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In our monthly fashion column, Style Coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Megan LaRussa shares her best tips for dressing stylishly and appropriately for any occasion — while helping women look and feel their best. Today, she gives us the five steps to effectively clean out your closet once and for all. It’s a focused, stress-free game plan that every woman needs. Without further ado, we hand it off to Megan LaRussa!

After working with countless style-coaching clients, I have seen 99.9% of the time that the root of all style issues, conundrums and ruts stems from having a closet that desperately needs to be cleansed. You may pride yourself in the streamlined minimalism of your closet, or perhaps you are an “I’ll hold onto this just in case I need it one day” type of person, or maybe you do get rid of items on occasion. Whatever the case, the new year is your time to do a thorough assessment of your current wardrobe.

When I first start working with a new client, they often tell me they have “tried” to cleanse their closet on their own, either solo or with a friend, and, without fail, it becomes overwhelming, frustrating, and it just plain takes a lot of time. That’s where I come in as a Style Coach to streamline the process and help them know exactly what to donate, consign, keep and alter. We can go through an entire closet from everyday clothes to coats to shoes to accessories in three hours flat.

If you’re ready to tackle your closet once and for all, then let’s dive into my step-by-step cleansing method to ensure 2019 is your most stylish and streamlined year yet.

closet cleanse | Image: IKEA

Before you step into your closet, utilize magazines and Pinterest to help you visually see your personal style, so that you have a clear vision of the wardrobe you really want as you cleanse your closet. Image: IKEA

Step 1: Create a solid foundation before you step into your closet.

Before you even step foot into your closet, you’ve got to — no exceptions! — understand your silhouette and your personal style. These two foundational elements are the backbone of having a curated wardrobe, and without crystal-clear clarity surrounding these two topics, it will make cleansing your closet completely overwhelming and ultimately unsuccessful. So it’s time to learn, once and for all, what your real body type is, as well as what works and what doesn’t work on your frame. There are four main body types and none of them are fruit shapes. (Nope, you are NOT a pear.) Your measurements tell all, and so it’s important to take them, assess them and, from there, know how to balance and flatter your frame. This will help you know what to toss and what to keep in your closet.

The other piece of the style puzzle is being able to fully articulate and visually understand your personal style in this stage of life. Utilize magazines and Pinterest to help you visually see what you are attracted to. From there, use this visual guide to help you cut through the clutter and keep only those items that truly reflect your authentic self, the clothing styles that just make you feel awesome.

Expert Tip: If you don’t know where to start when it comes to deciphering your personal style and body type, then I’ve got you covered! Learn both upon joining my online style membership site, the Style Yourself Chic Society

RELATED: The Secret to Creating an Authentic Capsule Wardrobe

Step 2: Schedule your closet cleanse and get organized.

Now that you’ve established a strong foundation, it’s time to get into your closet! But it’s not going to happen miraculously (kind of like going to the dentist), so I invite you to schedule some uninterrupted time in your calendar to cleanse. Start with a two-hour block, and if you are feeling ambitious try three hours, but any more than that and you’ll get too tired to be able to cleanse properly.

Go ahead and have trash bags and shopping bags ready for use at the end of your cleanse. Bonus points if you have your body type notes and personal style inspiration with you to keep you focused when you get emotional or frustrated.

closet cleanse | Image: IKEA

To best organize your closet, Megan says to do it in sections. Image: IKEA

Step 3: Divide and Conquer

Once in your closet, it’s best to chunk it down into sections and go section by section. Start with tops, then sweaters, then third pieces, then pants, jeans, and so on. Address all hanging clothes before moving on to shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories.

When going through a section make sure to pull out each garment one at a time and ask yourself questions such as:

  • If I were shopping today, would I be excited to buy this?
  • Does this suit my body type and personal style?
  • How do I feel when I wear this? Confident, yucky, just fine, happy, bleh, etc.?
  • When’s the last time I wore this, how do I wear it and where am I going when I wear it? In other words, does it serve a purpose in your closet?

These important questions will help you weed out those items no longer serving you and will help you navigate the organizational strategy, financial stress and emotional attachment we can all experience during a closet cleanse.

Step 4: Make Piles and Assess Them

While going through each section, make a pile for 1) donation items, 2) consignment items, 3) items to alter and 4) items to try on. Anything that you still love and that works for you now can go back into the closet.

At the end of your closet cleanse, and once you’ve gone through your designated sections, bag up the donation items to go to your favorite charity. Put your consignment items on hangers, ready to go to your local consignment shop (or if you prefer online, try sites like Poshmark, thredUP, The RealReal, etc.). Set aside the alteration items and make it a priority to take them within a week, so they aren’t just lingering in your closet or bedroom. And lastly, try on the items in question whether that be for fit, cut or style and weed through those items too. If you aren’t sure if they work or not, ask a trusted friend, an expert like myself or take a picture of yourself in it and assess it yourself.

Step 5: Let It Go ASAP!

When I complete a closet cleanse with a client, I immediately remove the donation and consignment items from the client’s home and take them with me. It’s important to do the same for yourself. I’ve found that if the garments don’t leave the house they tend to find a way to sneak back into your closet, negating all of your hard work. Do yourself a favor, take the trash bags and hanging clothes and place them in your car and drop them off at the appropriate places ASAP. I promise you’ll be glad you did, not to mention you’ll have a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders!

RELATED: 5 Tips for Layering Without Looking Bulky

closet cleanse | Image: IKEA

Once you’ve cleansed your closet, don’t waste time getting it out of your house. Image: IKEA

By following this five-step method, you are sure to eliminate the insurmountable overwhelm, frustration and most importantly time wasted that can come when cleansing your closet without a game plan. And don’t forget to try to make it as fun as possible for yourself! Put on your favorite music, grab a glass of wine (not a bottle — haha!) or some tea, and make 2019 your most stylish year yet! Once you have a clean and organized closet, you’ll know what you need to shop for and you’ll find getting dressed daily becomes more streamlined, easier and fun!

To learn more about Megan LaRussa, or to view style-coaching options, book an appointment or sign up for the Style Yourself Chic Society, visit


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