I didn’t expect to be doing another post on the topic of closet organization so soon, but I like to go with the flow as a blogger and write about things that are timely. I received some very insightful comments on Friday’s post that caused me to think more deeply about the topic and make further changes to the way my closet is organized.
Today’s post addresses why I opted to shift my closet organization again after such a short time and outlines the changes I have made. At the end of the post, I share some alternate closet organization methods offered by readers, as well as some useful links for additional information.
I don’t believe there is one right way to organize a closet; we all have to do what’s right for us and that may change over time. However, my hope is that reading about my process and that of others may help you determine what will work best for you.
Another Change Already?!?
After reorganizing my closet last week, I thought I would stick with the new structure for a while, but it quickly ended up feeling unworkable for me. I agreed with the two commenters who wrote that they could still see a lot of “visual clutter” in my closet, with colors in multiple places and too many “sections” to contend with. After getting dressed with the new wardrobe configuration for just a few days, I felt like it was harder for me to select my outfits instead of easier. So I opted to throw in the towel on having separate sections for solids and patterns by item type.
Over the weekend, I changed the structure of my closet yet again. Fortunately, the change didn’t take very long to complete and I’m glad I took the plunge. My new closet organization feels much more workable and I don’t see the same “visual clutter” that was there in my initial configuration as well as my temporary set-up from last week.
My “New New” Closet Organization…
I now have printed items integrated in with solid pieces according to their primary color. All of my tops are now in one big block, organized by the colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV), with white, grey, and black pieces at the end. My toppers, skirts, dresses, and pants are organized in the same manner (although there isn’t much variety in the colors of my pants – and they are all solids!). The various sleeve lengths are separated within the color groupings (sleeveless, then short-sleeved, then long-sleeved).
I still have the tops and toppers that I wear with skirts separated out from the ones I wear with pants, as this works best for my individual needs. My warm weather wardrobe (I primarily wear skirts and dresses in warm weather) is on the left side of my closet and the cooler weather items (pants, jeans, and the tops and toppers I wear with them) are on the right side of my closet. The photos below show my new closet organization.
I’m Already Seeing the Benefits
I have already benefitted from my new closet layout. Yesterday was unseasonably warm and it was easy for me to pull out a dress and jacket to wear to brunch. Previously, my dresses had been pushed off to the right side of my closet and my shorter toppers were squeezed over to the absolute left side. I had done this to showcase my cooler weather clothing in the more visible middle area of the closet.
For years, I have switched out my closet for the various seasons, but now everything I own fits comfortably in my closet at all times (yes, my wardrobe is still too large, but I used to need two or three closets!). Since the weather has a tendency to do crazy things, I love that I can view my entire wardrobe at a quick glance and select the right clothing for both the temperature and my activities for the given day.
Lessons from My Two Closet Reorganizations
Even though my interim closet reorganization didn’t work out, I’m still glad I did it, as it prompted me to do the alternate closet inventory I wrote about last week. Discovering how many items I have in various colors and patterns was helpful to me in determining my wardrobe gaps and areas of duplication. I now have a better grasp on what to shop for and I’ll be less likely to make mistakes or keep buying the same types of things over and over again. I know that even though I love stripes, there can be too much of a good thing! The same is true with blue and black garments; it’s nice to mix things up a bit.
My second closet reorganization was also quite instructive. I can now clearly see how many pieces I have in various colors and patterns and it’s easier for me to mix and match my garments and wear more of what I have. I had previously thought it was best to hang all of my tops with the same sleeve length together and then organize them by color, but that resulted in a rather disjointed looking closet, as shown below.
I much prefer being able to see all of the colors together regardless of sleeve length (see photos earlier in this post). I also like having cardigans and jackets hung together, as I don’t have a strong preference as to which type of topper to wear. The color is a far greater consideration for me when getting dressed.
Alternate Organization Methods
So I seem to have found the best closet organization method for myself (for now, anyway…), but my way of doing things may not be optimal for you. Here are a few alternatives offered by readers that may work better for your closet needs:
- Dottie organizes her closet first by color and then by garment type (jackets, blouses, etc.). Within each type of garment, she then organizes by sleeve length and pants length. Her black and white printed items are hung together in between her white garments and black garments. She organizes her colors according to the rainbow, but some of those colors (orange, yellow, green) are not represented in her wardrobe.
- Deby arranges her clothes very similarly to my new configuration – by type of garment and then by color within each type. I got the idea to place neutrals (black, grey, white) at the end of each section from the way Deby organizes her closet. She folds her sweaters, jeans, and corduroy pants on a shelf, but everything in her wardrobe is visible at all times.
- Mo uses a similar configuration, but she “butts” one color up against the next category for visual cohesion. As an example, her long-sleeved tops might start with white and end with black, but then her short-sleeved tops would start with black, so that the blacks of both sleeve lengths hang together. She has very few printed garments, so she tucks them between their shared solid colors instead of hanging them separately.
- The Happy Forgiver has what she considers a perfectly organized closet. All of her pants are hung together, as well as all of her skirts and tops. Her hangers all face in the same direction and her clothes are coded by color and in a range from sleeveless to long-sleeved. She sorts her shoes by color and type and stacks her scarves in color categories. She also displays all of her purses and hangs all of her belts so they are easily viewed within her closet. She wholeheartedly agrees with Jill Chivers that if we can’t see what we have, we can’t use it!
- FrugalFashionista keeps her most worn clothes outside of her closet, folded up on a chair where she can easily see them. Amazingly, this portion of her wardrobe consists of only 10-20 garments at present! She has come to believe that the more closet space, shelves, and drawers she has available to her, the more unworn clothing she will have as a result.
- Emma and Liesbeth prefer to organize their wardrobes according to the “basics and statement pieces” approach. Liesbeth considers most of her printed items to be statement pieces and she likes to have them stand out in her closet for easier outfit building.
- Sarah organizes her clothes by item type, but she puts clean items away on the left within each section. The idea is that unworn items will gradually migrate to the right and are easier to purge as a result. She concedes that her wardrobe is a bit of a “visual mess,” but she likes the mix of colors and her method is currently working well for her.
- Lisa has a small working wardrobe and is currently using an organization system similar to Sarah’s. She rotates items to the back of each section after they are worn, but is willing to put items “out of order” from time to time in order to mix things up (so she’s not wearing black jeans every Tuesday, for example).
Useful Links on Closet Organization
It was very interesting to read about the various closet organization methods used by readers of “Recovering Shopaholic.” I also found a few articles on this topic which might be useful to you:
- “What is the Best Way to Organize the Clothing in Your Closet”
- “How to Organize Your Closet”
- “How to Organize A Lot of Clothing in Very Little Closet Space”
- “10 Awesome Ideas to Store and Organize Your Clothes”
I hope this post has been helpful to those of you looking to improve your closet configuration. I know I learned a lot from those readers who have chimed in thus far with their closet organization methods. I’m sure there are almost as many ways to manage a wardrobe as there are people!
If you have any tips or suggestions you’d like to add to the discussion, I invite you to share your wisdom in the comments section of this post. If you’re reading this post via email or a feed reader, click here to comment.
It makes total sense that you won’t wear what you can’t see. My problem is sweaters — I have quite a few b/c I use colorful cardigans to brighten up basic black and navy dresses. I keep them folded in my dresser drawers (ideally), but they do tend to end up in piles on my dresser top b/c I like seeing them (my husband DOES NOT). I think your photos indicate you hang your sweaters — just curious what others do?
Yes, Bette, I hang my sweaters, but I don’t have very many of them. The ones I have aren’t very thick, so it works just fine to hang them on the thin velvet “huggable hangers” that I use. Hopefully, others will offer suggestions, but I know that some people hang bags in their closet with shelves for folded sweaters. Of course, such things take up a lot of room, which may not be there in a packed closet! Shelves at the top of the closet are also an option, if you’re tall!
I also keep my sweaters folded in drawers- but instead of stacking them flat on top of each other, i fold them one more time in half and stack them sideways agsunst each other (like looking at books on a bookshelf, spine out, but in a drawer). It saves space AND I can see everything I have. Same with camis- hope this may be helpful!
Meli — ah ha! This idea totally resonates with me! Going to try it this weekend — thanks so much!
Glad to hear it! 🙂 I was happy when I found the idea. The only drawback is that my black sweaters look too similar, so I fold those so the tag hangs out and I can easily see which one is which. Good luck!
We did this with my husband’s t-shirts after I read about it somewhere (another blog?). It’s really worked out well for him! We put the clean shirts in the back after I do laundry, which encourages him to wear the ones in the front. It also helps with purging items because if he doesn’t want to wear the shirt in front, maybe it’s time for it to go. In the past, he would keep wearing the shirts on the top and the ones on the bottom never go worn!
Good idea, Meli, to keep the tags hanging out on similar-looking black sweaters. I learn so much from the comments everyone makes!
Bette, I found this video about folding sweaters after Kim M. mentioned that this is how she folds her sweaters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGnSxs4DIW8 Hope it’s helpful for you!
Debbie, your closet is lovely now. It’s calming and inviting. For years, I have also switched out my closet for the various seasons, but now everything I own fits comfortably in my closet at all times. It’s far better since I live in a climate where the weather can be very warm or cool at any time of the year. And my closet is arranged like The Happy Forgiver. Skirts are hung together (skirts are my signature, along with earrings) pants are together as are tops. My hangers are all identical and face in the same direction and my tops are arranged by color and in a range from sleeveless to long-sleeved. I have almost everything, shoes, handbags, sweaters in full view. If I had a bigger closet I would have everything (even my pajamas) in full view. I agree with Jill Chivers. If we can’t see what we have, we can’t use it.
Thanks, Terra! I am very happy to finally be able to keep everything in one closet, as my climate is much like yours. Coastal weather is quite unpredictable and I like to have the summer clothes handy for those unseasonably cold days (and the warmer stuff on hand for the cool days which crop up during the summer months). I would like to eventually have some warmer skirts and dresses so I don’t only wear them for the 75+ degree weather. My pajamas aren’t in full view, but they are in the plastic drawer bin you can see in the top photo (not the most attractive but serviceable). My purses are in the box next to it and on the shelves above my clothes. I would like to have a better system for those at some point. When I used to keep some things in other closets, I rarely wore them. Now the only things in another closet are my coats and casual jackets. I still wear those because it’s intuitive for them to be in the closet near the front door.
I am very impressed with your new system, hanging the tops in groups like that must be so helpful to you! I tuck my tops in my skirts so I don’t need the separate categories. I do plan on reorganizing my closet soon- I got caught up decluttering other rooms instead on my day off! I have my items hung by category but not by color. Coats, work dresses, skirts, dressy tops, casual tops. I don’t hang my pants but do have a hanging fabric shelving unit where my pants are folded and my couple super casual tops and the one pair of jeans and one pair of shorts I wear doing outdoor chores. Behind that is my formal dresses. My lounge wear, underclothing, sweaters, and camis live in my dresser. I’m tempted to get another hanging shelfinf unit and moving my camis and sweaters, then my husband gets another drawer. He has much more clothing than I do and just can’t let go of anything- even the ratty ratty stuff!
Thanks, Meli! The hanging fabric shelving unit was the type of thing I was thinking of for Bette with her sweaters… I like those and may get one for my pants now that I have more room in my closet. As for my skirts, most are casual with elastic waists, so not the best for tucking shirts into. I got into the habit of never tucking shirts in, but I would be open to trying it moving forward. I like my waist and usually wear fitted tops, so tucking in wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. I don’t really want to tuck shirts into pants, though, because of the constant need to re-tuck throughout the day… My husband used to hate getting rid of things, but I’ve converted him! Perhaps you’ll be able to do the same with your husband one day (hope springs eternal!).
I could get dressed from your newly organized closet. It looks very well organized and restful. I hope this continues to work for you.
Thanks, Dottie! Its working really well so far. I wish I’d used this organizational system years ago, but with the sheer volume of clothing I had, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well back then.
Very nice! The new plan looks much easier to work with.
I just reorganized my tops by color, and took before and after photos to compare. One thing I noticed was that I have done very well narrowing down what “my” colors are, and adding new colors (a few years ago it was all black, grey, purple and burgundy), except now that one red top that I have really stands out! I now have my tops grouped into white/black prints, grey, orange, raspberry, teal, cobalt blue, navy blue, purple, burgundy, black/color prints, and plain black. And that pesky red top, yet, it’s hard to part with as I like it. The second thing I noticed was that I have a riot of prints. When the colors were all mixed up before, it was a riot of everything. I do love bright tops but perhaps a few more solids and a few less prints would be good!
I’m glad you were inspired to reorganize your closet, Sarah! Your “pesky red top” sounds like the one yellow top I have, but I will keep it as long as I like and wear it. It’s a saturated yellow, so it works with my skin tone, but I don’t think I’ll be buying more yellow… Narrowing down our colors can help a lot with keeping a wardrobe smaller. I think I have too many prints, too. I used to think solids were boring, but we all need a good mix of the two. I think solids can be just as interesting as prints if they have a fun texture or cool details.
I love your ode to your favorite black skirt.
Speaking of black–I have only about 3 feet of hanging space in my old house. AND I have a lot of black. Do you or any of your readers have any tips on how to organize black items? They just blend together in my tiny closet.
I have a lot of black, too. I use different kinds of hangers to differentiate the kinds of clothes. Sweaters and “good” blouses on wooden hangers. Casual tops on thick white plastic hangers — also used as pants hangers, and skirts on skirt hangers. Sleeveless tops on velour-covered hangers. I also hang by type of clothing, starting with jackets, then by sleeve/pant length. So it’s: jacket, l/s sweater, l/s dressy blouse, l/s casual top, 3/4-sleeve casual top, s/s tee, sleeveless top, black pencil skirt, black-gray pencil skirt (looks almost black in closet), black trousers, black capris. I don’t have a lot of multiples, so this system works for me and is repeated in every color. You might want to increase the wattage (or whatever it’s called these days) in the closet light or add an additional stick-on light. My bedroom closet came with a florescent light that I wanted to change out, but I then realized that this was the first closet I’ve ever had in which I can actually see my clothes!
I’m glad you liked my black skirt story, Frugalscholar. I had fun writing it! Dottie gave you some good advice about the black items and differentiating them. I don’t have too much trouble keeping my black items straight because they are distributed fairly evenly among my garment types. Since I organize my closet by garment type, the black items are at the end of each section and there’s just a few of them. If one organizes by color, it would be a little harder to keep things straight, but Dottie came up with a good solution for that. I also use hanging tags on my hangers to track how often I wear things. On the back of the tag, I write what the garment is. This is mostly to know where to re-hang things after I wash them, but it helps when looking for what to wear, too.
Thanks to you and Dottie for your ideas.
That’s a very interesting topic indeed – I remember, when I first started editing my wardrobe, to read that closet organization was as important as selecting the items that end up in there in the first place. I like the idea of a closet that would look “like a luxury store”, to take pleasure in selecting outfits in the morning.
In my case though, I live in a very small space so I have restrictions as to how to organize things. The main rule is to have a closet that is clean, with a fresh scent, and the clothes to be properly folded. I have piles per category (pants, short sleeved, long sleeved, cardigans…). I separate recently cleaned clothes by putting them on top of the pile, and make a point to select at least one item from the bottom (ie not worn for a long time) of one of the piles every day, to increase rotation. It also helps with the regular culling, when an item has been at the bottom of a pile for too long.
Thanks for sharing your own organization process and evolution, it’s really helpful to hear about other people’s experimentations and methods!
Good to see you commenting here, Kali. I continue to enjoy your blog! I’ve lived in small spaces with little closet space, too, and have had to get creative as a result. I like the system you’ve come up with, especially the rule about selecting at least one item from the bottom of your piles each day. I love reading about how people manage their wardrobes, too. Fascinating stuff!
I agree with the others, Debbie, in that your most recent reorganization looks great. I don’t have a walk-in closet, just 2 closets with bifold doors. So there’s some hidden areas off to both sides. My 2 closets are also in 2 different rooms. What I’ve most recently done is have my current cold season clothes in my bedroom closet, arranged much as you’ve done in this post. I don’t wear dresses in the cold so my dresses and other warm season clothes are in the other closet. Now usually I switch the 2 closets around so that I can easily get dressed in my bedroom. But I think what I’m going to do going forward is leave all my dresses in the 2nd closet, along with the toppers I like to wear with them. I usually wear dresses all spring and summer because here in the South, it gets hot and humid! I only have a few skirts because I prefer the unfussiness of wearing dresses. Maybe I will just get rid of the skirts soon. In my BR closet I’ll keep tops, sweaters, shorts, capris, and pants. There’s a hanging technique I saw somewhere for hanging sweaters so that they don’t get out of shape. It involves folding the sweater in half vertically, then hanging it over the bottom rung of the hanger, and then placing the sleeves up and over the angled side of the hanger. It works very well for me. I have all my cardis hung this way and of course organized by color. Just remembered my shoes – they’re in yet a 3rd closet, organized by color and style. Purses are there too. Underwear, socks, old tees & sweats are in drawers. Highly organized I might add, probably to the point of OCD. lol My dream would be to have a spare room to make into a dressing room, with all my clothes, shoes, undies, purses and jewelry inside on long, uninterrupted rods. It would have great lighting and a full-length tri-fold mirror like in department stores so I could see how things looked from all angles.
I’d be interested to hear how it works out for you to keep the dresses in the second closet, Kim. I only wear skirts and dresses in the warmer weather, too, but it’s not nearly as warm here for as long as it is in the South! I would love to have the “dream closet” you mentioned 🙂 I use a hand mirror to see how I look from behind after I’ve gotten dressed, but would love one of those tri-fold mirrors! I like the sweater-hanging method you mentioned. I found a link on YouTube for how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGnSxs4DIW8 (in case others are interested…). Very cool!
Thanks for including my closet system in your list, how fun! I’ve tried quite a few of these different suggestions listed and my current system is the one I’ve been able to stick with the longest so far.
I am happy to hear I am not the only one with all items in one closet. I am fortunate to have a large closet that can hold all4 seasons inside. But I also strive to keep my wardrobe small enough so that I can maintain having all 4 seasons available at all times. This has encouraged me to use pieces “out of season” more often, usually by trying out more creative layering (for example, a long sleeve shirt can layer quite well with a short sleeve top and a blazer on a cool spring day).
Having everything in one closet has made a HUGE difference for me, too, Lisa. I used to have more clearly defined seasonal wardrobes, but I mix it up a lot more these days, and think I will do so even more with my new closet organization. I need to do the creative layering more often, though. Especially as I’m trying to cultivate a smaller wardrobe, using such tricks allows us to really maximize what we have!
My wardrobe has a curtain across the front instead of a door. I never close the curtain but keep it bunched up on the left. I have only just realised that I keep my less-worn clothes (e.g. dressier things or weekend wear) behind the curtain, and the things I wear regularly (workwear) in the most visible part of my wardrobe, without even thinking about it!
When talking to a friend recently I also discovered that, when putting away clean clothes, we both have the habit of putting *horrible* outfit combinations next to each other purely for amusement, e.g. a patterned top next to a horribly clashing skirt. Just for fun 🙂
I always liked the idea of the computerised wardobe which Alicia Silverstone has in Clueless, which tells her what goes with what. Apparently there are apps that do similar things, but I’m just too lazy to photograph all my clothes.
I loved the “Clueless” wardrobe, too, Rachel! I DO have photos of all of my clothes (mostly did it for the blog), but all of the cool apps I’ve found seem to be for iPhone/iPad only and I have Android phone/tablet 😦 I’m sure one of these days I’ll be able to use one… I love how you and your friend create horribly clashing outfits in your closet for fun! Makes me think of the pattern mixing trend. I’ve seen some horribly clashing outfits in magazines/catalogs that are passing for trendy these days, but no thanks for me… Your curtain story makes me think of the doors I used to have on my closet which made it really hard to see things on the extreme left and right sides. You seem to be using your limitation with the curtain to your advantage!
It is so interesting to read about your evolution, Debbie, as well as others’ experiences.
I think organizing to separate the things you wear in skirt outfits from those you wear in pants outfits is smart! For me separating the long sweaters I wear with skinny pants from the shorter ones I wear with boot cut pants and skirts provided a key insight: it helped me see that although most of my pants are skinny, most of my sweaters are shorter and only look right with boot cuts/skirts. Identifying that mismatch has helped me be more strategic about shopping for sweaters.
I only have about 2 feet of hanging space in my closet (the closet is 4 feet wide but half is taken up by a rack for shoes/sweaters) so I have winter dresses/skirts/shirts towards the front where they are more accessible now and will rotate those things to the back come summer. I run super cold and only wear long sleeves in winter so no need to organize by sleeve length!
Organizing by color pleases my eye and I think it can be a useful exercise to show where one has duplicates/holes. But I think organizing with the most recently worn item in back/on the bottom better serves my main goal at the moment which is to wear what I have more evenly.
I have even started doing this with my kid’s clothes, I hope encouraging her to wear things more evenly will help keep her clothes in good nick for longer (she is 6 and pretty hard on her clothes!)
I also love reading about how others organize their closets. I think it’s great that you separate your sweaters for skinnies from your sweaters for boot-cut pants and skirts – good idea! You seem to be working well with the small amount of hanging space in your closet. We all have to work with the space we have and sometimes smaller spaces can be more instructive. I know that when I had 3 closets in my bedroom a few years ago, I just held on to FAR too many clothes. It’s good that you are starting your daughter young on good wardrobe management. Hopefully she will thank you for that one day!
Debbie, I ‘m still confused by your arrangement! I don’t understand why you have two sections of tops and toppers–one set for pants and another set for skirts? Why wouldn’t you wear at least some of the same tops and toppers with pants or skirts?
My closet has two sections also; one for fall/winter and one for spring/summer. Both sections are visible all the time, but I tend to only “look” at the one for the season we are in. Some garments are worn all year long, so they move back and forth between the sections depending on the season we are in.
Within each section, clothes are hung in a sequence, for example the fall/winter arrangement is: lightweight jackets, skirts, pants, tops, and lastly dresses. I have four lightweight jackets: red suede, purple suede, charcoal/black knit blazer (to make suit with black and charcoal skirts) and chocolate velvet. Next, I have six skirts: short black pencil, long black wool knit, short charcoal pencil, short black/charcoal striped wool knit, short aubergine (brownish plum) pencil, long aubergine/gold pattern knit (with matching scarf). My largest fall/winter group is tops, which are hung in my palette of ROYGBV+black +white. Tops are hung in color sequence regardless of sleeve length, style, or fabric. The last category, dresses, consists of 4: black, grey, burgundy/auburgine pattern, and dark blue/purple/charcoal color block.
Folded clothing then goes on shelves above their season: mid-to-heavy weight sweaters and folded pants (either corduroy or denim). Lightweight sweaters are folded in a narrow compartmentalized canvas hanging shelf unit and shoes go in a similar canvas hanging unit (just for shoes).
Some folded clothing goes in dresser drawers–winter layering tees and leggings, which I wear quite a bit (often as a substitute for tights under dresses and skirts because they are warmer and you can wear socks of varying weights depending on the temp and your footgear).
I usually wear pants in the colder months, and I prefer a slim silhouette that can be tucked into high boots. Alternatively I’ll wear skirts/dresses layered with leggings and boots. My feet get cold easily so I wear boots a lot! I also like the way high boots lengthen your leg and give you a sort of edgy vibe that shoes don’t. I also wear a lot of cardigans in different styles with layering tees or tunics underneath. I prefer solid colors over prints in the winter (although its a different story in the summer!) and have been trying to incorporate a few more patterns into my winter wardrobe.
Your closet sounds very organized, Deby! I may opt to shift my tops to be in color order regardless of sleeve length as well, as I think that would be more aesthetically pleasing. I currently have them in color order by then by sleeveless, short-sleeved, long-sleeved, but I think I could still keep it straight the way you have it… My tops and toppers for skirts are separated because I don’t tuck my tops in and I am very particular about proportions. I think that shorter tops and toppers look better with skirts (at least for my body type) and longer tops and toppers look better with pants. Here’s a blog post about that (old but the advice still applies): http://youlookfab.com/2008/04/23/different-tops-for-skirts-and-pants/ I sometimes try to mix up the tops and toppers (just when I’m playing around in my closet), but I still feel the same way about it. I know I could get more “mileage” out of my wardrobe if I tucked things in, but I need different types of skirts to do that (mine are mostly casual and with elastic waist). For years, I’ve had very specific “rules” about my clothes and haven’t deviated from them. I may try to shake things up with the rules moving forward because who knows? I might find other ways of dressing that I like!
I guess if I follow some of the tips in this post (by the same blogger), I could shake things up a bit with my skirts: http://youlookfab.com/2010/07/06/how-to-wear-tops-with-skirts/ Linking in case the advice is useful for others…
I didn’t think about tucking vs. not tucking. It got me to thinking that I am not a tucker either, however I do like belts. Rather than tuck in a longer top, I will belt it. I live in and run a business out of my 3-story house, have several pets, and a disabled parent under my roof. Although I work at a desk for my job, the rest of my life is physically active. So with regard to tucked in tops, I don’t like the way they tend to get untucked and slovenly as I move around, whereas a belted long top only gets more creative-looking (like I just breezed in a fashion shoot, lol!) rather than sloppy-looking as I wear it throughout the day. And I only have the patience and inclination to get dressed once for the day–so whatever outfit I choose in the morning has to be good until at least 9:00 pm!
I have the same issues with tucking tops, Deby, which is mostly why I don’t do it. I have had some issues with belts as well, but I think perhaps I wasn’t using the right types of belts. I think I will explore the belt issue again soon, as it could be a good way for me to use more of my tops with both pants and skirts. Do you wear your belts at your waistline or sling them lower on your hips? Any recommendations on types of belts for me to try? I’m a bit of a “belt novice” at this point!
I find it so interesting that so many people have such variation in even weights, lengths, and sleeve lengths for tops!
I stick to long sleeve or 3/4 sleeve sweaters, 3/4 or long sleeve cardigans, and sleeveless to short sleeve blouses. Cardigans and jackets (and camis) are perfect layering pieces, and long sleeve tops just get mucked up in them. I live in upstate ny in the lake effect area- it gets COLD with feet and feet of snow in winter, and HOT in summer here. I just layer light layers a lot. I never have had specific season things excepting thick pants, thick sweaters, and unlayerable skirts or dresses (can’t wear with tights or looks wrong because of print/color/style). Most of my items get worn year long or 3/4 of the year, only a small percent is seasonable. All my tops (non-sweaters) can be worn in summer or in winter with a camisole under and jacket/cardigan over. I get cold easy and AC tends to run cold at the office so even most of my cardigans see wear in summer.
Forgot to mention that I also wear full tights under lighter pants in winter for warmth.
I think you are able to get away with having a smaller wardrobe because you do so much with layering, Meli. I need to do more layering myself. I usually just wear two layers and the weight of the layers varies based upon the time of the year. Since it doesn’t get all that cold where I live, I wear many of my pieces 2/3 to 3/4 of the year, but I would like to wear skirts and dresses more often. Currently, I only wear them during the summer and on unseasonably warm days (like last Sunday). If I become more proficient with layering, that would be more possible.
I had an older relative with a serious shopping addiction (and underlying health issues that “aggreivated” this addiction) who NEVER ever culled her stuff, even when she was younger and relatively healthy. When she had to move, about 10 years ago, from her 4-bedroom house with a big walk-up attic, I helped clean out her clothes. It was like going through a time machine: sleeveless shifts and pillbox hats from the 1960s, silk shantung ensembles (and matching hats) from the 1970s and so on. Every closet in every bedroom was crammed with clothes, and the overflow was carefully stored on racks and in closets in the attic. The attic was a fire hazard! It took two people working 10-hour days almost an entire week (130 hours at a minimum) to remove all the excess clothes. (If we had had to pay someone to do this, it would have cost over $1,000.) I know this sounds like one of those horrible hoarding cases but the rest of the house was clean, clutter-free, and neat as a pin. Her issues centered on clothing, and I would bet that she forgot about the stuff in the attic over time. After that traumatic experience, I keep all of my clothes (except outerwear) in my smallish bedroom closet (and it’s not packed to the gills). Outerwear is in the world’s smallest coat closet on my main floor for convenience but everything in there could still fit in my bedroom closet if I wanted to convert the coat closet into the world’s smallest pantry or whatever. I think it would take one person 2-3 hours to clean out my stuff. I guess I could do it in an hour if I were in a hurry. This sounds like a strange benchmark to use when shopping for clothing and then managing these clothes in some sort of system at home. But that image of all those clothes hidden away in the attic is stored in my mind’s eye and floats up to the conscious level from time to time. A one-clothing-closet rule seems like one worthy of following.
That sounds like quite a job you undertook, Dottie! I can see how working that hard to go through a relative’s wardrobe would scare many of us straight! I’ve talked to a number of people who started to downsize after having gone through a relative’s home, not just clothes but everything. I’m happy that I’m downsizing so that no one has to go through all of that trouble with me! I agree with you that one clothing closet is the best way to go. I’m very happy that all of my clothes now fit in one closet. Like you, I have coats in the front closet, but I could fit them into my main closet if I had to (it would then be crowded, but I still want to downsize my wardrobe more over the course of this year).
My bugaboo was books — so after the “relative’s closet” trauma, I started culling my books, then my LPs (oh, yes, I still have a turntable), then my glassware and china, and so on and so on. The result that only the stuff I really truly love remains, my house seems airier and more spacious, and I no longer feel over-burdened by STUFF.
I have a relative who has a similar closet, but sadly their whole house is also full of collections in glass cases and rooms (paintings, lemon juicers, Hummels, Polish pottery, wizened grumpy old people statues, every imaginable kind of Santa, the immense snow village that even boxed and stacked 4 feet high takes up all the floor space in the “Avon collectible room”, their son’s metal hot wheels toys, I could go on…). They are rich, the house is huge, it’s not a filthy hoard, but it’s unmanageable now and will only get worse.
They are lovely people, but I always come away from visiting with a renewed determination to NEVER end up like them. There are complicating health issues here too, and they will never willingly leave this home, but the wife is almost blind and almost immobile and I feel like their home and their comfort has been given over to the stuff. She can’t even go up the stairs to the bedrooms, so her whole life is arranged around the sofa where she sleeps 😦 but they would never consider giving up the stuff in order to live in a home that is accessible and safe. It makes me so sad, but it is, of course, their choice.
I’ve had issues with having too many books, too, Dottie. I still have too many, but have pared down quite a bit. These days, I’m getting the Kindle versions of books more often and buying far fewer books overall. Like with the clothes, it’s helped me to pause a bit before pulling the trigger on new book purchases. If I wait a bit, the urge to buy often quiets down.
Joanna, your story is very sad. People get very attached to their stuff, often to their extreme detriment. But if there’s any silver lining to the sad story of your relative, it’s that you are determined to never accumulate so much stuff. You have learned a powerful lesson from their mistakes.
My closet is 4 feet wide and arranged left to right: coats, jackets, my hanging organizer (that holds folded sweaters, leggings, sweatshirts, socks), then special tops, skirts, jeans (my 1pr), cardigans, then dresses (arranged short to long). Within each category there isn’t much order because I only have >5 of each item most of the time, and much less come laundry day, thanks to P333. I think I have about 9 jackets/coats and 22 other hanging items right now.
When I used to have a much fuller closet and when I used to hang my tshirts, I had things colorized the way I learned working retail – so pretty. But now that I only have 3 fancy tops, it doesn’t really matter in which order they hang. My tshirts are still a little too numerous, but are now folded in a stack in a bin, and I don’t really have them arranged, unless the mood hits me as I’m putting them away.
Over years of reducing and reorganizing I think I am finally internalizing that you can’t organize junk, and that the easiest way to make things feel organized is to get rid of all the stuff you don’t need. Which is not to brag about my awesome minimalism, because I’m not there yet! But I really don’t have to fuss much with keeping my clothing (and some other things) organized now that I have (closer to) the right amount of stuff for my space.
You made some really valid points, Joanna. I especially like this one: “you can’t organize junk.” So true… I agree that if we have less stuff, the manner in which it is organized becomes much less important. When I did Project 333 the first time and only had my 33 garments in my closet, I still organized everything by item type and color, but I can see how I also could have just had it all in there haphazardly and it would have still be easy to find things and get dressed. I still have too many clothes, so the organization issue is still quite pertinent to me. I think I’ll always enjoy organizing (I have an “anal retentive” nature – LOL), but I look forward to having it not have to matter as much. Congrats to you on doing so well with your wardrobe and thanks for sharing your example with us.
I thought I had better admit that “you can’t organize junk” is a probably misquote of Flylady. I read her emails for a while some years back, and that wisdom really stuck with me.
I like my things organized too. My skin crawls when I see a crammed, haphazard closet with things falling off the hangers and no sense of order at all. I’m finicky too! and organizing is fun 🙂
Like Dottie I organize my closet first by color and then by garment type. My printed items are hung between matching groups of garments when possible. I have been reducing my wardrobe for over a year now. I did an inventory and purge this morning. I am down to fifty (50) garments with the ultimate goal of thirty-five (35). Doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, I am very frequently complimented on my outfits; asked just HOW many clothes I own (assuming many more than I really own); and never, but never, feel bored with my wardrobe. I have clusters of colors: navy, black, browns, white, and bits of other colors–turquoise, lime, red and purples. I use scarves and jewelry to add pop. It’s happiness.
Thanks for your comment, Judy. I commend you on cultivating a smaller, more workable wardrobe. I definitely believe that 35 garments can be more than enough if one takes the time and the care to choose wisely. My problem was in going for quantity over quality for so long, but I’m mending my bad ways now. Your wardrobe sounds lovely and the most important thing is that it makes you happy!