Written by: May Doherty, Owner
I have always kept an organized closet. It definitely stems from my childhood years growing up in a smallish house with 3 sisters, 2 parents, 1 grandmother and very few (small) closets. My mother had genius organizing skills, and her magician-like use of limited space was impressive. She would edit (or "weed out" as she used to call it, regularly), and she always managed to find a home for everything. You might have to go to the chest in the front hall to get your pajamas but you knew where to find them!
These days we are all adjusting to our "new normal" routine. We are navigating our way through working, yoga-ing and teaching our kids from home. These uncertain times can raise anxiety levels and staying focused and productive can be a challenge. Creating a few small projects and setting goals around the house can provide a welcome distraction. A clean and organized space has a calming effect, so what better time to take on a closet organization project? Taking this time to organize your closet is not just an investment in your physical space, but also an investment in your mental well-being.
Here are 5 easy tips that you can apply to any size closet for a cleaner, calmer, more organized space.
1. Invest in some Essential Organizational Accessories
Before you start emptying and sorting, I recommend collecting the following organizational accessories which will help tremendously with the physical part of the process. A rolling rack (inexpensive and reusable for off-season clothing) can be especially useful when going through the hanging clothes. Keep in mind that containment and structure are key for maintaining organization.
HANGERS: Be consistent. Choose one type of hanger in the same material and color and use it for everything in your closet. I recommend the slimline velvet type on which you can hang all types of clothing; they are non-slip and save space. This may seem like a small thing but most people don't realize how much space the thick plastic or wooden hangers take up and it's a quick and easy way to make your closet look and feel more put together.
SHELVING: Be sure to utilize every inch of your closet. Most closets have shelves and adding clear dividers not only add structure but define space. You can also get free standing shelves that can be used inside or outside of the closet depending on your space. Shelves are especially good for folded items like sweaters, fine knits and t-shirts which can get damaged (hello hanger marks and stretching) when hung. Create short stacks of sweaters and t-shirts; tall stacks tend to fall over and get messy. Keep the folds all going the same way and put the thickest/heaviest pieces on the bottom of the stack.
BASKETS AND BINS: No matter how big the closet, there's almost never enough drawer space. That's where baskets and bins come in. I like to use them for things like activewear, socks, belts, and clutches; things that don't wrinkle and aren't easily damaged. Lined baskets help with this and some bins come with a clear window in which you can put a label identifying what is in there. Bins and baskets work well on shelves or the floor of closets.
JEWELRY TRAYS: These trays with built-in dividers are great for keeping jewelry visible and organized. Choose your favorite; fabric, plastic or lucite and put one category (i.e earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces) in each tray. This enables you to see what you have and select what you want with ease. And, it prevents all those delicate chain necklaces from getting tangled! Depending upon your layout, you can put them in dresser drawers, or stack on shelves.
2. Take everything out.
Yes, everything. It helps to see a clean slate and allows you to reassess how you can maximize the space. Then vacuum, dust and wipe down all the surfaces before putting anything back.
3. Sort by category.
This is where all those closet accessories (see #1) will come into play. Separate jeans, dresses, tops, skirts, jackets, belts, handbags and so on. A portable garment rack can be useful if you have one, to sort the hanging clothes. Look at each item closely before you put it back in the closet; try it on if you're unsure if it still fits. If you haven't worn it in 6 months, if it's tired and pilled, or if it's just not your look anymore, don't put it back in! We'll address what to do with these items in tip number 4.
The "keepers" go back into the closet by category. Arrange tops and dresses by sleeve length; i.e. tanks, short sleeves, long sleeves, and then by color: left to right, light to dark. Once you look at it this way you will quickly identify any redundancies and it will help you edit. Do you really need all 27 black sweaters?
4. Divide the "edits" into 3 piles: KEEP - DONATE - CONSIGN
This approach allows you to make a little extra cash, giving a second life to pieces you no longer wear and it can help someone in need while streamlining your wardrobe all in one fell swoop! The "keepers" can now go back into the closet. Bag up the donations and head to your local donation center but keep your "consign" items on hangers and check with your favorite consignment shop about their seasonal timeline for intake.
5. Get Creative and Crafty with your space.
Consider displaying shoes with one facing forward and one facing back- you'll be amazed at how much space it saves.
Make use of all the vertical space. If your closet has high ceilings don't be afraid to keep off-season or less frequently used items up there. Keep a step stool handy for reaching those hard-to-reach but usable spaces.
If your closet has no lighting it can be hard to see what you have. There are stick on battery-operated lights that are affordable and easy to install. It will make a big difference.
Get hooked. Self-stick hooks (ex: Command) are great for belts, caps and some bags (think crossbody styles).
Separate your wardrobe by season. The clothes you are wearing now should be front and center. Off-season clothes can be stored in bins under a bed or in the basement/attic or another closet if you have one, and there is room.
Utilize your closet door. Over-the-door hooks or shoe racks work well and get your shoes off the floor.
My philosophy is this: you won't wear what you can't see or don't remember you have. Whether you have a big walk-in closet or a small apartment-size closet, most of these suggestions can be applied. A well-organized closet will help you maximize your wardrobe and will have a calming effect on your life. I think we could all use some of that right now.