Is Your Closet Like The Harlem River Or The Dead Sea

August 16, 2016

messyclosetThat gorgeous jacket hidden deep in your closet is stunning. Too bad it went out of fashion in 1997 – much like dozens of other dresses, skirts, blouses and pants that cause the clothes rod to sag, but haven’t been worn in years.

“When I look in some people’s overstuffed closets, I can’t help but want to say, ‘Your closet is supposed to be a river, not the Dead Sea,’ ” says Janna Beatty, an image consultant and co-author with Sharon White of Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look.

By that she means clothes should flow through a closet the way water passes through a stream – there for a time, then gone. Clothes shouldn’t be held in captivity forever.

“Both women and men add tons of clothing, shoes and accessories to their closets, but they never seem to get rid of anything,” Beatty says.

Beatty and White say that an overly extensive wardrobe actually can hinder your lifestyle. Just to get dressed in the morning you may have to rummage past apparel that should have been tossed years ago.

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They offer a few tips for making that closet a more inviting and organized place:

  • Use it or lose it. Nothing should be in your closet that you can’t wear right now, Beatty says. That means anything that doesn’t fit, is in need of repair or is out of season shouldn’t be taking up space. If you have extra closet space, move the out-of-season clothing there. If you plan to lose weight, do the same with clothes that don’t fit.  Mostly, though, donate or toss the excess. “Be brutal in deciding what to keep and what to get rid of,” Beatty says.
  • Organize your collection. Once the clutter is gone, it’s time to organize what remains, White says. Dressier clothes should hang toward the back of the closet unless you wear them often. Types of garments – skirts, pants, tops – should be grouped together and organized from casual to dressy.
  • Customize your closet. Builders mostly build generic closets, using standard measures for clothing racks and shelves. People then just use whatever space is there, whether it works for them or not. Beatty and White suggest that instead of working with that generic layout, you should make your closet work with your wardrobe. That could mean bringing in more storage for shoes, or deciding whether you need more or less hanging space than what’s available.

Once you’re done organizing, you aren’t really done, Beatty and White say.

“You can’t expect to stay organized if you don’t regularly tidy up,” Beatty says. “Make sure you hang clothes back up after you wear them, or put them in the hamper if they need to be washed. Put clean laundry away promptly. If you aren’t careful, you’re closet will be a quagmire again.”

Janna Beatty, owner of one of Texas’ premier makeover studios, is co-author of the book Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look ( She has studied in New York and Paris with some of the most respected advisers in the fashion and beauty industry. A successful business owner for more than 30 years, Beatty speaks to corporations, professional organizations, and women’s groups. She also has been a guest on radio, podcasts, and television.

Sharon White is an award-winning author who lives and writes in Central Texas. She has written for New York Daily News, Huffington Post, Fashion Bible and other online and print magazines. She publishes a popular lifestyle blog ( based on her book, Quintessential Style.

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