18 Closet-Organization Ideas If You Don’t Like That Type of Mess

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of Urban Outfitters.

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Have you noticed that people love mess right now? Julia Fox gave us a tour of her mouse-friendly apartment, and the patron saint of neatness, Marie Kondo, has “kind of given up” on religious tidying. If you’re not ready to join the sloven throngs, we’ve got the perfect indoor activity for you: closet cleanup. This doesn’t necessarily call for purging en masse. The best closet-organization ideas give your favorite seasonal pieces room to breathe. We spoke to pro organizers Jamie Hord, founder of Horderly Professional Organizing, and Lisa Adams, CEO and designer at LA Closet Design, to help us get things sorted.


What’s the best way to organize a closet?

For those who don’t need professional cleanup help (no shame if you do), Hord and Adams suggest a five-step approach. Here’s a summary of their methods.

1. Pull out and sort. “The first step to reorganizing your closet is to declutter,” says Adams.

2. Make “keep,” “toss,” and “donate” piles. If you have trouble letting go, Hord says to ask yourself the right (albeit tough) questions: Do you have better or similar? Would you purchase it today? Does it look old or is it damaged? Step 2a: Categorize the clothing that makes the cut. Adams says that once you have the types down, you should take the extra effort to organize by color. (“This will make it easier to find what you’re looking for.”)

3. Strategize. Determine the best place for everything to live. “Keep ‘prime real estate’ in mind and put items not used often or off-season up high or down low,” says Hord.

4. Organize (with help). Both of our experts recommend purchasing organizing products and containers that will make your space beautiful, so you’re encouraged to keep it tidy. Per Hord, labeling is especially helpful in shared spaces or if someone else is putting away your clothes.

5. Maintain. “Make it a habit to regularly maintain your closet,” says Adams. Each seasonal change is the perfect time to reassess what is and isn’t working in your closet.

How do you maintain a clean closet?

Adams says sticking to your newfound system will get easier over time. She notes that one of the easiest things to do is “treat dry cleaning like groceries” and put things away as soon as you get home. 

Because we’re not all as organizationally gifted as Hord, Adams, or Marie Kondo’s 2-year-old (at least in a previous life), we’ve put together a list of products to help overhaul your wardrobe. Your mornings — and your headspace — will be better for it.

Upgrade to Velvet Hangers

Both of our experts recommended velvet-covered hangers as the first product to invest in. These cling to even the most slippery clothes — and when you do ever see a near-unanimous five-star rating on Amazon?

At the Very Least, Make Sure They’re Slim

If velvet is too plush for you, Hord recommends slim rubberized hangers or these wooden hangers to get the most rack space without compromising your aesthetic.

Pretend It’s Retail

These rod dividers will keep your closet looking like a clothing-store rack. But now, if you surreptitiously slip something in the wrong section, you’re only fooling yourself. Hord says to pop one of these in front of each category of clothing in your closet — whether hanging or folded.

Turn Clothing Into Cutlery

These organizers will neatly divide any drawer, so you can separate your socks from your bras. Adams notes, “These are perfect for jewelry, sunglasses, and other smaller accessories that might get lost or damaged if left loose.”

Start Thinking Seasonally

Both of our experts recommend putting clothing away each season. If you have a garage, a large bin with clear panels can help you stay organized, while soft-sided containers look nice enough to be kept in a hallway closet or spare room.

Put Bins Under the Bed

If you’re lacking in square footage, extend your closet’s footprint to the (likely underused) area beneath your bed. The key is investing in a storage solution that you won’t mind seeing.

Divide and Conquer

Use vertical space wisely and invest in shelf dividers that’ll help keep stacks of clothing upright and organized. Adams says they’re great for keeping purses, bags, and hats in order.

Clear Things Up

If you want to pack your clothes for a cleaner look, transparent boxes are the way to go. Sturdy and just opaque enough, these will ensure you never have to wonder where you stashed that swimsuit.

Get a Ziploc bag for Your Stuff

Attach these bags to any vacuum and they will let you compress big items like sweaters, coats, and duvets into shrunken plastic packets.

Plump Up Your Purses

Adams says these come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit different handbags, and they’re typically made from soft, breathable materials. “Some even come with a scent or fragrance to keep your bag smelling fresh,” she says.

Shape Up Your Boots

Slouchy boots? In your closet? The Virgo sun, rising, or moon in you simply won’t allow it. Hord recommends these shapers to keep floppy and unstructured boots as God intended them, which will not only clear up space but keep them looking new longer.

Store on the Closet Door

Hord says, “Don’t forget to utilize the inside of your door or any available wall space — this can create more prime real estate that you may need.”

Make Baskets Your Friends

Use them for headbands, ties, socks, or anything that won’t fit in your dresser. Psst … there’s value in having an entirely opaque storage solution (hello, vibrators and other unmentionables).

Get a Fancy Clothing Receptacle

Something simple, roomy, and sleek enough to fit in the corner of a walk-in closet, bathroom, or bedroom and store all your linens, clothes, or even weighted blankets.

Become a Type-A Labeler

You heard the experts! Whether you’re putting everything away yourself or your partner is the only one who can reach those bins, these labels can be repurposed for use on several types of baskets.

Put Trinkets in a Tray

You won’t always have time to place your jewelry just so, so invest in a tray— bonus points for one with a top to hide your tangled shame.

Just Install Hooks

A series of hooks for your most-used bags will be well worth your landlord’s inevitable wrath.

Surrender to the Closet Kit

If you’re on the verge of asking for professional help but can’t front the cost, a closet kit can be a shortcut to tidiness.

Our experts:

18 Closet-Organization Ideas If You Don’t Like Mess