Closet Organizing Ideas

Red Tuxedo works with ideas and information, rather than residential storage. However, when some people hear “organizing,” they think, “Oh, I don’t want you to see my closet!”

“Large logistical challenges normally consist of hundreds or thousands of small ones.”

General Pagonis, quoted above organized the Gulf War. It goes without saying that any closet is an infinitely smaller unit of work than that effort. However, we can apply a similar principle: break the work down into tiny steps. What follows is our experience with closet organizing.

  1. Unless you need to paint your closet, we don’t particularly recommend that you “take everything out” as a first step. We tried that once and had to sleep on the couch for a week.
  2. Sort by “part:” tops (outer and inner), bottoms (skirts and pants), suits, dresses.
  3. During the second step, it may become apparent that some garments require their own closet section, which could be either “Saturday Night” or “Sunday Morning” (or something else altogether), depending on your habits. Pull these clothes out to a separate section.
  4. clothes closet sorted by color

    clothes closet sorted by color

    Sort each individual “part” by color, in rainbow order. (My own closet actually has more blue shirts than appear in this photo. They were hidden by the red.)

  5. Take a break, as long as you want. An hour, day, week, month. Your closet may be functioning so well after this step that you’re done. (Note that thus far, we have not mentioned getting rid of any garments.)
  6. If you want a little more room in your closet, continue.
  7. Find a fancy coat hanger. This can be an extra-nice one, or a simple wire hanger decorated with a big bow saved from your last birthday gift. Its purpose is to be a marker.
  8. Take the first five garments out of the closet and put them on the bed. Insert the fancy hanger at this spot on the rod. If any of these items is a “keeper,” in exactly the condition it is in right now, put it back in the closet, on the other side of the hanger from the clothes you haven’t examined yet. If you need to try on a garment, do so. If a garment needs to move on to its next home, put it in a bag for the Thrift Shop. If it needs repair or seasonal storage, put it in the right places for that to happen.
  9. Take a break.
  10. When you’re ready to continue, remove the next five items from the closet and repeat the decision process.
  11. Repeat the last two steps, processing no more than five garments at a time and stopping whenever you need a break, for as long as you like. The only “rule” to this part of the exercise is to move the examined garments to the other side of the fancy hanger.
  12. There is no closet so overpacked that it won’t eventually get sorted, five garments at a time. There are few wardrobe decisions that are so overwhelming they can’t be made, five like-garments at a time. Many people can try on five garments in the course of getting dressed for work without affecting their schedule very much. Eventually, you’ll get through everything.
  13. It may happen that you notice there are some clothes you haven’t worn in a long time but are not ready to let go of yet. Move these to their own section. Note the date you moved these garments on one of the hangers (stick the hook through a piece of note paper). Let the clothes stay there until you are comfortable you’ve been able to live without them, and then give them away.