Friends, Acqaintances and Strangers in Your Closet

Last week I suggested a tip for setting up your closet at the beginning of a season in order to be able to weed out clothes you don’t wear later.  For those of you who are ready to weed that closet now, no matter what direction your hangers are facing, I have another tip.  Actually, it’s kind of a game.

Professional Organizer and author Judith Kohlberg calls this game “Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers.”  Here’s how to play:

  1. Open the closet and look at all the clothes inhabiting your wardrobe.
  2. Search for all your “friends” inside the closet.  You’ll know who they are without much thought: the clothes that you love, who make you feel good about yourself, who you spend a lot of time with.  Set your friends aside in a safe place so they can return home to your closet later.
  3. Now look for all those strangers in your closet.  The ones you don’t recognize, who are suspicious looking (don’t fit, have stains or rips), and who you just don’t like.  These clothes can go find a new home, whether it’s in the trash, a donation center, or a consignment shop.
  4. Now all your friends and all the strangers are out of your closet.  The clothes left are your acquaintances.  You know them but not as well as your friends.  You may only see them in certain settings.  They may do a fine job but you just don’t love them like you love your friends.  That’s fine.  Now is the time to decide whether you want to keep these acquaintances in your life at all.  Some of them can join the strangers in the donation box.  Some may return to the closet if they are really useful when you need them. 
  5. If it’s hard to decide whether to keep an acquaintance or not, put it in a box.  Put the box in a safe storage place and write a date (3 months out) on the outside.  For the next three months, if you find you need a certain acquaintance who is not in the closet, you can go retrieve it.  After three months are up, the acquaintances still in the box have proven themselves to really be strangers and can go to a donation center.
  6. You win when you finish the game!  Congratulations!

Image: Suat Eman /

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