I Hired an Organizational Psychologist to Give Me a Virtual Closet Cleanup—and It Changed My Life

Who knew reorganizing my closet space could make me feel so empowered?

neat closet organized by organizational psychologist
Photo: Getty Images

Before meeting Joanna Lovering, an organizational psychologist and style coach, I wondered if I even needed help with my closet or my approach to fashion. I'm generally pretty tidy, I purge my belongings about twice a year, and I've been working from home for about a decade, so honing my style never felt like an imminent priority.

However, 10 minutes into our session, I realized this experience was exactly the jumpstart I needed. Not only did Lovering offer a new set of (much-needed) eyes to my existing organizational approach, but she helped me discover space I didn't even know was there.

What Is an Organizational Psychologist?

When you really think about it, our closets are extremely private places. Almost sacred, in a way. They accumulate functional items we wear often, but also sentimental pieces that rarely see the light of day. More than that, our garments and accessories are not just a reflection of who we present to the world, but also a direct look into how we view ourselves.

Yes, having a clean and organized space—one that prioritizes function and aesthetic—can help streamline our lives and not send us shuddering every time we open the closet door. But really thinking about the garments we buy, keep, and wear also provides deeper insight into ourselves; culling old pieces and adding new ones can actually help us understand more about who we are and can even propel us to the next level in our careers and relationships.

organized closet with organizational psychologist
My new and improved closet after meeting with the organizational psychologist. Wendy Rose Gould

Just like any other therapist or psychologist, an organizational psychologist knows exactly what questions to ask in order to help you dig deeper into yourself and refine your focus. They can help you understand why you tend to buy the things you do or why you struggle to let go of other items. It's truly both an internal and external cleansing experience.

5 Simple Changes That Make a Difference

During a sort session, create a personalized decision tree to use from that day forward. It may include the following questions: Does it fit? Does it show signs of excessive wear? Does it align with how I want to present myself? Using these questions, it's easy to implement the following changes.

01 of 05

Experiment With Non-Baggy Garments

Perhaps one of the most eye-opening moments of our sort session was when I realized just how much baggy clothing I own. This isn't an inherently bad thing, and I do feel comfortable in loose garments, but we did some exploration here that made me realize this was both a body confidence issue and a fear of looking "too sexy" because of my curves. (I grew up against a very traditional backdrop.) Lovering inspired me to experiment more with form-fitting garments. For example, I'll now pair a tighter top with a cardigan or a scarf.

02 of 05

Swap Existing Hangers

I was pretty excited to say goodbye to my bulky, mismatched plastic hangers and replace them with chic velvet hangers. Not only are they easier on my eyes, but they free up space. I purchased three sets of these velvet hangers ($24; amazon.com).

03 of 05

Relocate Nostalgic and Sentimental Items

There are a number of garments I keep in my closet that haven't been worn in years. Lovering helped remind me that my closet should be a functional space. Having it cluttered just makes getting dressed more of a hassle.

Fortunately, I don't have to get rid of the '80s-style dress I wore to a themed party once or the flashy sequin number I wore on New Year's Eve a few years back. I can put them in a clear storage box—like the Container Store's Our Boot Box ($13; containerstore.com)—store them where I can still see them, and retain that warm and fuzzy feeling.

04 of 05

Replace Old, Worn-Out Garments

The garments we wear the most show their age more quickly than others. But because we love them so much, it can be hard to say goodbye. Lovering reminded me that I'm a grown, professional woman who shouldn't be wearing a frayed sweater or a grayed tee—even if I love it.

The solution is to replace it with something new and similar. In certain cases, taking the item to be fixed and refreshed is an easy solution.

05 of 05

Reorganize Jewelry and Accessories

While I wasn't intimidated at the thought of purging my garments, my jewelry and accessories were a different story; they hadn't been sorted in over a decade.

To get more excited about this project, I purchased a few organizers, including Mebbay Stackable Velvet Jewelry Trays Organizer ($25; amazon.com), Mooca Acrylic Eyeglasses Frame Riser ($16; amazon.com), STORi Clear Plastic Vanity ($13; amazon.com), and Lemonadeus Earring Holder for Hanging Earrings ($16; amazon.com). It took hours to reorganize, but it completely transformed my accessories space.

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