Creating the Perfect Closet

Your closet is often the first thing you see in the morning, and its condition can determine your mood for the day. There is something about an orderly closet that makes a person feel stylish and in-control. But digging through a cluttered closet, trying to find a matching outfit can dampen even the brightest of spirits. Not a very good way to start the day!

WHAT'S IN YOUR CLOSET?

The road to organization begins with an honest evaluation of your wardrobe. Is your closet filled with clothes that do not fit, are out of style, or have not been worn in the last year? They're out of here! Are you guilty of owning a garment that you can not wear because it does not go with a single thing in your closet? Make a decision right here and now – either find something to match that cool paisley shirt or get rid of it.

Now separate out any pieces that need to be mended or cleaned. You may want to put a couple of labeled baskets in your closet for regular laundry, dry cleaning, and alterations. Try not to hang anything in your closet that is not CURRENTLY WEARABLE. And if you want to keep your closet under control, plan to purge your ward every few months. Now that you have pared down, let's set up your closet so that you know where everything is:

BY SEASON

Start by separating your clothes into "fall / winter" and "spring / summer" items. Make sure to do the same with your accessories, lingerie, and outerwear, as well. How does your wardrobe balance out? Do you have a closet full of summer clothes, but only 3 winter outfits? That's okay for someone who lives in South Florida – but if your home is above the Mason-Dixon line, it's time to go shopping! If you find that you are short on space in your bedroom closet, consider storing the off-season in another part of the house. A spare bedroom closet or portable armoire in the attic might be the perfect answer. Just be aware of climatic concerns and guard against insect infestations – especially when storing wool clothing.

BY CLOTHING TYPE

Now, you will want to sort through the current season's clothes, creating logical categories based on the way that you normally think about your wardrobe. You can arrange your clothes according to PURPOSE, breaking out formal, work, and casual outfits. Or, you could organize by TYPE – grouping jackets separate from blouses separate from pants. And in either situation, it's always good to create different categories for each STYLE of clothing – such as short-sleeved shirts in one place and long-sleeve in another. Whichever method you choose, clearly delineate your categories – either put labeled divider discs on your rod (like the ones used in department stores) or assign each section to a different part of the closet.

BY OUTFIT

I am an inherently lazy person. I do not want to spend time deciding what blouse goes with which pants, so I hang out envelopes together. What a time-saver! Of course, if you like to mix and match, this system may not be the best choice. If you do go this route, consider labeling each hanger with a list of accessories that accompaniment that particular garment. Feel free to include any small items, such as scarves or belts, right on the hanger with the outfit. One client of mine (who loves hanging her clothes in outfits) came up with a creative organizing idea – she has a pair of earrings that only go with her navy suit, so she clips them right on the lapel!

BY COLOR

The final step is to organize each section of clothing by color. Going from light to dark, group items of the same hue together. You do not have to create a scientifically accurate color spectrum – just generally group reds and pinks in one place, blues all together, etc. Now, when you need a black blouse, they will all be hanging in the same place. This will also allow you to see excesses and deficiencies in your wardrobe. One woman I worked with told me that organizing by color was the dumbest thing she had ever heard of – until she tried it! She never knew she owned 12 different red T-shirts until re-arranging her closet. She also swears this technique saves her 20 minutes getting ready each morning!