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How to Organize Your Closet: 8 Pro Tips for a Fresh Start

January 22, 2014

If you have to wear a helmet to open your closet door, it’s probably time to make a change, and January is the perfect month to start editing. Clean slate, fresh start, all that good stuff. How to organize your closet in New York is not as easy as it sounds, where some of us don’t even have actual closets.

If you’ve let things spiral, it might be time to call in the pros. As such, we’ve tapped professional organizer Laura Cattano to share her top closet-taming tips.

How to Organize Your Closet

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The Philosophy

When organizing your closet, think of it like your very own boutique that houses your favorite things—where everything fits, where you can see and find everything you need, and it’s beautifully merchandised.

How to Organize Your Closet

8 Simple Rules

1. Stay true to your style.

Having a defined style makes it that much easier to buy pieces that work as part of a “wardrobe,” rather than just filling your closet with “clothes.” It also helps when editing. Don’t worry about how long it’s been since you’ve worn something; it’s more important to ask why you haven’t worn it. If it can’t be styled or altered to suit your current style and lifestyle, it’s time to go.

2. Switch out the seasons.

Unless you travel often to different climates, there’s no reason to look at your white linen dresses in the middle of winter. Switching out the seasons reacquaints you with what you have, gives you more room, and is the perfect opportunity to de-clutter the space.

How to Organize Your Closet

3. See what you’re working with.

Sometimes you need to see the pieces to envision an outfit. If not hung, pants, sweaters, and t-shirts are better off folded on shelves so you can see them and wear them. Drawers should be reserved for things you don’t need to see to make an outfit: intimates, work-out clothes, and pajamas.

4. Organize by category.

Group like things together: tops, pants, skirts, and dresses should each have a section of the closet. From there, you can simply color code. Some people prefer to keep specific pieces together: camisoles, short sleeves, cardigans, etc. There’s no right or wrong answer, whatever makes finding and putting it back easiest for you.

How to Organize Your Closet

5. Group things how you wear them.

If you have specific clothes for work versus casual, keep them separate. For most, that just means one side of the closet versus the other. Do the same with formal wear. If not worn often, clean and keep in a hanging garment bag in the back of the closet.

6. All the same hangers? Not necessarily.

Different clothes need different hangers. Coats and jackets are best on wood hangers. And while lots of people love their Huggable Hangers, the brand’s option for pants and skirts is a waste of space. I like the individual pant/skirt hangers with the center hook so you can hang them off each other to make use of vertical space (see below).

How to Organize Your Closet

7. Clothes facing you.

A popular organizing rule is all clothes should be facing the same way. I say your clothes should be facing you. If you’re standing near the center of your closet, clothes on the left should be facing right, and vice versa. I hate it when clothes have their back to you!

8. Think outside the closet.

If your existing closet is too small or hard to access (like typical reach-in closets), think of getting a standing wardrobe for greater visibility and accessibility. You’re in there at least once a day, so make it as pleasant as possible.

(Photos courtesy of Laura Cattano)


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