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(Steve Cukrov/© Steve Cukrov 2008)
(Steve Cukrov/© Steve Cukrov 2008)

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Cleaning out the closet Add to ...

This weekend, I plan to organize my kids' closets. The leaves are on the ground and it's time to put the shorts and tank tops of summer into storage bins. I'll be taking stock of what items should be thrown away, given away or replaced. It's so easy for me to get my daughters' wardrobes into order. When a shirt gets irreparably stained, a skirt rips, or they outgrow an outfit, I quickly part with it. It's much more difficult to be as disciplined with my own closet.

I'm still hanging on to the tight jeans I wore when I was 18 in the delusional hope I'll fit into them again soon. My closet and drawers are crammed with clothes in a broad range of sizes, including maternity, that have fit me at some point in the past 15 years. My actual working wardrobe, the clothes I go to everyday, could be neatly stored in a fraction of the space.

Personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly ran a helpful piece this week called "How to stop buying clothes you'll never wear". Blogger April Dykman shared her tips on getting rid of clothes you don't need and buying the ones that you will wear. Here are a few of her suggestions:

Think "meat and potatoes" Make sure you have the "meat and potatoes" of a wardrobe - these are basic clothing items that will make it easy to pull an outfit together every day. Too many of us have closets dominated by clothes that have a lot of colour, pattern, and sparkle.

Make four piles Here's a method recommended by fashion guru Tim Gunn: When you're ready to start your closet clean-out, divide your clothes into four piles: throw out, give away, repair and soul-stirring. Get rid of the clothes in the first two piles and take the repair pile to a seamstress.

Consider your lifestyle Don't buy clothes for a fantasy version of your life, instead of the reality. "You'll end up with a lot of clothes to store and nothing to wear," says April. Whether you stay at home with the kids or work full-time in a conservative office, your wardrobe needs to serve your needs.

Fit and fabric Only buy clothes that fit well and make you feel fabulous. Don't be swayed by a great deal on the clearance rack if it gapes or pulls. It will end up at the back of your closet with the tags still on.

I've committed many wardrobe sins over the years and know I need to clean my closet out soon. As challenging as it will be to take an honest look at my clothes, I'm looking forward to having a pile of suits, skirts and pants to donate to charity. It will also be nice to cut down the time it takes me to find clothes that match and fit every morning. I might have time for breakfast.

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