Tag Archives: Organize

I’m Feeling Fall! How About You?

Now that Autumn is in full swing, there’s a distinct chill in the air that makes me eager to wrap up in a fuzzy sweater and get outside to enjoy the crunching leaves, the golden light, and a pumpkin flavored treat! But before I can fully enjoy fall’s splendor each year, I always make sure my closet is organized and well-stocked with clothing and accessories appropriate for cooler weather!

Many of you may know about my partnership with www.thethreetomatoes.com. It’s a fabulous website dedicated to fashion, news, and lifestyle for “women who aren’t kids”—in other words women who are in the prime of their lives! I write a regular style column for them, and this month, I’ve written a piece on simplifying the daunting task of swapping out your summer clothing with your fall and winter staples.

Be sure to head over to The Three Tomatoes soon to check it out:

How to Stop Fall Closet Chaos: Eight Tips for Organizing Your Autumn Closet

Packing for Paris—and How I Wore It

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling (outside of airport checkpoints, maybe) is packing for the trip. Inevitably, you want to take more clothing, shoes, and accessories than will comfortably fit into your suitcase. Even as an image consultant with plenty of experience in creating a variety of looks using just a few staples, I often find myself packing, downsizing, and repacking ad nauseum before traveling.

That’s why I wanted to share with you what I packed and wore when my husband and I traveled to Paris from October 2 to 6. I was so proud of myself for limiting the contents of my suitcase to a relatively small amount of items that I could mix and match. I hope that seeing what I took to Paris and how I wore it will make packing for your next trip a little easier.

Here’s what I took:

Clothing: An Armani navy blazer, an Yves St. Laurent raincoat, four sweaters (white, beige, orange, and black), taupe jeans, Worth black leggings, and dark denim jeans

Shoes: Black boots, black AGL flats, and my favorite Pancaldi bow pumps

Accessories: Three scarves (including an animal print pashmina), jewelry, a leather Michael Kors handbag (the strap could be lengthened to wear cross-body) and a small black bag for evening

My strategy was to take neutral basics (black, beige/taupe, and navy) and spice them up with key colored and patterned pieces. I wore the denim jeans, the white sweater, the navy blazer, and the ballet flats on the plane. I actually had some extra space in my bag, which was convenient because…well…who wouldn’t want to do some shopping in Paris?


And here’s how I wore it:

Day One: Barry and I arrived in Paris. Since our hotel room wasn’t ready, I wore the clothes in which I’d traveled (a white sweater, jeans, and flats) while we shopped and ate lunch at L’Affable. After settling into our hotel, we had a fantastic dinner at L’Epigramme.

Window shopping in Paris

Window shopping in Paris

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Day Two: We went to Versailles, saw the new Frank Gehry building in the Bois de Boulogne, and visited the Musée d’Orsay. I was a busy day, and we must have walked 4 to 5 miles (but my AGL flats held up beautifully!). We ate dinner at a great restaurant called Spring.

Outside the Palace of Versailles

Outside the Palace of Versailles

A delicious dinner at Spring

A delicious dinner at Spring

Day Three: Barry and I crossed the Seine, walked through the passageway at the Louvre, saw an interesting Nike display at a running event, and shopped the rest of the day on the Rue Saint-Honoré. We ate dinner at Graff, a wonderful local restaurant on the Left Bank near our hotel.

We loved walking along the Seine.

We loved walking along the Seine.

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Day Four: We shopped through Le Marais and visited the Place des Vosges and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

At some point during the trip, I wore everything I brought, so I’d say packing was a success! In my next post, I’ll share some photos from our shopping stops and explain why I bought the pieces I chose.

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned!

Ditching, Switching, and Swapping, Oh My!: Seven Tips for Changing Out Your Seasonal Wardrobe

After the long, brutal winter we’ve just endured, the temperatures are finally beginning to rise and the flowers are starting to bloom. And as the seasons change, so should your closet. Of course some pieces like frequently worn jeans and shoes will stay, but your heavy sweaters and boots will need to make way for sundresses and sandals. If you’re like most of us, just the idea of taking on this task can be exhausting. But I promise, if done correctly, updating your wardrobe for warmer weather will make every single day easier for you. (As I’ve mentioned before, getting dressed—whether it’s easy or frustrating—can set the tone for your entire day!)

Here are seven strategies to help you prepare your closet for the upcoming summer months (and with a little imagination, these tips can be adapted for every other season, too!):

Clean your closet. Yes, the actual closet. Take the time to dust the shelves, vacuum the floor, wipe down the walls, and get rid of any clutter that has been building up over the last few months. When a room is clean (even if it’s “just” a closet), you’ll feel more positive and inspired when you’re in it.

Choose a storage technique. If possible, I recommend storing your off-season clothes in another closet. If you don’t have the space, though, you can also keep them in air-tight plastic containers under the bed or in a storage room. I strongly advise that you not store your clothes in the attic or basement, as these spaces aren’t always climate controlled. And often, mildew, insects, and other pests find their way in.

Have any dirty clothes or shoes cleaned. Set aside any cold-weather clothes, including outerwear, that need to be professionally cleaned. It’s best to take care of this task now so that everything will be ready to go next fall. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take out a favorite wool coat next October, only to find that the cuffs are dingy!) Likewise, take any boots and shoes that need new heels, cleaning, and conditioning to the cobbler before you put them away. I also suggest stuffing them with newspaper so that they’ll keep their shape while they aren’t being worn.

Evaluate each item. All clothing should be reviewed before being stored away to make room for your warm-weather clothes. Ask yourself the following questions: Have you worn the garment this year? Is it time to donate it? Is it damaged and worn? If so, can it be repaired? Missing buttons, ripped hems, and broken zippers can usually be fixed by a tailor. After you’ve made decisions about each item, pack up the clothes and shoes you’d like to donate and have others repaired and washed before you put them away. (For more information on cleaning out your closet, see my past blog post “The Giant Tangle.”)

Organize, organize, and organize some more… I can’t say enough about the importance of keeping your closet neat, clean, and yes, organized. If you want to be able to put together fabulous outfits and still get out the door quickly, it’s important to be able to see what you own. When everything is in a jumbled pile, you wear only the items on top—and getting dressed is a very frustrating experience! As you move your warm-weather pieces into your closet, I recommend grouping them by type (e.g., skirts, shorts, pants, blouses, cardigans, etc.) and then by color. And no, I really don’t think this is overkill. The next time you’re looking for a green blouse or a pair of white slacks, you’ll know exactly where to find them. No more digging through drawers or pawing through an entire rack of hangers! (For more advice on creating an organized closet, see my past blog post “Life Post-Tangle.”)

…and don’t forget your accessories! As you evaluate and organize your clothes and shoes, don’t forget about your accessories. This is a great opportunity to eliminate belts, scarves, hats, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories that no longer fit your body or your lifestyle, and to organize those that are left over.

Make yourself picture perfect, literally. Now that everything is put away and you can see your clothing and accessories, take the time to create and document ensembles you’ll enjoy wearing all season. I use the Picture-U-Perfect formula with my clients and my own wardrobe! Specifically, I put together outfits, complete with accessories, and then take a picture so that the next time I need to find something to wear for a certain occasion, I can look back through my photos to find the perfect look. Often, I’ll include some alternate pieces in a look; for instance, several pairs of shoes that would work, or two different colors of shirts that match the same skirt. I can’t tell you how much I love having key outfits totally accessorized and ready to put on. My closet is organized by category and color so I can lay my hands on what I need quickly. Shoes, handbags, earrings, and belts are stored by color and are visible. I do practice what I preach, and it pays off!

Whether you spread the seasonal clothing swap over multiple days or do it all in one fell swoop, I encourage you not to skip any of these steps. I promise, doing the job thoroughly will have a real impact on what you wear, how quickly you can put it on, and how you feel while wearing it this spring and summer!

Life Post-Tangle: How to Create the Closet of Your Dreams

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!

The Giant Tangle: How to Solve the Messy Closet Problem Once and for All

Do you dread getting dressed in the morning? If so, maybe a messy closet is the culprit. Shelves are crammed, hangers are tangled, and clothes, shoes, belts, and more are piled on the floor. You’ve got plenty to wear, but nothing inspires you. (Probably because you can’t find your best pieces!) Most days, you throw on the first thing you can find, slam the closet door, and try to avoid the mirror.

If you’re like most women, you know you should tackle the giant mess that is your closet, but other priorities—work, the kids, laundry, dishes, and so on—always seem to take precedence. Enough with the excuses—it’s time to put a clean closet at the top of your priority list, because a disorganized closet is a big problem that affects much more than just one small room in your house. A messy closet is a metaphor for a messy life, and it can have far-reaching ramifications.

The most obvious consequence of having a chaotic closet is the fact that getting dressed becomes a frustrating experience that has the power to ruin your day. And since you feel stressed and depressed just thinking about organizing your wardrobe, you end up spending too much money on new clothes. (Going shopping, you figure, is easier and more enjoyable.)

You may even end up buying pieces you don’t need, simply because you’ve forgotten what you already own. When I do a closet audit with my clients, I find that many of them own items that are beautiful, flattering, and comfortable—they were just buried beneath layers of less-inspiring clothes.

If you’re tired of feeling like your closet has a life of its own, and you’re ready to start making the most of your wardrobe, read on for six of my tried-and-true tips on how to tackle the giant tangle and successfully clean out your closet. In my next blog post, I’ll share some more tips to help you take the pieces that are left and build the closet you’ve always wanted.

Just do it. Whether it’s a new diet, new workout regime, or just a new day, getting started isn’t easy for anyone. However, you have to remind yourself that tackling your tangled closet will make your life better. You might even surprise yourself and have fun! I recommend planning ahead and scheduling time—perhaps a Saturday morning or several 30-minute periods on weeknights—to complete this project. If it’s on the calendar, it’s more likely to happen. And once you start, you’ll almost immediately begin seeing the benefits of having a cleaner, more organized closet.

Bring in the troops. The messier your closet is, the more helpful an objective third party will be. A friend, a family member, or an image consultant can help you make smart choices and give you honest opinions. If another person comes to your house for the sole purpose of weeding through your wardrobe, you won’t be able to put the task off with excuses. Plus, this person won’t be emotionally attached to price tags and memories. Regardless of who helps you tackle this project, you (and your closet) will appreciate having a voice of reason and extra moral support in the room.

Commit to living in the present. As I have said many times, when you wear old clothes that don’t reflect and honor who you are right now, your confidence and self-worth will suffer. Spend some conscious thought on matching your wardrobe to your current lifestyle. While it’s fun to think about how things used to be, our clothes have to reflect who we are now!

The simplest way to accomplish this is to do what I call The Closet Audit. First you need to sort through what you have. It’s not easy—if it were, you would have done it already. Everything must be tried on to get an accurate reading on whether it still fits and is something you want to keep. Ask yourself: Is it a flattering cut for me now? Do I ever wear it? Is it out of style? Is it great on me or just so-so? Does the color flatter me and my skin tone? And the number one question: Would I buy it again today?

Set up a trial separation. Clothes are often the diary of our lives, and that’s why they can be so hard to part with. For example, maybe you spent a lot of money on a fancy dress to wear to an evening wedding, but haven’t taken it off the hanger since. Or perhaps your mother or friend gave you a sweater that isn’t your style, but that you have a sentimental attachment to.

I suggest removing those rarely or never-worn garments that you can’t quite let go of from your closet. Box them up, or hang them in the basement or another closet. Leave them in this limbo for a year, then revisit them. This trial separation is easier on your emotions because there is still a way back. But if absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder—and often, it does quite the opposite—you will know it’s time to let those pieces move on!

Sort smart. As you begin to sort through the piles of clothes, keep pieces with similar fates together to make the rest of the process much easier. Divide everything into four separate categories: items to throw away that are ripped, stained, or frayed (this is the easy one!); items you are keeping; items worth saving that need alteration or dry cleaning; and items to be donated. Your to-be-donated pile can be further separated into items that can be used by Dress for Success (a nonprofit that donates professional attire to disadvantaged women), items that you wish to take to a resale shop, and items that could be donated to Goodwill or The Salvation Army.

Don’t forget accessories. Once all of your clothing is sorted, it is time to go through your shoes and boots, handbags, jewelry, lingerie, hats, gloves, etc. Often, you’ll find drawers of scarves that you’ve never worn, for example, and nearly forgotten shoes and boots piled up under racks of clothing. (And don’t forget to visit the coat closet!) Use the same sorting criteria that you did for your clothing. Remember, shoes that are worn out or that have a dated toe or heel can take away from an otherwise fabulous outfit. If beloved and still-fashionable shoes need new heels, soles, or a cleaning, take them to a shoe repair shop to give them a new lease on life. Usually, this is less expensive than buying a whole new pair!

Throughout the cleaning process, remember to stay calm. Untangling your closet is supposed to be healing and freeing, so don’t allow it to overwhelm you with stress. It’s okay to take breaks and walk away from the task for awhile, especially if you encounter an item that strikes an emotional chord in you, or just to gain some fresh perspective. And again, don’t be afraid to call in help. An outside opinion can make all the difference, especially when it comes to those pieces that you just can’t decide whether to keep or let go of.

Be sure to stay tuned for my next blog post, in which I’ll give you some ideas to save space and stay organized.

A Closet Full of Clothes (and Nothing to Wear): How to Fall Back in Love with Your Wardrobe

Maybe it happened because you just can’t resist a bargain, so you regularly come home with shopping bags crammed full of 85-percent-off clearance items. Maybe shopping is your go-to stress reliever after a tough day at work. Or perhaps you just don’t want to get rid of any old garments because you think you might need them again. Whatever the reason, your closet is so jam-packed with pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, and more that you can’t even move things from left to right…but when it comes time to choose an outfit each morning, you don’t really want to wear any of it.

If any of this sounds familiar, relax. You’re normal. At some point or another, I think that almost all women deal with the “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear” problem. (In fact, that’s why many of my clients first get in touch with me!) The good news is, if digging through all of that mess in order to put together a matching outfit makes you crazy, there are some specific things you can do to make your wardrobe less wieldy and more wearable. Here are four steps I recommend taking if you’re ready to break the nothing-right-to-wear cycle:

First, sort what you have. If you’re at your wits’ end, chances are your closet is so cluttered and disorganized that you aren’t really familiar with each piece of its contents. That’s why I recommend taking everything off the rack. First of all, you’ll be able to clearly see if you have an overabundance of a certain color tee, for example, or too many pairs of black pants. Plus, as you consider each piece of clothing, you’ll be forced to consider how much you actually like it. Be sure to try on everything and evaluate each item based on whether or not you would purchase it again today. If the answer is “yes,” that piece is a keeper.

If you think you might not have a clear sense of what looks good on you or would simply like an outside opinion, ask a friend who’ll be honest to assist you in eliminating things that don’t fit, don’t flatter you, are too worn, or don’t match your lifestyle. And don’t hold on to something just because you spent a lot of money on it. Yes, I’ll admit that it can be tough to get rid of an expensive item, but if it is no longer an asset to your wardrobe, it has lost its value for you. Be sure to set aside clothes that you want to keep but need alterations and clothes that are no longer appropriate for you but that can be donated.

Next, organize what’s left. After you have discarded everything that is no longer an asset, organize what’s left. First, re-hang everything you’ve kept, grouping pieces in order of color or prints. You’ll immediately feel more peaceful when you walk into your closet, and you’ll also have a better grasp on your wardrobe. Specifically, I’d recommend using this newfound “clothing clarity” to make a list of what you need to complete the outfits you already have. These pieces will probably be very simple things: the right underpinnings, jewelry, a new black skirt or base-color pant, for example, that will appropriately extend the wear of jackets or blouses that you already own.

Buy some new pieces—with help—and start small. After you’ve cleared out some space in your once-overfull closet, reward yourself by going shopping for some of the items on your “to-be-acquired” list…but use the buddy system. I definitely recommend taking a friend whose opinion you can trust, hiring an image consultant, or going to a personal shopper in your favorite store. This person can assist you in picking a few pieces that are flattering, easy to put on and match, and that make sense with your current lifestyle, and he or she can also help you to decide on a comfortable shopping budget.

As you rediscover your style, it’s best to start small, even if you leave the store with only three new pieces—albeit ones you feel very good about. (Again, I recommend concentrating on things that will extend and pull together the pieces you already have, like a brown belt or new pumps.) I would also suggest purchasing at least one thing that’s outside your normal fashion box. This strategy will give you the opportunity to see how this new piece makes you feel and to evaluate the feedback you get from others before you buy more.

Change your shopping strategy. Now that you have cleaned out your closet and started to figure out what kinds of pieces you’ll still like and want to wear once you get them home, it’s time to tackle what is, for many people, the toughest step of all: changing the way you shop. If you’ve never passed up a sale in the past, for example, it’s finally time to break the clearance addiction—otherwise you’ll fall back into your old pattern of buying odds and ends that you’ll never wear. I always advise my clients to look at the garment first and the price second—that way you’ll be choosing only between pieces that are flattering. I firmly believe that it’s worth spending a little more for pieces that you’ll wear again and again and again, as opposed to shelling out less for something you’ll wear once or (maybe) twice.

Ultimately, when you streamline your closet, you’ll quite literally be changing your life. You’ll feel less tense as you prepare for your day, and maybe for the first time in a while, you’ll also be excited about what you’re wearing. As you continue to acquire new pieces after the big clean-out and update, pay attention to how they make you feel and how often you find yourself wearing them…and keep building on that knowledge.




Good Hangers, Great Closet

Most people think hangers are insignificant—certainly nothing to get excited about. Chances are, your closet is filled with a motley collection of them, dominated by the flimsy wire hangers that come from the dry cleaner’s. And if that’s the case, I’m willing to bet that you don’t really like spending time looking through your clothes.

Here’s the problem: those wire hangers not only look cheap—they’re also bad for your clothing. Plus, they tend to get tangled as you move them, so reaching for one shirt is likely to result in a fight with five hangers and a good portion of your wardrobe landing on the floor. Before you know it, you’re slamming the closet door with no outfit in hand. You don’t want to get anything out of that sartorial black hole (or even put the laundry away), because your closet makes you absolutely crazy.

When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see how the little things in life can add up to create a lot of stress. If you’re able to control your environment by making a small change—like streamlining your closet—you’ll be amazed by how big your sense of relief is. Here are some of my tips for overhauling your hanger situation and giving yourself a little relief in a world of stress.

Commit to buying new hangers. Wanting your closet chaos to lessen is all well and good—but many people tend to balk when it comes to actually shelling out cash for something so mundane. In order to help you get over this mental block, consider that having sturdy, matching hangers will help you to get ready faster and will also be an aid to organization. As you’re re-hanging each item of clothing, you’ll be forced to consider how much you actually like and wear it, and you’ll find yourself getting rid of dead weight. Plus, matching hangers will give your closet more space and a much more peaceful vibe.

Choose the right hangers for you. Again, bear with me—putting some prior thought into the type of hanger you want to buy isn’t as silly as it sounds. Depending on the contents of your wardrobe, you’ll find some styles much more useful than others. Here’s a breakdown of three styles I love:

  • The shirt hanger. As the name suggests, these hangers are good for blouses with structured shoulders, dresses, and even some jackets (coat hangers tend to stretch smaller pieces too far). I suggest investing in a thin, velvet-lined style that will save you space.
  • The regular bar hanger. These are good for coats and jackets. I like to hang two pairs of pants on each one—pants fold nicely over the bar hanger.
  • The “special” bar hanger. I’m going to do some shameless promoting here. I absolutely love a special bar hanger that is made by Real Simple. (It’s sold by Bed, Bath & Beyond.) These bar hangers come with built-in clips so that you can use them to hang a pant or a top that is often worn with the garment on the bar hanger. They also hook onto one another so that they’ll cascade vertically, and they include an extra bar for hanging scarves or other small accessories.

Get creative. Once you’ve purchased your new hangers, think outside the box as you’re re-hanging all of your clothing. For example, you might put accessories that you predominantly wear with certain shirts or dresses (like scarves, necklaces, and belts) around the hanger’s hook, or clip them to the hanger with a clothespin. You might even consider cascading hangers vertically to store all the pieces of an outfit together. I love this method because it saves space, too!

Yes, overhauling your hanger situation will take a little money and a little time on the front end. But trust me—the time (and sanity) it will save you when you’re able to choose outfits stress-free will be more than worth it!

Accessible Accessories: Four Ways to Organize Your Personal Ornaments

When it comes to wardrobe organization, you may have your clothing under control. But what if everything else—the pieces that round out your outfits—is a different story? I’ve found that many women’s shoes tend to end up in a pile on the floor while their socks, scarves, jewelry, and more are crammed into various drawers. And that’s a problem! Not only is this storage “system” disorganized (which can tend to frustrate you), it’s also inefficient. You’ll end up wearing the same accessories over and over again, and you’ll also run the risk of buying a new pair of earrings, for example, that closely resembles a pair you already own—all because you couldn’t see the first pair and forgot about it!

Most of my clients don’t hire me just to organize their accessories, but that usually ends up happening whenever I do a wardrobe analysis. Women (and even men!) are always surprised by how much of a difference smart organization makes. The fact is, you bought all of your accessories because you liked them—so make the most of them with a new storage system that allows you to see what you own. I promise, it’s an easy fix! Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you get organized:

Shoes. First, realize that your shoes will need to be changed out twice a year unless you live somewhere that’s warm for all four seasons. This will keep temperature-appropriate footwear—whether it’s sandals or boots—in the front of your closet and fresh on your mind. (In many areas of the country, April and September are good times for this task.) And make sure that the pile-on-the-floor storage method becomes a thing of the past. Invest in stackable shelves or a shoe rack that hangs from your closet door or clothes rod so that you can see all of your choices. Lastly, make sure that you’re storing your out-of-season footwear properly. I recommend stuffing shoes, especially boots, with plastic bags, tissue paper, or “shoe or boot inserts” made expressly for this purpose. You’ll lengthen the life of your purchases, because they’ll hold their shape in storage even if there is weight on top of them.

Handbags. Like shoes, it’s usually a good idea to change out handbags semi-annually. After all, you’re not going to carry your straw bag or white purse in the winter, or your suede or calf-hair purse in the blazing heat. (That said, there are many bags that are appropriate year-round.) And again, as with shoes, there’s a smart way to store the purses you’re not carrying. I often suggest that clients stuff handbags with other smaller purses or plastic bags.

Accessories. The most important thing to remember when storing accessories is to make sure they’re visible! If possible, clear a space on your closet wall so that you can hang necklaces or put in a belt rack. (Tie racks also work well for this purpose.) Hanging pieces individually is crucial to being able to see what you own. If that isn’t possible, try storing belts, gloves, hats, and scarves in clear bins and stacking them according to color or function. Similarly, break your jewelry into categories and store it within drawers in clear trays (I love Lucite) that you can see to the bottom of.

Socks and stockings. Yes, you may already have a drawer set aside for socks and pantyhose, but I promise you can organize a lot more effectively than that! Sort your stockings and tights by color, and then put each group into an individual, labeled Ziploc bag. Presto—squinting to distinguish between black and navy on dark mornings is a thing of the past! Plus, your hose will also be protected from snags. You can also use this baggie method with trouser or athletic socks.

It won’t take much time or money to make these organizing solutions a part of your closet, but they’ll make a huge difference in how effectively—and quickly—you’re able to accessorize.