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Spring Clean Your Closet in Four Easy Steps

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In a few short days the vernal equinox will rear its well-organized head and instead of being made to feel like a compulsive neat freak, I can spring-clean with societal approval and encouragement.

I particularly look forward to going through my wardrobe at this time of year. I use spring-cleaning as an excuse to examine every article of clothing I own--from sweat pants to cocktail party dresses--and decide if they still have what it takes to retain membership in my clothes closet.

Occasionally, I need some help with this process--a reality check, as it were, to help me sort out the outdated and outgrown. When my need to finish the unfinished business in my closet overwhelms me, I call on my friend Linda--a personal organizer by trade--for support with my couture cleansing.

Linda is the Attila the Hun of cleaning things out. I am not kidding about this. I try on a blouse.

"No," she says. "Off to the consignment store."

"But, Linda," I protest, "I bought this at Macy's on sale. It was marked down from $175 to $50."
"It doesn't fit right and makes you look frumpy." At the word frumpy, I concede.

Next item, a pair of black pants I have been wearing for the past six years. "Too high a waist," Linda pronounces.

"But, Linda," I whine, "these are really good designer pants."

"Karen, women our age need to wear pants that fall slightly lower on the hip. These are too high up and they make your stomach poof out."

Hearing the words poof and stomach combined in one sentence, I drop the pants into the Goodwill bag.

And so it goes until that magical moment when we step back, survey the fruits of our labor and nod our heads with satisfaction.

Four Simple Steps To Spring-Cleaning Your Clothes Closet

1. Start with one category of clothing at a time (pants, skirts, shoes) and evaluate each item individually (trying it on if necessary) and ask yourself:

- Do I still like this and feel good when I wear it?
- Is this item still in relatively good shape (no stains, rips, etc.)?
- Is this item a classic or still in fashion?
- Does it fit?

2. If the answer is no to any of the first three questions, put the item into one of three piles--donation, sales or repair. Within a week bring the items to their designated locations.

3. If the answer to the fourth question is no, the item does not fit, but you still like it, determine if it could be altered and within a week take it to a seamstress. If you are waiting to lose weight before you wear an item again, give yourself a time limit by which you will be able to slip into that special something (say, within the year) or get rid of it.

4. Hang the keepers from that category back in your closet in an organized fashion using sturdy plastic hangers in one color or wood hangers with clips. Make sure all clothes are facing in the same direction and organize them in order of color from dark to light.

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Karen Leland is author of the recently released books Watercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper In the Face of Conflict, Pressure and Change and Time Management In An Instant:60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. She is the co-creator of a new line of Productivity Pads from Time Tamer™ and the co-founder of Sterling Consulting Group. For questions, comments or to book Karen to speak at your next event, please e-mail kleland@scgtraining.com.

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