Closet organization can be tedious and overwhelming—and so is deciding what to wear when you’re staring at a disorganized closet. Use these tips to organize your closet more efficiently.

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A well-organized closet can lower your stress, as well as save you time and money. Stop buying clothes you don’t need and doing laundry for the sake of one garment you could have sworn was clean.

Hanging Garments

I do NOT recommend organizing clothes by color because color is the easiest characteristic to identify in even the messiest of closets. Sort by these three characteristics instead.

By Purpose

This may sound like a silly question, but… Why do you wear clothes? You may have business casual clothes for work, semi-formal clothes for special events, moisture-wicking clothes for the gym, casual clothes for running errands, and trendy clothes for hanging out with friends.

closet audit

Suppose you work five days per week and exercise three days per week. You own four pairs of nice pants and nine pairs of workout leggings. It may take weeks to rotate through all of your leggings. Meanwhile, you’re doing laundry twice a week just to have something appropriate to wear to work.

organize clothes by purpose

Your closet should represent your activities, which change over the years. If you haven’t conducted a closet audit in a long time, your closet is likely not serving you.

You may discover…

  • You only have blue and black work pants. (Wouldn’t a pair of gray pants be nice for variety?)
  • All of your cardigans are solid neutrals. (A few patterns and colors would look great with all those neutral shirts!)
  • You have an abundance of short-sleeve shirts and a deficit of long-sleeve shirts. (No wonder you’re always cold!)

Pro tip: Put together a few outfits to see what pieces match everything—or nothing. Either donate the items that don’t match anything or invest in new pieces that compliment them.

match clothing and accessories

By Layer

This is an easy step to achieve a more organized closet. Align tops from left to right in the following order, facing the center of the closet: sleeveless, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, long sleeve, sweaters, turtlenecks. Align bottoms from right to left in the following order, facing the center of the closet: pants, skirts, shorts.

Next, place any cardigans between the shorts and sleeveless tops, facing the same direction as the bottoms. The reason for this pattern change is that cardigans will most often be paired with a base layer like a sleeveless top. It is easiest to visualize the pairings when they are close in proximity.

organize clothes by layer

Pro tip: Listen to a 30- to 60-minute playlist or podcast so you’re not thinking about how much time has passed. When the playlist or podcast ends, you have permission to stop organizing your closet for the day. Resume tomorrow or next weekend!

By Length

This is another easy step in the closet organization process. Maximize vertical space in the closet so everything fits. Move longer garments like dresses, maxi skirts, and pants to either end of the closet. Move shorts and tops to the center of the closet. Install a shoe rack or second hanging bar underneath these shorter garments.

organize clothing by length

Everything Else

Add bins, hooks, accessory hangers and shoe racks to fill in the gaps throughout the closet. Use built-in shelves, floor and wall space, and the back of the door.

find a place for everything else

Store the following items elsewhere: special occasion garments, garments that are too big or small (if your weight fluctuates like mine does), out-of-season garments. You might adore your collection of cocktail dresses, but if you only wear them once per year, they’re taking up valuable real estate in your closet. I recently added a free-standing wardrobe rack in my basement for these items.

Pro tip: Outerwear is best stored in bins or on hooks and hangers near the front door, garage, or mudroom—however you primarily access your home.

Outfit Planning

Are you prone to busy weeks with rushed mornings or multiple outfit changes throughout the day as you transition from gym to work to dinner? Set aside five to seven suit hangers—the kind that holds a top like a normal hanger and has clips for bottoms. Label the hangers with different colored washi tape or cardstock gift tags for each day of the week. (Even a hole punched sticky note will do!) Do laundry on Saturday and plan your outfits on Sunday.

outfit planning

Now you can wake up and simply get dressed without wondering if…

  • You wore that cardigan three days ago. (Monday was so long ago…)
  • You matched blue socks with black pants or gold earrings with a rose gold necklace. (It’s hard to see in the dim, pre-dawn light!)
  • Your favorite date-night dress, Spanx, and strapless bra are all clean. (Don’t forget about undergarments!)
maintain the organization

Once your closet is looking its best, maintain the order with minimal effort and resist the urge to pile clothes atop a dresser or chair!

Check out these productivity blog posts for more tips and inspiration.