SLT 020: Organizing Your Clothes Closet & Mentoring Your Younger Self


Organizing Your Clothes Closet & Mentoring Our Younger Selves

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Vanessa Topic: Organizing Your Clothes Closet

  • Since we started the Edit and Forget Challenge, there are a couple of things that I’ve noticed:
    • A lot of folks love the idea of editing, but they’re having a tough time convincing their significant others to jump on board. So the biggest piece of advice we give them is to listen to Episode 11 With Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, where he shares some tips on how to work with your loved ones.  Basically he recommends to start with your own stuff first.
    • I also noticed most folks start with editing their clothes. I guess it just seems like a natural place to start because most of us have our own clothes that we don’t share with anyone else.  I also think folks start in their closets because you can make a significant impact visually…letting go of 20 pieces of clothing frees up a lot more space than 20 pieces of paper or 20 paper clips.
  • Well one of the side effects to all this editing that we’ve encouraged, is that I’ve gotten a few questions about what to with the clothes that are left behind and how to organize these newly freed-up closets!
  • I’ve already talked about how to organize any space back in Episode 12 As a quick recap, I use a four step process: N…A…P…O

 – Determine your Needs

Assess your space

Edit your space

Organize your space

  • For the folks out there who have already edited…I recommend going back to the previous two steps:  Decide if your NEEDS have changed….and Re-ASSESS your space to decide how you’ll now utilize it.
  • Ech closet is different and each person has different needs for utilizing their closet.
  •  Here are some TIPS on how to organize your clothes closet:
    • Sort your clothes:

– By FUNCTION: work clothes, dress clothes, casual, seasonal

– By TYPE: t-shirts, polos, long sleeve, sweaters, pants, skirts, dresses, jackets

– By COLOR  use the colors of the rainbow as a guide when sorting your colors ROYGBIV…red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (with white in front and black at the end)

– Or a COMBINATION.  For example, I sort by type and color within each type (sleeveless shirts from white to black)

    •  Dedicate space for each person.  After you edit and have a better idea of how many clothes you have left, you can better establish the space required for each person.
    •  Don’t get too hung up on hangers!  I prefer to use the same type of hanger to keep a streamlined look in the closet.  For example…I don’t like plastic tubular hangers with my non-slip felt ones.  But my felt hangers aren’t the easiest to use especially on cotton crew neck tee-shirt.  So here are some tips with hangers:

 – If you want a streamlined look but need to use different hangers…try using the felt hangers along with the clear plastic hangers like you get from a department store.  Both usually have a silver metal hook, which is mostly what you see as you look across the clothing rod.

– For heavy jackets and coats…use wood or thick, wide plastic hangers specifically made for sport coats, and blazers etc.

To save space and/or prevent your clothes from sliding around, use the slimline/felt/flocked hangers.  I like these but because they are so thin they tend to break easily…not recommended for heavy coats and pants.  They work great however for spaghetti strap shirts and keeping light pants from sliding.

For slacks and skirts….I find the clear plastic hangers with the metal hook and clips work best.  The same as you see at department stores. 

For easy slip on and slip off hangers….your basic tubular hangers work best.  The downside to these is that they are slippery so sometimes shirts (especially womens shirts / spaghetti straps) fall off and pants that are folded over and hung on them tend to slide and scrunch up and wrinkle your pants. 

    • Another tip is to face all of your clothes in one direction. Have all of your clothes facing one way so that you can easily sift through or file through them.
    •  Most sweaters should be folded and stored on a shelf or in a drawer.  The reason is because they are usually pretty heavy and bulky and tend to get shoulder nipples if left on a hanger too long.  If you stack them on a shelf, try not to stack them more than 3-4 high (max 5) so they don’t unravel or topple over when you grab one from the middle of the stack.  You can also use sweater bins or slide on shelf dividers to keep them in place.
    •  Use containers.  There are a ton so let me just throw out some ideas to help you think about what might work for you:

 – Open bins and baskets are great for storing baseball caps, gloves, scarves, bulky belts, or winter caps.

 – Boxes are great for shoes.  I prefer clear stackable shoe boxes.  I also prefer them either at eye level or high on a shelf because they’re easier to see.

 – Canvas lidded boxes are nice to spruce up the look of your closet and keep it more streamlined.

 – Wide open tubs (wicker, metal or even plastic) are nice for tossing thin shoes like sandals and flip flops.

    • Use containers to take advantage of vertical space: 

– Stackable shoe boxes

– Stackable drawers (shoes, or other clothes)

– Stackable sweater bins

– Stackable cubbies (for shoes or purses that can either sit on the floor or on a shelf)

– Hanging shoes cubbies (shoes, rolled t-shirts, rolled swim trunks)

– Hanging shelf cubbies (great for bulky sweatshirts, sweaters, scarves, etc.)

Hooks on the wall for scarves, robes, belts and purses

– Over the door shoe organizers (shoes, belts, gloves, clutches, bangle bracelets, panty hose, socks, swim suits)

– Over the door hooks

– Belt and tie hangers or hooks

– Hook on hanging rod to had more hanging space

    • Of course you could also invest in a custom closet system…designed to fit your needs and take advantage of as much space as possible. Most have the following features:

– Adjustable shelves

– Adjustable clothing rods

– Slide out drawers

– Valet hooks

– Thin pull out drawers for jewelry

    • Seasonal clothing:  If you don’t have enough space to store current and out of season clothing,  then you’ll need to have a system of switching them out.  Here are just a couple of tips:

 – Before storing them away, dry clean natural fibers and delicates, wash all other clothing, don’t starch because critters like it, fix and mend clothing beforehand, and get a few humidity control packets or sachets and cedar balls to store in garment bags or boxes. 

– You can use a variety of containers and garment bags. Space bags are nice if you’re concerned about space and not so concerned about wrinkling your clothes.  Garment bags (not dry cleaners bags which should be removed right away) are nice for keeping out the dust and hanging either in the far corners of your closet or in another room.

– You can store your boxed up or bagged seasonal clothing under the bed or in your less frequently used areas of the closet like tucked down low in a corner or up high on the shelf.  You don’t want it taking up prime real estate.  Plastic bins in the attic should be fine. Just make sure the lid is tightly sealed with your sachets and humidity control packets.

 – For old, valuable or sentimental items you may want to consider getting archival boxes that will better protect them and store them inside or in a climate controlled area.

    •  My last tip is to Maintain your organized closet:

 – Label your bins, boxes, shelves, drawers and even your clothing rods.

– Don’t get the case of the ‘dropsies.’ Put your laundry in the hamper, put your shoes back on the shelf or in the box, and hang up your clothes.

– Use clear bins when possible.

– Have a good laundry routine…which should include folding and putting your clothes away right away.  Don’t let them pile up or get mixed in with the dirty clothes.

– Edit frequently…seasonally is nice…annual at the very least!

Dan’s Topic: Mentoring Our Younger Selves

  • How cool it would be and what you would say if you could go back in time to talk to your younger self. Geez…I’d give myself an earful!
  • We have an entire generation right now that, unlike many previous generations, has graduated college and a couple years later is still working in entry-level jobs, many still living at home with Mom and Dad, and they’re just dying to begin their lives.
  • Unfortunately, for most of them, their frustration is probably compounded because they have this consumeristic vision of what life is supposed to be like:
    • Graduate college, get offered amazing jobs immediately
    • Start at a good salary and reaching 6 figures in a couple years
    • Buy the big house, get all the toys…maybe get married or just move in with their significant other…
  • This has essentially become the contorted consumeristic model of what people where we live call the “American Dream” 
  • Trouble is, we can’t go back and mentor our younger self
  • Maybe we can mentor others instead...our surrogate younger selves?
  • While we can’t impose our beliefs on them, we can help them see that they don’t have to get to the point of having too much stuff and then trying to simplify.
    • Imagine how much more beneficial it would be if they didn’t have to get to the point of having too much.
    • What would it be like if they could embrace simplicity NOW, proactively, instead of reactively LATER in their lives?
    • So maybe if we could take the time to mentor just one young person it could make a difference.
    • Maybe it’s a family member, maybe one of your friend’s kids, someone at the office, or even one of your own kids.
    • You could forward them something that inspires you, a blog post you read, a good book you found, a podcast you listen to, or best of all, a personal story.
    • Throughout history, some of the most profound teachers use allegory and parables to get the point across.
      • Our lives, our victories and our mistakes, make great fodder for that.
      • So pass some of that on.
      • Granted, they may not be eager to listen…I know I wasn’t…but we should at least try.
  • So here are a few things I’d tell my younger self if I could…not just about simplicity but about other stuff, too. I could go on all day, but I’ll just limit it to just these:
    • All those mistakes you make in life that you beat yourself up for and are secretly embarrassed about…that keep you from trying them again or something like it? You’re the only one who remembers them, so get over it.
    • If you have to buy it with credit, you probably don’t need it. Never tell a salesperson “I just need my monthly payment to be no more than $XX” because you might just as well write “I’m a Sucker and have no concept of what interest or amortization is” across your forehead.
    • Many people are drawn to drama like moths to a flame. Don’t be a moth. Drama is clutter.
    • Tell the truth…it’s a lot easier. Lies and deceit are clutter. Don’t get me wrong, they work short term…but they ALWAYS come back to bite you in the fourth point of contact. Besides, once you compromise your integrity, it takes a long time to grow back.
    • Remember after boot camp how good it felt to be able to fit everything you own in a duffle bag? Well, be careful what “stuff” you let into your life. You don’t own things, things own you.
    • Learn to eat better now. You know how that “winter weight” just seems to melt away every Spring? Yeah, well, it’s stops doing that when you turn 27. You know how much fun those half marathons are? Especially when you don’t even have to train for them? Well, again, learn to eat better now because after 37 you won’t be able to do any more running…
    • Even the Jones’s can’t keep up with the Jones’s. The Jones’s have been brainwashed by marketers. They actually believe all that stuff makes them happier.
    • There are gurus and there are experts, but AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE anyone who calls themselves a guru or an expert.
    • There is no magic pill, no easy button, no master blueprint. You have to find the answers for yourself. No one will give them to you. They’ll help…but you have to find the answers that are right for you.
    • Too much of any good thing has the opposite effect. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, oxygen, togetherness, solitude, water, exercise, food….and yes, even money.  It’s just a rule. That’s how it is.
    • Speaking of money, be careful with it. Respect it and use it wisely. Best of all, share some with those who really need it.
    • Remember and contemplate often Occam’s Razor, the Pareto Principle and Parkinson’s Law (you can learn more about these in Episode 4)
    • There ARE some shortcuts to difficult things in life. But shortcuts are seldom easy. If it was really shorter and really easier…it would just be “the way.”
    • The last one for now…pick your friends and those you love wisely. They may never fully understand you, but pick those that will be there to support you and, as we say in the military, those that have your “six.”
  • So, although we can’t go back and mentor our younger selves, I think we can make the world a little better by taking the time to mentor someone else. Still, it’s exciting thing to think about it from time to time.
  • So if you have a few spare moments, think about what is that you’d pass on. What unique experiences to you have that someone just starting out would be better off knowing. What do you wish you knew back in the day? Maybe it’s time to share that.
  • Maybe in the end, we can change someone else’s history by helping them plan a simpler future, starting right now.

Thing Segment

  • Vanessa’s Thing: Gushing over my daughter.
    • Started her own little Bible Study with her stuffed animals.
    • Decided all on her own that she wanted to give away her stuffed animals to a kid that doesn’t have any.
    • I was definitely proud of her but it was also confirmation of the things I teach about how you can teach your children to embrace certain beliefs, values and concepts if you stay dedicated to teaching them and being consistent.
  • Dan’s Thing: Our New AeroPress Espresso & Coffee Maker!
    • We had a regular drip coffee maker and then we switched to the Keurig when all the cool kids were doing it.
    • The we realized just how expensive the coffee was for the Keurig and switched back to the Krups drip machine.
    • But…ok, and I know this sounds picky…but it tastes kinda bitter.
    • We have some long-term plans to be doing some serious extended camping.

    • When we camp we use either:
      • A percolator…which I can’t stand because the coffee gets full of grounds…
      • Or those little Via packs from Starbucks, which require a home equity loan with a co-signer to purchase.
    • So…while looking for a coffee maker solution for camping, I at first thought about a sturdy French Press…but still, clean up is a pain.
    • Then I remembered hearing about the AeroPress!
    • The AeroPress is this super simple clear plastic tube that, candidly, looks like something Austin Powers would order from Sweden but say “it isn’t even my bag, baby.”
    • It makes the perfect espresso, the perfect cup of Joe, at the perfect temperature.
    • It’s about $25 bucks, super easy clean-up, and we’re using it not just for camping, but we’ve put the drip machine away.
    • And THAT, ladies and gentlemen…is my thing!

Links Link to Support Charity Water

Austin Powers Swedish Device


Velvet/Flocked Hangers

Clear Hangers

Canvas Shoe Hangers

Canvas Sweater Hanging Shelves

Over-The-Door Hook  

Tie and Belt Organizer  

Clear Shoe Drawers Bins  

Purse/Shoe Cubbies  

Shelf Dividers  


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4 thoughts on “SLT 020: Organizing Your Clothes Closet & Mentoring Your Younger Self

  1. So I have been marathon listening to your podcast’s because I just love them! I want to share this funny story with you… So at the point in this podcast where Vanessa talks about how she loves the super slim felt hangars, I am thinking to myself “How funny, my mom just bought my husband (Joe) and I 100 of these hangars and (after replacing all our old hangars) I absolutely love them!” In fact, I was thinking why didn’t I do that sooner?! It is really making my life and morning routine easier. Then I heard the part where Dan commented on how he dislikes them because of sticking issues and I thought “Hm, that’s so weird Joe hasn’t said anything. In fact, thank goodness because that would be super annoying after all that effort I put out”. And wouldn’t you know later that night my husband says to me “I hate these new hangars, my shirts are always sticking to them”. I could only laugh! Anyway, I just had to share that story. Keep up the good work, really enjoying your work together!

    • That is hilarious, Kaylin!!!! I definitely prefer the flocked/felt hangers…even though they can be difficult to get clothes on and off of. But I get just as frustrated with the plastic hangers…sure they’re easier to put clothes on and off…but I can’t stand it when the clothes slide around and fall off!

      Anyhoos…THANK YOU so much for listening and sharing your funny story! We just can’t thank you enough for taking the time to listen and sharing your feedback with us! Best of luck with the hanger “hang-ups” ;o)

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