Cleaning out our closets is one of those things we often aspire to but rarely make time for. And mastering closet organization can be a daunting task, but the following tips will help break it down into a few easy and manageable steps.
It’s high summer, and the livin’ is easy—or at least it’s a bit slower than the rest of the year. And with a little downtime may come the inclination to address some of those projects you’ve been meaning to get around to. I profoundly hope one of those projects is tackling your closet.
For the uninitiated, dealing with your closet can be extraordinarily intimidating and intense. And if you’re unclear about how best to proceed—and in what order—chances are it’s a project you’ll keep putting off.
So, to help you make the most of this slower time of year, I thought I’d share my expertise in this area and break down this potentially life-changing project into manageable, bite-sized pieces.
Can an organized closet really be life-changing? Yes!
Before I leap into sharing my tips with you, I wanted to explain why I referred to organizing your closet as “potentially life-changing.” For starters, a disorganized closet is a serious source of stress and anxiety, and the benefits of a clean, organized, well-functioning closet and wardrobe are myriad.
If you think about it, we spend a lot of time in our closets. And, more often than not, for those working in a disorganized space, that time is spent experiencing the stress and frustration associated with desperately searching for the perfect pieces to pull together whatever look we’re attempting to create—and not necessarily finding them.
We’ve all heard the saying, “I’ve got a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!” Well, that saying isn’t known worldwide for nothing—and there isn’t one of us who hasn’t experienced that level of stress and anxiety when trying to get dressed.
Both my clients and I can attest to the positive benefits of a well-organized closet. When properly done, it will allow you to function easily and efficiently. You’ll feel the calm wash over you!
In fact, after working with one of my clients to organize her space, she has been using her closet as a meditation room and sanctuary, of sorts, from the chaos of family and daily life. And while organizing your closet may not quite do that for you, you will absolutely feel a drop in your daily levels of stress, anxiety, and frustration.
And for those reasons alone, I repeat—an organized closet can be life-changing!
Having said all that, let’s begin!
Part 1 – The Closet Cull
The first step in organizing your space is all about the closet cull. This is the most challenging step as it requires you to let go of things you have purchased—and in some cases, never even worn—that have been sitting in your closet for at least a year.
This brings to mind another favorite saying of mine… “Let go of what you don’t want to make room for what you do want.”
For you, that may mean buying things that you really WILL wear, or maybe it simply means being able to FIND those things in your closet that you’d forgotten you even had, what with all the chaos of goodies crammed in your closet.
When preparing for this first foray into getting your closet into shape, I recommend finding a trusted partner to help you out. The reason for this? Because all of us—including you and me—find reasons not to let go of those pieces under consideration for “letting go.” You know exactly what I mean. We have all done this. We always think, “But I will lose the weight,” or “I still might wear this,” even though we haven’t done so in the past year—or longer!
These reasons, often lame, mean we end up keeping items in our closet much longer than we should. So get yourself a fun and trusted partner for this step. Even Carrie Bradshaw got the girls together to help cull HER considerable closet in “Sex and the City!” Okay, so she’s a fictional character, but the difficulty of the closet cull is real!
As for the few pieces you want to hang on to but haven’t worn in at least a year, I have a strategy…
This step is something I do for myself and recommend to my clients. The pieces that I was on the fence about letting go of but decided to keep are put on hangers that are turned in the opposite direction of the “keepers” on the closet rod. The following season, I take some time to revisit all those reverse hangers, and if I still haven’t worn them, that’s my sign to let them go!
The only exception to this culling process are pieces with sentimental value. If they bring back memories or are from someone special that you love, those few special pieces get to stay.
Just to be clear, the closet cull is an essential first step in creating a serene, organized, easy-to-work-in closet!
Part 2 – Closet Categorizing
The next step in creating the closet of your dreams—one that you love and is stress-free—is categorizing all that is in it.
Categorizing your treasures is a wonderful second step toward being able to easily navigate your wardrobe and find exactly what you’re looking for—whether you’re simply getting ready for your day or dressing for an event.
Below is a list of categories I like to use that could easily work for you, too—and if they don’t, they’ll provide guidance. This is your closet, so your categories may be a bit different. For the most part, however, these categories apply to all of us.
I find this second step easy as it is mostly about shuffling the pieces in your wardrobe around to create the categories. So, have fun with it. As you move through this step, you will begin to see the light of day and feel better about navigating within your closet, as it is a tool designed to help you get dressed easily.
- Pants (Dress Pants, Cotton & Casual Jeans)
- Sweaters (pullovers)
- Third Pieces (Cardigans, Blazers & Casual Jackets, Outerwear Jackets)
- Dresses (Work, Evening, Casual)
- Belts (These can go on a belt hanger or in a bin.)
- Shoes (Sandals, Flats, Pumps, Booties)
- Tall Boots (These can go on a high shelf if that works for you or in their boxes for easy access.)
- Sweats & Scarves (I keep these folded in bins.)
If you have any questions or need suggestions, feel free to contact me.
Part 3 – Colorizing
The third step in bringing you closer to the game-changing gloriousness of an organized closet is colorizing. All retailers categorize AND colorize their apparel; they do that because of its visual appeal. Studies indicate that the visual impact of items organized by category and color creates a sense of peace and calm within us. For retailers, that means increased sales, but we’re looking for calm, ease, and happiness. So, ladies, let’s colorize!
As with the categories, I am providing you with a list of colors for sequencing if this isn’t your strong suit. It will beautifully guide you as you move through this third step.
Please note that each category you created in Part 2 will be colorized separately. Always start light to dark or dark to light, but whichever you choose, be consistent, as that is part of the benefit of colorizing. It draws your eye along with a pleasing sense of order.
Color Sequencing (Light to Dark)
As mentioned above, feel free to do this in reverse, but be consistent.
I moved the greens near the browns. Although this is not technically accurate, I find it more to my liking.
- Light Tan
- Mid Browns
- Dark Browns
- Greens (light, olive, bright, dark greens)
- Yellows (light to brighter)
- Reds (orange reds to burgundy)
- Light Blues
- Mid Blues
- Dark Blues
- Greys (light to dark)
Another tip to beautify your closet during this step is to arrange your pants in the following way. Move the pant clips to the end of the hanger (the part showing on your rack) and insert just the barest edge of the pant into the clip. This will help line up your pants and skirts evenly and will be very pleasing to the eye. And for your sweaters, jackets, shirts, and T-shirts, adjust each sleeve so they are straight looking.
Once you have done this, your closet will look like a retailer’s dream. These are very fun tips to have in your closet-organizing arsenal!
Have so much fun colorizing your wardrobe! You’re going to love seeing your closet continue to come together.
Part 4 – Organizing Shoes, Handbags, and Miscellaneous Accessories
Next on the agenda is organizing your handbags, shoes, and scarves.
Once again, watching the short reels I shot on each of these topics will help to illuminate them.
When it comes to organizing your shoes, the process is a little different. In this case, you’re going to cull, colorize and then categorize—the reverse of what I suggest for your clothing in terms of the latter two steps. This is because you’re going to look at color first and style second when selecting shoes for the look you’re putting together.
When colorizing your shoes, I recommend separating blacks, greys, and silver from tans, browns, whites, and gold and literally placing them in two separate areas of your closet. Once you’ve separated your shoes into color groups, then you’ll organize them into categories, grouping like styles with each other. This will help streamline the process of finding the perfect shoe for your look tremendously.
I recommend arranging tall boots in one category (using boot trees to hold them up straight) and storing bootie and mid-calf boots in their original boxes for easy selection. That way, you will know what bootie is in what box.
I do not recommend plastic shoe boxes because unless you have taken the time to label each box, you will continually be doing a style search to find the pair you are seeking. I have observed this numerous times with new clients.
An additional tip to note is making use of shoe trees to keep your shoes looking beautiful longer. Men have always had shoe trees available and are taught at a young age to use them. Here’s where we need to take a page from their shoe care handbook and protect our shoes by using them ourselves. You will see shoe trees to purchase at the end of this tutorial in the shopping I’ve done for you.
I find handbags the most unruly of all the items to be organized in a closet. I liken their organization to herding cats, as you’re dealing with a variety of shapes and sizes—and some of them are very floppy!
All that said, I prefer storing handbags in cupboards whenever possible. I organize them in a pleasing manner, then shut the cupboard door with the bags hidden inside. However, I do not have cupboards in my own closet, so I have found beautiful decorative boxes in which I store my bags. You can see what I’m referencing in the reels I mentioned above.
Regardless of where or how you store your bags, you will want to colorize them, at the very least. For instance, I have separated my storage boxes into black and brown. So, I have one box of brown bags (that includes one orange bag) and two boxes of black bags.
I use matching boxes and baskets to organize scarves, socks, sweats, and other miscellaneous accessories in my clients’ closets, as well as my own. Each of us has a different closet situation, but if you’re short on drawers and cupboard space, as I am, decorative boxes and baskets will add a certain loveliness to your newly organized closet.
Wrapping it All Up
It is my sincere hope that the steps to a well-organized, easily navigated closet, as outlined above, will encourage and, dare I say, excite you about tackling your own closet this summer! If you do, I can guarantee you will experience an ease in getting ready for your day (or event, as the case may be) that you’ve likely not felt before—and it will be glorious!
I have included a number of closet-organizing solutions in the shopping below that will no doubt help you as you embark on this journey.
Here’s to finding inner peace as you create your own closet nirvana!