Guy fashion 911: A manly guide to cleaning out your closet

03/05/2014 2:26 PM

03/05/2014 2:26 PM

Guys, your side of the closet might be no bigger than your first-grade cubby hole, but no matter how much space you’re working with, a clean and organized closet is a happy closet. Cleaning out your side of the closet is your responsibility. Here are tips for getting your space in order.

Assess and reduce

Consider the 20-80 rule: People tend to wear about 20 percent of the clothes they own 80 percent of the time, says Barry Izsak, an Austin, Texas-based Certified Professional Organizer (

• His rule of thumb for guys: If you haven’t worn something in two years or keep saying you’ll take it to get repaired, it’s time to part with the item. “Saving that stuff that you think will come back into style is never a good idea,” he says. “The problem is when paisley comes back in style, the width of the tie is going to be different.”
• If you have items you’re iffy on and not sure whether you want to keep them, turn their hangers backwards and, as you wear the items, turn the hangers back around so they are consistent with the rest of your closet, says Izsak. Untouched items should go.
• Certified Professional Organizer Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet (, suggests getting an objective second opinion when tackling a closet clean-out. One of the challenges with men’s clothing is the styles tend to be more classic – meaning guys hold on to the styles longer. When deciding if it’s time to get rid of a shirt or pair of pants, take a look at the wear and tear, as well as the fit, she suggests.

Maximize space

Rather than consider it a burden, it’s more fun to think of your closet reorganization project as a game of Tetris – fitting the pieces just right to maximize space.

“It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to re-do your closet,” Izsak says.

•  Check out stores such as Walmart, Target and Container Store for storage solutions and space savers.
• “One thing we encourage is that if you’re short on hanging space, consider folding things – like T-shirts or polo shirts,” Izsak says. “Vice versa, if you don’t have the drawer space, then start hanging the things you would fold.”
• If your closet has just one long hanging rod, get a second bar so you can take advantage of a double hang and make the most use of your space.
• Because men’s shoes are typically more bulky than women’s shoes, Marrero suggests avoiding shoe-shelving units with cubby cubes because the cubes are too small for men’s shoes.

Sorting ABCs

When organizing your closet, one of Marrero’s favorite strategies is to look at the frequency of use of each item because you could be taking up some valuable space with items you’re not using.

• “A” items are things that get daily use – like socks and underwear – and should be the most accessible.
• Items in the “B” category you wear often, like everyday shirts. They can go in drawers that are a little higher or lower.
• Seasonal items such as a Christmas sweater are “C” type items and should be up on a high shelf and out of the way.
• “D” type items are items you’re not using, but that are sentimental – like your high school letter jacket – that should be stored away.

To the thrift shop

Marrero, also an ambassador for Goodwill’s Donate Movement (, says, in general, Goodwill takes gently used clothing for resale and it’s helpful if you can wash the items before you donate them.

If you have torn, ripped or stained clothes, or used socks, you can put those items in a separate bag labeled “salvage” so it will go into Goodwill’s salvage and recycling program.

Of course, Goodwill isn’t the only game in town. A Google search for “thrift store” or “consignment” in your area will yield dozens of results.

You can track the value of your donations with a free “Donate for Dollars” tracking sheet from that you can use in tax season to calculate your charitable deductions.

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