How to cull your coat closet

  • Updated: April 2, 2014 - 1:17 PM

Spring is an excellent time to cull your coat collection before it swallows up all the valuable real estate in your closets.

For coat-loving Minnesotans, it ain’t easy.

Deb Oppel, a Plymouth-based professional organizer, said that coat closets tend to be a persistent problem for many of her clients.

“They’re not just cluttered,” she said, “they’re jammed and crammed.”

Audrey Thomas, a speaker, author and organization consultant, agreed, adding that going through your coats is an excellent way to launch your spring-cleaning offensive. But it’s even better to adopt new practices that prevent you from accumulating too many coats once again.

“When you clean out your closet, spread out all your coats on the floor,” she suggested. “That makes it hard to be in denial about how many you have. Unload the ones you didn’t wear this year. Then ask yourself, if your house burned down tomorrow, which ones would you go out and replace the next day?”

She also recommends setting up a household “donation station,” where everyone in the family can put the outerwear they’ve outgrown or simply never wear.

“Make a rule that for every one you buy, you have to pitch or donate two,” she said. “It cuts down on mindless buying. For everything you think about adding, you have to ask yourself, what am I willing to give up to have this? If the answer is nothing, you don’t want or need it enough.”

Oppel suggests an eye-opening turncoat technique. She tells her clients to hang all of their coats on hangers that face the same direction.

“I have them turn the hanger around once they wear it. Then they see how much they don’t use,” she said. “Most people wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time.”

Oppel has clients who’ve added expansive new mudrooms just to handle the coat overflow, only to be overwhelmed again when they can’t resist end-of-season bargains. She tells such clients, often women who buy too much for their children as well as themselves, to carefully consider how their actions may be interpreted.

“Think about that message,” she advises. “Your actions are telling them that they need a lot, always more. Is that the lesson you want them to learn?”

Kevyn Burger

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