Sunday, October 21, 2007

Monkeys in the Closet

by Kristen Kaleal

I have decided that I no longer want to hear about women with
“too many clothes and nothing to wear.” It’s so clichéd!

I have been in closet after closet over the years. I can bear witness that all women – whether you consider yourself a clotheshorse or not – have far too many clothes. The more clothes we have, naturally, the more difficult it becomes to sort through the jungle of shoes on the floor, clothes packed too tightly together on the rod, falling sweaters, and the tangled morass of belts and scarves.

It doesn’t matter whether your closet is 3’x2’ or as big as a bedroom. We all seem to fill our closets until they burst. And I bet all of us have clothes with the hangtags still on them. It’s just a matter of how many we have – one item or thirty.

When my closet gets out of hand, I blame the monkeys. I mean, it can’t be ME, buying too many clothes, making a mess when looking for the skirt I bought last spring or my boots from a couple of seasons ago. Can it? Of course not! I always leave things perfectly neat, but the monkeys that live in my closet come out when I’m not looking and leave chaos in their wake.

I’ve never actually seen these monkeys, mind you. But I know they’re there. I mean the clothes strewn about and shoes all over the place surely can’t be MY FAULT. Right?

Most of us have monkeys in our closet, whether we realize it or not. Between our loads of stuff, our organizing materials and organization skills, something is usually amiss on our closet. I have never seen anyone’s closet that is one hundred percent effectively organized and monkeyproofed to the max.

Closet monkeys are most attracted to disorganization, overbuying and clutter. If we can somehow stay organized and not have as much stuff filling our space, the monkeys won’t have as much to mess up, will they?

To keep our closet monkeys at bay, we need to:

Remove Space Wasters
If you don’t have a room devoted to dressing or a large closet (and how many of us realistically do?), it’s vital to have as little as possible in your closet. Items you have not been worn in six months to a year should have a different home, whether you have a different closet in your house to use, a temporary (fold-up) storage closet in your basement or attic, or you are able to store some stuff elsewhere. Evening dresses, cocktail dresses and various other coats are definite space wasters. Find them a new home, where you can access them when needed, but keep them out of your way.

Seasonally Rotate
Who wants to look at flowery summer dresses when you’re trudging through winter? While some may find it reminds them of sun and fun, it makes me depressed! Even worse, it takes up space you need to fill with your winter garb!

Learning how to effectively rotate you clothes from season to season is a skill itself. It has taken me many years to figure this one out, and it will have its own column this spring.

The weather throws us its own curves – after a week in the low 60’s, it was suddenly 89 degrees here, and I needed both my fall clothes and my summer ones. I keep some of my summer clothes in a wicker laundry basket until October 1st and then I pack them away (out of sight) till May. What do YOU recommend?

Give away or throw away
We need to find ways to alleviate the overflow. This means what we don’t need, don’t wear, don’t like, and doesn’t fit. It also encompasses items that bring back bad memories, what our moms bought us but we’re too nice to say we don’t like, and other pieces with negative emotional attachment.

Give these to a charity – the Salvation Army or Goodwill take most items. If it’s something that can be worn by a professional woman, call your local Dress for Success affiliate. (Career Gear for men.)

Buy with Caution
Become really selective about what you choose to buy. Whatever comes into your closet should already match at least three pieces you already own (and preferably NOT just your black

(I cannot state this enough. Make sure you love, love, love, love something before allowing it into your closet! Clothes that hang and are never worn just add to the monkey problems.)

Think Outfits
Set aside some space in your closet that is separate from your other hanging items and create outfits. I recommend having all crystal hangers in the closet – it makes everything look more uniform.

Warning: If you have really bad closet monkeys like mine, you may find that they throw hangers all over the floor. Beware! Crystal hangers are easily breakable!

The suit hanger is the best for creating outfits. Hang your pants or skirt, top, jacket, etc on there. A large storage bag for shoes and accessories can be hung over the top. And voilà! Instant outfit. Do this for outfits you need often, so you’re never caught thinking you have nothing to wear again. Trust me, you have lots of stuff!


Friends, it doesn’t take much to defeat our closet monkeys - and we don’t even need a tranquilizer gun! All it takes is advance planning, a system for organizing and storage, and the resolve to make good clothes buying decisions. I guarantee this will make your closet less of a jungle and more of a, well, closet.

This was originally published in our Sept. '07 newsletter.
To request reprint rights, please contact me.


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