I’ve always struggled with finding the right system to organize my closet. Sorting by category, occasion, color, you name it – I’ve probably tried it. And what I found was, despite the pros, none of these approaches matched up with how I got dressed.
Almost inevitably, trying to find something to wear meant clothes all over the floor, while I went through various options.
Frustrated by this, I started thinking about what wasn’t working and why:
- Sorting by category (e.g. dresses, sweaters, tops) led to cocktail dresses organized with work dresses organized with casual day dresses; short sleeved sweaters organized with long sleeved sweaters; long sleeved shirts organized with blouses organized with tank tops.
- Sorting by occasion was messy because there was too much crossover – where is the line between a cocktail dress and a work dress? Yes there is a definitely a difference, but where the gravel met the road too many pieces fell in between. And the same was true for tops and pants. While some items are clearly one occasion and one occasion only, the majority of my clothes are versatile enough that they could be worn for many occasions.
- Sorting by color was visually very satisfying, but ultimately gave me a false sense of order. I liked it because there is something nice about seeing everything in my closest grouped by color and it was relatively easy to “restock” my closet after laundry day, but I found that the color of my clothing is never that important to me when I am deciding what to wear.
So I decided to organize my closet by my arms.
I know it sounds weird, but I found sleeve length is a major factor for me when I approach getting dressed. Long sleeve? Short sleeve? Strapless? Do I want to show my arms? Hide them? These are the real questions going through my mind when I’m deciding what to wear – not what color my dress is. If it is a very cold day, long sleeve it is. If it is a very hot day, I usually like to wear off-the-shoulder, spaghetti string or sleeveless. If it’s a work day, usually short sleeve or long sleeve.
This is how it works in action:
- All items that relate to my arms (dresses, rompers, jumpers, tops, jackets, and cover ups) are hanging
- I have these items organized into have two major buckets: “full outfits” and “half outfits.”
- “Full outfits” are dresses, jumpers, and rompers – basically whatever is a one and done deal when getting dressed
- Half outfits are tops, jackets, and cover-ups or anything that needs one or more items to make a full outfit
- All “full outfits” are grouped together and all “half outfits” are grouped together. My closet is a small walk-in, so I have full outfits hanging on the left, half outfits on the right.
- Then, I group by sleeve style: strapless, spaghetti string/halter, sleeveless (thick, non-spaghetti), short sleeve, off-the-shoulder short, off-the-shoulder long, long sleeve.
- Length of the item does not matter. Meaning, there is no difference between a fancy spaghetti string maxi dress and a casual spaghetti string romper, for example. Similarly, there is no difference between a short sleeve crop top and a short sleeve tunic.
- Finally, I organize these by color: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, grey, and black.
- Folded, I have my bottoms (pants, shorts, and skirts) on the shelf above my “half outfits.”
Organizing my closet by how I approached getting dressed has exceeded my expectations. While there are some issues, so far it has worked out the best out of all the methods I’ve tried.
How do you organize your closet? Is there a method that works for you?