One of my favorite ways to work with clients is through a “Closet Transformation” where I take their closet from a place of lost items, favorite pieces that go unworn and one-too-many black shirts, to a useful, organized closet full of fun, innovative outfits, without having to spend a dime.

But until you’re ready to have me come in and work this closet magic with you, I’m going to tell you how to conduct a successful Closet Inventory – one VERY important part of the full Closet Transformation – on your own, leaving you and your closet feeling refreshed, renewed and much more aligned to your personal style. 

Sound exciting? Great, let’s get started!

Step 1:

Unload. Take everything out of your closet. Every shirt, belt, tank top and tie. Unload it from your closet and pile it on the bed.

Step 2:

Do the shuffle. Begin loosely organizing the pieces by color. Don’t spend too long on this, just get a sense of the colors in your closet and what you seem to be most drawn to. Even a little color organization will give you a BIG sense of what you have and what you may need more of.

Step 3:

Make piles. Starting with the biggest color pile, unfold and de-hanger each piece. Again, you’re going to loosely organize each pile, but this time you’ll separate them into shirts, pants, dresses, sweaters, outerwear (blazers, jackets, coats), shoes and accessories. We’re making piles of the types of clothes you’re drawn to in each color.

Step 4:

Notice. Notice what you like and what you don’t like. We’re not getting rid of anything just yet. Instead, I want you to break all the piles down into three categories: 1) pieces you like a lot, 2) pieces you only kind of like, and 3) pieces you don’t like at all. Include anything that doesn’t currently fit you in the “only kind of like” pile and take all of the “don’t likes” and put them aside.

Step 5:

Pause for a breath. A Closet Inventory is big and can be an emotional process, so incorporate taking breaks. Maybe you struck gold, finding pieces you forgot you had. Maybe you’re realizing  you don’t really like anything in your closet or that most of your closet is full of stuff you feel you have to have but you don’t really love. Whatever your experience, an inventory is going to organize your wardrobe so you can make the most of what you have and inform your shopping decisions moving forward. For now, you’re taking a breath and getting a drink of water.

Step 6:

Get back to it. You’re half-way done and you’re doing great! We’re about to start returning your wardrobe to your closet and this is where you’re going to make some calls on your own. If you want to rearrange, color-code or categorize in some other fun way, go for it. I won’t walk you through that specifically, and before you do anything, I want you to follow steps 7 & 8.

Step 7:

Ask yourself why? I want you to take a good look at the clothes you labeled as “only kind of like” and “don’t like at all” and ask yourself “why are they in these piles?” If it feels possible, I want you to kiss goodbye the pile of clothes you “don’t like at all” and any piece that makes you feel bad about yourself. Set them aside to be donated, swapped, upcycled or consigned. Take a look at what’s left in the “only kind of like” pile. If you see things you need for work, school or some other uniform, move those to the “I like a lot” pile, as they are considered essentials. For anything you’re not sure about, you’re unable to part with or that doesn’t fit now but you think might fit later, I want you to pack these pieces in a box and store them away for at least 6 months.*

*If during the 6-month period you find yourself wishing you had any one of those pieces, you’re free to dig them out. But the deal is, you have to wear them right away. When the 6 months is over, open the box and assess your “need” for what’s in there. By this time, you will likely have cut emotional ties with any piece you had an unhealthy attachment to (looked good when you were “skinnier,” connected to an old love or memory that’s now gone, defined you at a particularly special time in your life you no longer feel connected to, etc.). And now, if you feel able, let these pieces go. If you have a renewed love of some of the pieces that were stored, great! It’ll be like Christmas :).

Step 8:

Play! With what’s left of your piles, it’s time to have some fun and get creative! For at least 10 minutes, I want you to play with trying on combinations of pieces you would not normally put together. This is where I offer some of the most support to my clients during their Closet Transformations. But for now, give it a go on your own. And if you need some inspiration, hop online or open a magazine. Most importantly, remember to breathe and give yourself the freedom to take risks. You may be surprised at what you come up with.

Step 9:

Re-Load. As you’re putting everything back in your closet, be intentional. Look at each piece and remind yourself why you like it and that you’re excited to wear it. Pro-tip: hang new-found combinations and “outfits” near each other.

Step 10:

Commit. Considering the weather, commit to wearing the majority of your wardrobe in the coming weeks and months. Using my 5-Day #stretchyourstylesimply Challenge, you can also plan to wear one piece of clothing, pair of shoes or accessory you’ve been neglecting, every single day for the next week. Lastly, commit to doing a Closet Inventory periodically. I recommend every 6 months or once a season. 

Keep it fresh y’all and enjoy getting dressed!

If once you’ve done this self-guided inventory, you need support going a touch deeper, Marisol offers in-person and virtual Closet Transformations. They can be purchased a la carte or as a part of a larger service she has designed to help you define and refine your personal style so that you not only look your best, but feel your best too.