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It’s time to face facts: The summer is over. Labor Day weekend has come and gone, school has begun, and in most parts of the country, the weather is starting to turn. While spring is typically the season most commonly associated with cleaning, there’s really no better time to do a huge closet overhaul than fall. (How else are you going to make room for new coats and boots?)
Some people take pleasure in purging and organizing, but for most of us this is going to be a chore. So this year, we’re here to help. For the next week, we’ll be sharing a bunch of stories aimed at getting your life in order — as it pertains to the clothes you wear, at least. We’ll tackle how to donate and resell your old stuff, the best things to buy to organize your closet, tips on setting — and sticking to — a shopping budget, and more.
You can refer to the ultimate checklist below at your leisure, coming back as you tick things off the list. Or, for an extra nudge, you can sign up for our month-long newsletter challenge: Each week, we’ll send out one phase of the process with step-by-step directions on what to tackle next. And if you need to commiserate with other people, pop over to our Facebook group for extra motivation to keep going. No matter how you choose to tackle this, we’ve got you.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Sort Through Your Clothes and Decide What You Don’t Want Anymore
The first step to getting your closet organized is to figure out what’s in it, and the easiest way to do that is to dump everything out on your floor and start sorting.
First things first: Divvy everything up into the stuff you want to keep and the stuff you’re ready to part with. Then, go through that second pile. Anything that’s in bad condition, toss it. Anything that’s in decent to good condition, donate or sell it. Not sure which is what? The story below is a great place to get started.
Note: It’s a hassle, but you’ll get more money if you wait to sell your unwanted warm weather clothes next spring — so pack those away for now, and focus on unloading your fall stuff.
Read: Where to Donate Your Old Clothes »
Sell What You Can
You can bag up all your unwanted stuff and take it to your local consignment shop, or, you can skip that mess and do it all online. There are a bunch of sites out there that’ll gladly take your things; the key is figuring out the best place (or places) to send it to.
Got something high-end? Make sure you’re shipping that off to a site that specializes in luxury designer clothing and accessories, like The RealReal or Vestiaire Collective. Have a lot of J.Crew? You’ll want to weigh your options at places like ThredUp or Poshmark. Below is our list of the best sites and apps out there. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips and tricks on how to get the most amount of money possible.
Read: The Best Online Resale Sites »
Organize Your Closet
Now that you’ve got some stuff out of the way, the next step is organizing what’s left. First up: Store those summer clothes you’re not going to need to access for another six months. (If you think you might go on vacation somewhere warm, keep a few favorite pieces out so that they’re easy to get to.)
Then, tackle what you’re going to wear now. Get new hangers if you need them, and invest in some decent storage options so that you’re not just tossing shoes on top of each other on the floor. The cleaner and more organized your closet is, the easier it’s going to be to actually keep track of what you have and — here’s the fun part — figure out what you may need to buy.
Dry Clean Your Coats
Speaking of storage, it’s time to grab your jackets and coats from wherever you stashed them all summer and — if they need it, which they probably do — get them dry cleaned. Ideally, you did this before you stored them, but if not, just take care of that now. Like, right now. Don’t let this linger, or it might not happen.
Repair Your Fall Shoes and Boots and Weather-Proof Them
Chances are you have a few pairs of shoes that could benefit from new soles or, at the very least, a good cleaning. Toss them all in a bag and bring that bag to the cobbler. The hardest part about this step is remembering to actually do it, and the second hardest part is figuring out how much this should all cost. While we can’t help you with the first part, we’ve got you covered on the second.
Fix Anything Else That Needs Fixing
Is the fabric of your favorite sweater pilling? Did some moths get ahold of your T-shirts? Spend some time tidying up anything that needs extra TLC, wash (or hand wash) anything that needs a good laundering, and get everything in good shape so that it’s ready to wear whenever you need it. Lucky for you, we have an entire column on this.
Figure Out What You Need and Set a Shopping Budget
It’s finally time to make a list of what you need — essential things like tights, socks, and underwear — and a list of what you want. Taking all this and your current financial situation into account, set a budget for yourself.
This is the part of the process that requires the most diligence and self-control, so we’ve broken this down into a few separate steps, which you can read below.
Donate, Toss, or Sell Your Old Beauty Products
Congratulations! You’re all done with your closet. Now it’s time to head to your bathroom, vanity, medicine cabinet, or wherever else you store your beauty products. Throw out anything that’s gross and old. Donate what you can to organizations like Dress for Success. And believe it or not, you can sell some of that stuff, too. There’s more info on that below.
Organize Your Beauty Products
The final step is organizing the beauty products you have left after the purge. But where to begin? The first thing you’re going to want to do is pick up some storage containers, but the trick is to make sure they’re clear, so that you can actually see what you have. We’ve rounded up the best in that category right here.