*HELP* I need some order in my wardrobe…… Oh wait I can help myself! (0_o)


My wardrobe (aka – spare double room) has become an overstuffed burden rather than the joy it once was. You would not be wrong if you were to say it’s a little on the hoarding side of the spectrum… So I have been doing some research on what I need to do to fix it……

You could say – “clean it up you lazy cow”…………and I do, regularly , every Saturday/Sunday like clockwork I set about restoring order to the chaos.

My weekend routine consists of: picking up everything off the floor shoving it all in the nearest drawer, after drawer and cupboard after cupboard.

My main problem is that ‘I have so much crap’. After I get that drawer or cupboard closed I have to hope, fingers crossed it doesn’t explode like a joke can of snakes…….

My weekly routine: Monday morning arrives – I pull stuff out of it’s hiding places searching for that elusive top and the rejected items spew forth onto the floor around, and behind me like the wake of a passing boat. I don’t have time to pick it all back up again because naturally – I am running late for work and I really cannot settle for any other top than the one I am fixated on finding…….. and so the weekly cycle of terror begins.

So bare with me – I am going to release the geek in me and I promise to chain it back up when I’m done…………… I am going to apply the lean six sigma DMAIC process to assess this situation. My husband pleaded with me not to go into the finer details because it would be sooooooOOOOOooo boring, his eyes glazed over at the mere mention of it. So I have just given the briefest of details enough to highlight the good bits and this is what has happened.

Keeping it brief…….


The first stage is define…. and so that’s what I did I listed out everything that is wrong with this current setup, too much inventory, bad floor plan, late for work trying to find things… and so on. I had a brain purge of epic proportions. Following that, I sifted through the list and sorted out my primary objectives and defects, formulated a project statement that included my project goal, and set my measurable attributes. Lastly I shook down the list and selected three critical to quality elements they were:

3 key deliverables are of critical importance to the success of this project = functionality improved, time improved, no excess inventory.  aka the three baddies!!


The measure phase consisted of collecting evidence by a series of tests, checks, lists, time trials – a whole bunch of viewing from different perspectives and collecting the hard data. This is the best part, well who am I kidding – no it’s not. I was shocked and horrified what an out of control piglet I am.

Ishakawa diagram

I used the Ishakawa diagram (aka fishbone diagram) to make a visible picture of the causes and effect. It’s always good to start with a cause and effect diagram. (geek chic)

All of the causes are related in some form or another. The most obvious problem is the material waste which is shown on the left hand side over two bones due to the number of causes…. oh man, that’s worse than I thought.  This was put together using the ‘Define’ brain purge list.

wardrobe ishakawa diagram

Inventory Tally & Defects sort

Primary objective: No excess inventory is one of the critical  to quality outputs.

The inventory tally is a measure of the current state in all it’s glory. The list also includes some defects (Defects are anything that needs fixing, is to small, to big). So, initial reaction – a real need for a wardrobe purge I think. I had never done a ‘stock take’ on my wardrobe before how Embarrassing.


It gets worse. The items counted were work and casual clothes only. So my all my snow gear and caving gear gets to stay another day……. Also at this point I should mention there is about 2.5 – 3 loads of washing to return soon, that is also not factored in this tally. So my estimate is closer to 400 items in total.

Spaghetti Diagram

Primary objective: Functionality improved is one of the critical to quality outputs. Time improved is one of the critical to quality outputs.

I also did a series of spaghetti diagrams to visually depict the transportation or motion waste directly attributed to the layout of the room.


Weekly Routine


Returning Laundry Routine


Time use

Objective: Time improved is a critical to quality output

The time use measure monitors current behaviours and time taken to complete routine. Important for measuring baseline.

The upward trend is due to the problem of the building of the mess through the week. Mondays are great because the cleansing period was Saturday/Sunday but by Friday the room is always at it’s worst. The spike on Wednesday was because I tried on several outfits. I couldn’t find key pieces so had to change again and again. Story of my life – but I’m working on it.


Photographs of current state

Objective: No excess inventory is one of the critical to quality outputs.

This is a very good visual tool to remind yourself what was the ‘before’ situation and hopefully motivate you not to end up back there.

Saturday/Sunday I have cleaned up the mess from the week previous…….. There is a full compliment of stuff packed to the brim.

The racks are packed so tight the clothes are generally crinkled from being squashed in together and it is very interesting trying to get them off the rack without pulling a number of other things off with them.…. Also you cannot tell from the pic’s but the reason why the rack is pushed up against the wall is because if I pull it away from the wall it falls over under the excess of weight.

clean before 3clean before 4
Check out the rail in the coat closet – I’m gonna say – it came like that.
clean before 6
Monday – Friday: The tornado (aka me) whirls in to cause mayhem on the  weekdays. FYI – these pics were taken on a Friday to show the room at it’s worst.
028 I had forgotten I had this – Note to self: I could incorporate it in my ‘improved plans’…

Personal Lifestyle Assessment + Colour Chart

Objective: No excess inventory is one of the critical to quality outputs.

This is basically a measure to fit exercise, refining my wardrobe to my requirements and suitability. for example: I don’t play any sports so the 5 pair’s of sneakers that are in my current inventory are hardly justified. I spend 80 – 90% of my time in my work clothes so how can I explain the disproportionate percentage of casual wear in my inventory list…I have olive skin so I don’t suit autumn colours as they wash me out – why do I seem to have an affiliation with the colour of rust in my wardrobe palate – eliminate it!… get the picture that’s emerging?


Just a colour palate I threw together based on various resources. Smile


Be one with the data, check it, check it again, run a few more tests……… check it again. Get all statistical – geek it out, but be practical about it. Happy data crunching!


Address the findings of the Analyse phase by developing sustainable improvements.

My key improvements are:

  1. My #1 aim is to eliminate at least 50% of my current inventory levels to partial deliver on the output of ‘no excess inventory’. The term ‘Excess’ is so subjective…. I’m not in a state of avoidance, or being cheeky – to give up 50% is HUGE to me. To give up anymore at such an early stage will just end in tears and wont be sustainable. At this stage I am being realistic.
  2. Improve the layout of the room to combat the functionality and time issues
  3. To develop sustainable checks and balances so it doesn’t get out of hand again.

Inventory – Improve

I chose to model my inventory on the simple rules of a capsule wardrobe – minus the capsule part………..

060 (2)059 (2)

The rules I have set for my derivative system work off 3 base neutral colours. Black, Navy Blue and Grey. Every item must be interchangeable with more than one other item.

Here are the results of the final cull.


056 (2)058 (2)072069070065 Sooo much better already!!!!!

028 from this to this  001

This will be so much faster in the mornings providing I set it up each night.

Check out the cool links below for inspiring capsule wardrobes.

  • Click on the images below to be redirected to the original sites in a new window.
    Simple Ways To Create A Capsule Wardrobe Article by simple-ways-to.com

    Capsule wardrobe

    How to build a capsule wardrobe around three colours by oranges-and-apples.com

    navy- white - orangegrey - purple - pinkblack - blue - red

    Polyvore Fun: Capsule Wardrobe by katrinacraig.blogspot.co.nz

    Floor Plan – Improve

    From this

    Before floor plan

    To this…


    Motion Maps – Improve

    from these…

    image+motion laundry plan

    to this


    Not so many cross overs and doubling back and the dressing thing is really handy – reduced my time taken by more than half!!.

    Time – Improve


The dress stand has been very handy and the set up time is all of 1 or 2 minutes as all the items are now visible. So the morning time is now consumed correcting the birds nest of hair and throwing make up at my face. The above timescale was taken over the first week. Since then I have been able to refine it further to about 7 – 10 minutes, sustained across the week.

  • The stock monitoring process I have chosen to use is: Once a month check for defects and cull/replace, sell unwanted clothes as first option or donate.
  • New standard = If a new purchase is made, this item must be brought in on a replacement rotation only, so that inventory levels are maintained. Photographic reminders will be in place for visual reference – and act as a motivation tool.
  • I have employed a reverse system based on the Kanban. It’s a commonly used system – hang all the hangers around the wrong way on the rail and after 6 months time – any items on hangers that remain in that position should be purged because you obviously have not worn the item over that 6 month period, same system applies in the dresser drawers each rolled up item will contain a small slip of paper, at the end of 3 – 6 months if the item still contains that slip of paper then it’s gone…… repeat cycle every 6 months for continual refinement – you never know I may end up with a cute little capsule wardrobe after all.
  • I aim to review implemented system after 2 week and then once a month, quick eyeball of inventory and assessment if necessary. I think I could purge more over the next 3 months and will try my best to make this happen. Following that the review will move to the 6 months.

I am up for a challenge!!

wish me luck…

Right – that’s enough geekery from me – 2 weeks on and my new improved wardrobe is the best room in the house for functionality and green lean meanness!!!  So happy with the results.  Smile


It’s been six months and time and habits have had time to bed in – check out how I am doing in the next wardrobe post here: WARDROBE CATCH-UPS


  1. You are my hero! I admire you for applying your Kaizan pluckiness to your unwieldly dressing room and capturing it so elegantly in this post. I can hardly find time in my day to post a blog, let alone snap photos, draw illustrations and apply six sigma- inspired diagrams. Bravo!


    1. You sound like your in need of some lean six sigma/kaizen to free up some personal time LOL. That’s my geek-chic side required to balance and control my wild creative side when required (which is often)……


  2. Wow you have lots of stuff! I prefer to have just the things I wear in my wardrobe, and I keep it pretty well pared down. I declutter wardrobes for other people, and it’s interesting what people hang on to!


    1. I had to learn the analytical skills at work and I find them very useful in the job I do, but these skills are usually confined to the 9-5 day job.

      At home there’s no hiding it I am a high functioning creative, being analytical goes against every grain in my being – hence why I got myself into this situation in the first place.

      I never thought to bring home my work-brain and assess the problem objectively. But I am glad I did, because my clothing obsession was all consuming. I feel so free and in control now that I finally have the room and the reason to get back into my sewing room and start making some garments!!!

      A good option is to get a trusty friend around to help you if you don’t think you can analyse the content on you own, they won’t have the same emotional connections you do with the clothing pieces and should be able to give you the objective opinion you need. Good luck!!

      Thanks for your comment. Peppermia


  3. Wow… that’s some hardcore wardrobe analysis! : D
    Had the same problem until I moved house last year.
    Stuffed all my belongings into 1 suitcase and sold/donated everything else. Now i’m free! : D


    1. I needed an extreme approach to break the cycle I was in….. and it worked – I will try and write a follow up post to this one at some stage soon. Since 6 months have elapsed. 🙂


  4. Also the move and purge plan. Move four years in a row, first three years always moving into smaller apartment or house. Most important things go into closet.Things left over go into boxes and donated. Only on fourth year is it allowable to move into larger space. Repeat process as necessary.


    1. Haha – At home I am the most unorganised, laziest Ms Slob I know, it’s that bad that I cringe at walking up the driveway to check the mail.

      But in complete contrast – in my day job I am organised tidy and punctual and motivated – borne from my project management experience and training.

      Just like a lady version of jekyll and hyde….. and never the two should meet, unless under EXTREME circumstances – like this wardrobe catastrophe.



    1. Hi, Thanks for asking and apologies for the extremely long answer – it’s like a post in itself. 🙂

      The system is holding up great – mainly because I am a hard task master. I have put in place a few more rules just to curb my over-enthusiasm and reduce the content further.

      My rules are
      1/ I can only buy items that enhance, our replace other items in my current wardrobe. This rule refines the inventory selection.
      This has been a very handy rule and has made such a difference to my buying habits – I used to buy anything that I saw and didn’t worry about whether I had a similar top already, or if I had anything in my wardrobe that would go with the item.

      2/ For every item that I purchase, I must get rid of at least 1 item from my wardrobe. This rule takes care of the inventory levels and is working very well.

      3/ Mandatory clean out once a month minimum. I now hang my clothes in pre-arranged outfits ready to go (with the hanging the hanger backwards trick). Each month I go through the remaining outfit’s I haven’t worn, and I would assess them for culling or restyle them. This rule has been very effective and a super time saver.

      Since this post I’ve culled back enough to fit into my new/old Art Deco Armoire and one set of drawers. But I said to my hubby my goal was to reduce further so both of our clothes can fit into the armoire and drawers – so I have a wee way to go still. 🙂

      I will post a follow up post soon on it.

      Here’s the armoire post for good measure 🙂 Have a great day!!


    1. The whole process is a bit brutal to start with but I am sooooo much happier with my wardrobe and choices now. It’s been a few months since I posted that post and I am now in a good routine.

      My basic control rules over and above whats mentioned in the post are: Anything I buy must enhance my existing wardrobe and not just add to it….. and for every item that is new – I have to git rid of at least 1 item that is old.

      It’s working really well!


  5. just think how lucky you are you dont upcycle and you have a spare room – i dont have many clothes myself, but i am tripping over tonnes of clothes that might come in useful for creative upcycling – and i have four kids filling my “spare” rooms. i enjoyed the post – i like spreadhseets too!


    1. Um, 🙂 I actually design and make my own clothes, I am a keen upcycler – of anything and everything from clothing to furniture and all bits in between – and this is all in addition to the many thrifty finds I bring home. So it’s a bit of an issue I have to say.

      🙂 Check out my other posts by clicking the heading banner at the top of the page to be redirected to the home page – or use the drop down menus – you may like some of those posts if you’re into upcycling, recycling and the like.

      Thanks for dropping by!


  6. Loved this – having gone through the EPIC task of rationalising my own clothes – I should have read this post before hand. Love the idea of a Capsule wardrobe….many thanks!


    1. You are welcome. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe too, but I also love lots of clothing so it’s a bit of a balancing act.. good luck with your wardrobe future adventures!


  7. So great!! Lol! I am in constant organizational flow with my clothes as well…I am an avid thrift store shopper so I am constantly increasing my content. It has to be divided into seasons and then stored in containers under the bed to accommodate it all. I also try to be brutal about culling and passing on to others or back to the thrift store. I like to re-fashion things as well so I am always having the conversation with myself….”let it go”…”no, I will do this…” “no, you won’t, let it go”…..I think what you have done here is absolutely amazing!!


    1. Thanks for the comment. Your organisation system sounds great. I would so do that, if it wasn’t that I live in a tropical climate that needs clothing from winter to summer accessible at any moment…….. or that I wish I had the space. I think season splitting is a fab idea!!

      Have a great day!!! 🙂


  8. Na ka uhane o keia koy e ho’ohau’oli i kou pu’uwai, me ‘oe ka maluhia ame ka hau’oli i keia wa kamaha’o..May the spirit of the season bring joy to your heart, may you have peace and joy during this wondrous time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well.


  9. Well, I must admit it doesn’t always work for me either. Sometimes even when I haven’t worn something for two years or more I still convince myself that I will someday have the perfect occasion! Never happens, but somehow I do seem to buy into it! I have a black blazer that I’ve worn once in the past ten years and it still hangs in my closet. It’s just so classic that I hate to part with it though I never wear black. All my clothes are bright colorful prints, Hawaiian mu’umu’u, etc. Where I would wear a black blazer is beyond me. We don’t even wear black to funerals here. I think it’s time to go!


    1. How funny, New Zealand’s national uniform is various shades of black. My wardrobe is 70-80% mysterious black. I aim to inject a bit of colour and get back into my sewing in the coming year. You’ve reminded me I should have a clothing clean out very soon as I have just acquired an art deco dressing suite that I am doing up over the holidays (https://pepperboxcouture.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/weekend-thrifty-haul-and-do-up-projects-art-deco-frenzy/).
      I would LOVE to be able to fit


      my clothes into them and live a less cluttered existence for once. That would be awesome.

      Thanks for your comments and the chat. Merry Christmas to you and I hope you have a great New Year.


  10. I’m a little late to the party as I just read this post. And, I don’t have many of your problems as I live in Hawaii. Therefore, no winter clothing, only one coat, no formal wear, no scarves, no boots, no hats, etc. But, I do have about a zillion little casual blouses and a stuffed drawer full of tees and shorts. The tees and shorts I ignore as I wear them just about every day of the year. The rest of the things I used a system this year which helped me weed out my tiny closet. I have 400sq. ft. cottage with a 3×5 ft. closet that I SHARE! At the beginning of the year I put all my things with the hangers facing backwards. As I wore them I turned to the normal placement. I was surprised how many things I had at this time of the year that hadn’t been worn for an entire year…so out they go! Hey, worked for me!


    1. Haha thanks for the comment and yeah I know that trick. I also use that method to control my wardrobe, but somehow it is not as effective as it should be. I really don’t end up with much left turning the opposite way. It’s still a great method though and I definitely will stick with it.


  11. terrific post–though I’m a bit late!
    I wondered if you might share a copy of your inventory spreadsheet with me. I’ve been scouring the web looking for a spreadsheet that would also include a way to put outfits together, something like this:

    travel planner: paris 2010

    Thank you so much!


    1. Hi Sandra,

      The example you sent through is soooOOOoo adorable. Alas, to go to this detail would require my wardrobe to morph into a more conventional capsule wardrobe model, and cull more clothes that I could bare..

      If I could, I would love to do this capture, mix and match concept with a polaroid camera and a large pin board – that would be fun. Then you could also have a spot dedicated to a colour chart as well.

      Absolutely copy my spreadsheet if it helps you (you can click on it to view it in a bigger image). It’s a simple set up but effective for an overall sort and view process.

      I can see if I saved a copy of it in an excel format which would be of more use to you……. I will message you back soon if I have been organised enough to save it. 🙂



  12. You are just too funny! LOL! Part of my job in my previous life was interior spatial analysis and designing closets, storage, kitchens, etc. and I wish I could say that I have employed those skills to my own home, but sadly this is not entirely the case. One thing that helped me decide on which clothes to donate, etc., was to be frank with myself on the smaller size items and say “If I lose (THAT MUCH) weight I’m sure I will just reward myself by going out and buying all new” 😀 Glad you took the plunge, and found a way to streamline your mornings.


  13. OMG what a great post and an absolutely fabulous use of Six Sigma and Ishakawa!! Former project manager here and I’d say you captured this process beautifully. BTW – I just went through packing/unpacking my house 3 times and I really did get rid of a lot of clothes and accessories I never wore but stored – http://write-on-target.com/2012/06/17/buying-or-selling-a-house/ Maybe next time, pretend to move. It works! Oh, and I lost 12 pounds running up and down stairs, lifting, carrying and forgetting to eat. All in all, a win-win of sorts.


  14. This is analysis is AMAZING!!! I love it! It’s the ultimate girly nerdom! I had often pondered going into this much depth with my wardrobe although my first plan is to build it up… I don’t think I have 400 items… I am going to bookmark this for when I can do mine properly 🙂 Congratulations on streamlining this so successfully 😀


    1. Thanks for your comment and LOL – it is the ultimate girly nerdom! It has really helped me understand more about myself and how to control my insatiable appetite for all things pretty!!!! Must remember less is more.


  15. I’m thinking “thank god I don’t have that much stuff” but what I do have could do with reorganising, the drawers are the worst. They are to big and deep and you can’t find anything in them so you have to pull it all out and then you don’t have time to put it back or you stuff it in really quickly so it all gets very creased. Maybe you’ll inspire me.


    1. Thanks for your comment. Haha – That sounds to me like a symptom too much stuff (and where I began)!!!! Go on take a leap of faith, and empty out those drawers and take a good look at what is in there. I bet you will find treasures you forgot you had!!


  16. Laughing out loud. I thought my wardrobe was bad but I’m thrilled to see that it’s actually organised and pristine compared to yours 🙂 …but, hey, it’s worth the hassle and mess if we want a different, unique and stylish look every day, right!?


    1. LOL – At times I thought a back alley thrift store appeared more organised than my wardrobe. HILLARIOUS -I thought the exact reason I was holding onto all these things was so that I could have a different, unique look each day. The funniest thing I have learned is I couldn’t actually see the individual items for the sea of clothing and accessories. Before I tended to put together outfits I knew had worked previously and kinda stuck with them on a rotating basis because it was too hard to deal think about ‘what goes with what’ on such an monumental scale. Post purge – I kept only the best of the best (and within the 3 colour matching rule) it has been so SOOOoooo much easier to be creative in my outfits and mix them up cause every thing works and is interchangeable! Quite honestly, I can’t imagine what all the extra items were and I don’t miss them either. BTW, since I implemented ‘operation clean up’ all I have worn so far are new combinations I haven’t yet fallen back on the ‘old faithfuls’. 🙂 I hope to keep it up!!!! wish me luck.


  17. Excellent. I’m now sat in bed looking at my 2.5 wardrobes and 3.5 chest of drawers trying to work out where to start. (then I can move onto the 3 chests, under bed storage and airing cupboard!!)


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