Time for a Closet Cleanse?


Personal stylist Erica Ball shares her tips on how to tackle your closet.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert 

It’s that time of year where people are switching out their summer clothes for their fall and winter essentials. That means clean-out time. Deciding what stays and what goes can be an overwhelming task, so we enlisted the help of Erica Ball, a personal stylist working in New Jersey and New York. If anyone knows the importance of a well-equipped closet, it’s Erica. Before transplanting to Westfield, New Jersey, she worked in Los Angeles styling actors for Pepsi, Nike, and Victoria Secret commercials, along with feature films. Erica has also styled celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Tim Burton, and Michelle Monaghan.

Whether or not you’re famous, Erica can keep you relevant in the fashion world with her personal styling services that range from closet cleanses to shopping trips. Here, she shares the tips she gives to clients when tackling the sacred room of fashion: their closet.

If you want more fashion advice from Erica, visit her website, blog, or Instagram where she produces content related to fashion and styling. In the mean time, follow her tips for cleaning out your closet.

Fit it or Quit it

Most people have clothes in their closet that don’t fit anymore, but that they are hoping will fit them again one day.  I tell my clients if it’s been over a year and you haven’t worn it, it’s time to toss the item.  The exception to this rule is if the item is a sentimental piece.  For example, if it’s the dress you wore to your rehearsal dinner, etc.  For those items, I recommend storing them in one good size plastic container.  I tell my clients, ‘you get one box, so decide what the most important pieces are, but know they need to all fit in that one box.’  The other exception is a piece of value, like a couture dress or a classic item they spent a lot of money on like a Chanel jacket that no longer fits.   

Tags Don’t Mean a Thing 

You should discard items that haven’t been worn in at least a year with tags still attached.  These tend to be impulse buys or sale items that can’t be returned.  Unless you love the piece and are having trouble styling it and could use the help of a personal stylist, if it’s brand new and you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably don’t feel great in it.

Bag the Blah

Anything that you don’t love wearing and that doesn’t make you feel confident should be tossed.  My advice to my clients is to focus on the quality of their clothes instead of the quantity.  I’ve entered numerous well-stocked closets where the person feels they have nothing to wear.  Sometimes they just need help from a personal stylist on how to style their outfits, but most people tend to wear a very small part of their wardrobe and end up wearing the same things over and over.  When I go through my clients’ closets, I pull out each piece and ask them if they love it.  Most people know right away whether or not they love a piece.  Get rid of what you don’t love, because you’re less likely to wear it and it’s taking up space. 

Quality or Quantity 

Bad shoes and bad bags.  The quality of your shoes and bags give everything away.  Boots with shafts that aren’t snug on the calf is one of the worst offenders.  Again, this is where quality over quantity matters.  It’s better to have one expensive classic bag than 15 cheap ones.  One smart bag will pull a whole look together.  The same is true for shoes.  

Delete the Pleat

For men, get rid of your pleated pants.  These are outdated and only should be worn by men well over age 70.