Avoiding a Clothes Jam

When the weather cools and fall signals it’s on its way, a peek into closets and bureaus around the country is likely to reveal a classic conundrum: fall and winter outfits battling for space with those lingering summer clothes.

We don’t know why, but for some reason there just never seems to be enough drawer and closet space to accommodate wardrobes for all seasons. So right about now, you may be experiencing what we call a clothes jam. Similar in nature to a traffic jam, a clothes jam occurs when you simply have too many outfits in circulation. A clothes jam will stop drawers in their tracks, make it impossible to navigate wardrobes, and may even lead to a case of fashion frustration (that paralysis that can overcome you when you just don’t know what to wear). Before a clothes jam stops you in your tracks this fall, take a few minutes to streamline your wardrobe.

Sarah on ‘The Time Drain’

‘I have a particularly bad case of clothes jam right now because not only am I transitioning to a new season, but I’m also transitioning out of maternity wear since I just had a baby in July. I’m not quite back to my regular size yet, so I’ve got maternity gear, my ‘fat clothes’ and then my regular clothes — for summer and fall. Talk about a standstill! It takes me twice as long to get ready in the morning because first I have to find the pieces I’m looking for, and then I end up cycling through three or more outfits because I have too many options to choose from (and none of them ideal!). I estimate I’ve wasted about an hour this week alone on this ridiculousness. And oh how I could have used that extra hour of sleep!’

Alicia on ‘Getting Started’

‘The reason many people simply grin and bear the clothes gridlock is that they think don’t have time to deal with the root of the problem. But changing your closet over to the new season doesn’t have to be an all day affair. And if you’re really pressed for time, just focus on one trouble spot, like shirts or a particular drawer.’

Here are three tips that can help you avoid (or overcome) a clothes jam this season.

#1: Schedule Time
Block off an hour on your calendar this week or next to tackle the problem. When you actually carve out the time, it’s amazing what you can accomplish in an hour. If you don’t have a free hour, you should at least be able to break it up into two half-hour sessions. If you need to, arrange for someone watch the kids. Better yet, have your spouse take the kids out of the house for an hour while you go to work and then return the favor when it’s their turn to hit the closets.

#2: Apply the 80/20 Rule
The majority of clothes you have probably go unworn. We don’t know if it’s true or not, but we’ve heard the statistic that the average American only wears 10% – 20% of the clothes they own. Try to eliminate of some of the extras. As you rotate in your new wardrobe, put those items that you haven’t worn once in the previous season in a bag to give to charity or swap with friends. And anything with holes in it should be either thrown out immediately or put in the rag bin. Be ruthless!

#3: Reward Yourself
Give yourself a treat when this pesky task out of the way. Do something to celebrate the new season like getting a little something new to wear. You’ll certainly have room for it!