You’re running late to work and need to get dressed, but when you open your closet it looks like a clip from Hoarders. Shoes, bras, and old handbags tumble from above, sending you into a panic dance right over a hopless pile of pumps, wedges, and a pathetic lone flip-flop. Suddenly it dawns on you: this happens every day.

Let’s stop the cycle of violence at the source and clean out your damn closet already.

                     

Make Some Tough Choices
The keep, sell, donate, or toss method is an excellent way to clear-cut your closet clutter quickly. Employ the use of piles to sort between items you’re unsure if you’ll keep or donate, making sure you try on everything. My rule of thumb: if the item doesn’t fit or if anything about it makes me go “meh,” it’s gone. If it’s in good condition, it goes to Salvation Army (or to the Fairy Godmother project if it’s a formal dress). If it’s trashed, it goes in the garbage. Still having decision paralysis? Here’s a trick from Apartment Therapy to help you figure out what to part with.

If you’re looking to sell items, think beyond eBay. Apps like Poshmark make it easy to unload your items, while brick-and-mortar shops like Buffalo Exchange take out the hassle factor (packing, shipping, etc.) for those short on time.

The Elfa closet system, via the Container Store.

Mise en Place
In cooking, it’s important to have all you prep work done before your start on your meal (a practice that goes by the French phrase above, meaning "putting in place"); getting dressed is no different. Organize your closet by type—dresses here, tops there, the same kinds of shoes grouped together—and save yourself a lot of digging around when it’s go time. No, you don’t need expensive closet systems, but if you have the cash that’s a great way to keep stuff separated. I lust for the Container Store’s awesome Elfa system, but Home Depot carries more budget-friendly closet organization kits

 

Save a Place for Ensembles
So now that your closet looks like something the Bling Ring would break into—it’s time to make this sucker even more functional. If you have the space, one of my favorite “get dressed in the dark” tips is to use about 10 minutes every Sunday to lie out some outfits for the workweek. Dedicate about 1½ feet of hanging space to Monday through Friday clothing—you can even use masking tape to designate space for each day, not that I did that or anything (I did). Complete each look with accessories (hang scarves and necklaces around the hanger), roll out of bed, throw on your outfit and hit the road. 

Short on space? Yes, yes y’all—there’s an app for that. Stylebook is Cher from Clueless’s closet on your iPhone or Android device. Inspired by the co-founder’s Vogue internship, the app helps track  clothes and outfits you create in its easy-to-use interface. You can even save inspirational photos and make packing lists (be still my heart!). It’s not cheap, but if you need something to keep your closet in total order, it’s worth it.

Pro Tip: Keep Your Future Clutter in Check
Now that you have a photo-ready super-closet, for the love of all that is holy, return your clothes to your closet in the place you have designated for them. Don’t toss your pumps on the floor or clutter goblins will use it to build an empire.

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