It’s no secret that women are fascinated by the closets of other women. I know I am! I enjoy seeing how other women organize their wardrobes because you just never know what tips you can discover! In honor of Spring Cleaning I’m sharing organizing tips straight from my own closet.
2 Essential Rules to Organizing your Closet:
Learn to Edit: Become a Curator of your Closet
Most women stand around inside a jam-packed closet declaring they have nothing to wear.
What they really mean is they have nothing they like wearing.
If you don’t like the clothes in your closet or you haven’t worn it in awhile, why are you keeping it?
Donate, Consign, giveaway or throw out the clothes that are taking up space in your closet.
Even if you reduce your closet by 50% at least it will be easier to see the remaining 50% of your clothing that you actually wear and you’ll have the space to start rebuilding your wardrobe, wisely.
Maximize the space you have
When I worked as a Professional Organizer the hardest thing I had to teach my clients was that it wasn’t that their closets (or homes) were too small, it was that they had too many things for their closet.
Learning how to use your closet space wisely is important, however it’s not as important as being realistic about the actual space you have to work with.
Try not to think of this as a negative. Sometimes being forced to choose helps us with the first rule, which is to edit our wardrobe to what we actually wear.
Tips for Organizing Shoes
Shoes. I have an obsession with shoes. I also have large feet so it’s not easy to find shoes in my size, which makes me buy shoes as I find them instead of based on what I may need, like a black ballet flat.
Looking at my shoes I also realize that there is a part of me that must think I Walk the Red Carpet for a living. I have way too many pairs of sparkly pretty heels for a homeschool Mom of 5. Maybe I need more date nights?
Okay, enough joking. Organizing your closet is serious business.
Here is the first rule: Don’t line up your shoes in a straight line. Instead, flip one pair backwards and you’ll fit more on the shelf (or the floor).
Keep the Left shoe facing forward and flip the right shoe, then slide it back a little. This works well with both heels and flats.
Here’s a tip for organizing sandals: Put them inside each other.
If it bothers you that the sole of one shoe is touching where your feet are, you can flip it so one pair is upside down. I don’t do it that way because this looks prettier to me.
How to Organize your Handbags
Well, I guess my handbag obsession is now out of the bag (pun intended).
A friend once encouraged me to organize my closet in a fun and attractive way. She said it would make getting dressed each morning (instead of just throwing on the closest pair of sweat pants) much more enjoyable.
At first I thought it was silly, but I have to admit that it works.
I now try to display my accessories much like they do in stores. It gives me the feeling of shopping—only I’m shopping my own closet! This also encourages me to be creative and come up with new wardrobe combinations. Neat and pretty is always inspiring, isn’t it?
Don’t feel you need to have a large collection in order to create a display. Remember, a collection is just more than one. Display what you have.
To help handbags keep their shape I stuff them. You can use shoe bags, tissue paper or butcher block paper. I also use Acrylic Shelf Dividers (which can also be used for organizing clothing).
Resources: Acrylic Shelf Dividers
How to Organize your Jewelry
There are two ways to organize your jewelry: Display it or Store it.
My favorite way to organize and store costume jewelry is to simply put it in Stackable fabric boxes which can they be stacked and stored in a closet, on a shelf or in a drawer.
Displaying favorite pieces, trendy pieces or new pieces is also fun. I have a small island inside my closet where my laundry and dry cleaning bins are stored. However a dresser or vanity table is also a great place to lay out fun pieces and encourage the art of enjoying and wearing what you own.
Resources: Tiered Jewelry organizers, stackable jewelry trays.
Basic Closet Organizing Tips
Have matching hangers. Whatever kind you can afford, just make sure they match.
Not only does it make a difference aesthetically, but good hangers protect your clothes from damage.
Changing hanger styles to one uniform style is generally done over time. The easiest way to do this is to choose a type of hanger in your price range and then, either weekly or monthly, replace the (assorted) old hangers in your closet with the new style. If you are choosing a style that is on sale, make sure it isn’t on sale because it is being discontinued. Otherwise, you may not be able to replace your hangers over time before they sell out. Good hangers are a worthwhile investment because you can truly own them for a lifetime.
Group items in your closet by category: Shoes, Blouses, T-shirts, Cardigans, Sweaters, pants, shorts, skirts etc.
Generally, after you’ve grouped your wardrobe by category you can then organize each category even more by grouping into subcategories. A popular way to do this is to simply arrange the clothing by color, from lightest to darkest.
As you can see from my closet, I don’t do this. I prefer to arrange my clothing in subcategories of style. My blouses are grouped by sleeve length, my pants by leg cut, etc. I group my dresses in subcategories of: casual, dressy daytime, evening, corporate, cocktail and gowns. Don’t feel you need to do this.
Always arrange your clothes in the way that makes the most sense to you and is the easiest to maintain.
Remember the out of sight, out of mind rule. You want to be able to see what you have. Hang the clothes you wear most often and store other clothing (particularly those sweat pants or gym clothes you keep grabbing when you aren’t working out) in drawers.
How to maximize Drawer Space
Instead of stacking your clothes on top of each other, arrange them in the drawer (as shown below) so that you can easily see everything you have at first glance. This also maximizes space as you will be able to hold more clothing in each drawer. Try it, you’ll see!
The picture above shows my collection of heavier shawls/scarves but this system also works well with t-shirts, tank-tops, and gym clothes (as shown below).
In the interest of full-disclosure I’ll admit that I have to edit my t-shirt drawer some more.
I often get asked if the t-shirts come out wrinkled when you store them this way. The answer is no.
When you properly fold the clothes (and don’t cram too many in) the t-shirts come out beautifully. Try it!
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my closet and learned a couple tips and tricks you can apply to your own closet. Do you have any organizing tips to share with me? Please do so in the comments.
Dena Sullivan says
What a superbly organized closet! Thanks for all your wonderful advice. I have been noticing lately how unorganized my closet has become and now I am inspired to go do something about it. My husband will be so happy.
Perhaps if you have time in the future, you can give us tips on how to organize the other rooms in our house. Thanks for your post.
I’m 5 days away from having baby #6. After coming across your post last night I became obsessed with doing something about my closet. I’ve organized my closet by type and color for as long as I can remember, but the last year or so my littles have taken to playing in my closet (I have no idea why) and one of my boys likes to move my clothes and shoes around. Plus when we moved in 1.5 years ago, we just kind of tossed things in bc there was so much else to unpack. I’ve also always use all the same kind of hangers. I moved just about everything. I’m most excited about moving my shoes. I can see them now and I don’t have to bend down to the rack on the floor to get them or put them away. I also bought some pool noodles and used them to fill all my boots so they stand up straight. I cleaned out my drawers and refolded them the way you did. I’m amazed at how much more fits in a drawer, and I can see it all now. I already display my jewelry. I took my purses off the hooks and on a shelf, but before we moved I got rid of most of my bags, so not many there. I usually carry the same bag for a while unless we are going somewhere more dressed up and I want something like a clutch. I’ve always kept jeans in drawers, but a few weeks ago I hung all those up, and I really like that as well. Anyway, it really fed my nesting need today, and I keep walking into my closet to admire my handiwork. The guy who is finishing our basement is going to come do some shelf adjusting for me, which will give me even more versatility. Thanks!
Nesting is an amazing and dangerous thing, isn’t it? I’m so glad I’m not the only one who walks in/out of closets to admire all the hardwork that went into organizing it.
I am having my closet professionally redone. I am so happy to have stumbled across your blog. Alot of great ideas! Thanks
Victoria O'Connor says
Love, love, love the folding t-shirts trick! I’m using it for pants too. I’ve always done that for traveling but never thought of it for my drawers at home. I have 18 month old boy twins and one is slightly bigger, so not every piece of clothing fits both of them. This technique gives me the ability to see every piece of clothing at a glance and has made life just a little easier. Thanks Karin!
M Woods says
HOW DID YOU FOLD YOUR T-SHIRTS????
Where did you get those black zippered heels?
I bought those heals several years ago in Barney’s in Beverly Hills.
I’m back to tell you that a year later, the contractor (this house project has taken FOREVER) FINALLY did my shelves. You see, the shoe shelves that were already installed (and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even notice what they were when we moved in) happen to be on my husband’s side of the closet (which is why I paid so little attention). So when I moved into those shoe shelves, and HE realized what they were, there was a little grumbling of invading his turf :). So I had asked the contractor to turn another set of shelves into shoe shelves (a year ago. Seriously. My baby just turned one, and I wrote that first comment a week before she was born), which actually gained me 4 extra shelves than what I had taken from my honey – woo woo! Oh how I love it. Oh how I love it!!! I also moved all my boots onto my side of the closet and off of his side. Now we’re both happy.
I’m glad it worked out great for you! An organized closet is a great thing. Enjoy!
I’m so happy that you posted these gret tips! We just built a walk in closet in our room and i haven’t put my stuff in yet. I’m definitely going to use your advise! Thank you!
I love the tips ou have given. I have a quick, possibly silly question:
I also arrange my blouses based on sleeve length. But then I end up also categorising by the dressy-ness or weariness of the blouses and then everything just becomes confusing. What do you suggest.
Secondly, where do you recommend I put my polo shirts? With T-shirts or should I hang them. Finally, in your t-shirt drawer do you keep both the half sleeved ones and the full sleeved ones?
It doesn’t really matter HOW you categorize, as long as it makes sense to you and is easy for you to find your clothing and maintain your organization system. If you first categorize by how dressy the clothing is, then you could have a subcategory of the sleeve length. This probably works best if your closet has dividers to separate those two areas vs one large hanging rod.
I have a drawer for tank tops and a drawer for t-shirts. I hang my 3/4 sleeve shirts/blouses.
I hope that helps!