Here are 10 simple and practical tips for organizing your clothes and closets.
1) Edit your wardrobe.
The reality is, too much stuff makes anything more difficult and challenging. It’s common knowledge among professional organizers that we typically wear only 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. Are you the exception? If not, take a long, good look at your clothes and decide what you wear most, least and not at all. Remember to focus NOT on letting things go and feeling the loss—instead focus on finally having enough room in your closet to see the clothes you like to wear every day. Clear out the clutter and keep only what you wear and love. Bonus points for the joy you’ll experience knowing that everything you donate will bring someone else happiness. Garments that are damaged, stained, or stretched out items should be tossed.
2) If you can see it, you can wear it.
The main point of having a closet in the first place is to gather your clothes into one area—so you can easily find something to wear. After you’ve edited your clothes (in step 1), now you need to arrange them.
Every step you have to take to put something away becomes a potential obstacle to using it in the first place. This applies outside of the closet as well, so keep that in mind when cooking up clever ways to store things that involve multiple moving parts. If it’s too cumbersome, you’ll stop using this “clever way” right away. Keep things simple.
That said, there are plenty of great ideas in The Container Store. How likely are you to actually use those tiered hangers? Or will you just wear the top one over and over because it’s easier to get to? Again, keep it simple.
3) Rotate clothes seasonally, either inside the closet or between closets.
For those of us in urban areas without attics, basements or other auxiliary storage places, it can be helpful to swap out clothes you won’t be wearing for a few seasons. No need to keep the shorts front and center during a cold winter. Likewise your bulky sweaters and winter jackets don’t need to be taking up prime real estate in your closet in July.
4) Organize hanging clothes by type, then color.
Slacks, trousers, jeans, shirts, jackets and blouses should all be sorted first by sleeve length and then by color. Using this system to arrange your clothing means you’ll find exactly what you’re looking.
5) Choose the right hanger.
Your closet will look neater and function easier if you use just one type of hanger—wood, wire, or plastic. The one exception is for jackets and coats—they need sculpted jacket hangers to keep the shape of the shoulders from sagging and puckering.
6) Set up zones.
Just like in the kitchen, keep zones of the same types of clothes together. Use a step stool to store purses, or out of season items you don’t need access to often.
7) Arrange folded items.
Any clothing that will stretch out of shape should never be hung on a hanger—you could drape it over the rod but it’ll take up more space that way and be harder to spot when searching for it.
When organizing folded clothing on shelves, place heavier, bulkier items at the bottom of each stack, and lighter ones at the top. After folding them in a uniform way, arrange the garments by function (workout clothes, casual tops, business or dressier tops, etc.) and then by color (white to nude to bright colors to black).
8) Use garment bags.
The preferred material is canvas for garment bags—not vinyl or any other kind of plastic or synthetic material. You want something that breathes while also protecting your fine suits, dresses and jackets (that you keep at the back of the closet, or in another closet).
9) Deal with dry cleaning when you get it home.
Don’t wait until you’re racing around to try to rip something out of those plastic bags and then leave the crumpled bag on your closet floor. When you bring things home from the dry cleaners, take a few minutes to remove everything from the dry-cleaning bags and transfer them onto your own hangers. Don’t forget to return the wire hangers to your dry cleaner for reuse or recycling.
10) Contain what doesn’t hang.
Anything odd shaped, small or otherwise hard to stack or hang should be placed into containers. Custom drawers are a good choice or purchase all the same type of baskets you can set or stack on the shelves. Remember “like with like” when storing socks, undergarments and single accessories, like scarves, hats, gloves and small bags or clutches.
After wearing something, hang it up with the hanger reversed. If you haven't worn it in 6 months-toss it!