An organized closet may seem more like a luxury than a necessity, especially if you live in NYC and having a closet is a luxury. But a well edited wardrobe is truly they key to flawless style, especially for those of us who barely have five minutes to think about what to wear, and the first step to editing your wardrobe is to clean out your closet and organize it in a way that makes getting dressed simple and easy. Because not knowing where everything is, having to dig through your closet to find those black strappy sandals or vintage Fendi clutch, or having the stuff you actually wear hidden amongst stuff you totes never wear but feel guilty tossing for fear one day you will, is what landed you in that whole closet full of clothes and nothing to wear sit in the first place, n’est pas? Cleaning out and editing your closet isn’t easy. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day now was it? It takes multiple steps to really get your closet in flawless shape, and trying to do it all in one fell swoop will overwhelm you and you’ll end up with your entire closet’s contents all over your floor and you sitting in the middle of it, crying. (Ahem, story of my life.) So let’s start with step one, shall we? It’s the fun part — gathering inspo and ideas for organizing your closet.
1. Separate by category.
Tops, shorts, sweaters, shoes — if you have the space, give each wardrobe cateogry its own section. Store each in the most efficient and easy to access way: Drawers for tees and knits, hang tops and blouses, dresses and skirts, shelves for shoes and jeans, shorts can be hung or folded, depending on what you have space for. Install a system with closet organizers (you can get the full white glove treat California Closet style, or DIY it on the cheap with Ikea).
2. Arrange by color and type.
Invest in some storage cubbies or shelf dividers to separate and store sweaters, jeans, shorts, and shoes by color and type so getting dressed is much easier. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your shelves neat without taking everything down to figure out which pair of dark jeans are the flares. Not to mention you won’t have to worry about a huge stack of sweaters toppling over every time you go to grab one.
3. Double your hanging room.
Adding an extra rod will help double your hanging room and enable you to use closet space for drawers and shelves, too. If you don’t want to invest in a closet system with multiple rods, you can always buy a makeshift one that you hang on your rod like this one.
4. Use the space above and below hanging clothes. Maximize closet space by adding additional storage with freestanding shelves or cubbies.
5. Utilize every corner.
It doesn’t matter how big your closet is, there’s no room to be wasted, but that’s especially true if you live in an apartment where closet space is limited like me. Corners don’t have to be dead space. Make the most of awkward spaces with corner shelves. You can buy units at Ikea or build your own. You can also line awkward areas of extra closet with hooks to hang belts, purses, nighties, hats, you name it.
6. Hang clothes from corner to corner.
Another option? Installing tension rods perpendicular to each other for extra hanging space.
7. Arrange in order of frequency of use.
If you have room above your rods, install shelves to maximize storage space. High-up and hard-to-reach spaces are perfect for storing out of season stuff, as you don’t want to be standing on a chair every day to get to your fave pair of shoes or sweater. Use boxes to keep everything safe and moss-free and stack ’em up.
8. Use drawers to store loose items and things like pajamas and tees.
Whether you buy a cheap one from Ikea or use that ugly old dresser sitting in your parents’ basement or the cabinet that doesn’t fit with your new apartment’s decor, if your closet is big enough, hauling a dresser in can actually be cheaper than installing a closet system or shelves. What I like about dressers is they’re neater and they’re great for storing things like socks and underwear, accessories, and tights etc. The downside is they make it hard to see everything
9. Use dividers to keep piles of clothes neat and upright.
Shelves are great, but they can easily become a huge messy heap, especially when they’re high up and you are pulling items from below others and tossing ones on top after you’ve worn them. To keep sweaters organized by color or type (cardis, pullovers, etc.) and keep them from toppling over, use shelf dividers.
10. Or cubbies.
Bonus: You can stack ’em.
11. Or see-through cabinets. Glass or clear cabinets allow you to easily see everything, which means you’ll wear them more.
12. Or see-through drawers.
13. Display shoes for easy visibility and access.
You don’t want to be scrambling to find those nude pumps, or that other grey bootie with the cutout heels. Depending on your closet shape and size (or lack thereof), come up with a system for storing your shoes that will keep them all on display for easy reaching. Color coordinate, sort by type (heels, flats, etc.) or do a combo of both.
Line them up along the floor. Use shelves or racks to avoid a huge pile up you have to sort through every morning.
Or on shelves above clothes racks. Shelves or cubbies will keep them organized. Just one note of warning: If the shelf in your closet is pretty high, it can be a pain, and even a hazard (falling stilettos and boots can hurt), to have to climb up on something to grab and put away your shoes every day.
Group pairs in individual cubbies. A shoe cubby makes it easy to keep pairs together and are especially great for storing flats and sandals.
Or store them in boxes. Of course, if you want to get all ~fancy~ and have lots of nice Carrie Bradshaw-esque shoes you consider more of collector’s items and you have the space, you could store them in their shoe boxes. The trick is to take a pic of each, print it out and affix it to the front of the box to easily identify them from their shelves.
Organize on a hanging shoe rack. An over the door shoe rack is another options I’ve recently discovered that is a lifesaver and gives you tons more storage space. Or if you have open wall space, a vertical shoe rack on the wall is a compact way to keep your shoes.
Or on bookshelves.
Display ’em on shelves. If you have the room, shelves are a great way to see all your shoes and keep them organized. Invest in built-ins if you have the funds, or make your own with Ikea or Target shelves. Stash less-often worn pairs at the top and bottom, and the most-worn pairs in between. Or color code if you want to get all anal on me.
Place in a cabinet or a wardrobe. No room in your closet? Use a piece of furniture — try one with glass doors and display them like artwork. After all, isn’t that what they are?
Stand up boots on the floor. Stash tights or tissue paper in boots to keep upright, or buy special boot molds to keep upright. Line up on shelves or along the floor.
Store special and out-of-season pairs in shoe boxes for safe-keeping. Under the bed or on high shelves are prime places to stack them.
14. Use small drawers to corral accessories.
If you can swing it, install thin drawers in your closet, or invest in a jewelry armoire or tall dresser to contain purses, jewelry, and accessories in their own separate spaces.
15. Use drawer organizers to loose items and accessories in order.
Hate to be anal here, but guess what? I am, and separate drawers for each type of accessory just won’t cut it. Accessories are the key to a fabulous wardrobe. And they can be lifesavers on mornings when you’re running late in the morning, and need something to look instantly pulled together. Add organizers within each drawer to separate your jewelry, purses, and socks, hosiery, etc., so you don’t waste precious minutes in the morning rifling through overflowing drawers.
16. Sort jewelry on shelves or atop a dresser.
Jewelry boxes are great but they make it hard to see everything, and if you’re like me, out of sight, out of mind. I like to save the really nice stuff for the jewelry box, and sort the rest by type where I can see them and easily grab on my way out the door. You can find tons of great jewelry organizers everywhere from the Container Store to Pottery Barn, but you can also DIY it. Paper towel holders are great for stacking bracelets, hooks are perfect for necklaces, old dishes and bowls store rings and earrings, oh, and old file holders are great for clutches. I like clear plastic sorters as well for earrings and rings.
17. Display bags on shelves.
18. Or hang them on hooks.
19. Use boxes or basket to corral loose accessories on shelves.
20. Use hooks to hang items like belts, scarves, and slip.
21. Use thin hangers to increase space.
Huggable velvet hangers are everyone’s favorite for a reason. Trust me, just invest in them. It took me forever to come around on spending anything on hangers, but ditching the mish mosh assortment for them has given me a priceless amount of additional hanging space. Plus, it just looks so much coordinated, which the neat freak in me loves.
22. Use every wall.
Backs and sides of closets can be turned into additional storage with shelves, hooks, or racks.
23. Create subsections.
We’ve all been there. It’s like you spend an entire weekend cleaning out your closet and then a few weeks later it’s like it never happened and your closet is a total disaster again. If you have the room and budget, creating a bunch of little sections with shelves and drawers for each color and type will make it easy to find and put away things and keep your closet neat.
24. Arrange front to back.
If you’ve got a deep closet or ascending storage racks, place shoes or clothes or accessories you don’t wear as often or that are out of season in the back and more frequently worn items in the front.
24. Fold jeans.
Unless you have lots of extra hanging room, folding your jeans is your best bet. You can group by wash, style (skinny, flares, etc.), or faves.
25. Hang by category and subcategory.
Line shirts up together, then jackets, then skirts, then dresses. That way you can just grab the pieces you need to get dressed instead of rifling through racks to find that blouse you love hidden between a bunch of skirts. Then when it comes to skirts and dresses, consider hanging by length, occasion (work dresses, going out/party dresses, beach dresses, etc.), or neckline or color, or a combo of a few.
Oh, and win the lottery so one day this will be yours…