You can purge your closet like this fash­ion­ista

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Lifestyle - BY ELIZ­A­BETH MAYHEW

Stacy Small­wood is pas­sion­ate about fash­ion. As owner and head buyer of Ham­p­den Cloth­ing, an up­scale women’s bou­tique in Charles­ton, South Carolina, Small­wood trav­els reg­u­larly to Paris, New York, Mi­lan and Lon­don, where she buys the most up-to-date stylish cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories for not only her store but also her­self. Over time – call it an oc­cu­pa­tional hazard – she has ac­quired a lot of clothes.

As a re­sult, her home closet – an ex­tra bed­room she had trans­formed into a large walk-in – was a dis­as­ter, noth­ing like the sleek, well-edited and or­ga­nized shelves and dis­plays in her fash­ion­able King Street shop. Clothes, shoes and bags were jum­bled to­gether; she had never both­ered to edit out older or un­worn items. And she spent years ra­tio­nal­iz­ing keep­ing dresses and bags by say­ing, “I love it and might wear it again.”

But most morn­ings she would wake up, stare blankly at her closet, and then, like many women, grav­i­tate to the same pieces over and over again. “De­spite be­ing in fash­ion, I was strug­gling to get dressed ev­ery morn­ing,” Small­wood says, “so I would of­ten start my day in a bad mood.”

Then one day she hit a wall. “I looked around and was sick of the mess, and I knew the only way for me to get clar­ity of my mind was to start with my en­vi­ron­ment.”

Small­wood en­listed the help of pro­fes­sional orga- nizer Ju­lia Pin­sky, founder of Pin­sky Project. Pin­sky, who had a long ca­reer in fash­ion and mer­chan­dis­ing be­fore be­gin­ning her or­ga­niz­ing busi­ness, spe­cial­izes, as she says, “in mak­ing a home look min­i­mal, yet max­i­mized.”

Pin­sky be­gan tack­ling Small­wood’s closet as she does all projects: by sort­ing all of the items in one place. “You have to take ev­ery­thing out to see what you ac­tu­ally own,” Pin­sky says. This means sort­ing by cat­e­gory, not by lo­ca­tion. Take shoes, for ex­am­ple: Women of­ten keep dressy shoes in their bed­room closet, boots in a coat closet and ev­ery­day shoes in a mud­room. But when or­ga­niz­ing, you want to see all of your shoes in one place so that you can edit out those items that you don’t need. Pin­sky warns, “Do not put any­thing back un­til you have com­pleted the en­tire sort­ing process.”

When it came to edit­ing, Small­wood fol­lowed (and still fol­lows) Pin­sky’s rule: If you haven’t worn it in a year, sell or do­nate it. Most items Small­wood was able to sell on the

Real Real, an on­line lux­ury con­sign­ment shop. Pin­sky also rec­om­mends sell­ing items on the web­site Tradesy and do­nat­ing to lo­cal thrift shops.

After edit­ing, Pin­sky as­sessed the re­main­ing items, group­ing clothes that needed to hang to­gether and those that needed to be folded or stacked to­gether. She then set about re­work­ing and max­i­miz­ing Small­wood’s space. “We got rid of all ex­ist­ing shelv­ing and built a new sys­tem that used the full height and width of the room.” For a cost­friendly op­tion, Pin­sky rec­om­mended us­ing

Ikea’s Pax sys­tem. By cre­at­ing an ef­fi­ciently de­signed frame­work that in­cluded hang­ing space, shelves, draw­ers and bins, Small­wood even ended up hav­ing enough room for a van­ity area.

Once the closet ar­chi­tec­ture was in place, Pin­sky and Small­wood or­ga­nized the items by cat­e­gory: tops, dresses, jack­ets, pants, skirts, shoes and bags were each given their des­ig­nated area and within each group­ing, the items were ar­ranged by color. Pin­sky says if you make sure ev­ery item has a place, then you have no ex­cuse not to put it back.

For hang­ing items, Small­wood in­vested in all new co­or­di­nat­ing hang­ers, which help cre­ate vis­ual or­der and sym­me­try within the closet. “It’s crazy how much eas­ier it is to get dressed in the morn­ing when you start your day with a sense of calm,” Small­wood says. “I am no longer frus­trated by not know­ing where to start.”

As for Pin­sky’s part­ing words to Small­wood, she thinks they were, “Do not bring any­thing into your house that you do not need, love or will have no use for, even if it was free, a good deal or a gift.”

The ex­er­cise had a pro­found ef­fect on Small­wood: “I think we of­ten don’t re­al­ize how much our en­vi­ron­ment plays such a big role on our mood, our self-es­teem and even our style and the way we dress. By or­ga­niz­ing my closet, I can now cre­ate looks I had never put to­gether be­fore and I don’t dread that mo­ment ev­ery day of de­cid­ing what to wear.”

Pin­sky adds, “When you are or­ga­nized, ev­ery­thing in your life be­gins to feel more ef­fi­cient.” But, she cau­tions, “you have to be ready to make the change. You have to be ready to let go of things.”

TER­RENCE ED­WARDS Wash­ing­ton Post

Stacy Small­wood, a Charles­ton, S.C., bou­tique owner, en­listed or­ga­nizer Ju­lia Pin­sky to get her closet in or­der.

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