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Out with the Old: Expert tips for tidying up

The new year is the perfect time to get our houses in order — cleaning up, clearing out, and decluttering closets, cabinets, pantries, garages, and desktops.

Image Credits Edit: Photo by Vincent Knakal, All other photography: courtesy photography

“I truly believe that having an organized closet represents the stage you are in in life,” says Mahjuba Levine, a personal fashion consultant who founded Closet Therapy 20 years ago to help clients, ranging from CEOs to stay-at-home moms, build wardrobes and look their best. “I find that when your space is decluttered and organized, your mind and attitude will be clear and positive.”

She suggests scheduling a two-to-four-hour block of uninterrupted time to begin editing your closet, section by section. For example, pull out all of your tops at once, laying them out on a bed or floor space. Make sure you have a floor length mirror on hand. Then make three piles to keep, sell, or donate. “Be honest about the fit and size,” says Levine. “Don’t hold on to something while you are waiting to lose those ten pounds! Have you worn it in the last three years? If not, only keep it if you have three ways to wear it.” Hang “keepers” on matching hangers (preferably velvet) and coordinate by color. “Think of a rainbow ranging from light to dark colors,” says Levine. “This will help to see the colors you love and make it easier to find pieces when getting dressed.” 619.838.7706, mahjuba.com

Mahjuba Levine
Mahjuba Levine

The first rule of organizing, says personal stylist Anahi Arata, is to not be hard on yourself. “This is about letting go of things that don’t serve you, not feeling bad about what we have accumulated. Once you see all the pieces you own, decide what you never wear and what you really love,” she explains. “We tend to buy a lot of the same pieces, because we know what works for us. However, if you own ten black wool jackets and you only wear three, it’s time to donate the others. The same rule applies to the stack of jeans.” Ditto for the uncomfortable shoes you never wear because the heels are too high, or “any piece that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.” If you have a difficult time making decisions, she suggests making a “judgment-free pile” to revisit at the end of the day. “The most important rule is to skip the guilt trip,” she says, “and to be more mindful of what you bring home in the first place.” 858.245.9078, anahiarata.com

When you’re ready to donate or consign, consider My Sister’s Closet, with local locations in Encinitas Village and La Jolla’s Costa Verde Center. Owner Ann Siner says the stores look for like-new items that are “current, cute, and clean” — no more than five years old with a retail value of at least $75, preferably on hangers rather than stuffed in garbage bags. Best sellers are designer handbags, current designer clothing, high-end workout wear, and designer jewelry (both costume and fine jewelry) including men’s watches. My Sister’s Closet pays up to 70 percent commissions on designer bags and jewelry priced over $995. Otherwise, consignors receive 45 percent in cash or 55 percent in store credit once items sell. Any unsold items can be picked up by the original owner, or the stores will donate them to animal rescue groups on the consignor’s behalf and provide a  donation receipt for tax purposes. “We do our best to find items you no longer want a new home where someone else can love and enjoy them,” says Siner. 760.230.1250, 858.455.0045, mysisterscloset.com

Another option is to sell or consign ultra-luxury handbags, jewelry, and accessories at Carlsbad-based Fashionphile, a top reseller of iconic brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton. Get a quote online and send Fashionphile your handbags and other items using a complimentary shipping label or request white glove pickup. You can also schedule a virtual appointment with one of Fashionphile’s experts, or an in-person appointment, where items are authenticated and you can be paid on the spot. Fashionphile has partnered with Neiman Marcus, opening in-store studios at five locations including Fashion Island in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills. Drop off your designer bags and accessories and receive cash, a check, store credit, or, for an extra ten percent, a Neiman Marcus gift card. 844.619.8902, fashionphile.com

Edit Consignment & Boutique in Rancho Santa Fe is now offering closet styling and organization services. Owner Angel O’Brien and colleague Regina Cherepinsky, who has worked as actress Jaclyn Smith’s personal stylist as well as with major fashion brands, will help you cull your closet. The shop now displays sample storage containers and organizers which can be ordered on its website, along with fashion wall art and small pieces of furniture. Customers can often finance the cost of their closet redo through the sales of clothing they consign. “With the pandemic lasting as long as it has, people are really spending a lot of time nesting at home,” says O’Brien. “The desire to make their space a haven is definitely trending, and we are getting more requests for our services.” 858.832.7973, theorganizedcloset.com

Regina Cherepinsky and Angel O’Brien of Edit Consignment & Boutique

California Closets has also seen increased demand for its custom storage and organization systems. “With everyone at home, people are focused on creating spaces that are multi-functional and flexible to meet the needs of work and school from home,” says Vice President of Business Development Bella Heule. “California Closets offers different levels of complexity and pricing that allow us to design systems around a client’s budget,” explains Heule. “To keep costs low, we can design units that are wall-hung, replace drawers with baskets, and suggest paint or wallpaper instead of backing.” californiaclosets.com

California Closets
California Closets

The Container Store at Fashion Valley is offering 30 percent off Elfa, custom shelving and drawer systems for closets, pantries, garages, and other spaces, through February 23. Schedule an in-home, in-store, or virtual appointment with a designer who will help you configure your closet for free. The Container Store also offers Get Organized with The Home Edit, closet storage and organizing accessories inspired by the Netflix series which features home experts who help celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Rachel Zoe “categorize and contain clutter to create stunning spaces.” And early this year, the company launched a co-branded collection of organizing tools in collaboration with Marie Kondo, the tidying expert, bestselling author, and arguably the guru of home organization. The KonMari Collection features more than 100 sustainably sourced products that offer versatile storage solutions “to spark joy in your space for years to come.” The collection includes Japanese-inspired drawer organizers, elegant hangers, hand-woven baskets, bins, and more. Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, believes that “if you tidy your space, you can transform your life.” 619.220.0909, containerstore.com

The KonMari Collection, The Container Store
The KonMari Collection,
The Container Store


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