What is the relationship between getting dressed and your mental health? Now that most of us are spending much more time at home, we might not pay as much attention to what we wear and how we look. However, according to researchers from Northwestern University, what we wear has an effect on us and our performance. The researchers concluded that clothes don't just affect our mood, but they also can have a symbolic meaning that can influence our psychological state. I personally tried this idea out on myself and used it with several of my clients and found it to be very true: What you wear affects your mental state.
While you may not want to get dressed up every day to work from home, there is something very productive you can do with your wardrobe. I consulted with one of New York City’s top fashionistas Shlomit Levy, who was nice enough to share some closet organizing tips that can make a huge difference when it comes to your quarantine (and post-quarantine) wardrobe—and your state of mind. Keep reading to see what she had to say..
Suddenly, we have so much time and many of us are going through our closets. We are all staying at home—be it working from home, homeschooling our kids, studying, or just watching TV. As a professional stylist and image consultant, I know most people don't even know what may be hidden in their closets and when clothes are hidden, it’s very easy to forget about them. Did you know that most people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of the time?
As someone who reorganizes people’s closets all the time, I have learned a lot and I know how important it is to help people organize their closets so they can build their outfits each day. Especially if you have extra time on your hands, now is the perfect chance to give yourself a closet refresh. Here are some ideas of how to organize your closet and keep it fresh long after the quarantine.
TIP # 1: Ensure you have the supplies you need for the process.
The first step is to ensure you have all the supplies you need before starting. You’ll definitely need time: It’s best to start in the morning as it can take a couple of hours (if not days) and you don't want to start at the end of your day when you have less energy. Here’s a list of helpful items you’ll need (make sure to measure the space before buying a new storage item):
Step stool—will make it easy for you to reach the top of your closet
Bins and baskets to store accessories, scarves, belts, etc.
Space bags or stackable storage bins for out-of-season storage
I recommend these velvet hangers because they are easy to use and thin, so you can fit a lot of shirts in your closet. If you are willing to invest in layered velvet hangers, it will free up even more of your closet space. Your closet will be extremely organized, and you will be able to find shirts much easier.
When your closet isn’t completely packed, you will be able to see what's actually in there and be able to find everything much more easily. Having more room in your closet helps you feel more spacious and clears your mind mentally.
Once you have all the materials you need, it’s go-time! Take everything out of your closet first and make sure to clean the dust away before starting the process of putting things back in.
TIP # 2: Arrange your clothes by categories.
After everything is out of the closet, it’s best to start making categories. I like to organize closet spaces by dedicating a special section for dresses and skirts, a special section for jackets, a special section for button down shirts, a special section for dressy pants, etc. For easiest access, organize by type and then by color.
Try to hang dressy pants, jackets, button down shirts, dresses, and skirts. I suggest folding jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, athletic wear, pajamas, and underwear in drawers or on shelves.
Organize shoes on shoe organizer shelves (again, it’s best to organize by category, putting all sneakers on one shelf, all booties on another, all high heels on another). If you can't invest right now in a shoe closet or dedicated shelves, look into an over-the-door shoe rack. If you place your shoes in a place where you are unable to see them, I suggest taking pictures of your shoes and hanging it inside your closet door so you remember what you have and what will be a good match with your outfit.
Finally, group together belts and scarves and put them into a drawer, bin, or a basket. If you have enough space, you can hang your belts and scarves, as it makes everything more visible.
TIP # 3: Arrange your closet by seasons.
Since it’s springtime and getting closer to summer, I suggest using the space bags or storage bins to put all the winter/fall items away as you are not going to wear those clothes any time soon. If you want to keep those seasonal items in your closet, you can place these things on the higher shelves or back shelves. It’s better to have this season's clothes reachable and in front of you when you open your closet to search for something to wear.
TIP # 4: It’s time to say goodbye.
Once everything is categorized, start to go over the clothes item by item before putting them back in your closet. Evaluate each item, and even try it on if needed and ask yourself the following questions:
Is it in good condition?
Does it fit me?
Does it flatter my figure?
Is the color complimenting my skin tone?
Does it suit my lifestyle?
Is it appropriate for my age?
Do I love it?
If you answered YES, store it back in your closet. If you answered NO, this is your chance to say goodbye! Simply put it in the garbage bag and think of a good home for it. You can donate, pass it to a friend, or sell it in a consignment store or online. Throw anything stained, ripped, or out of shape away.
If you’re not able to make up your mind, I suggest creating a "maybe" pile and revisiting it in a couple of days to see how you feel about it. If you are still unsure, revisit it again in a couple of months. If you forgot about it, that’s a sign to say goodbye!
TIP # 5: Make a list of needed items.
While going through the process of organizing your closet, you will probably either realize that a certain item can help you build multiple outfits or you throw away some of your out-of-shape, ripped, stained items that you liked to wear often. And so you should think about replacing the old with some new. Make a list of needed items, organize it by putting the “must have” items on the top of the list and the “nice to have” on the bottom.
If you decide to shop online, make sure to check prices. Sometimes you can find the same item for a cheaper price on a different website. And always read the reviews of something you want to buy because it can help tremendously to read about someone else's experience with the item, especially when real people are adding their photos wearing it.
As a stylist, I’ve become familiar with a lot of tricks to make something look great in a picture when in reality it doesn’t sit comfortably on the body, therefore it’s always helpful to read reviews and see real people's photos. Some small items can make a big difference in your outfits and if you realize during this process what they might be, make sure to add them to your list. If it’s really expensive, add it to your birthday wish list.
I know it sounds like a lot of work and like it can be messy, but if you feel overwhelmed, you don't have to do it all at the same time. Instead, you can spread it through a couple of days and focus on one section daily.
If you are still uncomfortable doing it on your own, you can always count on me to assist you in this process, virtually during quarantine and in-person after this challenging time :)
Shlomit Levy is a professional fashion stylist and personal image coach based in NYC. Her mission is to empower people and help them develop their personal style and confidence based on their personality and lifestyle. You can follow her on Instagram and contact her for more information.