Getting Organized
(featured column)

10 Steps to a Happy Clothes Closet

by Maria Gracia


The clothes closet is one of the least respected areas in the house. It's often stuffed from floor to ceiling with clothing, briefcases, purses and shoes. Valuable clothing rod space has been taken over by vast armies of mis-matched hangers. Books and magazines have managed to somehow sprout out of nowhere. Bed linens are mixed in with towels, umbrellas and shoes. You can barely see the floor. Before you know it, your closet has become clutter central!

Here's some friendly advice. Heed the old saying, "Less is more." You'll save an enormous amount of time, money and stress by thinning out your huge wardrobe.

  1. GET THE PROPER SUPPLIES. Buy a starter set of 30 hangers, or 60 if the closet is shared by two people. Get the sturdy, plastic ones. They're inexpensive and can be obtained at a homegoods store. Buy all one color for uniformity (or if you're sharing closet space with someone, get one color for yourself, and another color for the person you're sharing space with.)

    While you're at the store, pick up a few sturdy skirt and pants hangers. Vertical skirt hangers with clips that hold 5 to 6 skirts on one hanger are a great choice. In addition, pick up an expandable shoe rack and a tie rack if you wear ties.

  2. START WITH A CLEAN SLATE. Pull out everything (yes, everything) that's currently in your closet.

    Keep in mind, as you're doing so, that you probably only wear 20% of your clothes on a regular basis, 10% of them are for special occasions, and the other 70% of them are probably never used at all.

    A. Clothes that meet any of the following criteria:

    B. Wire Hanger Pile (they're weak, they stick up in the air, and they damage your clothing)

    C. Clothes that need minor repairs such as sewing a hem or replacing a button. If itís too much of a hassle to repair it, then donít put it in this pile.

    D. Clothes you love and wear at least once a month AND clothes you love and wear at least twice a year (special occasion wardrobe). Your wardrobe should always make you feel good about yourself. If you donít love it or wear it often, it doesnít belong in this pile.

    E. Any other items that donít fit into Category A, B, C or D.

  4. CATEGORY A OR B: DUMP IT OR DONATE IT. Ok, now here's the fun part. Grab a large plastic garbage bag and dump everything (yes, everything) from your A pile into it. Bring it to your local charity organization first thing in the morning or dump it now.

    If you're still reading this in disbelief, take a deep breath to get over the initial shock, then go ahead and toss it or donate it. Youíll feel better in the end.

    While you're at it, take all those terrible, awful, lousy wire hangers (Have you gotten the point that I really donít like wire hangers?!) in your B pile and bring them to your Dry Cleaner for recycling or dump them immediately.

    C'mon now. Are you still considering keeping something in your A or B piles?? Please, dump it. It's clutter. You'll feel better about it later when your closet is organized, inviting and free of chaos.

  5. CATEGORY C: REPAIR IT WITHIN 2 WEEKS. Ok, now that your A and B piles are donated or trashed (I hope), let's move on to your C pile. This pile should contain those articles of clothing that need minor repair. Get a basket or container. Dump this entire pile in it. Now, carry that basket over to your clothing repair area.

    Give yourself a 2 week deadline. If it's not done in two weeks, dump or donate the entire basket. After all, if it's not important enough for you to repair, it's clutter. Sound drastic? I wouldn't steer you wrong. It's very easy for clutter to build up, and I want to help you eliminate any chance of it happening to you again.

  6. CATEGORY D: ORGANIZE YOUR KEEPERS. Sort everything in your D pile by category of clothing (blouses, skirts, pants, suits, etc.) When done sorting, start with one category. Take one article of clothing at a time, put it on a hanger (the colorful, sturdy, plastic kind) and hang it in the closet. (Important Note: If you found something that didn't belong in the closet in the first place, donít put it there again.)

    Do this until you've managed to hang all of your categories of clothing, making sure that all clothing and hangers are facing the same direction. (By the way, if you share your closet with someone, don't mix clothing together. Put each individual's clothing on either side of the closet.)

  7. CATEGORY E: CATEGORIZE AND ORGANIZE EVERYTHING ELSE. If, due to lack of additional storage space, you have some items that simply have to be returned to your closet which haven't been put there already (your E pile), categorize them. Then, get some inexpensive organizing containers so that each category remains separated and place the containers on shelves in your closet.

    Now is a good time to set up your brand new, sturdy, expandable shoe rack and neatly place your shoes on it.

  8. FINISHING TOUCHES. Now, you're ready for some finishing touches. If you install a few hooks on an empty closet wall, you'll be able to hang belts, umbrellas and handbags. If you're lucky enough to have cubbies in your closet, purses and hats can be stored there; otherwise, put them on your closet shelves.

    You can even pick up a clear, over-the-door shoe bag for small accessories such as hosiery, scarves, jewelry and the like. Don't put shoes in the shoe bag. It may sound funny, but these bags are too flimsy and awkward for the weight of most shoes, plus they collect dirt from shoe bottoms.

  9. FINAL THOUGHTS. Don't overstuff. There should be plenty of room in your closet to get an item in or out. If there's not, consider thinning out your wardrobe a little more. The goal here is quality, not quantity. Don't buy another thing to wear without first determining if you really need it. Some people like to discard something they're not really happy with anymore, for a new item.

  10. CELEBRATE. Congratulations! You're done. Don't you feel great?! You deserve a special reward for your hard work. Treat yourself to dinner, or a double hot fudge sundae. Go for a massage. Rent and watch a favorite movie. Be happy. Your closet is!


*  *  *


Copyright © 2006 by Maria Gracia.  All rights reserved.

Want more money-saving tips?  Get a FREE Subscription to our monthly newsletter!


Related Articles:

7 Tips to Get You Where You're Going - On Time

8 Ideas for Organizing Your Child's Room


Finally Organized, Finally Free! by Maria Gracia