Simplify: How To Organize Your Closet

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Get organizing ideas for the clothes in your closet. How is your closet organized? Are your clothes sorted by color or by style or by function? Or are they just strung up willy-nilly in whatever order they came out of the laundry or back from the cleaners? If so, I’m willing to bet that you have a difficult time getting ready in the morning. Having a system for your closet makes getting dressed easier because you always know exactly what you have.

Huggable Hangars The Container Store

Let’s start with how not to organize your closet. Hanging clothes together by where you wear them — work clothes, say, date night clothes — means you’re missing opportunities to make the most of what you have. Instead of thinking about your clothes in the context of a place or event, think about them as individual pieces that can be mixed and matched. The easiest way to see what you have is to reorganized the way you’re looking at it.

Take everything out of the closet (this is the hardest part, I promise) and put it back in by type. Hang all the jackets together, and all the skirts, and so on. Don’t worry about keeping coordinating pieces together — I promise you, no one ever forgets that wearing the suit jacket with the matching skirt is an option. Hanging pieces in different places, away from each other, is the first step in breaking out of your rut.

Once you’ve got everything back in the closet by type, think about other ways to organize. Shirts can be hung by color, for example, or by sleeve length; you can separate patterns from solids — whatever works for you. Do the same for pants, skirts, jackets, and dresses. Fold sweaters and t-shirts and lay them flat, rather than hanging, to prevent stretching.

If possible, store sweaters and tees on a shelf in the closet, where you can see them. Take the time to hang pieces in neatly. If you’re working with a small closet, Huggable Hangars make the most of your space without damaging delicate pieces. Remove garments from dry cleaning bags; moisture can build up under the plastic and cause mold to grow. If you want to protect off-season pieces, use unbleached cotton garment bags.

Shelf dividers will keep sweaters and tees stacked straight, eliminating wrinkles. Once you’ve got everything sorted by type, start thinking about how to combine what you have into outfits. Wear your suit jackets with jeans and a tee; pair your pencil skirts with crew neck sweaters and flats. Mix and match what you have to create new outfits that work for every day, not just for certain occasions. Think about how you can mix your daytime pieces with your after-five pieces as well — those are the clothes that are hardest to think about outside their specific context. But mixing dressy and casual pieces is a great way to liven up your wardrobe, even for a regular old Tuesday.

Rather than hanging all your dressy clothes together, get them out in your closet — and then wear them! Are you not sure how to make dressy pieces work for day? Think about their shape rather than the fabric; a sequined pencil skirt is still a pencil skirt. Pair it with a denim shirt and boots for a perfect Tuesday lunch look. Why not?

If the idea of crafting an outfit from all these separates during the morning rush makes you nervous, do it ahead of time. A simple valet hook mounted on the closet door or outside the closet gives you a place to hang an outfit for the next day. Take ten minutes before bedtime and pick out what you’ll wear the next day — experiment with mixing and matching what’s in your closet, now that you can see it all.

Do you need inspiration? Pull photos from magazines and catalogs of looks you love, and hang them in the closet. Think about how you can use what you have to recreate those looks. Get inspired, every morning. Most women are only wearing about 60% of what they own — my goal is to get you wearing 100 percent of what you’ve got. Once you can see it all, you’ll wear it all. I promise.

How do you keep your closet organized? What are your favorite closet organization tips and tricks?

Photo via The Container Store. Susan Wagner Susan Wagner is a freelance writer and editor and amateur personal stylist. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and their two (very badly dressed) sons. She loves cashmere sweaters and flat shoes and oversized jewelry. She would love to come help you edit your wardrobe. You can find her online at The Working Closet.

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