The Overstuffed Closet

My clients have a lot of "someday" best. Someday I'm going to fit into these again. Someday this trend might return. Someday I'm going to wear this. The problem is, "someday" doesn't exist; there's only today. Here's what to do with what's being worn only by your hangers.

Clothes that don't fit: If you've gained weight, keep the smaller-sized clothes that you'll get the most use from and work on fitting into them again. If you've already lost weight, don't keep a whole closetful of big clothes as though one day you're going to suddenly be struck fat; donate them.

Trend items: If you're waiting for something to come back in style, don't. Even if it does return, it will look dated—and so will you.

Special occasion outfits: The rule that says "If you haven't worn it in a year, donate it" is a fine guide for when to say goodbye.

Sentimental pieces: You say, "I really loved this jacket." I know you did. But if you haven't worn it in ages and it doesn't work with your other clothes, it's time for it to go away. If you're saving your wedding dress, be honest—do you have the space to store it? Do you have a daughter you're saving it for, and is it a timeless classic she won't roll her eyes at? If the answers are yes, keep it. If you're short on storage space, you have only sons, or your dress has puffy sleeves, lace, and buttons up the arms because you did a kind of Linda Ronstadt circa 1974 thing, give it to a thrift store or, which provides formal wear to girls who can't afford prom or special occasion dresses.

Now that you have a closetful of clothes that you actually wear, organize them—all the short-sleeved shirts together, all the jeans together, etc. Do the same with your shoes. If you have the space, they can be kept on shelves so you can see them immediately. If not, try stacking shelves or hanging shoe racks.

The Drawer Full of Photos

If you don't have time to put your photos in an album or scrapbook, it's okay to stop pretending you're going to do it. Get clear shoe boxes to store them in instead.

Then get a kitchen timer. Why? Because sorting through photos leads to reminiscing, and suddenly it's three hours later. But you're not looking at photos now—you're organizing them so that looking at them later will be more fun. Decide how long you have and set the timer.

Group the photos by subject—the family reunion, your trip to Istanbul. While you're grouping, you're also sorting: Is it a clear picture? Do you even know who those people are? Throw away any that don't measure up, and any in which you can't stand the sight of yourself. When you're done, label the boxes accordingly: "Family Reunion, February 2008."


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