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How to Manage a Clothes Closet

Structure, Sort and Salvage

Step 1

Take everything — absolutely everything — out of your closet and dresser. Lay it on the bed, drape it over chairs — any safe place where it won't be in the way. Then clean out the closet, dusting the shelves and sweeping out debris so your closet can have a fresh start.

Step 2

Impose structure on your closet with nifty organizers such as a rack for shoes, hooks on the front and back of the door, and boxes stacked on the floor if space allows. Try using canvas boxes for a neat and environmentally friendly look. Use the top shelf of your closet — or install one — for storage, stacking sweaters and other winter clothes up there in storage bags.

Step 3

Find a selection of hangers for different types of clothes — wooden hangers for clothing that creases easily, and padded hangers for slippery fabrics. Use bright colored, small-size hangers to color coordinate your kids' clothing. You can hang an outfit for the next day on hooks on the front of the door for easy access.

Step 4

Now that you have the tools for staying organized, sort through your clothes to decide what to keep and what to give away. Put them in a "yes," "no," or "maybe" pile — it's easier to give up your tried-and-true-but-ancient jeans after you've deemed them a "maybe" and then seen how many nice pairs you're keeping. As Jamie Novak points out in "The Get Organized Answer Book," it's OK to keep something just for the memories it brings, but if you're keeping 20 pairs of mangled old shoes, that's too much.

Step 5

After you've separated your clothes into piles, have a fashion show with close friends to decide which of your "maybes" to keep. As Real Simple suggests, you'll want to give up anything you haven't worn in a year or more, and of course anything that doesn't fit or that looks like something your great aunt would put on her poodle. If you have trouble letting go of things, tell your friends ahead of time that you want them to be assertive about helping you pare down your wardrobe. Offer to trade kids' clothes according to what your kids and your friends' kids have outgrown or grown into.

Rearrange Your Clothes

Step 1

Sort your clothes by type and style. Long pants go in a pile, with jeans grouped together and khakis together. Long-sleeved blouses go together; same with short sleeves — you get the picture. Keep belts and scarves on hooks on the back of the door. Use your dresser and storage boxes for pajamas, sweats and other clothes that don't wrinkle easily.

Step 2

Box or bag the clothes you want to give away, clearly marking where they go if you have multiple bags. Your friends, of course, have dibs on anything you don't want.

Step 3

Get ready to head to your friend's house and do the same thing next weekend, because she's sure to want a closet like yours. Remember, you can always trade your "nos" and "maybes" to freshen up your looks.

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