10 steps to a happy clothes closet

Organising the clothes closet can be a cumbersome affair. But with these 10 steps, you will never have to worry about a messy closet again

Unorganised clothes closet

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 mismatched 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. Go for the sturdy ones. They can be obtained at a houseware store or online. Buy all in one colour for uniformity [or if you’re sharing closet space with someone, get a different colour for yourself]. While you’re at the store, pick up a few sturdy skirt and pants hangers as well. Vertical skirt hangers with clips that hold 5 – 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 per cent of your clothes on a regular basis; 10 per cent of them are for special occasions; and the other 70 per cent of them are probably never used at all.

Keep in mind, that you probably only wear 20 per cent of your clothes on a regular basis

3. Separate clothes into five piles

A  Piece of clothing that meets any of the following criteria:

  • it is outdated
  • it is ripped
  • it is stained
  • it doesn’t fit [if you’re not sure whether or not it fits, try it on now]
  • you think it may come back in fashion someday
  • you wouldn’t dream of ever wearing it again

B   Wire hanger pile. If you have any wire hangers in your closet, this is where they go. Here’s the problem with them: 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 it’s too much of a hassle to repair it, then don’t 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 don’t love it or wear it often, it doesn’t belong in this pile.

E  Any other items that don’t fit into Category A, B, C or D.

4. Category A or B

Dump it or donate it. Okay, now here’s the fun part. Grab a large garbage bag and dump everything [yes, everything] from your ‘A’ pile into it. Bring it to your local charity organisation first thing in the morning. If you’re still reading this in disbelief, take a deep breath to get over the initial shock, then resolve to toss it or donate it. You’ll feel better in the end. While you’re at it, take all those terrible, awful, lousy wire hangers in your ‘B’ pile and bring them to your dry cleaner’s for recycling, or dump them immediately. Are you still considering keeping something from pile ‘A’ or ‘B’? Please, dump it. It’s clutter. You’ll feel better about it later when your closet is organised, inviting and free of chaos.

5. Category C

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 two-week deadline. If the repairs are 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. It’s easy for clutter to build up, and I want to help you eliminate any chance of it happening to you again.

6. Category D

Organise your keepers. Sort everything in your ‘D’ pile by category of clothing [blouses, skirts, pants, suits and so on]. When done sorting, start with one category. Take one article of clothing at a time, put it on a hanger [the colourful, sturdy kind] and hang it in the closet. [Important note: If you found something that didn’t belong in the closet in the first place, don’t 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

Categorise and organise everything. Now is the time to categorise what is there in the ‘E’ pile. If these are items that have to be stored in your closet for lack of any other storage space, then start by sorting them. Then, get some inexpensive organising containers so that each category remains separated and place the containers on shelves in your closet.

8. Sort your shoes

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

Remember that a well-organised closet always has room to accommodate more clothes or accessories

9. 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, jewellery and so on. 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.

10. 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.

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 favourite movie. Be happy. Your closet is!

This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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