When you’re trying to organize your life, sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and start with an easy task.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “Organizing my closet isn’t easy, Christina! In fact, I need advice on how to do it! That’s why I’m reading this darn post!“
Don’t you worry, I totally get that. I know it’s kinda overwhelming. So that’s why I’m going to break down the entire process of cleaning out and organizing your closet into 4 super simple steps that anyone can do!
Before I get into the four simple closet decluttering steps, let’s review why it’s important to have an organized closet!
It’s a place you begin the day in every day. If you start off the day with a frustrating experience because you can’t find what you need, then that doesn’t bode well for the rest of your day, does it?
When you closet is organized it’ll take you less time to get ready, meaning you can sleep in longer. Heck yes!
And getting your closet organized probably won’t take as long as you think it will. Ok, you’re convinced, so let’s have at it!
Step 1: Declutter
The very first step in any organizing project is to winnow out items you no longer want or need. Decluttering clothing can be especially difficult because if you’re like me, your size changes from time to time. To accommodate weight fluctuations, you probably have a few different sizes in your closet or wardrobe.
I’m NOT going to tell you to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you right now because I know that it’s not necessarily practical. But that comes with some caveats that I’ll get into in a bit…
Yes you will have to go through everything. But not all at once.
If this step is overwhelming, just tackle one portion of your closet. Like hit the dresses first, take a break and then come back and make decisions about tops.
Breaking up the decluttering process like this is a smart sanity-saver!
Paring Clothing and Shoes Down
Here are some hard and fast rules about the decluttering process! I’m gonna get rather brutal, so get ready.
Get rid of anything you don’t like. Period. I don’t care how long you’ve had it. If you don’t like it, you’re not going to wear it and keeping it in your closet is just making it harder to find what you actually will wear.
In fact, if you don’t like the print, fit or if it was last worn to an event that gives you a bad memory, get rid of it!
If you don’t remember how it fits or if it’s even comfortable, try it on. If you don’t look and feel like a million bucks in it, put it in the Go Pile.
Tags still on an item and it was purchased more than 6 months ago? There’s a good reason why you haven’t worn it yet, even if you don’t realize it. Put it in the Go Pile.
If you graduated from high school or college more than 10 years ago and still have clothing from then you were in school, consider letting them go, even if it still fits. I can almost guarantee that they are not in style and unless they’re your stay at home, comfy clothes, they probably should all go. You don’t need an entire closet full of this type of clothing, so keep a few, not a whole bunch.
If you have duplicates, pare down what you keep. How many black pants will you wear? Certainly not 10 pairs. Some are probably worn out, or faded. Keep the ones in better shape. Put the rest in the Go Pile.
Take a really, really close look at each item you’re keeping. Is it in good shape or is the color faded and the neckline stretched out? Is there a stain or spot that is obvious? Are the seams becoming threadbare? If it’s not in really good condition, then it’s time to add it to the Go Pile.
Even if something is in good condition, you like the fabric and fit, ask if you’ll actually wear it (soon, not someday?). You really need to be honest with yourself here because maybe the item is no longer useful to you.
For example, when I was working as an attorney, I had a closet full of beautiful suits from Casual Corner, which was a very stylish option back then. I spent a lot of money on the suits and had suiting pieces that mixed and matched so nicely. I loved how I looked and felt in them.
But I’m no longer an attorney. I don’t plan to ever return to that world, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to hang onto the suits. And that’s why I got rid of them years ago.
Consider where you are in life right now. Do the clothes in your closet make sense for you in your life as it is now or will be in the next few years? Or are they a remnant of your “former” life?
Step 2: Bag and Tag
Now that you have gotten out what you no longer want, bag or box up the clothing you’re letting go of, label the bag as donations so there’s no confusion, and schedule a donation pickup at donatestuff.com.
Snap a picture of what you’re letting go of and post on Instagram to make your friends jealous. Don’t forget to tag me @streamlinedlvg!
Don’t want to wait for the truck to come? Find a local donation center and get it all out today!
Step 3: Load up your Closet
Now look at what’s left and start to group like items together. Load all of your shirts in.
How you do it is up to you. Some clients like to see a rainbow in their closet. I prefer to group by type and then style.
Years ago, I made the switch to identical hangers and I can’t tell you what an incredible difference it made in keeping my closet looking fantastically organized. When hangers are the same, everything hangs at the same level and looks more beautiful.
I load in my shirts from casual to dressy, arranged by sleeve length, but keep them all in one section. Pants (and everything else) are arranged similarly.
Consolidate smaller items like tank tops or camisoles on a hanger system that groups them closely together. This way, they’ll take up less space than if they were hung individually and the design of the hanger makes it less likely the straps will slip off.
Make sure to use the vertical space in your closet. Add a shelf over the hanging rod for folded items or baskets of smaller items.
Keep folded items from toppling over and in check with these easy to install shelf dividers.
Prefer a solid or see through divider that’ll “disappear”? Then this set of acrylic shelf dividers is for you.
Or opt to add additional shelves to your closet space with this hanging organizer.
Consider this hanging shelf organizer if you need more flat surfaces for items that can’t easily be hung up, like sweaters.
Use the top shelf in your closet to store off season items.
These clear sided zippered bins make it easy to see inside so you’re not guessing as to what’s inside them. And the handle makes it easy to get down off the shelf when needed.
Flip those hangers!
As you load in your closet, make sure to flip the hangers on the rod backwards, so the point of the hanger hook faces you. When you wear something, you turn the hanger back the regular way. This is a tried and true time hack for figuring out what you’re actually wearing.
In 6 months or so, take a look at your hanger situation. Have most items been flipped back? If not, take another look at the unflipped items and consider whether you’d still like to keep them. A word of advice: If you haven’t worn them in the 6 months, I bet you probably won’t ever wear them.
There really is a difference in what you think you’ll wear and what you actually put on.
I can hear you objecting, so let me just say that you don’t have to get rid of the unflipped clothing items. But be honest with yourself about why you’re not wearing them.
Sure, maybe some of them are out of season, but that’s not the reason for most of them. This trick will make you super aware of what you’re actually wearing and can help you make better decisions when it comes to buying new clothes. When you buy clothes you like, you’re more apt to wear them!
Account for Accessories
Accessories like footwear, scarves, ties, handbags, and belts can take up a lot of room, so be sure to account for them in your closet space planning.
This S shaped hanger is well suited for scarves, which can take up a lot of room. The hanger is a good choice for scarves made from thinner material. For thicker scarves, you’ll want to fold or roll them up like cinnamon rolls and store them on a flat surface, as opposed to hanging them up. Storing them rolled up or folded will shrink the space they take up.
Group belts into one area in your closet using this stylish belt hanger.
Last, organize ties on this tie hanger with a wooden center. This version has a nice design and hold 20 different ties.
Use the floor space
Don’t forget to add in some structure to the floor of the closet to really optimize the closet space.
These shoe boxes are fantastic for a few reasons. First, they’re modular, so they’ll stack and nest with each other or added sturdiness. Second, they’re see through, so you’ll always be able to find the pair of kicks you’re looking for. Last, the boxes will keep the shoes relatively dust free, meaning you’re good to go pretty much anytime without needing to wipe infrequently worn shoes down before wearing them.
If you have a smaller footwear collection, then you might be prefer to go with a shoe rack. Shoes and boots of varying heights will easily fit.
Reality is that you’re going to buy new clothing and you may not have the time to let go of something right then, so leave some wiggle room for wardrobe growth.
A little bit of room makes it easy to get to clothing in your closet. Having a disorganized, jam-packed closet will make getting ready difficult and unpleasant.
Step 4: Declutter on the regular
Get a bag or basket for donations and store it in your closet. When you come across an article of clothing you no longer want, add it to the bag! When the bag’s full, head back on over to DonateStuff.com and schedule a donation pick up to get everything out of your home.
Watch these Videos for more Closet Organizing Tips!
In this first video, I talk about the importance of which hangers to use for an organized closet as well as a little about why you shouldn’t hang onto different sized clothes.
In this second video, I dive into which clothing to hang onto and then how to sort clothing in your closet.
In this last video, I give you a peek inside my somewhat cluttered closet. You’ll see how I re-organized it using the many of the rules spelled out in this post.
Keeping piles straight during the decluttering phase of the organizing process can be a pain!
Don’t accidentally donate or trash something because your piles get mixed up.
Make it clear to see what your piles are with these printable Decluttering and Sorting Cards!
They make it easy to see at a glance what;’s what and eliminate pile confusion.
Snag a bag and get going!
Over to You!
Now you have the exact steps to bring your closet into order oh, so beautifully! Once you’ve given the space an organizational overhaul, make a point to do a quick declutter with the change of the seasons to keep everything neat.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates, the Container Store and Etsy Affiliate Programs, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, ContainerStore.com, and Etsy.com. This means that when you click and make a purchase at a site via a link I have provided, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and genuinely recommend.