Closet Organizing Tips
We asked a fashion insider and a professional organizer for their best tips on making the most of the ultimate small space: the closet.
The Fashion Insider: Nicholas Mellamphy
As creative director at Hudson’s Bay Company’s luxury brand hotspot, The Room, Nicholas Mellamphy oversees a well-edited wardrobe of sought-after labels. His own closet, in a modest city space, requires similar restraint. “If my closet is organized, it starts the day off right.”
- Having all the same hangers is a nice touch, but difficult to maintain. I store my suits — with jacket and pants together — on the vendor hangers. This way, I can quickly differentiate a Hugo Boss pinstripe from a similar Zegna style.
- Block suits and shirts by colour, so you’ll always know if you’re down to your last white shirt.
- To free up space, keep special-occasion items like tuxedos and gowns in a secondary or front-hall closet.
- Fold and stack jeans, T-shirts, undergarments and workout wear. Instead of using drawers, place folded items on closet shelves where they’re easier to see.
- Sweaters will be tidiest stored in uniform stacks, so separate chunky and fine knits into their own piles.
- Mellamphy uses serving trays set out on shelves to keep accessories organized and accessible. Layer bow ties and pocket squares, but roll up ties. That way, they’re never wrinkled, and the patterns are visible. In the same tray, toss cuff links into open boxes for quick coordination.
- Roll belts and socks and store them in separate trays.
- Store shoes in their original boxes. For ease, label each box with a photograph of the pair inside. Relegate running shoes to the closet floor; they look better when they’re a bit worn in, so they don’t need protecting.
- Handbags are best protected when lined up on a shelf, stuffed with tissue paper and stored in their dust bags.
Store it or toss it
- Fold seasonal items and store in suitcases. If a last-minute getaway arises, you’ll be packed!
- Never throw away anything of value — just look at today’s vintage craze. Donate trendy budget buys at the end of the season.
The Organizer: Rhonda Gervais
Rhonda Gervais of Organizing Matters in Calgary has conquered her share of messy closets. “Start by visualizing what you want done and how you want it to look, then book the time so you won’t procrastinate.”
- Using all the same plastic or wooden hangers puts the focus on the clothes, not the rainbow of hangers on the rod. (Wire hangers are only good for bringing clothes home from the dry cleaner.)
- Place frequently worn items at the easiest point of access. If you wear suits everyday, they should be front and centre in the closet. Otherwise, group clothing by type. All pants, dress shirts, short-sleeve shirts, etc., should be in one spot.
- Protect formalwear in fabric clothing bags. If articles have been dry-cleaned, remove the plastic bag so the cleaning chemicals won’t cause deterioration.
- The secret to neat piles of jeans, T-shirts and lingerie? Fold everything the same way so stacks are uniform. In addition, fold sweaters and other items that might lose their shape if hung.
- If you have the space, sort piles by season and then colour.
- Closets tend to waste vertical space. Look up — is there room for an additional shelf?
- Use over-the-door shoe pockets for stashing accessories like belts, scarves and ties. Roll the item and tuck it into its own pocket.
- Keep special-occasion footwear in clear shoeboxes. For everyday pairs, a horizontal shoe rack on the closet floor will hold more pairs, especially if there’s room for two side by side.
- Line up oft-used handbags on a shelf where they’re visible and accessible. Store the rest in clear bins to protect from dust.
Store it or toss it
- Put seasonal items (all clean and dry, so mildew won’t form and stains won’t set in) in clear bins that can fit under a bed, on a high shelf or in a storage room. Label each bin with what’s inside.
- Sort clothing into piles — jeans, dress pants, suits, T-shirts. Ask yourself when each item was last worn, if it’s still your style and if it’s in good condition. If the answers raise issues, chances are it should be donated.
For more tips on how to design a closet, check out Lynda Reeves’ tour of the 2008 Princess Margaret Hospital Showhouse walk-in closet.