Ruth Bashinsky

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How to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro

A man's professionally organized closet on Long Island.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your closet? Do you spend hours trying to find that cute outfit you bought but have no idea where you put it? Do you feel like you are having a wardrobe meltdown every other day because you cannot locate anything you like?

For some, keeping your closet organized can be a daunting task. Jamie Hord, owner of Garden City-based, Horderly Professional Organizing and National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) member, offers these organizing tips to help get you on the right track.

TIP #1: ONE IN AND ONE OUT

Each time you bring in something new, let go of something old, says Hord. “I have many clients who shop a lot and are bringing new pieces into their closet weekly. I tell them to keep a donation basket or shopping bag in their closet at all times, so they are always making room for the new items and keeping their clothes streamlined.” If you are not sure what to eliminate, a good rule of thumb, she says, is to give away clothes or shoes you have not worn in a year.

A capsule wardrobe on a hanging rack.

TIP #2: UNIFORMITY

Discard all the plastic and metal hangers your closet may be hanging onto and invest in matching felt hangers, she explains. The slim design saves space and slides easily along the rod, she says. For men who may want a more masculine look for their wardrobe, Hord uses a slim wooden hanger that works well and looks handsome in a closet. Unlike a felt hanger that may pucker the fabric, the wooden hangers feature a thicker rounded end that keeps pants wrinkle-free and the jacket intact.

Another tip she encourages is to be consistent and stick with the organizing system put in place even when it’s time to put away that dry cleaning. “I tell my clients to treat their dry cleaning like it is their groceries. Once you unload your items, you discard the bags. The same applies to your dry cleaning. Switch out the flimsy metal hangers with the felt or wooden hangers.” Keeping everything uniform, ensures Hord, will help save time.

“You want to be able to shop your closet,” says Hord. “You can easily access everything, and it will be easy to get dressed.” 

A married couples shared walk in closet.

TIP #3: CATEGORIZING

First sort clothes by type, says Hord. For tops, place long sleeves together followed by short sleeve tops, sleeveless tops, dresses, skirts, etc. Within the category place them from darkest color to lightest color. Same applies to menswear, categorizing polos, t-shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, etc.

Button-down shirts, she explains, are organized by solid colors, stripes and checkered patterns also working from dark to light. Hord typically hangs cardigans and open sweaters and likes to fold turtlenecks. For those who prefer their t-shirts to be folded, Hord suggests folding them in short stacks. Otherwise, she explains, it may be more difficult to maintain.

Depending on the type sweater, for more delicate fabrics that may pull easily, Hord likes to fold them. The same applies to that chunky sweater since it would be too bulky to hang.

For footwear, Hord categorizes by type of shoe or uses a color coding system. For her female clients, stilettos, wedges, cork heel, open or closed toe, boots, and booties are put in groupings. Loafers, dress shoes, sneakers, and boots for her male clientele.

“I like to encourage my clients to keep everything out so they can see it. If you have it in a box they are most likely not going to use it,” says Hord.

For those who may not have that spacious walk-in closet, there are still space-saving techniques that can keep you organized. For one, get rid of the shoe boxes once you bring that new pair of shoes home.

“They just take up too much space,” she explains. “If you have a lot of shoes I use the clear shoe boxes This way you can see the shoe and the boxes are stackable which maximizes the space.”

An over-the-door shoe storage tree for the inside of your closet is also a great option.