A Woman & Her Closets

I think most women will agree that their favorite room in their home truly is their clothing closet. O.K., so it's not technically a room but it should be considered one as far as I ...

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I think most women will agree that their favorite room in their home truly is their clothing closet. O.K., so it's not technically a room but it should be considered one as far as I am concerned. And I think most women will agree. It is more than just a space that holds our "stuff". It is a haven for our most important possessions--clothing and shoes! Every time I walk into an organized closet, I get a sense of peace, and you can too with a few simple tips. So let's get on with it and talk about women, their clothes (and other stuff, too), the closets they put them in and really getting the most out of them.

Don't feel badly if your closets are in less than desirable order. This is very common for women leading busy lifestyles. We work, we take care of children, we take care of our home, we invest in our relationships--we do it all! And with all of this going on in our lives, how easy it is to toss stuff haphazardly in the closet and close the door. It becomes the easiest place to "hide" stuff and the most common household area to become disorganized. It doesn't have to be that way. You, too, can enjoy the rewards of organized closets.

In my career as a Professional Organizer, I have seen them all and in all conditions. Whether it be a standard reach in or a room sized walk in (yes, some people are that fortunate), neat as a pin or stuffed to the max, a closet can be maximized with nothing more than desire and some effort. And the results can change your life! Organized closets will not only alleviate stress but save you time. How many times have you run out of the house, late for work, because you couldn't find what you were looking for in your closet? The following information and tips should help you get started in making the most of your closets and saving you time.

Getting Started
The thought of taking on the task of organizing closets may seem overwhelming at first. Don't let that thought get the best of you and prevent you from taking care of this necessary task. Relax. Breathe. Think of how wonderful it will all be when it is over. Don't take on too much at once. Use your time wisely and spread the task over a few days, if necessary, so you don't wear yourself out.

Before actually getting in there, think about what you have in each of your closets. Are all items where you want them to be or are some things better off moved to another location? Designate each closet for a specific purpose. Crossing over can lead to confusion. I realize it may be necessary in some cases where closet space is limited but try to avoid it if possible. Use your coat closet for coats, outdoor shoes, workout equipment, umbrellas, even the tool box, broom, or dustpan. Use your linen closet for towels, sheets, blankets and bathroom products. Use your bedroom closet for clothes and shoes only and if you have an office or extra bedroom closet, that can be used for more of a mixture: photo albums, off season clothing, scrapbooks, office supplies. Keeping like items in the same closet is the best way to remember where things are. Once you begin with the first closet, if you come across any items you feel are better suited in another closet, move them to that new location.

To Keep or Not To Keep?
A very difficult question for most. Many women think the problem they have is not enough closet space when in actuality it is that they have too many clothes. I can hear the collective gasps already, but it is the truth. Even I am guilty of this. The fact that all of my clothing does not fit into my walk-in closet and overflows into my office closet is definitely and indicator that I have too many things. Of course, I did not think of this until my husband pointed it out to me. But we won't get into that right now.

Getting back to the matter at hand, the items that should be given away without question are clothing that have stains, holes or rips; shoes that are worn out or are uncomfortable and clothing that no longer fits. If you are too hesitant to get rid of clothing that no longer fits, at least remove it from the closet and store it elsewhere. As for the rest, I'm sure many of you have heard the standard, "If you haven't worn it in a year, you don't need it." This rule of thumb is more difficult for some than others but it really is a good rule to go by. Honestly, if you were able to get through an entire season without wearing an item at least one time, then it is better off placed in the give away bag. I can almost guarantee you that in no time you will forget you even owned it. And if you find yourself missing what you gave away last season, just look at it as an excuse to go shopping. That reasoning always works for me!

And if you are still having trouble convincing yourself to get rid of something, just think of the benefit it will bring to others. Two charities that come to mind are glassslipperproject.org, who take gowns and long evening dresses and give them to underprivileged girls for their prom, and dressforsuccess.org who give business suits to low income women who are making a transition back into the work force. There are many wonderful organizations that can put your unneeded clothing to good use and knowing you are making a difference in someone's life should make it easier for you to get rid of the items you truly no longer need.

Another good tip to prevent your closets from getting overstuffed: for every new article of clothing you purchase, give one away.

Closet Systems
If you are going to go all of the way with your closet and get a new closet system installed, I highly recommend a California Closets system. Their Designers are true experts in creating a closet system that will work best for you. Time and time again I see satisfied customers who are amazed with the results of their closet system. They are reasonably priced, carry a high quality product and have franchises all over the country.

If getting a new closet system is not in your budget at the moment, don't fret. There are solutions for every situation. You can install extra shelving or rods on your own. You can add double hanging rods to a section of the closet, which will immediately give you twice as much hanging space in that area. Use the back of doors and walls for hooks, tie racks and belt racks. There are many simple solutions for every situation and help is probably as close as the nearest Home Depot.

Hangers
Hangers are definitely a very important part of the closet. And choosing the right hanger plays a large role in the organization of your closet. Using the same type of hanger throughout the closet gives it a streamlined look. Plus, everything is hung at the same height so you can easily find what you are looking for. Some people prefer wood hangers but you must keep in mind that they do take up a lot of space. I think these are best used for heavy coats and not used in the main clothing closet. I have found that the best hangers to use are the clear plastic with a pivoting hook. They are sturdy, move easily on the pole and clothes hang nicely on them. They also come with hooks for skirts or pants. They are available at stores like Target or K-Mart. And please, no wire hangers! Toss those dry cleaning hangers away as soon as you bring them into the house. They do nothing but a disservice to your clothing by leaving bumps in the shoulders and ruining the shape. Clothes are best off taken off of these hangers as soon as possible.

Categorizing Contents
When it comes to clothes, categorize them by type and, if you want, in each group by color. This is a good way to assure you will not buy a duplicate of something you already have. Also when hanging, hang from short to long so you will free up floor space underneath the shorter items. Other suggestions for categorizing are by season or type of clothing (business and casual) or if you share a closet, by person.

Containers
Containers are a great way to store off season clothing. They are also a good resource if you have a closet with only one shelf above the pole. Clear sweater and deep sweater boxes are great for a variety of things. I like them best for items that do not stack well or will topple over easily if just stacked on your top shelf. Items like sweaters, gym attire, hats. If you do not like the idea of having to pull a box down every time you want to wear something, then just use containers for things you do not wear often or that are off season. You can also use shelf dividers on the shelf so stacks of clothing will not topple over. Containers are also great for storing blankets, pillows and bed sheets.

Shoes
Shoes can become an eye sore if not organized properly. Most people just have them lined up or thrown in a pile on the floor of their closet. If you are pressed for space, a good option is an over the door shoe rack. I prefer the canvas type, in which you slide a shoe inside each pocket. My favorite choice for shoe storage is shoe containers. You can purchase clear shoe boxes and stack the boxes on the floor or shelf. Keep shoes categorized by type: casual, sneakers, dressy, pumps, etc. and if you are still having difficulty finding the right pair, a simple label on the outside of the box will be a great help. Another option is to keep the shoes in the original box and put a picture of the shoes on the outside of the box. No time will ever be wasted again searching for a pair of shoes!

Off Season Clothing
Putting away off season clothing is a good way to free up closet space. Using the clear storage boxes, you can pack these items away in the basement, attic, garage or crawl space. The nice thing about doing this is that when you unpack it next season, you will feel like you just gained a new wardrobe! Some people do prefer to keep all of their clothing in one closet (yours truly included) but it is just a matter of what is available to you. Whatever you situation may be, the best way to not get stressed is to accept your closet space for what it is and make the most of it.

Maintenance
O.K., so now you are done organizing the closet. It looks great and everything is in it's place. The next step? Keeping it that way. This is the easiest part of the process because it only takes a few minutes a day. To organize any part of your home, the best thing to do is put things away immediately. When you come home from work and change, don't just throw your clothes over a chair or on the bed. Hang them up immediately when you change into something more comfortable. One minute of effort saves you having to deal with a pile of things to put away at the end of the week. The same goes for when you do laundry. Fold and put the clothing away immediately. With our busy lives it is so easy to get distracted and let things like that pile up. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today is definitely the motto to use when it comes to maintaining and organized closet!

The most important thing to remember about organizing your closet is that it is all about personal choice. What you like and what works best for you is going to create the system that will be most functional for your needs. There are probably as many suggestions as there are people but the above information will at least help you get started. And when your project is done, just think of the sense of accomplishment you will feel. Just like any other organizing project, it is just one more step for you toward achieving the goal of a more stress free life.

Happy Organizing!