Organizing Men’s Closets
We are all spending more time in our homes than ever…cabin fever, anyone? Small details are more annoying than ever. We gave a call to stylist extraordinaire and master of the home edit, Amy Keller to focus some of her sartorial ninja powers onto a problem area that men grumblingly tolerate and spouses are confused by: the man’s closet.
Buckle down, guys. Let’s get to work. Here is a step-by-step guide of how to do this. If you freak out, it’s ok; Amy has been regularly walking her clients through the process on FaceTime or Zoom.
Divide and Conquer
- Time to rip the band-aid. Open your closet, your chest of drawers, and anywhere else you store your clothes. Everything you have not worn in the last year gets pulled out. For now, it just gets put into the examination pile. Shoes, belts, athletic gear…all of it. No judgments, just make a pile.
- We now divvy up the treasure.
- The first are things you love for nostalgic purposes. The jacket your dad gave you, the shirt you wore at camp, mementos, keepsakes, and passed downs. It is important to have a sense of where we have been, and to feel the happiness these items give us, BUT, there is a limit here. The torn, yellow, sweat-stained Hanes T-shirt? Nope, that is not a memento, sorry. The lone sock…pull it out, too.
- The next pile is for resale and repurposing. Ebay, The Real Real, local consignment shops. These items need to be in good shape and have some value — you just don’t wear them anymore. The purpose here is to turn these money sinks into cash you can use to purchase things you will love to wear.
- Now we get to the donation pile. Goodwill, Salvation Army, charities, etc. There is tremendous need out there these days, so let’s help out.
- Lastly, we get to the trash pile. This is always the saddest part, but these are items that are at the end of their lifecycle and have no conceivable use to anyone. Remember how it feels to throw this stuff into a landfill the next time you pass a fast-fashion store.
Rebuild and Create Uniforms
- That was the hard part. You are ok, you are still breathing, now it gets easier. Time to re-build your closet. The purpose here is to make getting dressed much easier and faster. You want to put likes with likes. If you have several white shirts, put them together and rank them if you can by weight or season. Same for everything else — darks with darks, jeans with jeans, etc. Now you will be able to see all your choices at once. With things that go into drawers, when possible fold or roll them so that when looking down into the drawer you can see everything in it, rather than having to dig through it. With jeans, if you fold them in half 4 times lengthwise that usually does it.
- Awesome! Congratulations. Now that we can see what we have to work with, it is time to make uniforms. You want 7 go-to outfits. You can lay them out on the bed, or do selfies in a mirror.
This is where an outside viewpoint can help as we all have a certain amount of self-delusion of what looks good on us. Spouse, GF, someone with a good eye. You can always ring Amy and she can help. If you are a digital person, keep them in a special folder in your phone, or send them to a service to get prints made that you can tape to the inside of your closet or a photo book. No matter how sleepy you are for that 5am rendezvous, you are covered, foolproof.
Tailor and Fill in the Gaps
- The tailoring moment. Some of those outfits you made may look sharp, but may need a bit of a touch-up to fit you correctly — pants too long, jacket too tight…time to go to the tailor. Keeping ill-fitting clothes is a waste of space and cause for future irritation. Since you made some cash from your re-sales, here is a good use for it.
- Time to fill in the gaps. This is a horrible time for retail, but a fantastic time to get a deal on the stuff you need. I just got a Theory pullover brand new for ½ off. Go for quality. Remember how you felt throwing that stuff in the trash? Look for good-quality, timeless-style items. Button downs, polos, crew necks. Don’t think in terms of individual items, always think in terms of outfits. Remember your 7 outfits? Maybe you only have 5 ½ and the addition of a single item gets you to 7.
This stuff is shockingly hard for guys to do; they often don’t see the value in it until they really need to look good, then they completely freak out in a storm of sartorial low self-esteem. Ladies, please step up and help. Your guy needs you.
Amy Keller is available for by-the-hour help to the style challenged and the loved ones of the style challenged. In need? Contact her: amykeller47@