What is it about closets that make me want to clean them?! I feel nothing of the sort when I look at my kitchen and actively shudder at the prospect of dishes (doing the dishes is like touching a thousand slimy hands, am I alone in this?). However, I actually look forward *gasp* to a good closet clear-out. After recently attacking my closet with the vigor of Marie Kondo and the stamina of the entire Home Edit team, I have compiled my closet organizing tips for you so you can tackle your very own overhaul. Thank me later.
Get creative with the space you do have
I have a weird personality quirk in that I crave organization but am inherently messy (I’m a hoot! Invite me to dinner!), so I try to make it as easy as possible for myself by using a lot of organization gadgets. And OK, they aren’t “gadgets” so much as “organizers,” but follow me down this path. I do very badly with enclosed spaces, so I usually just stuff clutter in them, force them all the way closed, and dust my hands together like a cartoon character. That’s all set then.
But lately, I’ve been on a quest to be better, and the first step was to invest in drawer dividers. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to immediately see that you don’t have any clean underwear instead of hunting furiously for 20 minutes only to discover that you don’t have any clean underwear.
My other favorite option for creative storage is clear, plastic bins that are really short and can slide under furniture. I have them under my bed (for out-of-season clothes, extra toiletries like tampons and contact solution, and cords upon cords upon cords). I even stacked a few in my singular closet. If you fold your clothes inside of them, they even work stacked out in the open and styled with shoes on top.
TIP: I used to have a classic “college” laundry basket that was hot pink and covered in stickers (including one of the Apple logo stickers and yes, I am ashamed). It worked well for undergrad and less well for an apartment without a convenient closet to stuff it in. I just swapped it with a tall braided basket that I keep underneath my rolling closet rack, next to a few of my shoes. It adds a nice textural element to the space and looks infinitely more pulled together and styled than my old one.
Be strategic about storage in plain sight
My apartment was built in the 1920s, which means it has charming wainscoting and pretty built-in shelves but also boasts crumbling plaster walls (the ceiling above my shower is caving in, it’s fine). To round it out, it has absolutely no storage space. Truly, NO STORAGE SPACE ANYWHERE. There is one (one!) tiiiiiiiiiiinnnnny closet, which I have already overstuffed with everything possible, and since it isn’t in the vicinity of my bedroom anyway, it’s a moot point.
This means I had to get pretty creative with clothing storage. I love industrial-looking clothing racks and snagged one to hang my most-grabbed items. Note: I’m partial to velvet hangers (less sliding), but wood is also a jam. I know some people use wire hangers, and to that, I say a polite, “Excusez-Moi?”
I also try to keep my shoes relatively organized, so I can store them out and around the apartment as an intentional accent instead of, ya know, a spatial necessity. Cheap open shelving works great for this (see Kat Tanita’s enviable shoe situation) as well as storing pretty folded sweaters and jeans. Choosing open shelving also forces you to be tidy with your clothes, shoes, and (let’s face it) your life because it is all just hanging out there for the world (read: my cat) to see.
TIP: Wall space is your best friend when you’re low on square footage. You can hang anything on the wall. Purses? You know it, sis. Scarves, belts, hats, coats? Abso-frickin-lutely. Jewelry, keys, and other miscellaneous items of life? Hang it up, baby.
Create a vanity area
A vanity area—no matter how tiny—makes getting ready so much better. I like to imagine I’m a Hepburn (Audrey or Katharine, depending on the day), spritzing myself with one of those squeezy-perfume-thingamabobs as I dash out the door for a date with Gregory Peck (instead of dashing out to CVS to buy more pimple patches and Diet Coke).
I bought a clear makeup organizer last year, and it has changed my life. Seeing all your accessories, sunglasses, and lipsticks will help you remember you actually bought them (it has really curbed my just-another-red-lipstick checkout purchases) and makes the second half of your getting ready process feel much snazzier.
TIP: I have A LOT of makeup and skincare bits and bobs that I’ve accumulated over 26 years as a Real Ass Adult. So much that it didn’t all fit in these organizers or work styled on top of my dresser. I bought a few plastic bins for the top drawer (measure first to make sure they’ll fit!) that hold any catchall stuff. I have three nestled next to my undies: one for makeup, one for skincare, and one for hair stuff—it’s such a relief when you’re searching for an elusive hair tie in the morning. This is also a great place to store things you want within easy reach but aren’t necessarily aesthetic enough to display.