Organizing your closet is among the dreariest routines to take on, even for the most orderly among us. But an extended lockdown provides a great opportunity to create order in these troubled, chaotic times.
So where does one start their organizational journey? We asked experts on the subject to weigh in and give their best tips on where and how to start. “This is a great time to take inventory of everything you have in your closet and decide what to keep, donate and toss,” says Millie Naor, founder of Bella Organizers and proud member of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing . She suggests starting with taking all of your hanging clothes out and sorting them into piles by category such as pants, shirts, dresses, and so on, then advises: “Ask yourself do I feel good when I wear this item? Do I love it? Have I worn it in the last year? Next do the same for your non-hanging clothes and shoes… This is the most important step in organizing - just think, if you have less stuff, you have less things to organize and more space!”
That’s not to say you can’t hang on to the important pieces though, as Karin Socci of The Serene Home and notes, “It’s ok to have a pair or two of jeans that you hope to fit into again, I call those 'aspirational jeans,' but if half your closet doesn’t fit then it’s just going to make you feel bad.” Karin is also certified as the first worldwide Master KonMari Consultant Practitioner by the KonMari Institute and is certified as a Professional Organizer in the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, so she’s one to trust when you’re looking for your own way to spark joy. If you gained a few winter pounds you plan to shed soon, sure you can keep last year’s jeans. But are you still clinging to that high school dress that only fit your pre-adult body? Chuck it out like last week’s leftovers.
Once that’s knocked out of the way, you’re already halfway to a cleaner space that will streamline your morning prep time and help you find items you’d forgotten you even owned. Imagine yourself breaking out of the wardrobe rut we all fall into at times and injecting new life into your look without spending a dime, then start to rebuild a closet that will let it happen.
While you restructure, Millie and Karin have a few more tips, as well as some products you can grab to help the process play out smoothly. As Millie emphasizes, “I think the most important thing is to feel good in your home and around the things you love the most!” Keep reading to see what you can use to sort your wearables, and get to sorting.
Using that advice, be sure to also browse our roundup of the best aspirational furniture and decor pieces by brands you may not know.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Karin dives in headfirst with an item we often consider utilitarian, if we consider them at all. “Matching hangers are an instant closet upgrade,” she advises. “Invest in a complete set of hangers that are durable and in your favorite color.” Those shown above are top-rated and luxe, with only stellar reviews on Bed Bath & Beyond’s website for their ability to keep clothes from slipping and sliding around and the added bonus of a soft touch and coolly beautiful color.
Blank Closet Rod Divider
Now that you have your items organized and hangers on which to place them, it’s time to divide and conquer. “I like using the ROYGBIV color scheme,” Millie says. “If there is a color you wear all the time (some of my clients love black), I would start with that color!” These closet rod dividers may not look like much, and they aren’t, but that’s their beauty. For 99 cents a pop, you can cut your closet into easy-to-manage sections and go from scattered, unkempt mess to rainbow-like perfection in a flash.
Brother P-touch PTD210, Easy-to-Use Label Maker
Teachers pets and tidy nerds unite as it’s time to invest in the gadget so many of us coveted but weren’t allowed to own as children: a label maker. Once you have your handy sections divided with the rings above, you can use the labeler to spell out what goes with descriptive little stickers placed on racks, boxes, shelf sections, and anything else your structured heart desires. Our next entry will also help get those shelves in order, so keep scrolling.
Elfa Décor Shelf Dividers
So now that you’re categorized and divided on your racks, it’s time to organize the shelves. One of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to do so is to section those items off and delineate specific areas for specific items. Millie says of these particular dividers from the Container Store: “You can clip them on your closet shelf and use them to divide sweaters, t-shirts, and even purses!”
Their clear finish is helping when considering another tip from Karin as well, who says, “Good closet organization means that you can see everything, things are easy to remove and they are easy to put away. Keep seldom-used things on higher shelves and your staples easy to reach.” And with these see-through dividers, even those rare items on higher shelves are easily found when the occasion calls and can be quickly grabbed then placed back in their designated home when you’re finished.
Large Indigo Black Tabletop Willow Basket by Ashland®
When dividers just aren’t cutting it, you may also consider baskets or bins to help sort your stackables, as Karin advises. “If you have deep shelves that often become messy and hard to manage, consider using attractive bins to store things on the shelves,” she recommends. “In a sense, you will be creating a chest of drawers on the shelf using bins in the place of drawers.”
These will, of course, depend on the size of your shelves and personal needs, but the gray ones above would nicely complement the hangers above for a sophisticated, cool-toned color scheme should you choose to go the relaxing, neutral route. Bonus: Michael’s generally has easily downloadable coupon codes via their app and official site, so it’s likely you’ll get an even better price than the affordable one already listed.
Our Sweater Box
Baskets are great for tossing scarves, sunglasses, and other accessories and clothing items in, but when it comes to more substantial pieces, you want something sturdier than can contain those extra space-hogging materials. We’ve covered accessibility in reaching the most-used items in your closet, now consider how you’ll store specialty pieces in the months they’re not useful. “Seasonal clothing and shoes can be contained and put up high in the closet or on the floor in the corner,” suggests Millie. She points to these sweater boxes available at The Container Store, noting they come in several sizes to accommodate your specific needs. Outside of being tucked into lower or higher shelves, they’re easily stashed under a bed (or even a couch, if you’re in a cramped space) and can be labeled with seasonal monikers to accentuate their clear construction.
House Day Black Magic Hangers
If your wardrobe has outgrown your closet but you're not ready to part with any pieces, these hangers are super handy for going vertical and saving space on you racks. Simply slip the ends of your hangers through the allotted holes, and shirts will dangle at varying heights so as to avoid a traffic jam up top where valuable space is hard to come by.
Simple Houseware 3-Tier Stackable Shoes Rack Storage Shelf, Bronze
Obvious but necessary: you’re going to need a shoe rack. This modest three-tiered version is sturdy, easy to assemble, and will set you back less than $15 total. It tucks neatly into the bottom of even cramped closets, and the bronze finish is unassuming enough that it won’t be en eyesore in your newly streamlined closet.