5 Steps to a Neater Closet

The jobs I get the most requests for are to help someone with their closet. No matter how big and/or awesome a closet might be, we always stuff the space to overflowing with too many clothes, too many shoes, too many hats, scarves, whatever. And the reality of it is, most people do NOT have a huge or awesome closet. If you share a room with a significant other, then you often have only half a closet or less. We daily have to plunder through this disorganized mess trying to piece together the right clothes outfit to help us face our day.

So, what to do? Well you could call an organizer (such as moi) to come in and help you sort through the piles of stuff and try to make some sense of it. Or you could direct the burst of energy you’ve recently gotten due to the onset of spring and give your closet a go on your own.

These five simple steps can help get you off to a good start:

  • Store off season clothes

It’s almost May. Depending on where you live, you (should) feel safe to take your heaviest coats, sweaters, and boots and store them away until next fall. Those large canvas rolling wardrobes are great for off season hanging pieces if you have somewhere to store it away.


Be sure to add some cedar chips inside so you don’t have any moth-hole surprises next fall.

Those 66 quart plastic boxes with the snap on lids made by Rubbermaid® or Sterilite® are great containers for storing folding clothes or boots and shoes. Please remember to rinse off the bottom of your boots before storing to get rid of salt, dirt, dog poo, etc.


Also stick a label on the container so you can tell what is inside. I like to use a sheet of paper and write in large letters a fairly detailed description of the contents. I make 4 copies of the label and slip them down inside the translucent container facing outward. That way you don’t have to rely on your overcrowded memory to find a specific pair of boots in eight months. Putting a label in all four sides assures that you will have a label facing you no matter which direction the box is placed on a shelf. This picture is an example of those same boxes used to store holiday ornaments.

These boxes and the wardrobe can be used next fall if you have hot weather clothes you want to store away. Just reverse the process when it is time to pull out coats and sweaters.

2. Color Code

Take a look at the clothes remaining hanging in your closet and first group them together by type of clothes. For instance, put suits together, golf shirts together, dress shirts together, evening dresses, dresses, tops, etc. The groupings will vary depending on your specific wardrobe. Once you have the large groups sorted, then arrange within each group by color. Hang all the white whatever in a group, all the black pieces, all the red, you get the picture. After you complete this double sorting process, then take a critical look at each color. Are there several of any one thing? Do you have 7 light blue golf shirts? That’s fine if you are a golf coach for UNC, but the average person might not really need that many of one thing. If you find multiples or near multiples, winnow down the group. Take out the ones that are the most worn or stained or your least favorite and set these aside in the donate/consign pile.

3. Take out for alterations

If you find clothes that you aren’t wearing or that maybe even still have the sales tags hanging on them, meaning you have NEVER worn it, ask yourself why. Does the piece need alterations to fit? Is it missing a button? Is there a torn hem? If there is a “fixable” reason why you are not wearing this item, then put it in an alterations pile. If it is too worn, stained, or otherwise grubby, toss it out. But you should decide immediately to either fix it or get rid of it. If you don’t love it enough to get it altered, then you really don’t love it enough to keep it. Give it up — put it in the donate/consign pile. After you have gone through everything, take the alterations pile out to your tailor immediately.

By the same logic, don’t keep clothes that might fit someday, that used to fit, whatever. Deal with the reality of NOW. The average closet typically does not have enough space to devote any to the “used to fit” or the “might someday fit” collections.

4. Donate/Consign

At this point if you have been honest with yourself, you should have a nice pile of things to donate or consign. Anything that is current fashion and in good shape can go to consignment. Take the rest to a donation center immediately. Get these things out of your house before you start second guessing yourself.

5. Matching Hangers

What remains now in your closet should be a visibly pleasing and sorted group of clothes. The final step to sprucing up your closet is to put things on matching hangers. It is an aesthetic touch, but it really adds a lot. Get rid of those wire hangers that come from the dry cleaners — they are not good for your clothes. In fact, take them back to the dry cleaner for re-use.

I personally love those pretty satin covered padded hangers, but they are really thick. A lot of closets just do not have the room for a bunch of those guys. I have a few but I reserve them for my guest room closet. They make a nice touch for guests to hang their things on.

Huggable Hangers

My personal favorite hanger right now are those “huggable” hangers. They have a velvety finish that keeps clothes, especially silky things, from slipping off the hanger. They are durable and very slim, allowing you to hang a lot of clothes in smaller spaces.

Try these steps on your closet. None of this is rocket science, it just takes a few hours and some determination. I think you will be pleased with the results!

Sarah Campbell is a professional organizer in the city of Chicago. She specializes in decluttering, organizing, preparing for moves and unpacking and setting up after a move for households and small businesses. Contact her at Sarah@arrangelife.com for help with your organizing challenges!

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