how to organize your closet step 1

organize your closet

Over the last year my closet has been in a state of deep decline.  Clothes have been shoved deeper and deeper into the recesses of space, and sadly instead of solving the problem, I actually went out and bought more hangers to accommodate my growth.

Mistake #1.

Over the course of the last week I got Spring Fever, but when I couldn’t find any warm weather clothes in my closet to garden outside I decided it was time to take action and organize the closet.

I’m happy to report that my closet is in great shape after a week of purging, sorting, organizing, labeling, and boxing.

organized closet

Here are my 5 tips to an organized closet:

  1. Pull everything out of the closet and lay it out on your bed.  You can’t organize if you don’t know what you’re working with.  It’s not pretty, but you need to do this step to get to the end of the tunnel.
  2. Once you have everything, and I do mean everything out of the closet space, clean it.  Vacuum, dust, scrub, wipe.  Do whatever you have to do to get the space spic and span before you put anything back in.
  3. Now go look at everything you’ve pulled out.  It might hurt a little to see what you’ve accumulated, but it’s okay, we’ll get through this together.  Be really honest with yourself and start purging.  If you haven’t worn something in 6 months ask yourself if you will in the next 6.  If the answer is no, get rid of it.
  4. Make three piles with your clothes: sell, donate, keep.  They’re pretty self explanatory.  Sell is for local consignment shops, eBay, Etsy, or yard sales.  Donate is for friends or thrift stores.  Keep is what’s left over for you.
  5. Put all your clothes back in the closet.  If something needs to be mended or sent to the dry cleaner, take care of that before you put the item back in your closet or you’ll never remember to do it.  Maybe I’m speaking from experience.  I like to go one step further and organize my clothes by color.  It helps me stay more organized when I’m putting clothes away and frankly, it’s prettier.  It also helps me to see deficiencies in my color palette.  I noticed yesterday when I put everything back that I only have 4 red-ish shirts in my closet.  That needs to be remedied ASAP.

What do all of you do when organizing your closet?  Any pointers or great ideas you want to pass on to the rest of us?  Later I’ll show you what I did with my shoes.  Poor Viktor doesn’t have an ounce of space left.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. whatever DeeDee Wants :

    I organize by color. I start by going light to dark and within the color I go short sleeve to long sleeve.

  2. kelley :

    You inspired me… 7a my closet is cleaned out. Not color coordinated and there was no scrubbing involved BUT I do have 4 bags of clothes to donate! Woo hoo!! Now to tackle the kitchen……….

  3. ECLeeds :

    I clean out my closet twice a year, in the spring and fall when the weather changes and I’m pulling my ‘out of season’ stuff out of the basement. If I haven’t worn anything in the past season because either I don’t feel good in it or it doesn’t fit, I don’t pack it away in storage — it goes to goodwill. When I’m putting clothes that have been in storage back in the closet for the new season, i try them on and make sure they still fit and I still like them — if not… goodwill. Also, when I take a bag of clothes to goodwill, I like to reward myself with a new item :-)

  4. Jen M :

    I saw the idea somewhere to turn all your hangers backwards and only hang them forwards after you’ve worn an item. Then, after a few months you will know what you haven’t worn for sure and can get rid of it. I did it a few months ago and now it’s time to get rid of some clothes! I’m totally getting spring fever! Bring on the warm!

  5. Andy :

    I’m horrible at purging. Especially shoes. Because they are such an investment. I keem them in the boxes stacked with a (bitsy) polaroid of each pair taped to the end that shows. A loooong time ago I bought one of those cheapy polaroid cameras that makes sticker pictures. I am in LOVE with it. But sadly, they no longer make the film. I’m actually thinking of updating the polaroids with printed digital prints. But honestly, I should think about folding the laundry, cleaning toilets, and running a mop around my kitchen first. So much for an organized closet, as there is a door that shuts away that particular mess.

  6. Leadia@TheBreeder'sDigest :

    Ooh boy, I just did this a few weeks ago and blogged about it as well. I was ruthless.
    Some things that helped….I cleaned my closet in my underwear so I could easily try something on. I started out undressing, getting dressed, undressing…eventually I realized it was way easier to just strip down! I also put all of my castoffs in BLACK bags and shoved them into the garage so I wouldn’t have remorse about anything and try to go back in to dig around! If anything was a “little” loose or tight I discarded it so I wouldn’t have an excuse to fatten up or stress myself out by thinking I had to lose weight just to wear something in my closet.

  7. Qui :

    My closet is a small walk-in, and I take up 2/3 of it, and my husband only complains once in a while. but I think now I can pull out the heavy sweaters and move them to our spare bedroom closet. Thanks, I’m totally inspired to purge my closet now!! Surely I can find some things to get rid of as well. Like the expensive bikini I’ll never wear again–maybe I can sell that one. Is it just me, or does marriage add 20 lbs?! :)

  8. Ann Bimberg :

    Read your “I Am Enough” contribution. Thank-you for sharing. I struggle to keep my chin up …. maybe I’ll excel at that someday.
    Ann B.

  9. Alicia :

    I’m terrified to do this… but its brilliant! I do organize my tops by color and I need a better system for the winter stuff…

  10. Veronica Vaughn :

    I do color order. Also, I seperate the long sleeves, short and tanks.

  11. r8chel :

    I can’t imagine NOT organizing my closet by color. When I want to wear a certain top, I can easily tell whether it’s there or whether it’s in the laundry.

  12. Aja :

    I tend to organize my closet by function. I have my sweatshirt section, sweater and cardigan section, long-sleeved shirt section, business casual section and dress section. My casual clothes (jeans, t-shirts, etc.) are in a chest of drawers.

    There’s about a foot on each side that I can’t easily access so that’s where I put my snowsuit, graduation gown, prom dress, etc.

  13. Sue :

    I love organized closets! They make me happy. Yours is organized nicely, from what can be seen.

    Mine goes Black, grey, white, red, orange, coral, yellow, teal(I own no true green), blue, purple, brown. My hangers are all the same. Each colour goes in order of sleeve length(long-short), shirt length(long-short) and tone(light-dark).

    The best part is knowing exactly where your black tee with an owl on it is, or the striped yellow and white tank. No guessing. No searching.