You could have all the style in the world, but if your closet is a hot mess, there’s no helping you. You do not need a fancy walk-in closet or a separate room for shoes to stay styled. The key organizing principal of this guide to organizing your closet can be applied to any space, whether you’re working with a standard-size closet, a rolling garment rack and a dresser, or an armoire.
Organization should not be rocket science. Most of this is good old-fashioned common sense – the way your grandma, or mine, would have kept her closets tidy (if she’d had a label maker!).
Having everything in your closet labeled makes putting away laundry fast (and foolproof when it’s your husband’s turn…) and finding what you need even faster. For items that need to be stored in boxes, like purses, you can Polaroids and attach the pics to the outside of the container. No more wondering where you stashed last summer’s beaded clutch.
This is also essential when it comes to your kids’ closets, by the way. Plus if you use pictures (and then upgrade to simpler words when the kids are a bit older), you can get your little ones to help put things away themselves – and isn’t that the dream?
Keep Like with Like
Does this ever happen? You want to wear a skirt – but as you’re digging for skirt options, you get distracted by those black pants or boyfriend jeans you keep meaning to wear. When I want a skirt, I just head directly to the skirt end of my closet. I don’t let myself get sidetracked by poking around in jeans or dresses. This is a huge time-saver when you’re trying to lay out outfits in a hurry or if you’re overagonizing about what to wear for a certain event. (There is definately such a thing as too much choice!) Within each category, I hang garments by style and color. So yes, all my skinny jeans are stored together – and all my colored skinny jeans are grouped separately from the regular blue jeans.
Find a shelf, a windowsill, or the back of your closet door – any surface where you can keep your necklaces, bracelets, and earrings out where you can see them, instead of stuffed inside boxes tucked into drawers. For one thing, accessories are pretty! You can have fun with this – paint a couple of old (empty) picture frames, hang them on a wall, then arrange your necklaces on nails inside each frame. Or pin earrings on a pretty fabric-covered corkboard. When you can see what you’ve got to work with, accessorizing becomes styling, which is really a kind of art. Bonus points if you can position a floor-length mirror nearby – that makes it easier to quickly try combinations with any given outfit and play around.
Use the Right Storage Tools
If you buy wallet-friendly shoes, shoe trees will help them last longer; if you buy pricey shoes, shoe trees ensure you’ll get your money’s worth. These tools help footwear hold its shape and keeps leather from sagging.
For anything fragile or very expensive – evening gowns, vintage pieces, nice suits – don’t keep them in the plastic bags from the dry cleaners. (In fact, don’t let those plastic bags in your house!*) Do keep these items protected from humidity, sun, dust, pets, sticky-fingered kids, and so on. Fabric garment bags – even ones fashioned from old cotton sheets – give your special clothes the protection they deserve.
[ *Dry clean as little as possible; sweaters and jackets can absolutely be worn several times before you send them to the cleaners, and even most cocktail dresses can survive at least 2 wearings. This is better for your clothes because the chemicals in dry cleaning start wearing them down. It’s also better for your health. Dry cleaning involves toxic chemicals like PERC that may be linked to cancer and reproductive damage. When you do dry-clean clothes, ask the cleaners to skip the plastic bags (which just seal in fumes), and then hang everything outside to air for an hour or so before you put them away. Better yet, look for “green” or “eco” dry cleaners, which are popping up everywhere, thanks to the new demand for healthier alternatives. ]
Steam, Don’t Iron
Professional stylists swear by their steamers. They are much gentler on delicate fabrics and work far more quickly than irons (yet more effective than the old “hang it up while you shower” trick!). I recommend tucking one into your closet. That way, you can pull it out and let it warm up while you’re doing your hair or finalizing accessory choices, then give everything a quick steam before you pop it on.
Six Must-Have Accessories
I love to play with jewelry and layer on the necklaces and bracelets – but if you have to strip it down to the essentials, this is really all you need:
- A great closed-toe pump or ballet flat (preferably both, unless you never wear heels)
- A party pump
- A large day bag
- A vintage clutch
- Statement sunglasses
- A cocktail ring
The Honest Life Tips
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