There’s little point in owning the latest bag or dress if you can’t find it in your closet when you’re getting dressed. A clean, well-organized wardrobe—instead of a confusing, jumbled mess of clothes and accessories—means you’ll maximize all your sartorial purchases, and come up with polished, carefully considered outfits even on hectic mornings.
The task of de-cluttering your wardrobe can be overwhelming though, so we’ve enlisted the expertise of Andrea Rapke, Founder of The Organized Move, and Melanie Charlton, CEO and Creative Director of Clos-ette. Read on for tips and tricks from these two professionals and soon you’ll not only have clothes that are well maintained but also an orderly closet.
Step #1: Get Rid Of Your Old Clothes
It might not be easy, but tossing out or donating old clothes is key to making room in your closet. “I advise my clients to donate anything they haven’t worn in more than two years that has no intrinsic value,” Rapke says. “Also, if it’s two sizes too small or two sizes too big, get rid of it. It’s time to buy new clothes.” Charlton adds, “Ask yourself if you’d buy this item today, or if it has a sentimental factor that warrants storage.”
Step #2: Call The Pros—Or Find Your Own Storage Solutions
If you’re interested in hiring professional help to organize your closet, it may be more affordable than you think. “A custom closet is a luxury that many of us can afford,” Rapke says. “Even the major closet companies can design what you would like on a budget.” But if that’s not an option, Rapke suggests using storage units that allow you to see your clothes and accessories. “If you can’t see it, you don’t wear it!” she says. Use Slimline Hangers; your clothes won’t fall off and they give you twice the space of wood and plastic.”
Step #3: Start Organizing
How do you organize sweaters versus lingerie or shoes versus jeans? There are different solutions for each, so check out how you can start de-cluttering your closet.
“If you have the space to hang everything, hang everything,” Rapke says. “You’ll wear more if you can see it.”
“Fold the very heavy sweaters so they don’t lose shape on the hanger,” Rapke advises. “Also, cedar is not a myth. It really does prevent moths from getting into your cashmere or wool sweaters. Replace the cedar every six months.” Charlton suggests, “Color code sweaters by weight, and use dividers or cubbies. Use a sweater folding board to make perfect folds.
Rapke says that how you want to organize your jeans is a personal choice. “There are a number of ways to do so—by cut, brand, color, style, size, or none of the above. I tend to go by color and most of my clients prefer it that way, unless they’re die-hard jeans collectors.” Charlton also favors organizing them that way: “Hang by the hem and organize by dark to light denim.”
Rapke’s trick for hanging pants, skirts, and shorts? “Hang them using clips and fold in the sides so the outside of the garment isn’t marked by the clips. This also makes everything look uniform on the hanger and gives it a cleaner side profile in your closet.”
For dresses, Rapke recommends hanging by color rather than length. “I also like to start with strapless and go to long-sleeve. Never leave your dresses, or any other clothes, in the dry cleaning or plastic garment bags. The chemicals from dry cleaning attack the fibers of your clothing and cause damage,” she says. Charlton agrees, choosing to divide dresses “by length” but also “season and day or night.”
“I like purses out of their dust bags and to have as many visible as possible,” Rapke says. “It’s hard to change bags if you can’t see them. They don’t generally get damaged out of their dust bags, so enjoy the view. Scarves folded in piles by color and material works best, and makes it easy to pull one out without ruining the organization of the rest. For hats, I love hat boxes. Take uniform photos of the hats and glue them to the outside of the boxes.”
“I prefer shoes to go right shoe toe out and left shoe heel out so you can see both to make finding what you’re planning to wear easy,” Rapke says. Both she and Charlton organize shoes by color and style. “I always hide tennis shoes and flip-flops in the least seen place,” Rapke says.
“Organize by color, size, and type,” Rapke says. “Make sure to rotate your bras and underwear so you’re not wearing the same few all of the time.” For a luxe touch, Charlton adds, “I line drawers in silk and sometimes do sachet-lined drawers.”
“I am partial to a built-in drawer in one’s closet or dresser in order to keep things neat and uncluttered,” Rapke suggests. “It’s also a great way to see what you have and makes it easy to keep hidden from plain sight.”
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