Having the closet of a fashion blogger definitely seems like a dream come true. But when it comes to living the reality in an every-inch-counts apartment in New York City, the overflowing racks of clothes can end up being more of a nightmare. Katie Sturino of The 12ish Style found this out the hard way. What began as her passion soon became an overwhelmingly stuffed-full closet that just seemed too tough to tackle. Luckily for Sturino, she found an organizing fairy godmother. Anna Bauer of Sorted By Anna guided her through a total closet overhaul. The end result is pure style serenity, but the before? Well, let鈥檚 just say the ramshackle sight may be a liiiiittle too familiar to some of us at home. Here are the expert tips that Sturino and Bauer used to make the transformation. (We鈥檙e taking notes).

1. Be realistic. 鈥淚f your dream is to have a Pinterest-perfect closet, that鈥檚 great. But be realistic about how long it will take you to adhere to the vision you have,鈥 cautions Bauer. Sometimes it鈥檚 best to work piecemeal. 鈥淪tart with organizing the shoes or setting up all of your dresses together, chipping away at things so it feels less overwhelming,鈥 she advises. In the end, perfection isn鈥檛 attainable, so don鈥檛 hold yourself to an unreasonable standard. 鈥淚t may be that you have to tweak some things so your idea of perfection matches the reality of your life,鈥 she says.

2. Break it down. Not sure where to start? Sticking to specific criteria can help you stay on track. 鈥淢ake categories!鈥 says Bauer. 鈥淕oing through all of your belongings is daunting, so keep it simple by making piles of keep, donate/resale, and trash. This will help you get a better picture of how many items you really have,鈥 she says. Keeping count, in turn, can help you develop systems that accommodate those pieces.

3. Make space for what you really love. Sentimental items aren鈥檛 the enemy: Throughout the process, Bauer made sure to make space for Sturino鈥檚 truly beloved items. Her best advice for knowing the difference? 鈥淭alk it out,鈥 she says. (This is where it really helps to buddy up on your closet clean.) 鈥淲hether it鈥檚 an internal dialogue or out loud, don鈥檛 be afraid to talk through each item you are sorting through.鈥 While you might not feel like thanking your inanimate objects a la Marie Kondo, even talking about the item can help you process. For example, Bauer said, let鈥檚 say you pull out a gift you received ages ago and forgot about immediately. 鈥淭he first thought might be that you鈥檙e pumped you just found it!鈥 Bauer says. 鈥淏ut continue to ask yourself some questions: How long was it hidden away? Had you ever thought about where it was? Was your life significantly worse because you didn鈥檛 have it?鈥 After a few minutes, you might realize your priorities aren鈥檛 what you thought they were.

4. Know when to admit the truth. 鈥淚f you have to justify keeping it, it probably means you shouldn鈥檛,鈥 says Bauer. Her rule of thumb seems brutal at first, but there鈥檚 definitely some sense to it. 鈥淭here鈥檚 a distinct difference between knowing in your gut that it鈥檚 something you have to keep, versus quickly giving in to the sentimental justification that blocking you from rationally knowing what to do.鈥

5. Use labeled sections to keep your system working. Resist the inevitable backslide into laziness by making it crystal-clear what goes where using labels. 鈥淚鈥檓 honestly so shocked the labeling system has worked. It really, really helps me put clothes away in their correct section,鈥 says Sturino of her new system. As for how it鈥檚 working after the fact, she says there鈥檚 just no going back: 鈥淚t鈥檚 super important to me and it makes me feel like my closet isn鈥檛 a big black hole of garbage鈥 I鈥檓 actually happy going into it now.鈥

Tackling a closet clean of your own? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know how it goes!

(Images via The 12ish Style)