An organized closet is a girl’s best friend.
There is ongoing discussion about closet organization within fashion and lifestyle spaces—we all seem to be constantly on the hunt for the “perfect way” to curate our clothes. Yet, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in this case. Personally, I’ve had a lot of experimentation with closet organization.
Last month, I penned a piece about my journey from being a shopaholic to a slow fashion advocate. Through that transition, I learned a lot—not only about my shopping habits, but about my wardrobe habits as well. When I was clothes-obsessed I had a whole section in the back of my closet dedicated to pieces that were new and still had the tags on.
I refused to remove the tags until I wore the item, because I wanted to make sure I was able to return it if I had second thoughts. I also did it because I loved the drama of christening a new top and wanted to savor that moment. This made it glaringly obvious when I had gone overboard and purchased a boatload of new fashion just because I could.
Months after a retail therapy session, I would find collections of unworn clothing with tags intact, past the return date. Worse yet, I realized I never truly wanted these pieces. Since that dark time, I’ve not only become more thoughtful about my purchases, but more conscious of how I set up my closet so that I actually wear what I buy.
There’s no correct way to organize your clothing; however, you’ll feel a noticeable shift when you find an intentional system that works right for you.
Where to Organize Your Clothing
The first step in the organization process focuses on deciding where to put your clothing. I know this may sound rudimentary, but as a millennial who has lived in various apartment configurations, there is not always ideal closet space.
Most importantly, you need somewhere to hang your clothes. This seems demanding in some spaces—though, I argue—not impossible. Tops, dresses, nicer pants, and jackets should be hung up to give you an easy visual of your closet. If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it. Trust me.
In my current apartment, I don’t have a real closet. I’ve organized a dresser with drawers for pajamas, jeans and shorts, sweatpants and leggings, and undergarments. Then, for hanging, I have a portable rack where I’ve set up all of my other garments. Instead of getting stressed that I don’t have a door on my closet, I’ve intentionally curated my hanging clothes and made this collapsible rack into an artful feature in my apartment.
What to Curate and What to Leave Alone
Here’s the thing: I’m an organization nut—until I’m not. I love a good system, but it has to also work with my lifestyle. In my experience, I can spend entire days folding each pair of jeans and buttoning up each collared shirt, and then ruin the whole assembly in a matter of 10 minutes.
Sometimes, the Marie Kondo method is just not worth it. If you’re able to keep up this kind of strict organization, I applaud you; though for the rest of us mortals, it may be best to try something more attainable. For example, I always keep my hanging items coordinated in my favorite system (elaboration on this to come) and my drawers in their respective categories.
However, I don’t always properly fold my jeans or shorts, and I gave up on fully organizing my undergarments drawer years ago. I know the idea of sifting through a sea of black to find socks, underwear, and a bra seems frustrating. For me, though, it's preferable to constant re-organization. It’s entirely up to your preferences!
Another option is to consider seasonal wardrobes. I cannot speak to this type of organization personally—as I’ve lived most of my life in warm-weathered California—though I understand it to be wildly helpful. Seasonal wardrobes sound exactly like what they are. They entail packing up and storing jackets, coats, hats, and gloves in the summer and shorts, flowy dresses, and sandals in the winter.
This can be personalized depending on the actual seasons you experience or the kind of personal style you are going for every few months. I still try to squeeze a turtleneck in any chance I can get, so I can’t bear to hide them away. For you, though, it may lower your outfit anxiety greatly to have those winter options out of sight and out of mind during the summer.
How to Arrange Your Dream Closet
This is my favorite step in the closet organization process because I believe when your clothes look good, you’ll feel more excited about getting dressed. This may seem pretty straightforward but I’ve had very real arguments with people (okay, my mother) about the correct order of the rainbow. This is where things get very nerdy and I realize I truly am the daughter of a Virgo.
In my opinion, the best order is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, tan, brown, gray, and black. I can’t quite remember her argument, but I think our paths diverged around pink. All I know is *whispers* I’m right. All jokes aside, you make the rules. If your favorite color is blue, put blue first and then go in order of your favorite to least favorite colors. Group hues together because it will make it infinitely simpler to glance at your wardrobe and create a stellar outfit.
Before the rainbow debacle of 2015, I used to order my clothes according to type (ex: tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeves). In the end, it was not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as I’d hoped. I now combine the two and organize by color first, and then garment type. This helps it look beautiful and work practically for me at the same time!
If you’re not as obsessive about the color, then focusing solely on the type could be of great use to you. Another version of this is categorizing by style, like grouping all of your button downs or all of your “going out tops” together. The latter works fantastically if you have dress codes at work or other frequent activities that require a more specific outfit.
While organizing your closet may not bring you as much joy as it does me, doing a little work will go a long way. It will help you to hone in on your personal style, wear all of your clothing, and get excited about putting together outfits every day.
Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She works as a freelance writer and content creator with a focus in sustainable fashion. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious living and hopes to continue to spread awareness of ethical consumption.