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How you organize your closet will differ slightly based on the space you have, the amount of clothes you own, and the kind of life you lead. However, these 5 basic, universal steps can be applied to any closet and any wardrobe.

Step 1 – Prepare

The first step to efficiently organize your closet is ensure you have the right tools and supplies on hand. Have the following ready-to-go before you begin:

• Shopping Bags: Sturdy bags to transport clothes to the donation center, tailor and dry cleaner. If you don’t have bags, boxes and bins will do in a pinch.
• Tape Measure: To measure shelving and hanging space. Don’t forget a notebook and the writing utensil of your choice to jot down your closet’s measurements.
• Full-Length Mirror: In order to decide between “toss” and “keep,” make sure your mirror can accommodate your entire image.
• Catch All Basket: Loose change, papers, rubber bands, hair clips, wads of cash (score!) and assorted receipts you’ll find in pants pockets. You don’t want to have to stop in the middle to file these small items so just put them aside for now into your catch all basket.

Gathering these items before you begin will allow you to to hit the ground running and you’ll be ready to dive into cleaning out your closet.

Step 2 – Clean The Closet

You need a clear, clean space to plan and visualize how you’re going re-organize your closet. Take everything out of your closet including:

• Clothing;
• Accessories (i.e. shoes, handbags, scarves, etc.); and,
• Closet organizers such as shelf dividers, trays, baskets, bins and hangers.

Then, give your closet a good 3-step cleaning:

1. Dust the shelving and hanging rods.
2. Run the vacuum or Swiffer the floor.
3. Wipe down any baskets or bins that could be collecting dirt and dust.

At this point in the process, I am already feeling pretty accomplished because I’ve cleaned something—and more prepared for the steps ahead.

Step 3 – Sort Clothes

Closets are finite spaces so choose wisely when giving up valuable real estate and be prepared to separate your clothes into distinct piles:

• Toss
• Keep

It’s important to focus on what you want to “keep” at first rather than what you want to “toss.” Be a brutal critic here–if something is just so-so, you will probably not wear it, therefore it’s not worth the closet real estate.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do you love it?
2. Do you wear it?
3. Does it project the image you want to project?

If the answer is YES to all 3, then you can confidently place that item into the Keeper pile. Congrats to that item!

Step 4 – Plan And Purchase A Closet Storage Solution

This is where you put everything back together in a way that makes sense to you, utilizes all of your available space and is attractive enough to motivate closet maintenance. This is also the step where you get to buy storage products your closet may need.

1. Group Like with Like: Belts, sweaters, long sleeve shirts, work pants, dresses, button-down shirts, jeans, shorts–you get the idea–and decide the best place to store each item as a group (i.e. hang pants in closet, fold and stack sweaters in a bureau).
2. Utilize Prime Real Estate: Reserve the front and middle of your closet for clothes you wear most often. Example: If you have to get dressed for work each morning at 6am, make sure your work clothes are easily accessible at the front of your closet. Lesser worn items like formal wear and out-of-season should be stored towards the back and on the upper shelves.
3. Spend Wisely: Measure the space, asses what you already have and then plan your closet accordingly. Our closet kits will do the job.

Working in groups of items will help you figure out how much space you need and the best way to store each type of item. Don’t forget to measure a space 3 times before buying a new storage item. Nothing is worse than carting something home and finding it’s just a smidge too wide.

Step 5 – Maintain Closet Organization

Rule of Thumb: The more often you work on closet maintenance, the less time it will take. Go through your closet and complete a quick makeover (or make-under) once a month, and tackle the full re-organization process twice a year.You can also follow one of these schedules:

• By Season: 4 times in the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer or 2 times in the Fall and Spring.
• By Date: Choose an important date like your birthday or New Years and make a habit of re-organizing at that time each year.
• By Event: The next time you can’t find an important piece of clothing, that’s a good sign you need to re-org your closet.

I like to be fear driven: If the phone rings in the middle of the night and I need to immediately pack for a trip/get ready for a job interview/dress for a cocktail party with 20 minutes notice, (this happens on TV dramas all the time, so it’s bound to happen to me at some point, right?) do I know where the pieces I would need are?