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Closet Cleanliness

It's January, and you're revved on resolutions, right? You're going to get organized and save money and be green and not buy anything off the clearance rack! I applaud you, inspired person! Let my mistakes be your helping guide.

What often happens when I throw wide my closet door and stare into the abyss: The abyss stares back.

I've tried organizing my closet before. It took forever, and the minute I did laundry I realized I had more clothes than wooden or cute plastic hangers and reintroduced the dreaded wire. And you know, once the wire hangers come back, it is all downhill from there.

I asked myself why, when I love to organize things, I had so much trouble with my closet. Then I realized, wait, there is more than one way to organize anything.

Let's break down three ways you can arrange those items that prevent you from being naked. Bonus side effect: You'll wear what you have instead of buying more stuff you don't need.

[Note: I'm going to assume you've already gone through the closet and thrown away anything stained and donated or sold anything that doesn't fit, because honey, don't bother to organize what you will never, ever wear.]

By Color

My first closet organization attempt revolved around color. I have a lot of friends who organize their closets by color, and it does look really pretty if you're into brights.

However, organizing by color doesn't work for me, because I don't plan outfits that way. (And I use "planning outfits" very loosely - I have to remind myself to accessorize.)

My sad tale began when I used the rainbow as a guide. All the reds and pinks got shoved all the way to the left by the belts and were hidden by another rack hung perpendicular and covered in dresses. I forgot I owned anything pink or red for months.

Also? I got caught up in color existentialism. Does gray belong with the blacks or with the blues? You might think it doesn't matter, but once you hang one gray with the blues and three other grays with blacks, you no longer have a color-coded system. It's only a matter of time before the browns are crowding in with the yellows and greens and all hell has broken loose.

By Sleeve Length

I share a small closet with my husband and have two racks to myself. I also have a dresser where I keep all my socks, underwear, jeans, bras, workout clothes and pajamas. The closet holds swimwear, shoes, belts, jewelry, sweatshirts, sweaters, shirts, dresses, jackets, skirts, trousers and any boots and shoes that haven't been through snow or dirt recently. That seems like way more than necessary when I type it, but yes, I do indeed own clothing in all those categories.

Despite my myriad types of clothing, I'm a minimalist compared to most people I know. I own four sweaters and three sweatshirts, for example. (I've been told I would not last one week in Canada.)

After years of slogging through seasonal closet overhauls, I finally got sick of the hanging bag situation and got rid of about half of my wardrobe. Now there are no "summer" or "winter" clothes. There are layers.

Organizing my clothes by sleeve length is what I'm going to try next. Tank tops to the left, then sleeveless, short sleeves, three-quarter and finally long sleeves.

By Outfit

If you're better at outfits than I am, you might want to invest some time on the front end for mindless grab-and-go dressing later. I have a dear friend who does this.

She even used to do it for her Barbies back when we were kids: She wrote down every outfit, including shoes and accessories. If you played with her Barbies, dammit, you better put everything back according to the index cards.

I find this system intimidating and not super versatile, but I can see the benefit. If you hang the outfits together, all you have to do is pull out a few hangers and put everything on. And if you're the sort of person who irons before you need the clothing: BAM.

Another benefit of organizing by outfit: You can turn your closet into a real-life Pinterest board. I know, mind blown!

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