12/22/2011 06:08 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

A Five-Minute Fix: The Fine Art of Purging Your Wardrobe

Purging the clutter = closet clarity.

Women always complain that they have "nothing to wear." This claim is often made within spitting distance of a closet teeming with shirts, dresses, and skirts. The problem? Overwhelming clutter. Clothes are like lovers. Having too many exes in one place is disconcerting.

We can't help it. Women are hunters and gatherers. If I dropped by your house for a visit, chances are strong that I would encounter your dried bridal bouquet, baby shower keepsake, and clothing from every period of your life. The sentimental mementos are fine to keep around the house, but the angora cardigans, boxy button-downs, and fit-and-flare dresses that haven't been worn in decades are hogging precious closet space.

While you have some down time over the holidays, take this opportunity to de-clutter and streamline your wardrobe. Think about where you like to shop. Instead of clutter, transform your closet into an environment that channels the light, airy vibe of, say, Barney's New York. By discarding the garments that are in no way relevant to your current life, you will have less clutter and focus on the here and now. Translation? Toss the sweats, lock up the sneakers, and bag all too-tight, too-loose, and out -of -date garments for your local thrift shop. Take a deep breath. Open the closet door. Start plucking out unwearable remnants of your single-in-the-city, size-4 life. Also remove all things frumpifying: mom jeans, maternity muumuus, anything pleated, too-tiny hobo bags, trashed shoes and belts, ugly orthotic-looking footwear, out-of-date blazers, boxy blouses. Newsflash: there is a fine line between serious "vintage" and old crap. Quality vintage should be used and kept for your kids. It does not have to be designer. It has a special, eye-catching look that feels period. A pink jacket from your first job interview is crap and should be given away.

Six Steps to Wardrobe Nirvana:

Step 1: Spend time considering what you use, what you could use and what is acting as the annoying guest that has overstayed his welcome. Take these pieces out of the closet and drawers and lay them on the bed.

Step 2: Now, remove all things that are out of season. In July a closet should boast airy dresses, tank tops, skirts, lightweight knits, printed cotton scarves, etc. There should be no wool or cashmere. If you keep shoes in your closet, they, too, should focus upon the season at hand. During the winter, the closet should be focused on cold weather duds.

Step 3: Invest in uniform hangers; mismatched hangers create chaos. The clothing is highlighted when you have the exact same hangers; the hangers actually disappear and make your clothes the focus, so all clothes are the same length.

Step 4: Organize your closet(s) by season. As soon as the first whiff of lilac perfumes the air, start phasing out winter clothing. Fold up the chunky knits and heavy-duty cashmeres and replace them with airy tops and lightweight dresses. Buy airtight plastic tubs to house off-season pieces, and organize them by type of clothing (dresses, tank tops, jacket, etc.).

Step 5: Create an area of your attic, basement, garage, or storage space as a designated storage area for off-season clothing so that your closet is neat and manageable. The best part? Every six months, you will look at these garments with fresh eyes and feel as if you are rediscovering an old friend when you open the bins.

Step 6: Invest in organizational tools like shoe racks, tie racks, and hooks so that your accessories can be displayed in an organized fashion.

Like peacocks who meticulously molt for more up-to-the moment plumage, dumping the clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle will deliver a bolder, brighter you.