always good to mention: if you treat your closet space like gold, you won’t want to stow away any junk in it. If you want to get all Kondo on it, yes, I confess it is strangely fun to thank your clothes and then let them go on their way. (Even the shopping mistakes: thank them for educating you or being there for you in a moment of escapism from stress, or even for the hope of possibility they offered you. It sounds bizarre, but I find it strangely peaceful.)

+ Don’t forget to clear out old underwear, socks and lingerie. It’s amazing how these little things can get away from you, and suddenly you realize, “Wow, my underwear drawer is out-of-control!” Yet there is a lot of pleasure in knowing that your hidden foundation is taken care of.

+ Consider storing specialized wardrobe stuff in a separate way. I have a nice stash of performance leggings, which I tried to keep with my pants — since I do wear them during the day, all athleisurely-like. But recently I made the decision to put all of my workout stuff — leggings, bras, sweat-wicking tops — in their own little section. I went out and got some stackable storage drawers, stuck them on the floor of my closet underneath the hanging section and now I have a legit leggings drawer, which you can see below. Weirdly, it gave me a nice reminder of what my core style was, especially since I’m inclined to treat workout clothes like a sartorial Las Vegas and try out patterns and colors I’d normally never consider outside the gym.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

If You’ve Got A Little More Time On Your Hands Or Are Just A Big-Time Style Nerd…Or You Just Want To Do This Later

+ Figure out your fashion North Star. I love clothes and fashion, admittedly, but I don’t really have the time to follow it closely or do things like make elaborate vision boards or Pinterest ones. (It’s probably why my style is in kind of a haphazard mode now.) Still, I like to collect a few articles or images that resonate with me and tuck them away in my planner — and that kind of serves as my quick and easy style inspiration unit for the quarter. This season I pulled an old Vogue article about Manhattan art gallery in the early 2000s, and some insert about a graffiti artist who wears Timberlands. So basically: chic, bohemian in a modernist way, practical in a streetwise sense. That’s kind of my compass right now! Let’s see to what fashion shores it takes me.

+ Figure out what ‘rules’ or ‘trends’ to let go of. We focus a lot on physical decluttering, but mental/emotional decluttering is just as important. The “stop-doing” list is pretty trendy among self-development types now, but I think it’s equally useful (and more practical) to apply it to your potential fashion shopping. (Or even just your inspirational fashion shopping.) It’s nice in a realm of endless choice to just say no to things that don’t resonate with you. For me, it’s: kitten heels, blogs that feel like magazines with too-professional pictures, the Hadid sisters (as lovely as they are), the Jenner sisters, “who wore it best” kind of content, street style as a general concept but is now like a circus for fashion bloggers, Fashion Week coverage in general and — ironically enough — overly stringent wardrobe management!

But honestly: do enough to give you peace of mind, clarity and a sense of “ahhhhh, there I am” when you look in a closet. And though you can get obsessed with perfect wardrobe curation and such, just let it go — because the best kind of style is one that gives you joy and affirmation when you get dressed, and then lets you get on with it to live your full, beautiful life.

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