Make some room in your closets for fall/Try on each item, and ask yourself if you wore it in the last year.

Fall is here, and with the change in leaves and temperature, it's time to get out the woolies and the overcoats and pack away the T-shirts and sun dresses. In other words, it's time to organize your closets!

Here are some simple strategies for organizing your wardrobe and storing off-season clothes.

Getting ready

As with all organizing projects, dedicate at least four hours of uninterrupted time. Turn off the phone, avoid other distractions and be sure you have the supplies you need before you get started.

For closets, I recommend a purchasing an inexpensive clothes rack; boxes to help you sort (banker boxes are my favorite); a flat, clean surface for sorting (a.k.a. the bed); and bags for donations.

You also will want to label each box with the general contents, such as "winter sports" or "summer shorts, tops."

I also recommend purchasing two under-bed storage containers - ideally plastic with small rollers on one end and flip-tops on each end. Shop for other containers after you have sorted and tossed.

The sorting process

Start by sorting the entire contents of your closet and any other place you store clothes. Use the clothes rack to hang items as they come out of your closet. Label boxes and areas of the bed to keep you feeling organized.

Put donated items immediately in a bag, labeled for donation so there is no confusion. Try on each item, and ask yourself if you wore it in the last year - if not, why not?

z Too small - If you can't fit in it (but love it and swear you'll where it when you part with those extra 10 pounds), store it until you can. Put the items in a box labeled "Too small" and store. Don't put it back in your closet.

A year from now, revisit the box - if you still haven't parted with the extra 10, it's time to part with the old clothes.

z Doesn't fit well - Toss it in the Donate bag. If you don't look good in it, don't let it clutter your closet.

z Doesn't "go" with anything - This is the classic reason clothes sit and take up space on our shelves: You simply have nothing to wear with it.

Take stock; write down what shoes, tops, accessories, etc., are needed to wear this piece; and bring it with you on your next clothes buying trip.

z Sentimental reasons - It's absolutely OK to keep items of sentimental value, as long as they are stored properly so they aren't damaged. You also don't want them taking up valuable real estate needed for everyday items.

Check with your local dry cleaners about options for cleaning and storing wedding gowns, prom dresses and other fine garments.

Toss, then organize

Now that you've sorted your clothes, it's time to go through the piles and toss. Not just the Donate pile, but go through the clothes you intended to keep.

Take a look again at these items and ask yourself the tough questions: Do you love it? Do you have more than one of the same thing? Do you look good in it?

Once you've tossed what you don't wear, it is now time to organize your closet. Look at the piles and decide where they best fit in your closet. Do the same for any clothes to be stored in boxes.

Measure if needed. Decide if you need to mount hooks, rearrange shelves or otherwise optimize the space.

Typically, clothes that are knit are folded (sweaters, T-shirts), and wovens are hung (pants, jackets, dress shirts).

Put clothes you wear regularly within easy reach. Organize by type: jackets in one place, pants in another, etc.

You'll also want to hang belts, scarves, and handbags. Look for room behind doors to mount hooks.

Now that you've organized your wardrobe, you'll have an easier time finding the clothes you love, putting together a smashing outfit to fit the season.

Leah Stahlsmith owns Simple Works Design, providing home-staging and organizing services. For more information, visit www.simpleworks

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