“Women never come to me and say I want lots of clothes,” writes Ginger Burr in DivineCaroline.com’s Diva Toolbox blog. “Nope…never. In fact, more often than not they tell me that they want to simplify.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend $1,700 annually on apparel and footwear — yet we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time, reports fashion expert and You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You author Jennifer Baumgartner.
It’s time to be honest with ourselves: are we spending over three percent of our annual income — the average American makes $51,087 a year — to use our closets as places to store clothes we don’t even wear?
We’re smart people — why would we make such bad investments?
There are many reasons, but one of the simplest is ego. We don’t want to admit we made a mistake.
“A study by Elizabeth Bye and Ellen McKinney found that 85 percent of women have clothes in their closets that do not fit ,” Barbara Brownie of The Guardian (U.K.) wrote in the newspaper’s Costume & Culture blog. “Every purchase is an investment. Since we buy our own clothes we are aware of their monetary value, and we expect to wear a garment enough to get our money’s worth…By dropping something in the bin, (it) is a tacit admission that the purchase was a mistake, and that we have failed as a consumer.”
Harsh! As part of the ongoing effort to save money, get organized and open additional storage space, today’s post combines tips, hacks and professional style advice to help us move towards more effective closet solutions. Let’s do this together. (Jump to the tips below)
A VoucherCloud survey reports that women have $500 worth of unworn clothing in their respective closets. The more frightening part? Seventy-five percent admitted that they don’t even like those unworn clothes! It makes you want to scream, until you realize it’s you, too.
Before reorganizing the closet, complete the most tedious (but most important) step: sorting. I know, you’ve heard this a hundred times — but how nice would it be to open your closet and not have to sort through $500 worth of cluttered shoes and hangers before finally finding something you want to wear?
Janine Goodwin, a Houston-based professional organizer and founder of Nooks and Crannies, is a firm believer in the sort-and-seperate method of closet organization.
“The first step should always be to take a thorough edit of your current inventory, and toss what you do not wear,” she says. “We overvalue clothes, but they’re inanimate objects that depreciate over time. Don’t let them hold you back from living an organized lifestyle.”
Step 2: Make a plan! Design a new and functional space.
Now the fun begins — it’s time to get creative. Here are some simple, space-saving ways to address common problems and organize clothes, shoes, accessories and anything else you might have hidden in that closet of yours.
Problem: My closet is organized, but I don’t have enough room.
Solution: Create more space with a few clever hacks.
When your closet space is limited (and isn’t it always), you must use what’s available more efficiently.
- Add a second tension rod to double the available space for hangers.
- If your closet is too confined for this, try the pull-tab trick to hook hangers together:
Tip: If you use a second tension rod, hang your shirts on the lower one. Pants and skirts have a narrower profile than shirts of different widths.
Problem: I have no designated (or organized) space for shoes.
Solution: Think outside the closet.
Ivy Timlin, a competitor on America’s Next Top Model, told me that she uses an entirely separate space outside of her closet for her countless pairs of shoes.
“I’m traveling constantly and have over a hundred pairs,” she said. “If I ever tried storing all of my shoes within my closet space, I’d be in trouble. I find it best to store my super high-heeled (less worn) pairs under my bed, and separate my daytime pairs from my night-out pairs. On the road, I bring an over-the-door organizer so I can easily see my options. They pack easy, and my closet floor is always clean.”
Problem: What do I do about accessories?
Solution: As long as they’re kept together, your storage options are endless.
Don’t let your different accessories get lost in a sea of clothing. Here are some considerations for designated places:
- Necklaces, jewelry, bracelets: Use a corkboard or frame to hang as a wall accent.
- Scarves and hats: These can fit on one hanger and take up minimal storage space in your closet.
- Handbags: Space behind the door or a curtain rod to easily see your options.
- Miscellaneous: Whether it’s extra bags, hats or even just t-shirts, wall space and overhead shelves can be lifesavers.
Step 3: Set up a system that works.
Once your closet is organized, the key is to keep it that way.
HGTV’s Candice Olson believes our focus needs be on figuring out what we don’t wear if we plan on keeping a clutter-free closet.
Olson suggests trying the well-known hanger trick:
- Hang all of your hangers in the opposite direction.
- For a six-month period, whenever you wear an article of clothing, hang it the correct way.
- At the end of the six months, you’ll have a clear idea of what you no longer need.
Jena Gambaccini of Chi City Fashion — the award-winning blog which is now one of the most popular of its kind in Chicago — gets rid of clothes so she can fill her closet with new ones.
“You need to be realistic,” she told me. “Are you really going to wear a super-pilled J. Crew sweater from three years ago? We keep certain clothes because oftentimes we may not have a replacement. But I’ve found motivation in throwing items away — I can go out and buy the brand new upgrade of the sweater if I toss the old one.” Hey, if you’re going to spend $1,700 a year on clothes, they may as well be nice.
Do you have any tips that help keep your closet organized? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please share your ideas in the Comments section below or tweet us at @LifeStorage. Thanks!