The Best Way to Prep Your Closet for a Seasonal Change

These 8 super-gratifying steps make me feel oohhh so much better…


Nothing feels better than having an organized closet. I’m not OCD or anything, but when you have a tiny, NYC-sized closet like mine, it’s difficult to keep things in their place all the time. Every season, I make a ritual out of taking everything out of my closet and “purging” the things I haven’t worn within the year. This helps me to keep my favorite items right where I can see them.

The Best Way to Prep Your Closet for a Seasonal Change

When my closet gets out of hand and things start bulging out, I clean it out right then and there, and it’s something you should get into the habit of doing too. Tons of studies have shown that the more organized you are, the more you can accomplish. The “closet purge” doesn’t stop at just getting rid of stuff you don’t like anymore — there are a seven essential steps you need to take to do it effectively.

Step 1: Take Every Single Article of Clothing Out of Your Closet

Yes, even your belts, hats and accessories. There is nothing more refreshing than the sight of a completely empty closet. I look at it like a blank canvas just waiting to be filled with every color of the rainbow in its own special order. Put your shoes along the floor, your pants on one side of your bed, tops on the other. If you have a rolling clothes-hanger, use it! Just make sure that your closet is emptied of absolutely everything. Your room will look like a mini disaster for a while, but it will be so gratifying to see it get organized as you start the process.

Step 2: Be Ruthless

Pick up every item and think to yourself, “when was the last time I wore this and when will I wear it next?” Don’t keep it out of guilt or because it reminds you of the past. Your closet is your sanctuary, so treat it like one, not like a hoarder’s den.

The Best Way to Prep Your Closet for a Seasonal Change

I love the idea of painting the back of your closet to make the items stand out!

Step 3: Sell or Donate Your Unused Clothes

If you don’t know what to do with your used clothes, take them to a charity like Plato’s Closet, Goodwill, or HousingWorks (in NYC). You could also try to sell them on eBay, Poshmark, Tradesey, TreadUp, or any of the many other apps that will give you money for those tight designer jeans you haven’t worn in years. If you have the time, you could also hold a garage sale that includes other items in your house that you have been meaning to sell, then donate the remaining items.

Step 4: Figure Out Your Personalized Organization System

If it is summer time, put your tank tops and shorts at the front and your long sleeve tops toward the back. Or, if you like to color coordinate, use the colors of the rainbow to put your pieces in groups. I also suggest to keep pieces like dresses and rompers together in one place as well as jackets and statement pieces together. There is nothing worse than not being able to find your favorite piece because its lumped in with your everyday clothes. I also find it helpful to put sweaters and belts, etc. in their own see-through containers, rather than stacking them on a shelf.

Step 5: Use an App

This step isn’t for everyone since it takes up hours of time, but if you have time to spare, then definitely take a stab at it. I use apps to organize my closet since most of the time, since I have to put my seasonal clothes in boxes so they don’t take up room in my closet. There are several fashion apps that let you take photos of every piece of clothing you own and helps you organize them, create outfits and group them by event. Say you have a trip coming up and you want to start thinking about what to pack, you can create a group for that and style outfits on your phone.

Step 6: Get Better Hangers

Get thin velvet hangers. They’ll make your closet look more organized, take up less space, and nothing ever falls off them. ‘Nuff said.

Step 7: Hang Your Clothes Backward

Hear me out on this one. Although it seems like a pain in the neck to hang your clothes in the opposite direction, it helps you remember what you have and have not worn that season. The idea is, if you use an article of clothing and take the hanger out of the closet, you will put it back the right way and see that you have already used it. It may seem a bit extreme to some, but with New York City-sized closets, this step is important. I give myself a five-month window to use clothes for that specific season. If the hangers are still in the opposite direction by the end of those five months, I sell them or give them away to charity. It is that simple! Like I said, do not hold on to clothes that you do not wear.

Bonus Step from Hilary: Vacuum-seal!

The Best Way to Prep Your Closet for a Seasonal Change

Hilary’s sweaters, compressed in a vacuum storage bag.

“To keep moths and dust mites away from your clothing, and to save space, get some vacuum-sealed storage bags. They compress your clothing down to a shockingly small size to save space and keep bugs out. Don’t bother with annoyingly slow manual air pumps — use the hose of a vacuum cleaner instead. Trust me. Then you can store them in large, stackable plastic containers to further protect them from floods (burst pipes are no fun — I’ve been there!) and to keep them organized. I put all my dresses in one container, sweaters in another, etc. and label them using my dorky label-maker. Then I switch out the clothing seasonally.

I also want to throw in that, when shopping, it’s important to really think long and hard before buying something new. Realize that in order to keep an tidy closet, you’ll need to donate or sell something for every new item you buy! Not to mention, there’s a big environmental cost to every item we purchase.”  – Hilary Rowland

Happy tidying!

Avatar of Lauren Liebler

Lauren is a half-American, half-Cuban native of Miami with a passion for writing. She started writing as a freshman intern and found her way to a career in publicity. She is an avid traveler, devout foodie, and frequent shopper, but above it all, she believes that finding a balance is the key to living a wholesome life and staying levelheaded.

Reader Discussion: 83 Comments

  1. Avatar of Louise Mathis

    Louise Mathis

    It’s actually a good idea to keep winter clothes when it’s summer. That way, you’ll only have the choice of clothing that you need for the season. Looks like a bit of work but once you realize that it’s better than keeping all your clothes in one cabinet when you’re not going to use it all will be twice the pain in the ass if you don’t start organizing. I’m going to try it this weekend. I’m actually so excited to start this cleaning thing. Not a fan of organizing but I have to start somewhere to keep things rolling. So proud of myself ??

  2. Avatar of Caroline Schack

    Hanging my clothes backwards will only make it all complicated. I don’t think it’s effective.

  3. Avatar of Kristina Prizemnaya

    Kristina Prizemnaya

    I do group my clothes in my closet. But it doesn’t look anything like this at all.

  4. Avatar of Lydia Erickson

    Lydia Erickson

    My sister and I share closets, so organizing it isn’t exactly 100% possible. We sometimes argue about how to go purging but she’s just too sentimental about clothes and I just can’t take that. Sometimes I want to tell her that I only own about 1/8 of our closet and the rest is hers. Do you guys have any ideas how I can go about this? It’s so unfair and annoying. I’m such a tidy person and she’s the complete opposite! Please don’t tell me to just talk to her because I’ve done that so many times and nothing really helped. I’m younger than her by a few years by the way.

    • Avatar of Johanna


      Maybe instead of arguing with her, offer solutionsto solve the problem instead. Make partitions and divide the closet equally. This article said color code the hangers so you might as well both get hangers of a different color so you both know which side is yours and what’s hers.

  5. Avatar of Lauren Knight

    Lauren Knight

    That photo of that color coded closet looks like heaven to me. I don’t think I’ll be able to make mine look as neat as that.

  6. Avatar of Myra Sullivan

    Myra Sullivan

    I normally don’t like disposing old clothes because I’ve paid for it and until I know I’ve made the most out of my money, that’s the only time I’d feel better about getting rid of it.

  7. Avatar of Kathy Beck

    Kathy Beck

    I actually find color coding great for closet organization. The problem with unorganized closet is that you tend to dig around until you’re tired of folding it all back again and you’re just left with a pile of clothes that look like garbage dump. I don’t always have the patience to fold clothes over and over. I’m usually very busy in the morning before going to work, so whatever clutter I piled up on my bed will be there the moment I get home from work. I don’t want to fold clothes for hours for the mess I also made! ?

  8. Avatar of Anne Knotts

    Anne Knotts

    Apps? Everything that we really need in life is ALMOST at the touch of our phone’s screen. CRAZY!

    • Avatar of Jodi Thornton

      Jodi Thornton

      I know, I tried one of those apps and it’s actually great. Easier for me to get rid of clutter as well because I can simply just look at the stuff I don’t need.

  9. Avatar of RITA KIM


    My mom has an issue cleaning up. She feels guilty having to throw clothes that no longer fit but is good as new.

  10. Avatar of Michele Adkins

    Michele Adkins

    I recently found something good in a dollar store. It serves as a tension rod of some sort but it’s not exactly a tension rod but more of a tension rack. What I noticed is that no matter how I try to organize my closet, the more it just gets really untidy because there isn’t enough partitions with store brought cabinets. Let’s just say that there’s usually just 3 and that’s not enough to organize everything. There was even a time that I owned a cabinet that only has hangers for the inside and no rack to put folded clothes! Which is insane because not all clothes are meant to be put on hangers because it can destroy the shoulder area.

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