I’m convinced that wardrobe organisation is a love-it-or-hate-it task. Some delight in rediscovering items long hidden beneath teetering piles of clothes; others find the process overwhelming and downright tedious. Wherever you stand, if you want to maximise the wear you get out of your clothing, it’s got to be done. And what better time to do it than the start of a new year?
You might think your wardrobe is in an acceptable state, but if it includes shoes covered in a fine layer of dust or doors that won’t close, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken. But with just a little bit of effort and investment in the right storage solutions, you can declutter your space, make your clothes more accessible and avoid needless spending on items you already own (but can’t seem to find).
I spoke to two experts, Joanne Hegarty of Stylist and the Wardrobe, and KonMari Consultant Sue Spencer (trained by Marie Kondo herself!) about the most important things to consider when arranging your wardrobe. Check out their top tips below, then shop the holy grail organisational products your tidy side will thank you for.
Spencer’s first tip? Part with clothing you no longer want before you start organising your wardrobe. “Storing things that you don’t wear takes up valuable space. Nobody needs the negativity of seeing things that don’t fit in your wardrobe first thing in the morning!”
Echoing this sentiment, Hegarty has a very particular process for taking unwanted items out of the equation. “I have a rule—if I didn’t wear it last season, and I still have lukewarm feelings about it now, it’s time to donate to charity, to a family member or resell. I tend to buy pieces that don’t date easily, so this is happening less and less. Before I buy something new each season, I think of how I am going to wear it and what it will go with in my wardrobe. I really try and avoid repeat buying. Nobody needs five black cashmere knits and three camel coats.”
Good news: Hegarty’s one-stop shop for wardrobe organisation products falls on the affordable end of the spectrum. In fact, you won’t need to look further than the high street. “I adore Zara Home for wardrobe care products. I religiously buy their skinny metal hangers in copper or silver. A good strong skinny hanger allows you to fit more in that precious closet space than padded or wooden hangers.”
Spencer also mentions the downfalls of wooden hangers. “[They] look lovely but they take up space, I always recommend my clients use velvet hangers. Avoid the hanging shelves they take up more room than the storage they provide!” So, metal or velvet—the choice is yours, but the most important factor to consider is how slim the hanger is. According to Sue, it’s also worth clearing away unused hangers to avoid clutter. “Remove spares from the wardrobe rail and store them in a basket at the bottom of the wardrobe. Your clothes will hang better, making getting them in and out of the wardrobe easier.”
A seasonal switch-up is key to an organised and easy-to-navigate wardrobe. “Create space by storing clothes you love but can’t wear or off-season garments somewhere else,” Spencer advises. “I always use the top shelves in a wardrobe for less frequently worn items or for storage. Make sure you take care of the things you love by folding them and keeping them in baskets or containers so they don’t get dusty. Garments stuffed onto the top shelves make the wardrobe look cluttered and won’t keep your clothes in good condition.”
Zara Home is Hegarty’s go-to for this purpose, too. “I also invested in four of their canvas storage boxes that slide under the bed. I stored all my autumn pieces there at the beginning of the summer and only very recently did the switch over. Now, they contain all my summer pieces.”
Of course, not everything should go on hangers. Spencer’s rule of thumb is “Only hang what you need to. Jeans and jumpers are better folded. I hang lightweight flimsy items like blouses, dresses, skirts and jackets.” Maximise the space by investing in shelving or a drawer unit to go at the bottom of the wardrobe. “This is often a dumping ground and it’s actually really usable space if you find the right storage.”
Thick knitwear, in particular, is better kept folded neatly in drawers to prevent it from losing its shape. “I hang my slimmer knitwear with my other tops,” Joanne tells me. “And the chunky ones that are too big to hang get folded up into drawers that are easy to access. I always send my favourite knits and coats off for a dry clean before the new season begins to keep them looking fresh, and I regularly comb my favourite cashmeres to eliminate pilling. Total Wardrobe Care is another favourite of mine for natural moth-repellent goods and storage bags for jumpers.”
As for the accessories? “I have a separate shelving section for bags and shoes,” says Hegarty. “For jewellery, I store everything in drawers in stackable trays, this way nothing gets knotted up or lost.”
Next Up: How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe That Will Last a Lifetime