Zarela Martínez: Organized and Liberated!

Mexican girls are born to love two things: pierced ears and high heels, and I have plenty of high heels. I'm like my mother was in many ways. If I like a shoe, I buy two of them.

But there are so many shoes I haven’t worn in so long that they are now considered vintage, like most of my clothes. Someone recommended a professional organizer.

The organizer came in like a whirlwind. Neither snow nor freezing cold could stop her. Red cheeks, red hair, she looked chic in tweed bell bottoms and ankle-high boots.

We started with the downstairs cedar closet that held my collection of Zelda jackets, modeled on 40s and 50s fashion, that I hoped would fit me again someday. The ballroom dance dresses with feathers, rhinestones, laces and miles and miles of wired chiffon and silk. Anything else with a designer label was added to the pile. We carried them four flights to my bedroom, and she laid them over my bed in a big, disorganized mess. I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

Horrified that they were hung on wire hangers, she rushed to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought two 40-count boxes of inexpensive plastic hangers. Wire hangers, she said, get the clothes out of shape and are anathema if you are taking anything to a good consignment store. Non-designer clothes were put in another pile to take to the flea market.

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As I took all the misshaped clothes housekeepers had washed when the label said “Dry Clean Only,” I started to feel a sense of relief. Then I set a rule for myself: I’ll get rid of anything I haven’t worn in a year, well maybe a year and a half when I gained some weight and my body shape changed as it is does with women my age.

Bags, baseballs caps and other hats, make-up kits, knickknacks I’d collected over the years would also go. Scarves were next followed by jewelry. Books and the closet and basement were last.

I photographed everything. It was something I had to do, I felt liberated but it was a sad moment.

As you look at each piece you are going to discard, you think of the times you wore or used it. It brings special memories that will stay with you forever.

Zarela Martinez blogs at You can also check out her how-to videos on YouTube.

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