I recently took a trip to see my family, in Texas, for my mother’s birthday. Since I was not working those days and had the chance to relax and unwind, I took the opportunity to organize my mother’s wardrobe (yes, it’s an illness, albeit a useful one!).
My mother has lost a significant amount of weight in recent months and had last gone through her clothes…never! So, the organizing geek in me seized the opportunity to clear some clutter and the daughter in me thought this would be a good bonding opportunity for my mom and I. Little did I know the sheer volume of things she had tucked away in drawers and on shelves, and even in bags (some of which she had no recollection purchasing). My mother and I are on opposite ends of the organizing spectrum (I’m organized and she’s not) so this was both useful and exhausting!
We began with the shoes. My mom has tons of shoes, but only wears one pair. Why? Well, she says the rest are uncomfortable. While “why did you buy them then?” was the obvious question, it would do nothing to help the situation. So, we proceeded by trying them all on and deciding which ones were too uncomfortable to wear and which ones just needed to be broken in a little. The shoes that were deemed unwearable went, either into the consignment pile or the pile to be donated to Soles4Souls, an amazing organization that revamps and donates shoes to places where they don’t have any, like Haiti.
Next, we moved on to the shelves and drawers of folded clothing (or just crumpled and put away, as was the case). We pulled everything out and my mother proceeded to try on each and every item of clothing she owned. There were a lot of things that were now way too big on her and a bunch of things that were circa 1980s, that were not in style now (nor should have been then). There were also things she said she bought too small (This is where the ‘why?’ creeps back in), but that now fit.
After everything (the contents of 3 closets, one set of double drawers and 2 nightstands) had been tried on and marked ‘stay’ or ‘go’ the real organizing began! I organized the shoes by season (since Houston only has one season – summer, it wasn’t that hard), occasion (fancy vs everyday) and comfort level. The t-shirts and sleeveless shirts each got their own drawer, organized by type (plain, fancy, etc.). Next, all of the sweaters and pants were folded onto shelves and the dresses and skirts were hung up by category on one side of the closet while the nice shirts and button down sweaters took up the other side. Now, this is not the only way to organize clothes. The system you use depends on the items. For example, my mom wears mostly skirts and dresses so there was no need to hang up the few pairs of easily foldable pants, but someone else’s closet may contain different categories. It also depends on the user. My mom does not want to spend a lot of time looking for things and what’s on top usually gets worn first, so this system makes it easy to grab and wear.
After all was said and done my mother was a bit in awe of this new system, since her idea of organizing has always been to throw the tops on one chair and the bottoms on another. However, she now knows exactly what she has and where to find it. She knows that all of her clothes fit and look good on her, and when she decides to buy something it will be because she knows she doesn’t have one just like it at home.
Unfortunately, I do not have any ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, but I did note that 7 trash bags of clothes went to Goodwill, 1 bag of shoes went to Soles4Souls and 5 bags of clothes/shoes/purses went to a consignment store. Now that is what I call a successful visit!