Purge! Organize! Stack! How to get your closet in shape once and for all, according to experts

Danielle Gonzalez
·6-min read

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Look at her, all smug with her ace closet-organization game. Don't you want to be like her? Don't you? (Photo: Getty)
Look at her, all smug with her ace closet-organization game. Don't you want to be like her? Don't you? (Photo: Getty)

Chances are your work and weekend wardrobes have been hanging in your closet untouched for quite some time now. With the world reopening and warmer weather approaching, you might be wondering what you even wore before your WFH uniform of workout gear and loungewear.

Getting back into the habit of dressing up is overwhelming enough, you don’t need a messy closet to make matters worse. But how do you keep a closet organized after months of shoving leggings and hoodies into a drawer?

Whether you have more clothes piled up on a chair than in your closet, a small closet packed to the brim with lots of clothes, or you’ve always kept a tidy closet but don’t know what do with all these new items you can’t hang, we could all use a little help with organizing our clothes.

We reached out to the organizing experts at IKEA and The Container Store for their closet cleaning tips and tricks so you can transform your closet from hot mess to The Home Edit-worthy.

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Streamline Your Wardrobe

While it might be the hardest part of organizing, getting rid of things you don’t need is an essential step to getting your closet in order, according to Jimmy Seifert, a "closet buyer" at The Container Store.

“I also recommend that every time you buy a new piece you get rid of an old one,” Seifert says. “That’s the best way to keep your closet efficient and organized.”

After the year we’ve had, there’s probably a lot of professional attire you don’t plan on wearing again or weekend clothes that don’t quite fit your style anymore. Still on the fence about selling or donating an item? Keep it in a separate bag in your closet and if you don’t reach for it in three months — it’s gotta go.

Follow the KonMari method — if it doesn't spark joy, get rid of it.
Follow the KonMari method — if it doesn't spark joy, get rid of it. (Photo: Getty)

Separate The Seasons

It seems like common sense, but you should keep your most-used pieces readily available and those out-of-season and special occasion items further out of reach. If you wear the same pair of straight leg jeans on repeat, they should be front and center.

Try organizing clothes by category and then color so you always know where to find what you’re looking for.

You can use stylish storage cases to help protect the clothes and accessories you don’t use as often, according to Karen Jacquinto, a business leader for home organization at IKEA U.S.

If you’re short on closet space, it might be a good idea to store those winter sweaters and boots under the bed. Opt for a storage case that’s partially transparent so you can easily see what’s inside before sliding it out.

Let Lackisar and Plugghäst bring some Swede relief to your clothes organizing turmoil. (Photo: IKEA)
Let Lackisar and Plugghäst bring some Swede relief to your clothes organizing turmoil. (Photo: IKEA)

Shop it: Lackisar storage case, $10, ikea.com

Shop it: Plugghäst storage case, $3, ikea.com

Upgrade Those Hangers

Chances are you’ve collected an array of metal, plastic and wooden hangers over the years, but all that’s doing is creating unnecessary bulk and friction in your closet. We’ve all pulled a hanger out only to have four more come crashing down behind it.

“An easy update is to switch to slim-line hangers to maximize horizontal hanging space and create a uniform look,” Seifert says.

Seifert recommends slim velvet or wood hangers, which will both keep clothes from sliding off.

Toss out your mismatched hangers and invest in a single style. (Photo: The Container Store)

Shop it: Natural Slim Wood Hangers with Notches (set of 10), $10, thecontainerstore.com

Shop it: Linen Premium Non-Slip Velvet Suit Hangers (set of 40), $30, thecontainerstore.com

Create Vertical Storage

“A hanging organizer provides additional shelves and storage space for folded clothes, while a set of boxes in varying sizes can help get your smaller accessories like socks and belts under control,” Jacquinto says.

A hanging shoe organizer isn’t just for sneakers and boots — use it to store small items like scarves and handbags. Stackable storage boxes are great for storing t-shirts, underwear and more in your closet, especially if you don’t have a dresser.

Seifert likes to use square and stackable bins and boxes (instead of round bins and baskets) to make the most of shelf space. An additional tip? Light-colored organizers will help brighten small spaces and closets.

TK (Photo: IKEA & The Container Store)
Square bins are easy to stack on shelves or the unused top of your closet. (Photo: IKEA & The Container Store)

Shop it: Stuk hanging shoe organizer, $7, ikea.com

Shop it: Bläddrare storage boxes, $8, ikea.com

Shop it: iDesign Clear Linus Deep Stackable Plastic Bin, $18, thecontainerstore.com

Shop it: White Nordic Storage Baskets with Handles, $8 to $10, thecontainerstore.com

Make It Work Overtime

While the idea of everything having its own dedicated spot is lovely (Cher’s closet from Clueless anyone?) — it’s probably not realistic, especially if you’re short on space. So you have to get savvy about making things in your closet work double duty.

Jacquinto recommends using a multi-use hanger, which can hold different accessories without taking up more space than a regular hanger.

A clever solution Seifert shared was storing sheet sets inside of pillowcases and rolling your towels and linens to fit in small spaces. And don’t forget to use the space at the top of your closet, which is perfect for towels, travel bags and hats — shelf dividers can keep things tidy.

Shelf dividers keep piles of clothes or handbags from falling over and this muli-use hanger can hold up to 18 different accessories. (Photos: The Container Store & IKEA)

Shop it: KOMPLEMENT multi-use hanger, $7, ikea.com

Shop it: Clear Shelf Divider, $11, thecontainerstore.com

Customize It

While the aforementioned tips and tricks will work in your existing closet, a custom closet is probably the best solution for organizing your clothes. Both The Container Store and IKEA offer closet systems that can be designed to maximize your personal space and budget.

You build the closet of your dreams (and in your budget) with help from The Container Store or IKEA. (Photos: The Container Store & IKEA)

Shop it: ELFA custom closet, thecontainerstore.com

Shop it: PAX wardrobe, ikea.com

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