After my recent closet clean out post, I was asked how I organize my closet. Years ago, I used to organize my closet completely according to color. It looked beautiful, but for some reason I didn’t love it. I forgot about pieces I had. Things got lost as colors blended together. And I don’t feel like it helped me get dressed that much more easily.
I moved to a different system over 5 years ago and have never looked back. While to an outsider, my closet may look a little random and like there is no rhyme or reason to it, I LOVE it. It makes my mornings so much easier! I will share my “strategy” for closet organization today. But before we get there, I thought I’d give you a little closet tour to show where and how things are laid out.
Come on through to my closet!
Where Clothing Items Are Stored
My husband and I share a closet. His section mirrors what you see in the first pic (with much less clothes, hehe!) and there is a smaller middle section which connects our two sections. Most of my clothes live in 2/3 of this shared closet–the section you see in the first pic plus the smaller section in this second pic that connects my husband’s and my side. Additionally, I have two drawers in a dresser that I share with my husband. My shoes, bags, and coats live elsewhere.
I mentioned we installed this Rubbermaid Closet System which is very customizable. We installed the top and bottom rack that you see here, then a taller rack in the connecting section.
Since I live in a very mild climate with minimal seasonal differences, almost all of my clothes for the entire year are always out. I only have a couple of small bins that are in storage, mostly holding a few thicker sweaters, swimwear, and maternity clothes. What you see here is almost all of my clothes!
In the first shot you can see my tops, completer pieces, jeans, and skirts hanging on rods. Then, tucked in the section between my husband’s section and mine are my dresses.
Above every rod/rack we installed shelves.
The shelves above the very top rack used to hold extra purses, but after my closet clean out they now only hold business casual pants that I don’t even need except to show you guys business casual looks. 😀
The shelf in the middle gets the most use, storing my oversized cardigans, some pullover sweaters and sweatshirts, and some t-shirts. I fold some sweaters/cardigans AND hang some. I hang the ones that I don’t feel like will stretch out much.
The shelf above the dress rack holds bins full of scarves. Like I said in my closet clean out post, I also have some sweaters folded in storage bins underneath my jeans. (You can also see some piles to the left and right of the bin which are maternity clothes and swimwear that need to get boxed up and put into storage.)
On the other side of our room is the dresser that my husband and I share. If you’ve seen my outfit selfies you’re familiar with it! I use two drawers which hold workout gear, lounge/sleepwear, and undergarments, and shorts.
Bags & Coats
Both my bags and coats are in the office in my closet. I used to shove my coats in with the dresses, but it got squishy. Meanwhile, my office closet was empty, so I moved coats there instead. I also *could* fit all my bags on the very top rack where my business casual pants are, but they wouldn’t be easily accessible there. Instead, they’re on shelves in my office closet.
Lastly, my shoes are stored next to the front door in our entryway closet. My husband was kind enough to let me take over the whole thing! I’ve had the interlocking shoe cubes you see there on the left for 7+ years, and I can’t remember the name of them and wouldn’t be surprised if they’re unavailable. I needed more space, so just a few weeks ago I purchased a very similar set HERE that you see on the right. They’re a little larger than my originals, but they do the trick. I bought this style because you can configure them in any shape you like, which helps you have storage that fits a variety of shapes. You can also build the cubes to fit taller boots–or purses!–or regular shoes. So great! Check them out HERE. There are others on Amazon but those compartments look much bigger. Make sure you check cube dimensions!
How I Organize My Closet
Okay, so how do I actually organize my clothes? Simple answer? I organize it for how MY brain works. What does this mean?
I used to organize everything by color, and while it looked extremely pretty, I didn’t like that on a functional level. Why? Because when I head to my closet each day and think about what to wear, my first question is almost never, “What color do I want to wear today?” It’s usually, “What’s the weather like today? Is it hot or cold? Do I need short sleeves or long sleeves?” followed by, “What am I doing today? Is it a casual day? Do I need to move around a lot? Or do I need to be dressier today?” When I realized that, I changed my organizational methods to be able to best make choices based on those questions.
Here’s how I categorize things now!
1. By sleeve length (sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves, etc.) Since the first thing I consider when getting dressed is the weather, categorizing by sleeve length allows me to go straight to the section with the sleeve lengths that are appropriate for the day’s temps. Rather than scanning my entire closet for all of my short sleeve or long sleeve tops, I’m able to see ALL my options right in one place.
2. Material (cotton/casual vs. blouse/nicer) or by type (sweaters, button ups, cardigans, etc.) Since the next question I ask myself is whether it’s a casual or dressier day, I then group tops by material, within their sleeve length groupings. All casual short sleeved tops together, all dressier short sleeved tops together, etc. Grouping tops by casual or dressy helps me further focus my attention on the right pieces. I know exactly what my options are for the day based on temps and what I’ll be doing.
3. Separate like colors–the exact opposite of those pretty color-coordinated closets we all aspire to. You’d think within the sleeve length and material categories, I’d then organize by color, but nope. When I do that I lose track of tops! Maybe this only happens to me, but when I scan through my closet and two black tops are next to each other, I’ll often only see them as ONE since they kind of blend together. I’ll completely overlook and forget I have the other black top. Because of that, I purposely separate like colors and mix them all up. It keeps pieces distinct instead of blending together, which helps me keep better track of them.
All of this works well especially when I have less items in my closet! Well, let’s face it–having less clothes helps you keep track of items better, period. 🙂
Cardigans. I have a million cardigans, which get grouped together as oversized cardigans (folded on the middle shelf) and all of my fitted cardigans. I store fitted cardigans in the very most right part of my closet (what I call the “back”) which is the part that is covered by the door. It’s the least accessible and least-seen part of my closet, and I put the fitted cardigans in there because I seldom wear them anymore. I keep them around for when I show business casual looks or more tailored looks with dresses. My fitted cardigans are organized by color, and it’s because I seldom wear them anymore, so when I do reach for them, I am intentionally looking for one of them rather than scanning for ideas to get dressed like with the rest of my closet, if that makes sense.
Jackets and vests – like with like. I group moto jackets, utility and denim jackets, thin vests, blazers, and puffer or quilted vests. I used to keep them all together, but as you can see in these pics they are split up. Sometimes I’ll move off-season completer pieces or ones I don’t wear as often anymore to the furthest right “back” section of my closet for the same reasons as above with my fitted cardigans–don’t need them as often, so they don’t need to be constantly in my sight. Anyway, they’re grouped together, and by color, since I don’t have as many of them and they’re thicker so it’s harder for them to blend in with each other.
Organized by type. Jeans together. Skirts from casual to dressy…and a little bit in order of ones I’m most inclined to wear closest to the center and most easily-accessible part of my closet. Again, I totally organize based on function and how my brain works, haha!
First by occasion–special event, dressy casual, casual.
Second, by sleeve length. I definitely mix up all the colors here since it’s hard to see this part of my closet, which means it’s easy for me to lose track and forget about dresses!
Organize Your Closet According to How Your Brain Works
I’ve organized my closet this way for the last several years and LOVE it. I lose track of items way less often and love seeing all my options for that day’s weather and activities in one place. I know it’s a little unconventional, but it’s how my brain works! I think often we organize according to aesthetics rather than what is actually functional for us to make quicker decisions in the morning.
My specifics might not be right for you, but zooming out to the bigger picture, I’d encourage you to organize your closet according to how YOUR brain works. What is the first thing you tend to ask yourself when choosing what to wear each day? What’s the next question? Perhaps your first question IS, “What color do I want to wear today?” Or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, identify it, then ask how you can categorize your closet to more quickly see your options and not lose track or forget about items.
Seriously, I’d love to know: What is the first thing you tend to ask yourself when choosing what to wear each day? Comment and tell me! I’m sooo curious to see how others make decisions about what to wear each day!