Inside a Closet Overhaul

Let me preface this post with:

1.  The shots are grainy…they were all taken with my phone.

2.  These are not glamorous shots…just taken for points of reference….not beautifully staged, as this was truly in the midst of a FOUR hour closet overhaul and not recreated for the blog.

If you visit my Services Page, you will note that closet makeovers are often personalized for each experience.  They also range in price, anywhere from $400 to $500.   The main differences in price are based on travel, length of project and whether client wants all NEW wooden hangers.  Most closets fall around $400.  The one highlighted below was $400, it lasted just under four hours and client lived about 40 minutes away.  It is very common for me to work the “Roll in the Rack” with a “Closet “Makeover”.  I literally roll in a rack of clothing for the client to shop from, once we have finished her closet overhaul.  We mix and match new with the items we allowed back into her closet.  It freshens up the wardrobe instantly.

Now….Lets get started!

STEP 1:  Everything is taken out of the closet and/or wardrobe.  I mean EVERYTHING.  This client has a beautiful 50 year old Tudor style home with no closets.  She had custom wardrobes built.  Cool, no?

*this is the part of the Closet Makeover that most can handle on their own.  I empty everything onto a rolling rack, but you can certainly empty to a bed or even the floor.


Step 2:  I have the client try on absolutely EVERYTHING at this point.  I will make exceptions for things that look great and the client immediately says she loves, but truly we spend over 1 1/2 hours (at least) trying on all the items taken out of the closet.  The idea here is to ONLY PUT BACK THINGS THAT FIT WELL AND LOOK GOOD!

*You need to enlist a professional or a friend/family member.  You simply NEED an objective opinion.  Choose a friend or family member that is into fashion and knows trends.

Step 3:  Piles.  Oh the piles.  I make 2 or 3 depending on the client/circumstance.  Pile one is for items that are going back into the closet.  They made the cut.  I rehang them neatly, buttoned, facing the same direction.  Pile two is for items that need some tweaking but still look good enough that we want to spend the time and alteration $$$ to get them up to par.  Example, pants that are too big, but are nice and timeless…a trip to the tailor for 15 dollars can make them a perfect fit again.  Pile three is donation.  This is always the largest pile.  The point of the closet makeover is to get rid of old, tattered, ill-fitting items.  Often, it is very hard for clients to part with things they hold an emotional connection to.  Of course,  I would never make someone part with their great-grandmothers shrug or anything like that….BUT….if you are holding onto your maternity wear from your last child (who is now three) because you aren’t planning to have more children…well, those clothes need to go.  Usually when I arrive, clients are wearing between 10 to 15 percent of their wardrobe.  Typically a small collection that hovers to the front of the closet.  When I am done, I want the client to wear 100 percent of her wardrobe and feel amazing in each and every piece.

*You also need a friend for this step.  Otherwise it will be you and a sea of clothing.  This part can be overwhelming and surprisingly emotional for many women.  I think this is the part that requires a professionals help, but I may be a bit biased, ha!


Step 4:  Donation Packup.  It isn’t glamorous, that is for sure.  I simply toss all the donated items into bags.  I go through it at home (weeding out items that are just too beat up to donate).  My one suggestion here is to have an idea (and plan) for where to take your donation pile.  When I first started this service, a few years ago, I didn’t remove the donate pile for clients.  Many have shared that slowly items would make it back into their closets and the pile of clothes would sit for months.  I can’t think of anything more annoying than a big pile of old clothes…ok, maybe a big old pile of ironing.  Anyway, I find that knowing the charity or foundation you are going to donate to in advance, streamlines this process.

* Look up local charities and find where your clothing best fits.  There are many transitional programs that mentor women getting back into the workforce and your clothing can help boost their confidence exponentially.  There are also great programs for battered women, who need casual everyday clothing.


Step 5:  Back in the closet.  Once we have cleared out donations, everything goes back in the closet.  I try to work this with optimum functionality in mind.  For this particular client I placed casual items to the left (not pictured), work sweaters/shrugs on top, suiting and separates (pant/blazer) on the bottom.  This way, when she got dressed for work she knew to go to the right side of her closet and if it was the weekend she would go to the left.  Hopefully that works for her.  Clients can always move things around once they get their flow, but every.single.item. in that closet fits, looks good and is wearable for their life.

* Note I always keep the garment and care of it in mind.  Some sweaters are folded because I feared they would stretch specifically through the shoulder area if they were hung.  Pay attention to the best way to store your clothes.  It will have them looking better longer, I promise!


Step 6:  Outfit Creation.  This is the fun part for me.  For those that JUST book a closet, I will create 8 to 10 head to toe looks with items you own.  I will try to focus on what you do most…so if you work, I will create work-day looks.  If you are mom on the go, I will create those.   I will use your accessories, shoes etc.  I take photos and email them to you the next day as well as providing you a list of “essentials” I feel you are missing.  For example, you don’t have a great blazer to polish off your t-shirt and jeans looks.  Or maybe you could benefit from adding a particular color into your wardrobe.  I will email links and suggestions of where to buy those items.


I will mix in what you already have and freshen it up with items I brought for you to purchase.  The outfit pictured below.  The tank and skirt were already owned by the client.  The denim jacket, necklace and shoes were brought by me and the client purchased.  Once she decided to purchase them, I mixed this outfit together making an incredible head to toe look for summer!  I take photos (some on the floor/bed like shown) and some ON the client.  All are emailed for clients reference the day after.

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I hope that helps some of you see into the world of Closet Makeovers.  I am sure there are a million different ways you COULD do this…but this recipe seems to work well for me and my clients.  If you have any questions or want more details, I am HAPPY to answer. Just leave the question below in the comments section and I will answer back there asap!  Thanks for reading and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!  Back Monday with a fun new Monday Mingle!!

Posted by Carly Walko

5 responses to “Inside a Closet Overhaul”

  1. Kristin says:

    Come to Tampa please! Ha!

  2. Cool,you look charming with that suit.

  3. Natalie says:

    Hi, love the idea of this service but I live in Essex, England. Do you have any partners/company relationships with anyone over here that offers a similar service?

    • Carly Walko says:

      I honestly do not Natalie, SO sorry. I am sure there are people who do this type of service in England…I just don’t know of anyone personally:) Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Glamamom says:

    I literally just did this to my own closets and I feel SOOO good!