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what do you give a friend who has e v e r y t h i n g ?



helping her pack for an upcoming trip, when it came to me. I looked around the room and saw hanging sections packed with clothes I had never seen her wear, stacks of jeans piled so high they were falling over, and her shoes … don’t even get me started on her shoes. I realized right then and there what I was going to give to her: a closet makeover! With great skepticism, over how “great” this gift would be, my friend finally agreed to put a date on the calendar. I came prepared with all the essentials for a closetcleaning party: Drawer dividers, beautiful containers that matched her ivory and mocha closet … and, of course, a bottle of our favorite wine. We walked in the closet, turned on some music and got started. Step one was simple: pull all the clothes out of her closet and divide them into groups. Work clothes went on the bed; weekend clothes on the chair; gym clothes on the bathroom counter.



Then came the tough part—Runway Elimination. Some choices were easy. She pulled out a sassy red skirt and black top I’ve seen her wear with admiration. That was an immediate “Keep,” but that stretched-out sweater she was holding up with the glittery acrylic thread? Was she kidding? “I used to wear this all the time,” she protested. “Yeah, back in the 80s,” I noted. “Toss.” We went back and forth like this for hours. Anything that was worn, dated, or made her feel fat went into the “Donate” pile. When we were finally finished making the hard choices, it was time to find a home for our keepers. Grouping things you wear together makes it easier to get dressed in the morning, so we broke the closet up into zones. A nice hanging section in the corner with adjacent shelves was the perfect place to hang her workout tops and fold her yoga pants. I labeled a bin “Workout Socks” (no holes allowed!) and placed it on a shelf underneath the pants. We continued to move around the closet. A nice double-hang section became her new home for tops and skirts; a drawer divider now separated her socks from stockings.



Finally, we made it to the holy grail of vintage wear: The giant 8’ by 4’ shoe cabinet. I peeled open the double doors and set my eyes on every pair of black pumps made since the 1970s. High heels, wedges, pointy toes, square toes, they were all there. It was like a Black Shoe museum. I eagerly reached in and started filling bags with dated shoes, worn-out heels, and faded leather. In the end, there was just a handful of beautiful black shoes just waiting to be worn, plus room for the shoes that had been piled in boxes on the floor. She’d have easy access to them all. By the time we left the closet, the wine bottle was almost empty and 20-plus shopping bags filled with donated items were sitting outside her door. She smiled and gave me a hug. “Best present ever!” she said. “Let’s go work on my pantry!” w LKN EXPERT

Laura VanSickle is co-owner with husband Eric of ClosetsbyDesign in Charlotte. With free in-home or virtual consultations, their designers will assess your space and create a layout that is affordable and customized to meet your individual needs. For more information and locations, visit or call 704.588.7272.


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