In my last blog post, I discussed the common problem of having a messy closet. While it’s not something most people think consciously about on a day-to-day basis, a tangled closet can negatively impact your self-esteem, your mood, and certainly your appearance. After all, if you can’t find your most flattering pieces amidst disorganized piles of less-inspiring clothes and shoes, you won’t look or feel your best.
When I help my clients do closet audits, they’re amazed at how much easier and more enjoyable their newly clean closets make the process of getting dressed in the morning. But as I remind them, banishing tangled hangers and cluttered shelves doesn’t stop with getting rid of pieces you no longer wear or need. You must make a consistent effort to keep your closet organized and the pieces in it up-to-date with your current lifestyle.
Here are four strategies to help you do just that:
Store your wardrobe seasonally. Few people have large enough closets to comfortably accommodate both winter and summer clothes at the same time. That’s why it’s important to rotate your clothing seasonally instead of trying to cram everything in at once. Don’t forget to switch out coats, shoes, boots, and handbags, too. Having your warm weather sandals mixed in with your fall shoes will only make it harder to find what you are looking for when you get dressed. Keep in mind, though, that some shoes, totes, and handbags may work year round, especially those that are neutral or metallic.
Harness the power of organization. No matter what season it is, one thing about your closet should stay the same: its level of organization! I recommend grouping pieces by type (pants, skirts, tops, etc.) and organizing each category in order of color or print. While this level of detail may sound like overkill, you won’t believe how much easier it will make your life—not to mention how fantastic your closet will look!
Personally, I like to hang all tops left to right, sleeveless to long sleeve, light to dark. The rack begins with white and finishes with chocolate or black. In between are solid and print tops by color, with a special section reserved for multi-colored prints. I repeat this same process with pants, jackets, skirts, and dresses. With this system, if you are looking for a white t-shirt or a blue long-sleeved knit top, you know exactly where to find it.
Learn some space-saving secrets. The more organized your closet is, the cleaner it will stay and the easier it will be to see everything you own without digging for it. While it’s (mostly) empty, take the opportunity to invest in some space-saving items. Start with shoe racks. And if you have closet shelves, line them with baskets or clear bins so you can see everything easily. (If your budget is bigger, you might even want to install shallow drawers that pull all the way out.) To make getting dressed quick and easy, add plenty of hooks in the closet. They can hold belts, ties, handbags, or necklaces. Be sure to select hooks with a large arm to give you the most holding and storage power.
Depending on how much space you have, you may also want to hang like garments together on multiple-bar hangers. You’ll save space hanging vertically, and you can also hang pieces that you wear with only one outfit together.
Maintain it! If you don’t change your everyday habits, your closet will soon return to its tangled, messy, frustrating state. (It happens faster than you might believe possible!) Fortunately, a return to black hole status can be avoided by following a few simple rules. First, commit to putting away clean laundry promptly and in its appropriate place, as well as to putting things back where they belong at the end of the day. You should also constantly audit the pieces you own. Finally, create an Attention Needed section in your closet, and use it to corral pieces that need tailoring, repairs, or dry cleaning, or that you’re considering donating or taking to a consignment shop.
Think of your closet as sacred ground and treat it accordingly. Hopefully you’ve read something in these last two posts that resonates with you and inspires you to make a change or two in your closet and then maintain your progress. Remember, the way you shop, the clothes you choose to wear, and the organization of your closet all reflect your sense of self. Make sure you’re treating yourself with respect and honor!