5 Pro Tips That Can Transform Your Closet

We may not all have the double-doored, walk-in, shelf-lined, perfectly lit closet that we dream about, but that doesn't mean we can't make the most of what we've got. So, to help you get your sh*t together once and for all, we called in some back-up assistance. We're talking about closet-organizing whiz Melanie Charlton of Clos-ette, who's laid out five non-negotiable rules — including a new set of 10 commandments — that may forever change that way that you get dressed. And, before you take on your own closet, be sure to shop Charlton's own sworn-by Clos-ette storage items right on R29 Shops. This organizing thing has never been easier.
Narrowing down my favorite tips for organizing with style was as challenging for me as cleaning out the closet is for most women. I’m so obsessed with keeping stuff streamlined that I even wrote a book about it.
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But, then I remembered a favorite cliché — little things make a big difference. Or, taking baby steps now will let you leap later — that sort of thing (which, incidentally, I do believe!). Get these parts of your closet in order, and your world will change. Promise.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clos-ette.
The 10 Commandments Of Hanging
-Thou shalt hang as much as possible in thy closet. Hang as much as you can with skinny hangers.
-Thou shalt not hang sweaters. Sweaters are best folded and stored on shelves or in drawers to maintain their shape.
-Thou shalt banish wire hangers from thy closet. They are weak, leave marks, and force your clothes to lose shape. Enough said?
-Thou shalt have matching hangers. A hodgepodge of hangers makes your closet look sloppy and prevents clothes from hanging properly.
-Thou shalt use appropriate hangers for appropriate garments. Coats on coat hangers keeps your topper in tip-top shape.
-Thou shalt not kill clothes with plastic. Those dry-cleaning bags are plastic traps for moisture, which can lead to mildew and mold growth, which can severely damage, discolor, and stain. Natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk, and linen need to breathe. Once you bring your duds home, free them!
-Honor the breathing room of thy clothing. Yes, you should hang as much as possible but you should also leave enough space between each garment so they’re not crammed together in your closet. Cramming causes wrinkling and makes you look like you slept in your best suit.
-Thou shalt not hang thy clothes with strangers. Put like with like and hang items facing in the same direction.
-Thou shalt color-code. Organizing your clothes by color allows you to visualize an outfit by separates and helps you to mix and match combinations you might otherwise miss.
-Honor thy pants and sweaters. Keep pants looking freshly pressed by hanging them along their creases or pleats to keep them sharp; always fold sweaters so that they don’t lose their shape.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clos-ette.
Categorize & Color-Code
Isn’t this closet gorgeous? You don’t need a spare few hundred square feet to transform your closet into this beauty and to merchandise your stuff like the best of them. Your favorite white T-shirt should not be balled up beneath your neon-yellow ski suit you bought on sale vacationing five years ago. Ever. Instead, sort your clothing by type, color, and season. Group like items together — shirts with shirts and skirts with skirts. This will help you mix and match pieces more easily and allow you to do a rapid-fire comparison of what you’ve got.

Organize each category — sweaters, blouses, pants — by color and also from light to dark to further streamline your closet. Need a denim button-down with your red jeans? Done. Separate clothes by season to make it easier for you to swap out your wardrobe with the weather.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clos-ette.
Shoe Love
Three basic ways to best store your shoes are: in pairs on a flat shelf, in pairs on a slanted shelf, or in open-ended shoe boxes that can be stacked. (Note: I can’t stand closed-up vessels that make it difficult to get to the goods right away.) In my closet, you’ll find shoes on shelves with heels up high, flats down low, with the toes facing out to me so I can see the whole shoe.

Whatever you choose, remember that before you do any storing, your kicks should be in the best possible condition. A good shoe repair specialist is worth his or her weight in gold! And, never, ever put away wet shoes. They invite mold and mildew and can be permanently ruined. If you’re caught in a rainstorm with your favorite pair of shoes, take them off as soon as possible. Dry them carefully with a clean towel and stuff the toes with acid-free tissue. Then, put them on top of a clean towel in a warm, well-ventilated area. Never put wet shoes on top of or too near a heat source such as a radiator or baseboard heat — the extreme temperature can cause the leather to crack or buckle.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clos-ette.
Jewelry Storage
I am not a fan of jewelry boxes for two reasons: They clutter up the surfaces of your bedroom and they keep your jewelry in jumbled heaps that are almost always impossible to sort. There are great alternative ways to store your jewelry. I love, love, love a pegboard in a closet. By inserting little hooks in the perfect Julia Child-inspired hole-y boards, you can sort and store your stuff safely. It allows for easy viewing and prevents entanglements.

Another great way to store your family jewels is in felt-lined trays. Whether you have splashy costume baubles or exquisite five-carat diamonds, setting up a segregated drawer for your precious cargo keeps your necklaces and bracelets and earrings separate and will make accessorizing much simpler. Also, say goodbye to scratches and tangles.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clos-ette.
Scarves & belts (Bonus: Ties)
Scarves provide a splash of color to our outfits. Silk scarves can be hung in easily accessible, full display, draped over space-saving, shape-saving specialty bars like our Clos-ette by Nanz hardware. A belt can be hung on a hook or a belt hanger, or rolled and placed on shelf. Like shoes and handbags, leather belts should be polished and suede brushed. Fancy belts with elaborate buckles and jewel-encrusted bands should be stored the way you would a large piece of jewelry to avoid damage in a separate velvet-lined box or in an individual pouch made out of felt or velvet. If a specific belt is part of a coat or outfit, it should be hung with it, to avoid losing it.

Bonus for those of you who live with a suited guy or if your style icon is Annie Hall, here's how to store ties: Always use a tie rack. Avoid folding them (or, worse, balling them in your coat pocket as the night wears on) — they’ll become creased and lose shape. If you get a spot or stain on your tie or scarf, take it to your favorite dry cleaner and have professionally cleaned as soon as possible.
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