an organized closet: how to

I’ve never considered myself an organized person. I’ve never thought of myself as an unorganized person either, I just do my thing and move on.

But when people come to my house for the first time, they often comment on how organized everything is.

And then I remember I have tendencies to over-organize things.

Or when my co-workers think it’s funny to come into my classroom and move my stapler just a tiny bit so that it’s the first thing I notice when I come back in my room, I remember I might have some issues.

But I just love an organized space, gosh darn it.

And I don’t think what I do is hard. Anyone can have an organized desk, even you! (Did that just move into infomerical territory? Because I sure hope so…)

I have to be organized or I couldn’t get everything done that I need to. I have to have systems in place or important parts of my job get forgotten. I have to have routines or I skip parts and end up at school without mascara on and it freaks my students out. (I’m serious, twice this year I’ve had to run to Walgreens on my prep to buy mascara–the comments were distracting and it was obvious no learning was going to go on since MS. GRAHAM ISN’T WEARING ANY MAKEUP.)

If the idea of organizing something seems daunting, start small. Like a junk draw or, if you happen to live in a small house like I do, your closet. Here’s how I set mine up so I can quickly get outfits ready and then spend the week not worrying about what I’m going to wear.

If you happen to have a large, spacious closet, this post might not be for you. Also, I’m jealous, but that’s an issue for another day. We live in a 1950’s bungalow and, while we do have more closet space than a lot of other houses from that era, we don’t have enough space for me. You see, I’m quite demanding when it comes to closets. The good news is our bedroom has two closets so we don’t have to share. I don’t think our marriage could survive that.

I organize by function. I’ve seen some people organize by color within function, but that is a little too OCD even for me. Also, I tried once to do this, but since my husband does the laundry at our house (and often puts it away), he was not keeping my color scheme the way I like it and it was driving me crazy. But it wasn’t a battle worth fighting, obviously, so I let the color thing go. (deep breath)

I get all outfits ready for the week on Sunday. By the time I’m heading to bed each night I’m too tired and I’m normally running late in the morning, so the only way for me to not wear the same outfit over and over again is to pull them all on Sunday. I think about what is going on each day (basketball game after school? spending the day in the library with my classes? hoping to pick up groceries on my way home?) and that dictates a lot of my choices. I also might have a new piece or two I want to incorporate or a look from a magazine or Pinterest I’d like to try. All that is floating around in my head as I put looks together.

Even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, I suggest trying this for a few weeks and see how it goes. There are days where the only reason I got out of bed is because I have an outfit I’m excited to wear. And knowing I have something already put together lets me worry about more important things than running to the basement to find some pants at 6:30 AM. And having an outfit waiting for you makes it more likely you’ll actually get dressed. Even if it’s just a clean pair of leggings and a sweater, being prepared for your week changes things for the better.

By organizing the way I do, I can instantly flip through my cardigans if I need to add something to a sleeveless shirt I want to wear. Or sometimes, I just go through a section and try to pick something I haven’t worn in a while. Falling into a style rut is too easy and knowing the things in my closet need to be worn or purged helps to keep things fresh. I don’t have the room to keep pieces I haven’t worn in a while. (I envy the girl who can pull out a piece that she worn in middle school and kept it so long it came back in style. I just don’t have that space. Also, you’re the same size you were in middle school? I hate you.

(this isn’t labeled, but on the far left, there’s a Rubbermaid set of drawers that holds scarves, wallets, and bathing suits.)

I wish I had an amazing way to organize my shoes and they looked all pretty and I could see all of them at the same time. And I’ve tried multiple different ways through the years, but, for me, it comes down to space. I just don’t have a lot of it. So right now, summer shoes (sandals, flip flops, etc.) are in an under-the-bed storage container. Once summer hits, I’ll store my boots there. Every other shoe needs to stay out because I wear them year round. Shoes that are wore often (or are flats) go in the cubes. Dress shoes normally stay in the box and go to the top shelf I need a step stool to reach (or get piled on the step stool when it’s time to get rid of some). Looking at the above picture, I see at least four pairs I haven’t worn in over two years and they need to be tossed. Or maybe stored somewhere else, I have a hard time parting with shoes.

If you’re super-observant, you noticed that I apparently have no dresses. But that would be a trick. All my dresses, because of space, are stored under our stairs in the basement. There are some handy bars down there and so all my dresses stay there. Which means I often forget about them, but I’m working on that.

On the door, I have a hook that holds my bathrobe and new clothes. Occasionally, I would also forget about new clothes because I couldn’t see them and they would hang, with tags still on, for months. And that is frustrating and, obviously, not acceptable. So now they stay front-and-center so they get into the rotation quicker.

Would a nice, roomy, walk-in closet be wonderful? Yes. Do I sometimes dream about the time before kids where I had my own room that functioned as a closet? Absolutely. But we’re not moving, there’s no room for a closet remodel, and, apparently, you have to take care of kids until they’re at least 18, so I’m stuck with this little space for a while. And I’m okay with that. It just takes a little bit of organization and we’re managing just fine.

How about you? How do you organize your closet? Do you (GASP!) have to share your closet with someone?!? Any small-space tips I need?


  1. says

    I arrange mine by color within function. However, I would not consider myself OCD at all… except, with running the vacuum, that’s another story. I wish I could plan my outfits out in advanced. That would be just too easy though. I enjoy standing in the closet, in the morning, while I’m freezing, and deciding ” I have nothing to wear!”

  2. says

    I’m with Jessica. I arrange usually color within function as well. More like type. Like dressy, long sleeve, short sleeve, hoodie/heavy. Pants are sorted dressy, jeans, shorts. I also have a spot for everything at one time. It’s called the floor.

    My question to you, Mary, is, “Where are Chris’s clothes?” Is he allowed to have any or is this space strictly yours only? HAHA.

  3. says

    I loved your organising of clothes. Going to do that for my clothes too.

    Just a suggestion for organising shoes. I do that by putting couple of pairs in one shoe box in polythene and pasting a photo of the shoes on the fronth of the box. This way, I can stack the shoe boxes one over the other, know which box has which shoe and prevent them from getting dirty.

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