Monday, 09 February 2015
The Dressing Well Blog
Sarah Zengo

Shovel Out Your Closet

By Dressing Well Stylist Sarah Zengo

Shoveling out after yet another snow storm here in New England got me thinking. We clear out the snow so we can hit the road fast and effortlessly. When I first work with a client in their closet, we are often “shoveling out” so that they too can hit the road in record time, regardless of the weather.

Here are five quick tips to help you “shovel out” your own closet (and snow days are great days to tackle this process!)

1. Divide and conquer. If your flirty eyelet summer dresses and saucy tank tops are currently snuggled up next to your suit jackets, sweaters and formal tops, it’s no wonder you’re confused about what to wear in the morning. A great first step to eliminating closet confusion is to identify any off-season attire and move it to another space. Additionally, always consider how you live as you organize your closet. If you work outside your home, separate business clothing from casual wear. Whenever possible, keep only what is wearable in the current season and functional for your day to day lifestyle in your main closet. You get the gist!

2. Consider the 80/20 rule. Most of us can confidently say that we wear twenty percent of our clothes eighty percent of the time. Go through your closet piece by piece and play tough love with the eighty percent that doesn’t owe you a nickel. Our favorite thing to say to clients is “Do you love it? Do you wear it?” The answers will be very telling and once you get going, it will be easy to make good decisions about what stays in your closet. Make piles for tailoring, donation, and also trash—anything stained or beyond repair should be let go for good!

3. Shop in your closet first. This is our favorite firm rule of thumb! We often find new winning combinations for our clients that they never would have put together. A great way to start mixing things up while getting a targeted shopping list going is to create complete outfits (try them on head to toe with accessories) and then identify any pieces that would make the outfit even better (a.k.a. these pumps are ok, but booties would make this look fantastic!).

4. Give your shoes a makeover. In New England, our footwear has to work hard for us. Make sure your shoes reflect the same level of polish as your daily professional and personal attire. At a minimum, get a shoe polish starter kit at your drugstore for around $10 so you can quickly remove salt and water stains. For heel repairs, tricky scuffs or hardware issues, find a great local cobbler – they do still exist! Also, pick up a pair of easy breezy commuter shoes—I love Anne Klein’s seasonal and stylish options. If your budget allows, think about purchasing some great weatherproof boots from La Canadienne, Aquatalia, or Stuart Weitzman. All three brands are worth the investment and are on sale now.

5. Sort your jewelry. Finally, getting your jewelry under control is another great snow day activity. Like clothing, separate jewelry by season. For instance, beachy and bohemian jewelry that looks best worn in warm weather can be easily stored in pouches or even zip lock bags and tucked away with other summer clothing and accessories. When you can actually see your winter accessories more clearly, you start to wear them more. Consider hanging necklaces near your main dressing area and finding a good home for earrings, bracelets etc. too so you can easily locate them.

Last Word
When I’m stuck in the snow, tackling closets often leads to other household organizing: kitchen cabinets, medicine closets and the like. It’s a great way to take control of being indoors and create space when it feels like the snow-walls are closing in on us. So get in your closet and start shoveling!

Click to Share:
Sarah Zengo

Sarah Zengo joined the Dressing Well team as a stylist in 2011.  Her diverse clientele includes a mix of professionals, stay-at-home parents, retirees and young people just starting their careers. An excellent sense of fashion combined with a strong work ethic and genuine interest in the people she serves, allows Sarah to transform the style of our clients rapidly and with excellent results.  Clients love Sarah and consistently book appointments with her each season, a true indicator that her advice is highly valued and very much appreciated.

Learn more about Sarah » 

Related items

  • Shop in Your Own Closet Shop in Your Own Closet

    Welcome March! Today’s topic is shopping in your closet first as you get your spring wardrobe ready to rock!

  • Winter Closet Essentials Winter Closet Essentials

    Happy February! As we head down the winter homestretch, upgrading winter closet essentials is a great way to avoid the wardrobe rut that can happen this time of year.

  • Get the Hang of Your Coat Closet (5 Styles to Stock Up On Now) Get the Hang of Your Coat Closet (5 Styles to Stock Up On Now)

    During the winter months, it takes a variety of coats to get you out the door feeling stylish and pulled together while protecting yourself from the elements. At this point in the season, you know which ones you love (and which ones you are missing!)

    In this week’s blog, we share a sample of the coat checklist we use with our private clients to help them part with coats that are no longer serving them while priming them to take good advantage of coat sales that are raging right now.

  • Winterize Your Closet Winterize Your Closet

    Winter seems never-ending when you’re smack in the middle of it. Our wardrobes are often on the frontlines of this unpredictable season, taking hit after hit from rain, snow, ice, slush, wind and often brutal temperatures. 

  • "UnStuff" Your Closets with this 3-Step "Recipe" "UnStuff" Your Closets with this 3-Step "Recipe"

    I love Thanksgiving, cooking and fashion. In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d combine my joy for cooking and clothes by sharing an easy "recipe" for bringing order to your closet.


Priscilla 2015-02-10 09:53

We just built a new home and downsized, but upgraded. Moving pushes you into exactly what you posted. Great advice...Still sorting through the stuff!

Sarah Z 2015-02-10 10:12

Congrats Priscilla! Moving is truly a motivator to clear out and redefine your closet contents, great job and it will set you up for success as you settle in to your new space.

Marcia Abbott 2015-02-10 11:12

What is described in Sarah's article is exactly what I did! "Shoveling out" really opened up my closet to reorganize by season--and (almost) everything in there is something I now wear. Plus "shopping in my own closet" allowed us to put together "pre-packaged" outfits without spending a lot of money on new clothes. All in all, a very worthwhile effort--even on a sunny day!

Sarah Z 2015-02-10 11:47

Well said Marcia! First check in with your closet before you check out at the store! It's so worthwhile to take time to find winning combinations in your closet. Gets you out the door in a flash and makes packing for business trips so simple!

Michelle Owings-Chri 2015-02-10 15:45

I just wish I had a big closet. Currently, my sister is living with me and has the only room with a big, built-in closet. She is moving in early March, and then I will have a closet. I really can't wait.
I am at a point where I buy many scarves and accessories because I am losing weight, and don't want to buy tons of clothing I will soon need to give away. I *never* buy any piece if it doesn't go with at least 3 pieces in my closet already. (Unless it is for a special occasion.)

When my sister moves, it will be a great time to sort through my things and "shop in my closet". I am certainly looking forward to it!

Sarah Z 2015-02-10 23:13

Thanks Michelle! Managing closet space is certainly something we are familiar with! Even smaller spaces can be surprisingly functional (over the door shoe storage, clear plastic bins, closet systems, etc.). Sounds like you will have lots of space soon though, fun!

Great tactic to buy pieces that work with your existing wardrobe--this is a perfect way to get many looks out of fewer pieces!

Let us know if we can help you as you transition your space and preparing for your new wardrobe. Thanks for your comments!

Shital Kakkar Mehra 2015-02-16 03:15

Enjoyed reading your tips on closet management

Sarah Z 2015-02-21 22:16

Thanks Shital! Feel free to contact us if you'd like to know more about private in-home closet consultations. Thanks for reading the blog!

Brady 2015-02-19 14:44

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like
you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics
to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is
excellent blog. An excellent read. I'll definitely be

Sarah Z 2015-02-21 22:21

Hi Brady, Thanks for your post! In fact, our firm's founder did write the book on it! "Ready To Wear: An Expert's Guide To Choosing And Using Your Wardrobe" by Mary Lou Andre is available through our website. It's a fantastic read!