10 Tips for Tidying Your Closet

written by Nellie Lazar, CRS
Turlock, CA   
Jan 8, 2021

Happy New Year, readers!! As I write this current post, it’s January 5th. It’s hard to believe that we are nearly one year into a pandemic. One thing I’ve learned for certain through the last 10 months is to be okay with letting go of the things that don’t serve me and fully embracing the ones that nurture and feed my soul. That said, as I tackle my usual January tasks, the terms cleanse and detox have taken on a broader meaning. I never begin the New Year without taking inventory of my calendar and assessing where I may have accumulated clutter, whether physical or digital. It’s a given that my office will have its annual cleanse. However, this year I’ve taken on the task of doing what I call a complete detox of my closet. I actually started this in mid-December, and I’m just about through. Most of us start our days in our closets. After all, we have to get dressed! Having a cleansed closet means you have a clutter free zone from which you are starting your day. And the methods I implement can easily be adapted toward men’s or kids’ closets. This is also a great exercise if you’re thinking about selling your home. We all know buyers will be opening your closets. You’ll not only be ready for those curious buyers, but you’ll also be in a great position when it’s time to pack for your move! (My next blog post will focus on how to pack your closet when moving). 

Before you start, let me just preface by saying that this is one of those tasks that will most definitely get worse before it gets better.  Don’t be scared… you’ll get there, I promise! Also, you MUST assess every item/article you possess rather than merely stashing them away. Trust me on this, I’ve done it. If you soldier on with this endeavor, you’ll soon find yourself in a position of maintenance rather that perpetual defense against your own closet.

  1. Okay, step #1! EMPTY YOUR DRAWERS. Although, dressers and chests aren’t necessarily part of your closet, they often house items like undergarments or socks. Go through every drawer you own. Discard whatever is torn, worn, or no longer fits.


  2. FOLDING 101. There are countless YouTube tutorials on how to fold according to the KonMari method (this is what I recommend), which utilizes the drawer space and gives you the best visual for what’s actually inside your drawer. Essentially, items are stored vertically side by side instead of on top of each other. Doing your drawers first will hopefully leave you with a little more space, and you may just end up transferring items previously in your closet back to one of your now free drawers.


  3. REMOVE EVERYTHING. Whether you have a standard closet or a walk-in, remove everything that’s not hung (i.e., on the floor, shelves, etc.). If your space allows, go ahead and remove EVERYTHING. This is definitely where it gets worse, but you’ll soon have a vision for how you want it to look, and you can start re-arranging your space. At this point, you will want to dust and vacuum, even mop the closet if you have wood or another non-carpeted floor. You will love the clean space!


  4. INVEST IN MATCHING HANGERS. Your clothes will be tangle free if you hang them on velvet lined or cloth hangers. These hangers aren’t just pleasing to look at, but they’re also slim which means you actually create more space for your clothes instead of having bulky plastic or wooden hangers, which can easily get entangled. The exception I make to this is if you’re working on a man’s closet. Then, wooden hangers will serve you well, as they provide shape and structure to bulkier items such as jackets and suits. Target, The Container Store, Amazon, or your local TJ Maxx are all great resources for finding affordable hangers in-bulk.


  5. TRY EVERYTHING ON. This is the most time-consuming aspect of this task, but it’s imperative.  Once you start, you’ll see what I mean. You’ll rediscover pieces you’d forgotten about and realize others have got to go. Create 4 piles, one each for items you need to alter, clean, donate, or consign. If you live in my corner of the woods, I have great resources for all 4 of these options.  DM me!


  6. MERCHANDISE YOUR CLOSET. Before you say, ‘what?!,’ let me explain. When you hang items according to length, you have created something not only more pleasing to the eye, but it’s easier to see what you own. This is what I do: For men’s shirts, I hang them by sleeve length and color.  However, for my shirts, I simply hang by sleeve length, starting with spaghetti straps through long sleeve. Dresses should be hung according to hem length. Men’s pants are hung in a fold according to color. My pants and skirts are hung from the waist according to length and color. Notice I don’t apply the color theory all the time. In my personal closet, I only group by color when working with pants and skirts.


  7. BOX LOOSE ITEMS. For items that are just floating around that are neither hung, nor have a drawer, boxes are a great idea. The Container Store has a myriad of options to choose from. I like cloth lidded boxes with labels for items such as bulky scarves, winter hats, seasonal items such as flips flops and swimsuits, etc. Open top boxes are great for non-structured handbags.


  8. LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. I love labels! Labeling boxes, shelves, and drawers helps keep everything in its place and helps you locate items quickly.


  9. TRY ON ALL YOUR SHOES. This is just as important as trying on your clothes. Although shoes carry a lot of longevity, they aren’t worth keeping if they don’t fit properly or if you simply haven’t worn them. You can do the same that you did with your clothing items… determine which ones you’re keeping, getting repaired, donating, or consigning. Some people prefer to keep their shoes in their original boxes. If this is you, snap a polaroid of the shoe and paste to the exterior of the box… this will make locating them easier. If you have open shelving that can accommodate your shoes, great! If not, clear plastic shoe boxes (again, Container Store), are a great way to store while also providing easy access.


  10. ZHUZ IT UP. Stealing the term from Carson Kressley here, but now that you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to ‘zhuz!’ You may want to add a pretty print or vase to your closet, a decorative hook where you might hang a pretty scarf, or a glass top box for your collection of pocket squares, if you’re a gentleman. Perhaps, you’re a guy that likes his sports shoes, designate a shelf where you have your special ones. This is where you do what makes you happy, so that when you open that closet door, you’re inspired to conquer the day!

Happy New Year and may your organizing dreams come true!