Powerful Appearance - Creating a Professional Image
Articles by Linda

"Top Ten Tips for Organizing The Closet of a Highly Successful Person"

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Linda Thomas designs and delivers “Image Awareness” programs throughout corporate America. Linda earned the credentials of Certified Image Professional through the Association of Image Consultants International, is an award winning member of the National Speakers Association of North Texas, and is a published author.

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Top Ten Guidelines for Organizing The Closet of a Highly Successful Person

Organizing our closet is one of the most powerful actions we can take to improve our image and our lifestyle! I work with clients across the United States, and whether my presentation takes place during a one-on-one session or in a seminar with several dozen to several hundred individuals, I invariably close the program with a call to action, urging my clients to go home and remove five or more articles of clothing from their closets. By discarding clothing that no longer fits or is worn out, faded, stretched, or in need of repair, we are taking the first step toward gaining control of our wardrobes … and our lives! When our clothing is organized and easily accessible in a closet that “works”, we eliminate the stress that ensues from a daily, time-consuming search for “something to wear”. We also discover the empowerment that comes from choosing what we wear, rather than allowing the state of our wardrobe and the contents of our closet to make that decision for us.


If you seek a promotion or a salary raise, you will want to dress as if you already hold that position. The clothing which directly affects your income will become your regular, ongoing work attire. It should be located in a section separate from all of your other clothes, preferably near the front of your closet. Choose visually prominent dividers for your closet. A belt rack, a few empty hangers, or a rack of ties or scarves serve nicely for this purpose. Your goal is to make the process of getting dressed in the morning so streamlined that there is no way to make a mistake.

Clothes for work must appear neat and coordinated, and must be appropriate for the workplace. Unfortunately, many employees today are confused by their company’s dress codes, often misinterpreting the standards provided by the Human Resources department.

For instance, Business Casual is frequently taken by employees to mean the same as Weekend Casual, although the two are very different. Weekend Casual clothing is defined as clothing worn when we work in the yard, wash our cars, or participate in such off-duty activities as picnics and sporting events. Weekend Casual clothing is not appropriate for the workplace. It is essential to take the time to divide your clothing between those items that are “work-appropriate” and those that are not.

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Be sure you understand which types of clothing are appropriate for your workplace and which are not. Are any of your colleagues being sent home from work because they are not adhering to the company’s dress code?

This type of “questionable” clothing usually includes the following:

  • Skirts that are too tight and/or too short
  • Skirts with thigh-high slits
  • Blouses with revealing necklines
  • Sleeveless tops or dresses (revealing a person’s undergarments)
  • Halter tops, tube tops, or “spaghetti” straps worn without a jacket
  • Cropped tops that reveal your navel, your waistline, or tattoos
  • Shorts – any variation
  • Capri’s – such as you might wear to the beach
  • Leggings
  • Workout clothes
  • Overalls
  • Low-rise hip-huggers (pants or skirts)
  • Satin slip dresses
  • Sheer fabrics or anything that is “see-through”
  • Anything that is so wrinkled it looks ‘slept in’
  • Clothing that you might wear to wash your car or work in the yard

In a section of your closet separate from your work attire, you might wish to keep your Weekend Casual attire. This would include clothing worn when you are:

  • On vacation
  • Participating in sports-related activities
  • Engaging in outdoor work, such as gardening or home repairs
  • Attending special or formal occasions
  • Participating in seasonal activities
  • Attending a holiday or costume party
  • Wishing to attract a member of the opposite sex

Some examples of Weekend Casual attire would be T-shirts, Hawaiian print shirts, or any clothing that is intended to attract attention, such as articles incorporating:

  • Loud, bright, or “neon” colors
  • Dangling fringe, with or without beads
  • Prominent advertising or slogans
  • Sequins, excessive shine, or a “metallic” finish
  • Garish, wild, exciting prints or “animal” patterns
  • Any item that might be worn by a rock star, a runway model, or a popular celebrity

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Paying attention to the details can play a significant role in improving your image in the workplace. An individual who is meticulous in his or her appearance may be assumed to be someone who will be detail-oriented regarding the company’s interests, as well.

The following items must be eliminated from your closet:

  • Anything that is not something you wear (for example, gifts, photographs, sports equipment, luggage, or furniture). Find a permanent home elsewhere for those items.
  • Any clothing that:
    • Is too tight or too loose
    • Is frayed or stretched out of shape
    • Is stained, dingy, or faded
    • Has unintentional holes or rips
    • Has gaping buttonholes
    • Has not been worn in more than two years
    • Induces unpleasant memories
    • Represents a “buying mistake”

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Hang up ONLY those clothes that are clean and ready to be worn again. A frequent source of stress can be walking into a closet and seeing clothing that needs to be repaired, washed, or pressed before it can be worn again. Often, when we are in a hurry, we will pull a stained or frayed shirt off the hanger, throw it on, and run out the door to attend an important meeting, reassuring ourselves that “no one will notice”. But, the fact is, people do notice … more often than we realize! It is much wiser to keep our closet free of these potential hazards.

Train yourself not to hang up any articles of clothing that require:

• Repairs or alterations
• Laundering or dry-cleaning
• Ironing or steaming (to remove wrinkles)
• Removal of price tags
• Shaving to remove pilling (for instance, on such items as coats or sweaters)

Clothing that is outdated or beyond repair no longer may be worn and should be removed from your closet and discarded. Separate these items into two piles:

  1. Clothing that will be donated to charity or given to children for playing
    “dress up”
  2. Clothing that you are unwilling to part with for sentimental reasons.
    (For these items, you may wish to create a “memory box”.)

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After sorting your wardrobe and discarding all non-salvageable items, you now are ready to organize your remaining clothing into these four basic categories:
  • Tops
    • Blouses
    • Shirts
    • Pullovers
    • Polo shirts
    • Twin sweater sets
  • Bottom pieces
    • Skirts
    • Pants, jeans, khakis
    • Dress slacks
  • Matched suits and dresses
  • “Third” pieces (These are your “power” pieces.)
    • Jackets
    • Sweaters
    • Cardigans
    • Vests
    • Oblong or large scarves
    • Ties

Within each category, you may wish to further separate the items according to such features as sleeve or hem length. Or, perhaps you may decide to organize your clothing according to color. If your wardrobe consists of more than 50% black or dark-colored clothes, you may be able to use your white or light-colored clothing to separate individual black pieces. On the other hand, a variety of colors in your wardrobe might lend itself to sorting by color, from light to dark (which is most aesthetically pleasing): Whites – Tans – Blues – Brights – Reds – Grays – Blacks. Make sure that your closet is well lit, so you can accurately see the colors that you are coordinating.

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Leave space between your hanging clothes. This allows air to circulate throughout the closet and among your individual articles of clothing, reducing body odors and wrinkles, and making various items easy to find and access. Remove plastic dry-cleaner bags as soon as you place the clothing in your closet.

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The dry-cleaner usually sends your clothing home to you on wire hangers. Return those wire hangers to the dry-cleaner! They will kill your clothes! Clothes spend more time on the hanger than on your body, so make sure they are hung properly on quality hangers. Invest in hangers that are sufficiently wide to protect the shoulders of your clothes, especially your heavier items, such as jackets and coats.

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To prolong the life of your wardrobe and create more room in your closet, you may wish to use shelves or drawers for the following types of clothes:
  • Delicate fabrics that tend to slide off hangers
  • Heavy, bulky sweaters
  • Weighty knits
  • Exercise clothing
  • Casual clothes for “at-home only” use (doing yard work or washing the car)
  • Holiday costumes

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Keep the following clothing-care tools on hand:
  • An iron and ironing board or a professional steamer
  • A fabric shaver
  • A sewing kit
  • A lint brush
  • Wide hangers (cedar, wood, molded plastic or plastic tubing)

Keep the air fresh in your closet with such items as:

  • A small fan
  • A negative-ion generator
  • Cedar chips

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To ensure that every outfit is a favorite, clothes on both sides of the closet should:
  • Fit your body as it is today
  • Be up-to-date and reflect the latest styles
  • Be in season and appropriate for the current weather
  • Incorporate colors that communicate your personal message
    (Please refer to E-zines #1 and #2.)
  • Be comfortable and create a smooth silhouette over your body
  • Empower you because you feel so terrific when you wear them



Place charity donations in your car right away or call for charity pickup and leave the clothes outside for collection.

If you are planning to mend your clothing yourself, be sure to schedule time for making those repairs. If you intend to have a tailor do the repairs, place the clothing in your car so that you can drop it off while you are running errands.

Place clothing that goes to the dry-cleaners in your car, as well.

Be sure to schedule “at-home” laundry days.

Check your closet before you go shopping, and make a list of the items that you need. It can be all too easy to give in to our passions (“I can never have too many pink skirts!”) when what our career really requires is a classic navy suit. Know what your wardrobe lacks and be prepared to make thoughtful purchases, keeping in mind such considerations as color-coordination, current trends and fashions, mix- and match-ability, and seasonal changes.

Using the tips discussed above, you can have a closet full of favorites that will serve all your clothing needs year-round … and give you the personal and professional power to propel yourself into your next career success!

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Linda Thomas AICI, CIP, Corporate Image Advisor and author of My Closet, My Boutique: How to Organize Your Image, designs training for companies who wish to encourage their employees to present themselves as positive, professional, and effective. For a list of programs and products, click here.

To contact Linda directly call 940-321-2594 or Linda@powerfulappearance.com

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