I should say up front that I’m not a medical doctor or a doctor of any sort. I can’t really diagnose or treat any mental illness. But what if I was and I could? I can certainly tell a lot about somebody by looking in her bedroom closet. And although I have no data to back this up, I’m convinced the bedroom closet reflects one’s state of mind. It certainly does mine.
Feel free to use this handy guide to diagnose your own mental health. (Or to just have a laugh).
Scenario 1: Someday My Jeans Will Fit
Symptom: Your closet is jam-packed because you have the equivalent of three full wardrobes in different sizes and you’re not willing to part with any of it.
Diagnosis: Basically, you’re living on a prayer. Admit it: Like many of us, you’ve got the Skinny clothing, the Fat clothing, and the Regular clothing. Depending on where the dial on your scale lands on a given day, that’s what informs which wardrobe you choose from.
Prescription: While this might seem like the best plan ever (you don’t have to run out and buy new clothing when you lose or gain a bit of weight), it doesn’t serve youor your closet. Not to sound all New Age, but all we have is now, and hanging onto clothing that might fit at some vague point in the future keeps us from getting the most out of our wardrobe today.
First, keeping “fat” clothing around “just in case” reinforces negativity — unless you’re planning to get pregnant … like, soon. Plus, if you’re like me, by the time you do get into those skinny jeans, they’ll be totally out of style anyway.
Instead, try on all your clothes and then put them in two piles: the ones that fit you now and the ones that don’t. This will take a while. You might need to put on some music and pour yourself an adult beverage. Maybe a bedroom closet overhaul will give you a fresh start, a new attitude. If all the clothes in your closet fit properly, you’ll always look put together, your self-esteem will improve, and so on.
If you don’t want to give the ill-fitting clothes to charity, put them in vinyl storage bags and store them in long term storage, e.g. out in the garage or down in the basement.
Scenario 2: Sad Shopping = Bad Shopping
Symptom: Your closet is a cluttered, disorganized disaster area. You own articles of clothing you’ve never even worn.
Diagnosis: You’re a secret fan of the show “Hoarders” (and you know why), there may be something going on with the whole compulsive shopping thing and — let’s get intimate here: Are you feeling blue?
Prescription: The bedroom closet should be a sanctuary; not a junk pile. Get rid of all the random stuff you stashed in there because nobody else wanted to look at it. Sell it, give it away, shove it in a different closet if you have to.
For the items that do belong in a bedroom closet — hosiery, belts, ties, scarves, cushioned shoe inserts, lint rollers, shoe polish, etc. — tuck them into the pockets of those clear plastic back-of-the-door shoe bags.
Alternately, you could double the space on your closet’s overhead shelf with stacking shelves.
But ultimately, it’s important to remember that while shopping can make it all go away for a bit, the buzz never lasts — although the bills sure do. When you’re feeling down or anxious, try taking a walk, calling a friend, brewing up some chamomile tea. In fact, use that as a barometer of when not to go shopping. Feeling off-kilter or out of sorts today? Hide the credit cards!
Scenario 3: That Closet Isn’t Going to Organize Itself
Symptom: It’s hard to move the hangers because they’re all mismatched and tangled together. The closet rod is damaged or located in a bad spot. Getting clothes in and out of the closet is a chore you dread.
Diagnosis: You’d probably self-diagnose as a procrastinator, but you just keep putting it off.
Prescription: Use a double hanging rod to maximize vertical space:
And ditch the old wire hangers from the dry cleaners. They’re rough on clothes and get all bent and tangled together, which takes up extra space. I’m a big fan of the felt ones, like these from Target because they’re slimmer and even slinky tops stay on the hanger without clothespins (more bulk).
Pssst! Do it now. Now. Now! That closet isn’t going to sort itself (and trust me, you’ll feel so much better afterwards).
Scenario 4: Seasonal Closet Disorder
Symptom: You have clothes from all four seasons in your closet. Beach towels are squeezed into the same tiny space as ski gloves.
Diagnosis: Fear of commitment, anybody? We all like to believe that we can pick ourselves up and leave — traveling to any exotic corner of the world at a moment’s notice — but (once again) it all comes down to Be Here Now.
Prescription: Until you have your airplane ticket booked, dress for the time zone where you live and keep off-season clothes in short term storage. Short term storage usually means the items will still be in your bedroom closet, but out of sight. I like to stack clear plastic tubs on the closet floor.
Just remember that song, “Love the One You’re With.” Embrace the seasons, one at a time. Not to mention, that other world belongs to the jet setters.
Monsters No More
Whichever closet scenario fits you best, there is a solution. Just strap on your suit of armor, grab the shield and sword, and slay those dragons — one hanger at a time.