I have a confession to make. I’ve been in love twice in my life. The first time was with my husband (really) and the second time was with my current apartment. It’s the nicest rental I’ve ever lived in. The living room has 25 foot high ceilings. A spiral staircase leads up to my office, which has a view of the Hollywood sign. The entire place is flooded with light. Okay, I’ll stop bragging.
But, the thing about falling in love is that it’s impossible to find someone or something that meets every single one of your wishes. I could live in a shoebox or a castle, but I’d still find something wrong with both. In the case of my current abode, it’s mostly the lack of closet space. It’s bad. Really, really, really bad. I have one closet. Technically, there are two, but the closet built into the terrace is for luggage and sports equipment, not clothing. So, I have to store the better part of my wardrobe in what I can only describe as a sort-of walk-in closet. It’s not even remotely adequate. Our dresser and built-ins help, but nothing can make up for real closet space. I have things stored under the bed, in suitcases and between the four other homes my parents and in-laws live in.
A few weeks ago, my closet could have been declared a disaster area by some government organization that declares those things. It was embarrassingly messy. It was not blog-worthy or even remotely Pinterest perfect. Do you want to see how bad it was? TRIGGER WARNING: lack of glamour and photography skills.
Things were EVERYWHERE! Hangers did not match. Hangers were made of wire!
The reason why things got this bad was because I thought I couldn’t create more closet space. I was right. But I learned to work better with what I have. So, I’m sorry mama, I never meant to hurt you, I never meant to make you cry, but this was how I cleaned out my closet.
The Great Hanger Exchange
The unofficial rule of closet organization is that all of your hangers should match. Approximately 25% of my hangers were plastic, so I traded up for velvet. To make this project more eco-friendly, I gave my plastic hangers to a friend of mine who is a stylist and needs all the hangers she can get. I’m sure you could give yours away or donate to a thrift shop, if you don't have a chic friend who dresses celebs for a living.
However, I didn’t get rid of my padded hangers because they’re better for certain delicate items. I also kept my skirts on clip hangers. And I didn't get rid of every single wire hanger. Anything that was freshly dry cleaned on one stayed that way.
Magic Hangers Are Actually Magic
My husband has lots of business attire, but he rarely wears any of it. And no, I don’t think the rule of “if you haven’t worn it in a year,” applies to men’s suits. The clothing he wears most frequently, like jeans and t-shirts were stored in the most inconvenient way possible, on a high shelf. This always made it difficult for me to put away his laundry because I needed to get out a stool or just throw it up there. And yes, I know my husband can put away his own laundry, but I can also vacuum. It doesn’t mean I do.
So, I put his suits, shirts, pants, etc on tiered hangers (sometimes called magic hangers). This created enough space to install a hanging shelf. Down went the causal clothes and away goes the laundry.
I also used magic hangers in my section of the closet. However, I ended up buying a different brand because I bought them in person, instead of ordering online. Don't make my mistake. You can never have too many magic hangers (or handbags, or diamonds!).
Just Shoe-t Me!
Shoes were all over the place. They were sort of in shoe racks on the floor, scattered underneath handbags and in a behind-the-door shoe organizer. So, I purchased a matching one and installed it on an empty wall. I used picture hooks to hang it and nailed different sections to the wall for support. In retrospect, I should have bought a rack that was designed for this purpose, but the one I choose was less than $9 and got the job done anyway.
My Clothing Got Cliquey
Lots of blogs and organizers will suggest different ways to arrange your closet, but the problem is my closet never stays that way. So this time, I decided to group intuitively. For example, I put formal dresses and coats all the way in the back (with the exception of one winter coat) because I don’t often need to get to them. But, lighter jackets, which I wear every this time of year, are in a very accessible spot. I think the key to closet organization is to arrange things in a way that probably only makes sense to you. After all, every closet and wardrobe is different, so one way cannot possibly work for everyone.
Super Bonus Shelf Space
After re-organizing everything, I created extra space on the shelf above the rod. While I keep most of my handbags in built-ins, I finally have the space to store a few on the top shelf. Larger bags and weekenders have a specific spots on the floor of the closet.
My closet still isn’t perfect. I would never put this on Pinterest and would rather die than post it on Insta. Essentially, it went from what might be mistaken for a crime scene (at least for crimes of fashion) to acceptably average. I also realize it’s an ongoing project. I should pick up another box of hangers and an additional shoe rack for the floor. But, overall I have a better grip on my wardrobe. As a result, I'm making more stylish fashion decisions and not just grabbing whatever I can get to. While it might not look like my dream closet, I can't exactly complain about my reality.