How to Organize Your Closet for Maximum Efficiency

No matter the size of your closet, there are plenty of simple ways to maximize its functionality. We consulted with professional organizers Monica Leed of Simply Spaced and Lisa Zaslow of Gotham Organizers for their best tips and tricks.

The first step is to empty out your closet. Use the one-year rule to get rid of clothes you no longer wear or need.

Organize by Category

As any closet-organizing pro will tell you, the key to organizing your closet is to sort and declutter before you put everything back. This step is crucial to maximize storage space.

Professional organizers like Shearer and Reich recommend sorting items into specific categories. This can be done by item type—like shirts with shirts and pants with pants—or by color. “Grouping clothes by category makes it easier to find things when you’re getting dressed,” she says.

This is also a great time to purge clothing that doesn’t fit or is no longer in style. Ask yourself questions like, “Will I really wear this again?” or, “Could it be donated to someone else?” Aim for one or two categories of items to be given away or sold, and place the remaining items into a bag for Goodwill, a local charity store, or the dry cleaner.

Hang Shelves

Whether you have a massive walk-in closet or a small makeshift alternative in your bedroom, it’s important to keep your wardrobe organized. That way, you’re always able to find that white tee or work blouse you swore was in there. And a neat and tidy closet is also believed to boost your mood, as suggested by organizing expert Marie Kondo.

Professional organizers recommend grouping clothes together like garment type (i.e. skirts, dresses, sweaters etc.), fabric weight, and color. That makes sense, since different types of clothing require a particular storage method. For instance, jumpers can be folded while blouses are better hung.

When sorting clothes, consider what you love and wear regularly, rather than judging items by how much they cost or how many outfits you can make out of them. It’s also a good idea to use organization trays for small accessories, such as jewelry and watches. These tend to get lost in the shuffle when stored loosely.

Add a Shoe Rack

When it comes to storing shoes in a closet, there are a number of options. Add a shoe rack in your closet to keep your footwear organized and easy to access.

Then, sort the items you want to keep into categories based on their type and frequency of wear. If you’re struggling to decide whether or not to keep something, remember this simple rule: If you can easily create five outfits out of it and love wearing it, then keep it. To further help you make decisions, enlist the help of an impartial friend.

Once you’re clear on the items you’re keeping, make room for them by getting rid of anything that’s out of season or doesn’t fit you anymore. You can put seasonal clothing and accessories in vacuum bags for compact storage or tuck them away in a spare room. If you don’t have a spare room to store out-of-season items, you can also use a rotating shoe storage cabinet for convenient seasonal access.

Label Your Clothes

Once you’ve finished your closet cleanup, a little DIY labeling is a great way to make sure your organizing efforts stick. Buy some inexpensive hanger labels from the dollar store and add them to your favorite clothing categories — like shirts, pants, sweaters, dresses and skirts. This will help you easily find the item you want to wear, especially when your closet is fully packed up for a trip.

Keeping your closet organized is all about creating intentional, easy-to-maintain spaces, Brookshire explains. This means putting your most-worn clothes in prime real estate zones (such as the left side of your closet) and keeping non-everyday items, such as loungewear, robes and workout gear, in a separate storage area, like a dresser or a closet with drawers. And don’t forget about other space-saving closet organization hacks, such as canvas closet organizers that hook onto your closet rod and provide instant cubby-like storage for shoes, purses, hats and more.

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