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Ask Erin: How to Organize Your Closet Like a Professional

By Melanie Moffett
In AskErin
Feb 1st, 2016

vertical space usage

article by Erin Sharplin Love

Imagine starting and ending your day in a well-organized closet that holds endless outfit opportunities.  You would never waste time or energy looking for a lost item, and you would save money because your need for impromptu purchases would be nullified.  This sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  Oh, but it’s not!  I create these spaces for clients on a regular basis, and I am about to let you in on all of my secrets.  I hope you enjoy!

1.  Change all of your hangers to matching hangers.   If you incorporate only one of my suggestions into your own closet, this should be the one!  Changing your hangers so they all match makes an immediate difference in the look and feel of your closet, and you will be able store more clothes because mismatched hangers will no longer be fighting for space.  When I organize a closet, I prefer to use heavy-duty, clear, plastic hangers like the ones you typically find in a boutique.  *Tip – I also suggest purchasing rubber grips for these hangers.  The grips will help hold on to wide-neck blouses and strappy tanks or camisoles that are prone to fall off.

2.  Organize like with like and in color order.    In other words, all tops should hang together, in color order, and all bottoms should hang together in color order.  I prefer to organize from lightest to darkest, but if you prefer the opposite, go ahead!!  Also, in this same vein, I suggest separating any matching pieces (suits, etc.) as it helps you consider them when mixing and matching.  Just remember to launder the matching pieces together so they fade at the same pace.

3.  Organize your shoes by alternating the direction of each one.  I prefer the right shoe toe forward and the left shoe heel forward, but again, go with your own preference.  This method typically allows for one more pair of shoes on each shelf, plus you will be able to tell the heel height of each shoe in one glance!

4.  Create some sort of division in your closet.  For instance, I love using sweater organizers to divide shirts and pants.  This division helps break up the monotony of full lines of clothing, and it helps create vertical organization space.  The sweater organizers can be used to house sweaters, of course,  but I also put jeans, shoes, purses, etc. in them!  If you have double hang rods in your closet, the three-shelf hanging organizers would be perfect, and if you have all long hang rods, the six-shelf organizers would be perfect.

5.  Add a double-hang rod if needed.  If you have one long-hang bar in your closet, then this tip is for you!  The addition of a double-hang rod will immediately increase your hanging space and it is perfect for your tops!  I’ve even hung purses off of them before, so use your imagination and make the most of the space you have!!  You can purchase the double-hang rods from Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, or, if you prefer shopping from home, Amazon!

6.  Use organizing bins, but label them!  As a professional organizer, I LOVE bins and baskets, but have found that once an item goes into a bin or basket, it has a tendency to be forgotten. An efficient way to keep up with stored belongings is to label each bin.   You can make the label fit your color scheme and preferences by creating or finding a design online and then printing it.  Baskets are great for housing out-of-season items, but they can also hold everyday pieces such as hats, socks, camisoles, etc.

7.  Help your boots and purses maintain their shape by stuffing them.  Of course, there are organizing products that have been made specifically for this, but if you want to save money by using something you probably already have in your house, I have a few ideas!  I have used everything from newspaper, magazines and tissue paper to water and wine bottles to stuff boots!  For purses, I typically get a gallon zip-lock bag and stuff it with tissue paper or newspaper and then place it inside each purse.  Using a zip-lock makes the stuffing easy to remove when you want to use the bag.

8.  Use the “hanger trick” to help you decide what to keep and what to toss.   The “hanger trick” is a tool I use to help my clients realize when it is time to let a clothing item go.  To use this trick, turn all of your hangers backwards on your rods.  When you want to wear something, return the hanger to its original position.  After one full month, notice which hangers are still turned around backwards.  Those are the items that should get special attention now.  Perhaps you will make sure to use them in an upcoming outfit, or you will decide to get rid of them.  Either way, the hanger trick pays off.

9.  Use the two-year rule instead of the one-year rule!  Some professional organizers suggest that you should get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in one year, but I think that two years is a better estimate of when an item has passed its prime.

10.  Figure out how to make use of all available vertical space.  The amount of vertical space that is unused in most closets is astounding!!  You can see so many opportunities to go vertical if you take a little time to study the space.  One solution might be to use those sweater organizers previously mentioned or you can add extenders to all available shelf space.  Consider the picture provided – notice the shoe shelves that are both on the top shelf and in the floor space.  These shelves can be used for much more than shoes if you already have enough shoe space (but what girl does?).

11.  Treat your closet as you would any other room in your home and personalize it!  This is one of my number one tips because it makes such a huge difference in the look and feel of a closet.  Add pictures, a rug, a plant or anything else that you like.

12.  Create a boutique-like atmosphere by incorporating mannequins and busts.  Mannequins and busts are perfect for displaying jewelry and scarves!  Take inspiration from your favorite boutique and then create your own little nook!  They don’t have to be used inside the closet, by the way.  Make a space just outside of the closet if you don’t have enough room inside.

Ladies, it’s time to create the closet you’ve always dreamed of!  You can do it! OR if you feel overwhelmed, email me at erinlove@panachebyerin.com!