Chic on a Shoestring Decorating: How to Organize Your Closet

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How to Organize Your Closet

Hey, peeps!  This is the first post in my series, "Organizing and Decluttering for Unorganized and Cluttery People".  Let me just tell you a quick bit about my series, you are not going to find big expensive overhauls or time-consuming cutesy craft projects to make organizational items prettier.  This is going to be practical organizing/decluttering for someone that struggles with organization and clutter. 

Some of my organization will be cute but NOT over the top.  Because let's face it, if you struggle with organization and clutter, you probably don't have time to cover cardboard boxes in scrapbook paper and glitter glue in order to make cute storage bins.  I don't have time for that.  If you do, more power to ya, friend.  I gotta get it done while I can and work with what I got!

So my first project was our unorganized and cluttery master bedroom closet.  I would love to show you after pictures featuring beautifully stenciled walls and fancy-schmancy closet organizers from those expensive organizing stores.

Unfortunately, that ain't happenin'. :) 

Our walk-in closet walls are covered by clothes and shelving so why would I take the time to paint it all pretty when I won't be able to see it, I spend very little time in there anyway.  If it was a big huge closet and you could actually see more than 6 inches of wall I would take the time to make it pretty, but it's not, so I won't.  Purely practical. 

Second, we are using the builder-grade closet shelving that came with the house.  Although we may rearrange things in the future, it's fine for now.  I'm just thankful to have a walk-in closet large enough for both Mr. Chic and myself.  It is a small luxery to actually have a walk-in closet as many people don't.

Here are my terrible "before" pictures.  Terrible because the closet is messy and because it's hard to take pictures inside my closet because it's a small room and the lighting is awful.

I had already started taking clothes out and stacking them up on the floor at this point.  Also, note the laundry basket sitting crookedly on top of something on the floor... so classy!

This picture shows off the messy stacks of pants and over-flowing t-shirt basket on the shelf along with the jumbled mess of wire hangers.  I didn't take a picture of the floor but just imagine random non-closet type items sitting around on the floor in there.

So after seeing that hot mess let's get down to business...

First, grab some of your favorite music to keep you going.  Sitting in a closet can be totally kind of boring and the music makes it a little bit more fun.  Also, grab 3 big garbage bags (or totes).  The bags will be for the 3 G's of Organizing and Decluttering:

Bag 1 = Gargbage
Bag 2 = Garage Sale or Consignment Shop
Bag 3 = Goodwill/Donate

If you want to make signs for your garbage bags go ahead, I didn't.  Just don't get your bags confused. :) 


I used to have trouble parting with clothes, my excuses were:
  • I might wear it someday
  • I paid a lot of money for it
  • If I lose 10 pounds it will fit perfect 
Any of these sound familiar?  Thought so.

The experts say if you haven't worn it in a year (some say 6 months) get rid of it.  I go for the year because around here the weather changes drastically.  I will wear a wool sweater in February and may not need it again until December.

Start going through your clothing.  All of it. Don't pass over anything.   

Clothing Battle #1:
You're fighting the "I might wear it someday" battle, ask yourself:  Have I worn this in the past year?  If it's no, you should probably get rid of it.  If it's something special that you just can't part with (like a classic black dress) go ahead and keep it.  When you put your closet back together make sure all items are facing the same direction.  Each time you wear something face that item in the opposite direction.  After a few months you'll see what you're really wearing by which way the clothes are facing. Just don't forget which way is which!  

Clothing Battle #2:
If you're fighting the "I paid a lot of money for that, I can't just give it away".  Find yourself a good consignment shop and get some of your money back.  I had around 17 pairs of jeans in my closet, I wear about 4 of them.  Why do I keep the rest sitting around taking up space and collecting dust?  They are in great shape and I will likely get back half the price I paid for them (because I always buy things on sale).  These suckers are going to the consignment shop, pronto.

If your stuff is a higher end name brand you can try and sell it on Ebay.  From experience I know that used Coach purses sell very well for a decent price if they are in good shape.  Do your research on your particular item or it can be a waste of your time.

Clothing Battle #3:
If you're fighting the "it will fit if I just lose weight" battle, you're not the only one.  Just about every woman in this country has lots of sizes in her closet.  Especially if she has had babies.  With this one, just try and be realisitic.  If you lose a bunch of weight you're probably going to want to treat yourself to some new clothes so it won't hurt you to get rid of lots of your "skinny clothes".  If you've been saving them for several years when you lose those last 10 lbs, just get rid of it. 

If you're saving maternity clothes and post baby clothes for your next pregnancy it's probably smart to keep them.  But if you are lacking space in your closet declutter it by putting them in a tote and sticking them in the basement/storage area until you need them. 

How I arranged my closet:

Clothes Organization:
I found these bins at Kohls on clearance and then got an additional 30% off making them about $6 each.  This was a lucky find!  They are big and fit on my shelving perfect!  During the summer I stick my sweaters in them.  I also keep crummy t-shirts in one and my extra sheets in another.  I know that sheets go in my linen closet but ya know, even when folded king sheets take up a lot of space and look messy.  I prefer them in this basket, it keeps them folded and frees up a shelf in my linen closet. 

I wrote on the labels in silver sharpie so I could write on both sides as the contents change with the season and the silver doesn't bleed through on the other side of the label (tricky, tricky!)

I moved my sweaters out of the baskets and on to the shelf where they are easily accessible, right next to my jeans.  I don't like to hang sweaters or jeans.  I stuck my t-shirts and tank tops in my sweater baskets for the winter to give me extra space in my hanging area.
I did something different and hung my clothes up by color.  I found out that almost all of my winter shirts and sweaters are gray or black!!  Like 99% of them!!  Man, am I a Debbie Downer or what?!  This was helpful because next time I'm out shopping I'll think twice before buying yet another black sweater (Money savings via closet organizing! but I'll most likely just buy a brighter color... not really, I'll get black or gray ;)

Shoe Organization:
I keep my shoeboxes and although it's not the best or prettiest method, it's the fastest and easiest way to keep them off the floor and together, plus the shoes always fit in their own boxes.  Tall boots and high heels do NOT fit in those "one-size-fits-all shoe organizers".  I've seen some neat ways to hang heels on home-made shelves on the wall but I don't have the wall space for it. 

Most of my winter boots and shoes are in a pile sitting by my back door  in my downstairs coat closet.  I switch out the shoes with the season.  My summer shoes are now in my bedroom closet. 

Since becoming a stay home mom I've had  a major slow down on mindless shoe and clothes buying.  I just don't need as many clothes as I did when I worked in the corporate world and it's not good on the budget to drop a lot of money on some cute heels I might wear 3 or 4 times in a season.  I've found that this keeps my closet a bit less messy as I'm not trying to fill it to the brim with clothes and shoes.  Besides, I'm not a shoes/clothes junky, more like a decorative pillow junky. :)


I have a separate bin for belts, hats and scarves plus a few small purses.  Most of this stuff I don't use much so I don't mind that it's up on a shelf.  I have a few scarves I wear all the time so I keep them on a hanger near my sweaters and easily accessible.  I have a few purses not in use in the storage bags they came with up on the top shelf. 

Dirty Laundry: 

I keep a laundry basket in the closet instead of a hamper, why move the dirty laundry an extra time?  An extra step to me equals wasted time.  I just pick up the basket, stick an empty in it's place and go off to the laundry.


Most obviously, get all of the crapola out of the closet that doesn't belong.  In my closet I found a king size quilt, small throw blanket that no longer matches our room, a level, a nail gun attachment, a few hot wheels cars and a bag of books I borrowed from a friend.  Just getting that stuff out made a big difference.  The goal is to keep that stuff out so it won't become cluttered up again. 

Take stock of your t-shirts.  It seems like most people have excessive amounts of t-shirts because so many businesses give them out for free and who can pass up a free t-shirt, right? 

This is my t-shirt bin, overflowing with junky t-shirts that I really don't wear out of the house.
 I got rid of the majority of my t-shirts, now they all fit nicely in their bin.

Seriously?  How many gray t-shirts does one person need?
I also had this shirt that Mr. Chic bought me as a joke on a business trip to NYC...

It should be self-explanatory why I've never worn this out of the house.

I decided to get rid of all our wire hangers when organizing and decluttering.  I already had a bunch of plastic hangers and ended up not having to buy any more after getting rid of so many clothes and stealing their hangers.  Besides being better for your clothes, the plastic hangers will give the closet a neater, less cluttered look.  I noticed a difference just after removing wire hangers. I probably got 150 out of there, most didn't have clothes on them. They are going back to the dry cleaners for recycling.

I would've loved to upgrade to all matching wooden hangers but it would've cost big bucks.  These plastic ones are about 10 for $1.50.  It would be nice if they were all the same color but whatever, I told you this wasn't a fancy closet makeover.  Purely practical.

So here's the finished product... nothing fancy but organized and decluttered.

Just say no... to wire hangers!

Mr. Chic's side, all the clothes on the bottom right hanging are
going to the consignment shop which will leave open space!

Well, my closet may not be beautiful or inspirational but it is orderly and uncluttered and that was my goal.  Now if I can just keep it this way I will be golden!

Stay tuned for more of my Organization and Decluttering for Unorganized and Cluttery People series!

How do you keep your closet clean?

Linking:  House of Hepworths, Someday Crafts, I Heart Organizing


  1. Hey great info! I really need to de-clutter my closet too... but mine is one of those old 3 feet wide by 2 feet deep closets. It's so hard to make it look decent.

  2. Great idea for a series! I can't wait to read more.
    We have builder grade closets in parts of our house and it drives me nuts because it is so inefficient at using the space. Each year, we try to go and have one closet redesigned to make better use of the space.

  3. Thanks so much for the inspiration! My closet is in desperate need of organizing...I love your not over the top approach.

  4. I think you did an awesome job, Kate! It's especially nice that you didn't spend a bunch of money getting organized!

  5. you did a great job! looks very nice..I used cheep walmart ugly totes to organize my junk room. It's not as nice as your closet..but who will ever see it but me?:) I have also switched to all plastic hangers, and I like your idea of grouping clothes by color..I found out I really like the color brown..I think I need to get out of my color rut too! Great series!

  6. I love this because it looks great, is functional, and seems very doable!! Win-win!! :)

  7. Great job!! I love the idea of baskets with labels for t-shirts, scarves and such...then maybe I can get my husband to put up my know since it is labeled!!! Thanks girl. I will be back for some more organization tips!!

  8. Very inspiring! I think I will need to follow along and get my house in order as well!

  9. I love your honesty and sense of humor! Your closet is about the same size as ours and although I wish it were larger it is what it is right? Great tips that I can definitely use!

  10. I SO need to do this. I am a keeper - frugal and practical. I buy simple things that are not the height of fashion, but they don't really ever go out of fashion either. I really need to get rid of some of it. I've added another criteria lately to my shopping as well as my choice of what to get rid of: Do I feel pretty or special in this? Even some simple clothing just feels better than others. I'm getting rid of the stuff that doesn't fit quite right, doesn't make me feel good when I wear it. That has helped. Thanks for your pointers!

  11. Thanx for posting this! My closet desperatly need som organizing to. I use the same excuses as you do.. specially the "If I lose 10 pounds it will fit perfect" :/

  12. Decluttering and organizing inexpensively are at the top of my priority list for 2012. Thanks so much for posting this. I love the step by step instructions, it makes it less overwhelming.

  13. nicely done! A tip a closet designer shared: -- use wire hangers IF you have small closet. 2-3 wire hangers to same space required for plastic hangers.

  14. Group your clothes. Grouping your clothes into clusters is another important trick to do if you want to learn how to organize your closet successfully. Classify your items into the following categories: blazers, shorts, skirts, polo, polo shirts, dresses, etc.

  15. This is the most realistic advice for decluttering a closet I've ever read. Thank you!

  16. My closet is the worst! It might not be a walk-in closet, but over the years, I've acquired clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories that are all in a one small closet space. Organization is not my forte. Most of the time, I just throw in my bag or shoes inside the closet and let them clutter. I sure hope that these tips will help me organize my closet. Kaylin Herbert

  17. Thank you for your realistic down to earth post. I've been looking on pinterest for an hour (instead of cleaning hahaha...) and this is the first post that gave real help. The other posts seem to be variations of "I'm a neat freak that only imagines I'm dirty, clean your house more". Pfft, I have my clothes in clean pile 1, clean pile 2, and probably dirty 3, with a bin for "needs to be washed". With your post I feel like I could conquer my issue, and you are right, I wear about 20% of my stuff all the time and probably half of it I've not touched in a long time...


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