Clinton Kelly's Tips For a Clean and Organized Closet

Closet organization is an ongoing struggle for me. In my wardrobe utopia—a magical land of antique coat hooks and dresses hung in rainbow order—all my clothes would be mix-and-matchable and frequently used. But too often, I find myself rooting around in the dark for my favorite pair of skinny jeans and wearing the same waffle-knit pullover three times per week.

According to Clinton Kelly, the co-host of TLC's What Not To Wear, I'm not alone in my plight. "In my experience, the average woman wears less than half the clothes contained in her closet," he told me. His best advice on fixing this is straightforward and simple enough to follow, but requires commitment.

"Twice a year, you must take every single item of clothing you own out of your closet and throw it onto the bed, couch, dining room table—whatever—and try it on piece by piece," he explained. "Yes, it sucks and it's exhausting, but you will feel so much better after you do it—kind of like how you feel after you go to the gym. No one has ever told me, 'Gee, I wish I hadn't taken the time to clean out my closet.'"

Once you begin the process, Clinton insists on ruthless honesty—although some things can be saved, most will be donated. Below, he explains the four kinds of questionable items to look for while sorting, and what to do with them later:

1. Anything that is too small. "All this stuff gets donated to charity. You don't need to look into your closet every day and be reminded that you used to be a size 6 if you're now a size 12. Don't keep clothes around for motivation. It absolutely does not work."

2. Anything that is more than one size too big. "All of this gets donated to charity. When you keep your 'fat clothes' in your closet, you give yourself permission to gain the weight back. Remove the safety net and you're less likely to fall back on bad habits."

3. Anything that is one size too big. "This stuff all gets taken to the tailor to be added back into your closet."

4. Anything you haven't worn in a year. "You're never going to wear it again. Face it. Either it's out of style or there's a good reason you didn't wear it the first time around."

Photo: WWD/Thomas Iannaccone