by Susan McCarthy
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Everyday practice: Doing laundry more often means that you'll have fewer things to put away, making that task less onerous and so likelier to get done.
Remember, before you start organizing your closet and drawers, you want to sort through what you have and eliminate the things you don’t, won’t, or can’t wear. Avoid buying organizing tools or systems before seeing what clothing you are keeping. In fact, I’d even suggest living with your newly decluttered closet for at least a few weeks so you have a better sense of what’s working for you and what could work a bit better.
Simplifying what's in your closet and how you store those items saves time and stress getting dressed each morning, saves you money when you don't purchase items you already own, and even saves you time putting away items after you've done the laundry.
Should You Fold or Hang Your Clothing?
Years ago, I was looking into renting an apartment attached to the side of the house (an in-law apartment). There was the kitchen, bedroom, and living room. In the living room were two doors. I thought it would be a bit awkward to have my closet in the living room, but I would deal with the minor inconvenience. Since there was someone living in the apartment when I walked through, I didn’t bother to open the closet doors.
Well, was I surprised when I moved in and went to hang some clothing only to realize that these weren’t really closets. Instead these were doors that once led into the main house, only they’d been blocked off. The space behind the doors, the “closet” was scarcely a foot deep. The only rod to hang items was in an open area set opposite the front door.
That was when I learned to fold nearly everything so I could store it in the dressers I owned.
So, the way I see it, folding or hanging clothing is a situational and personal choice.
What space do you have? If you have limited closet space, then it will make more sense to fold clothing into drawers or cubbies. If you don’t have space for a dresser, then hang items. Have a closet and a dresser? Store items in a way that you will consistently store them. (So, it you hate folding tee shirts, hang them.)
If you do decide to fold clothing, I highly recommend that you look at a few videos on YouTube to see the best way to fold different items. Folding clothing the proper way takes up less space. Store folded clothing vertically so you can see everything at a glance as opposed to stacking folded items horizontally in drawers.
If you store folded items in cubbies or other open shelves, where you have to stack the items, don’t stack the items too high just because you have the space. Think about displays in stores where a customer pulls an item from the bottom of the pile and the entire display starts to look horrible fairly fast. You don’t want your closet or drawers to look rummaged through just because you were trying to get dressed.
You’ll often see the suggestions to buy matching hangers when organizing your closet. I’d suggest that you look through what you have and try to use one type of hanger. Why? It’s not just aesthetics. I think using similar hangers slide more easily along the clothes rod. Also, if you store an item on a thin hanger between items on thicker hangers, you might overlook what’s on the thinner hanger.
Velvet hangers are good for slippery items but can make it difficult for kids or older individuals to hang clothing. If you have clothing that slides off its hangers, look for hangers with notches at the shoulder, which I think are easier to use than velvet hangers.
You might also want to use space saver hangers that allow you to store items in tiers or multiple layers. In some cases, you need to open these organizing tools so you can hang the items, and then you collapse the hanger. This might be difficult to use it you don’t have the space to properly expand the item so you can fit clothes onto the hangers. I have mixed thoughts about these types of hangers. They seem like a great way to fit more items into a closet, but if you don’t have the space to get the items on or off these hangers, they won’t work for you.
Sort Clothing by Type of Item or Color
Your goal in organizing your clothing is to make it easier to get dressed. If you create a system that doesn’t work, you’ll know because you won’t put anything away. It might be annoying to rearrange things, but after decluttering your closet, it won’t take that long.
Keep similar items together so you can compare your options. Keep button-down shirts together, jeans together, etc. If you have, say, casual skirts, work skirts, and dressy skirts, you can keep all your skirts together and group them into subcategories.
If your casual wardrobe is very different from your work wardrobe, you might want to store these distinct wardrobes in separate areas of your closet and then group items by piece within their area. The same goes for dressy items that get worn a few times a year – you can group those pieces together instead of mixing the components in with similar items.
Again, what makes sense for you?
Do you need to group clothing by colors? There is a trend that seems to have started with Marie Kondo, a professional organizer from Japan, to hang clothing from dark to light, left to right. The visual appeal of clothing hung this way is quite attractive. However, I’d rather have items like short-sleeved tops or cardigans grouped together so I can decide which one I want to wear as opposed to looking for items by color.
If You Use Your Closet for Home Storage
If you live someplace with limited storage, then you might have to use your closet to store sheets and towels, paper files, sentimental items, and so on. Most articles on closet organization will tell you to keep items not related to clothing out of your clothes closet. However, that can't always be helped. If this is the case (it is with me), try to designate one area of the closet for clothing and shoes and another area for home storage as opposed to interspersing items.
With the exception of coats and jackets that you want to grab on your way out the door and bins of seasonal clothes that get packed away, try to avoid storing your clothing in multiple locations throughout your home. Don’t look at your child’s or spouse’s closet as the perfect space for your overflow wardrobe. Keep what you own together so you know what you have. This can save you from buying duplicates of items that you already own.
Clothing storage should be based on what will work for you. The best system is the one that you can maintain. In my book, Get Dressed with Less Stress, you'll learn how to declutter your closet and then identify if you have the clothing that supports your lifestyle.
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).