Organizing your closet can help your wallet

After years of watching Lynn Weisberg purchase garment after garment, boutique manager Karen Ciurca-Weiner finally told her loyal customer a hard truth — she needed to stop buying and start looking at what she had.

Ciurca-Weiner suggested that what Weisberg really needed was to organize her closet.

"She kept buying all these clothes," Ciurca-Weiner said as she stood inside her client's closet, a 9-by-12-foot converted office space that now has shelving and drawers to accommodate Weisberg's clothes. "I told her to stop buying items and make outfits out of clothes" she already had.

Since their initial session five years ago, the two have come together twice a year to organize Weisberg's clothes — once at the beginning of spring and once at the beginning of fall. The nearly four-hour sessions allow Weisberg to maximize her closet space while planning her outfits for the upcoming season.

"She cleans out and refreshes my closet every season," the Pikesville resident said about Ciurca-Weiner. "It's a time-saver and a huge money-saver."

More and more people are seeking the help of closet organizers to create order and save money, according to experts. In addition to purging closets of space-eating out-of-date garments, the experts are using their knowledge to identify hidden gems to create fresh looks for their clients.

Although more attention is being paid to the closet, it still remains one of the least-used rooms in the home, according to Ciurca-Weiner, who works at the women's clothing boutique Jones & Jones in Cross Keys.

"The biggest problem is that people don't know how to utilize their space," she said. "They don't have enough cube space. And they don't stack things such as sweaters."

You don't have to have a lavish "Sex And The City"-type closet to use the services and suggestions of a closet organizer, according to experts. With the addition of several hooks for clothes and jewelry, a few shelves for shoes and even a curtain rod to hang scarves, anyone can maximize their closet space, said Ciurca-Weiner.

"It's very important to create closet and drawer space," she said. "You must utilize every space. You have to have a need for each space."

Ciurca-Weiner organizes closets by garments and colors — arranging items from light to dark. "I organize a closet like it's like a store. I make it easier to shop your closet," she said.

Weisberg's closet reveals Ciurca-Weiner's handiwork. Behind the sliding door is a space filled with outfits pieced together by Ciurca-Weiner. One wall is lined with customized shelving and stacked with 100 heels and wedges by designers such as Jimmy Choo and Stuart Weitzman. On the same wall, drawers are neatly organized by items including jewelry and exercise clothes. A hanging rack on the back of the door is filled with assorted ballet flats and sandals. A vanity and comfy, plush chair allow Weisberg to coordinate her makeup with her ensemble for the day.

"I use every little bit of space there is," Weisberg said. "This is not storage."

Image consultant Judy Pressman would agree that closets shouldn't be used just for hanging clothes that get little wear.

As the founder of the Baltimore-based J.P. Images, Pressman has fine-tuned her closet organizing over the past 30 years.

"After you work with me, you'll feel great. The confusion is gone. It will take you two seconds to get dressed in the morning," said Pressman, whose roster of clients includes professional women in Baltimore, Washington and Virginia, and can swell to up to 100 at the start of the spring and fall seasons.

Pressman's sessions, which run $150 per hour for an average of three hours, include a consultation, an overall cleaning and organization of the closet, a mission statement where she assigns clients labels such as "elegant chic" and "glamour spice," and creation of a "look book" charting every item of clothing in the closet.

Pressman then makes a list of items her clients need.

"After we're done, no item is bought unless it has a purpose," Pressman said. "My clients are professionals. They don't have time to waste. Image is important to them."

Upon completion of the closet reorganization, Ciurca-Weiner provides clients with a list of clothes they need.

"That way, they'll go in the store with a list of basics they need to fill in," she said. "I'll scale down their purchases for the season."

Weisberg loves this aspect of the process.

"I can go into the store and pick things that I need, as opposed to buying everything I like — most of the time," Weisberg said with a laugh.


Shopping for an organized closet

Organizing your closet begins during shopping, according to experts. "Don't buy over-the-top trendy," Karen Ciurca-Weiner said. "Buy trendy pieces that will be preserved over a period of time. People go discount shopping and they buy things that don't coordinate. It's better to buy a couple great pieces that you can style around as opposed to pieces that you don't know what to do with."

Must have items

Every women's closet should contain these items, according to Karen Ciurca-Weiner.

White shirt: A fitted clean, crisp white shirt is a must.

Boyfriend blazer: Every one should own a black or white "go-to" jacket.

Belt: A belt that is the right length — preferably black patent leather — completes any wardrobe.

Nude-colored shoes (taupe or beige): They go with everything.

Little black dress: It's a no-brainer.

Ruffled blouse: It's timeless.

Things to throw out

Our experts have no problem getting rid of items — especially when the threads have seen better days.

Things that don't fit and stained clothes: "No matter what you paid, it had it's day. It's over," Judy Pressman said.

Outdated clothes: "I don't care what you paid for it," Pressman said. "You really think it will come back, but it's like an old boyfriend: Even when it comes back, it's never the same."

Closet resources

Judy Pressman, J.P. Images 410-591-5311, judypressman.com

Karen Ciurca-Weiner, Jones & Jones, 410-532-9645, jonesandjones1970.com