Cattano recommends removing all off-season pieces—like bathing suits or heavy sweaters, depending on the season—and putting them into bins or lidded boxes for easy access and neatness, too. If you’re lucky enough to have closet space and a dresser, here’s how she suggests dividing essentials from non-essentials. “Clothing you need to see to make an outfit should be hanging in the closet or folded neatly on shelves, Cattano says. “Things like undergarments, first layers, exercise, lounge, pajamas, weather gear, and specialty clothing (for skiing, hiking, etc.) can be saved for drawers.”

Even if you don’t have a walk-in closet, you can still find extra space you didn’t think you had. This will require getting creative with vertical space. Below, a few ways to do that.

Closet Rods and Racks

Woodhouse often encourages her clients to add wardrobe rods to their closets, even though they don’t give you more space to actually hang your clothes. “It’s helpful to have a spot for picking out outfits or hanging up your dry cleaning that just arrived back from the cleaners.” It is certainly a huge improvement over just laying your clothes on your bed.

Shea and Merrill both frequently install secondary closet rods underneath the existing ones built into your closet. As long as it won’t interfere with your clothes—make sure you have a different place to keep those long winter coats—a second closet rod basically doubles the amount you can hang in your closet. (Just make sure you properly mount it to the wall).

When possible, Shea often recommends her clients position closet rods above the one that’s already built-in. “If you’re vertically challenged, there are some awesome options that allow you to either pull the upper rack down towards you manually, or even by pressing a button,” she says. This one from Hardware Resources is perfect for getting usable storage into small-but-tall spaces.

Wenko Herkules

2-tier Organization System

If you don’t have a rod in your closet at all, you might consider just getting a big organizational system like this one. It gets you two decently sized racks that you can stuff with clothes. They’re a bit less permanent-feeling than the above options, but are also easier to install and uninstall. If you’re a renter and plan to move at some point, that’s probably key.



Bumerang Hangers (8-pack)

Now that you’ve made space to hang your clothes, it’s time to update your hangers. The ones your dry cleaning comes back on aren’t just eyesores, they’re actually ruining your clothes. Cattano prefers to use sturdy wood hangers, like this set from Ikea, to hold heavy coats and jackets, because they can “take the weight and preserve their shape.”

Amazon Basics

Slim Velvet Hangers (30-Pack)

The Container Store

Premium Non-Slip Velvet Hangers (10-Pack)

“For my money, the best and most affordable are basic slim velvet nonslip hangers,” says Lark. Several of our experts agreed: The velvet texture will certainly keep clothes from sliding off, and the slim silhouette helps you pack a lot more clothes in there.

Kirby Allison

Luxury Wooden Felted Trouser Bar Hanger (5-pack)

Your pants and shorts might need something slightly different. Metal hangers with clips are a great way to keep your bottoms in check, but Cattano prefers these Kirby Allison trouser hangers, which she likes because there’s a felt bar to protect the fabric and because they help save vertical space.

Another option for pants are these hangers from Maralve, which Lark recommends because “the hangers clip and stack vertically, significantly reducing closet space usage.”


Non-Slip Plastic Hangers (50-Pack)

Delicate fabrics deserve special hangers, too, and Lark is a fan of Timmy’s hangers, which have a textured surface for reducing slippage.


Euro Series Non-Slip Hangers (10-Pack)

Mawa hangers have a somewhat cult following, and Lark loves their curved design, which “maximizes closet space while preventing shoulder bumps.” These are best for heavier garments and coats to help them take up less precious closet real estate.


Max Houser

6-Tier Shelf Hanging Closet Organizer

For the stuff you can’t or shouldn’t hang (underwear and sweaters, respectively), try portable shelving options. “Hanging shelves make items more accessible in a closet where you just have the dreaded single shelf and rod,” Decker says.

If you have the floorspace, consider a chest. You’ll get a lot more room for your things and they’re easier to use than small hanging cubbies.

Marie Kondo

Bamboo Drawer Dividers (2-pack)

Keeping a chest organized is a lot easier with internal drawer dividers. These bamboo ones are easy to adjust—and smell nice, too.

The Container Store

Deep Drawer Divider (2-pack)

For deeper drawers, these’ll do the trick.

A simple organizer shelf like this is a capable substitute for (or supplement to) a good chest. Stuff it with sweaters and pants.

If you have built-in shelves you don’t want to remove, getting a set of dividers like these will go further than you expect. Creating sections for your clothes will keep them separated and organized—and help you both when you’re trying to pick out what to wear and when you’re staring at a pile of washed clothes that need to be folded and put away.

Storage Rails and Hooks

Though you’ll likely put most of your clothes on hanging rods or folded in shelves, Merrill also installs peg rails and hooks throughout the closets she designs, like these Shaker ones, which are handmade by artisans in Pennsylvania. “They help enormously in keeping closets tidy.” In other words: Hooks are for the things, like coats and bags, that you hang on the back of whatever chair you see first when you come home.

Merrill also loves the metal goods from Prushkin studio: “Each piece is handmade and like a little sculpture.” You can use this either as a replacement door knob or as a hook to mount in your wall.

Hooks in general are underrated—especially for belts, bags, and umbrellas—Cattano says. Scout’s hooks just look so much better than your generic Command hook, and they come in a variety of colors.

“I recommend using an over the door rack to maximize storage for smaller items, which will help keep them organized,” says Woodhouse. This modular rack does the work of a bunch of hooks and actually looks pretty good doing it.

The Container Store

Umbra Estique Over-the-door Rack

If you just need a bunch of hanging pegs, this is a much cheaper solution.

A coat rack has all the advantages of an over-the-door rack or peg rail, but it likely won’t fit in your closet. If you’ve got plenty of floor space, this one looks sweet.

Storage Tubs and Containers


Plastic Storage Bins (2-pack)

One foolproof way to keep your closet organized is to keep it pared-down according to the season, dumping warm stuff in a box like this when it gets cold and vice versa. This gives your closet a bit of breathing room, and means you won’t have to dig through your winter coats to find the exact camp shirt you want to wear to the beach. Shea and her husband use this one. “They stack and have handles that fold around the end of the lid to hold it shut, which is important when you’re stuffing your holiday sweaters away,” she says.

These long boxes from the Container Store serve the same purpose, but also have wheels to easily slide under your bed.

The Container Store

Cambridge Drop-front Sweater Box

For off-season or non-essentials, consider a storage bin. Target’s has a zipper to keep pests away, and the drop-front sweater box still gives you easy access to items you don’t need all the time.

Storage Hampers

The clothes you like most probably spend more time in your hamper than on a hanger or on a shelf, so getting something nice should be a priority. This one features a canvas bag hooked to a sturdy wire frame. When you need to wash your clothes, the bag snaps right off for easy transporting.

Shoe Organizers

As with shirts, organizing shoes is mostly an exercise in finding and creating vertical space. There are tons of storage solutions available, but the cheap models are wobbly and the expensive models require real installation. And unless your collection of sneakers is in the high double digits, you probably don’t need to look into a custom solution.

A shoe rack is the simplest solution to store the shoes you frequently wear. They’re easy to build and small enough to hide in your closet, but look inoffensive enough to keep in your entryway, if you need the space. Shea keeps this one, which can comfortably fit about nine pairs of shoes, at the base of her closet.

This shoe rack from Target’s in-house brand is available in various sizes, but the best part is that they’re stackable. If you need more space, you can just buy another unit and toss it on top of the one you have. You can go pretty high before you have to worry, and they screw into the wall so it won’t topple over.

Your shoe rack doesn’t need to look like a shoe rack, and Ferm Living’s Home Award-winning Dora achieves that by looking like a simple modern shelf. Stock this with pretty much anything, but yeah, your shoes would look good here, too.

Yes, this is a bookshelf. But poet Hanif Abdurraqib told us he stacks these on their sides to store his massive sneaker collection.

These ingenious little organizers allow you to effectively double the amount of shoes you can fit into any given space. According to Decker, shoe holders like these prevent your precious kicks from being squashed.

Shea likes to keep the shoes that don’t get much play in the boxes they came in, which are already designed to stack well. When she doesn’t have the box, she usually puts them in a stackable plastic bin. “It not only ensures they don’t get dusty,” she says, “but reminds me that I don’t have more room to buy more shoes.” With these Uline boxes, the more you buy, the cheaper each box comes out to.

The Container Store

Clear Stackable Large Shoe Drawer

Bigger shoes, like hiking boots, need their own boxes.


36-Pair Door Shoe Organizer

An over-the-door shoe organizer is great for saving space to hold your shoes, but Cattano uses hers differently. Cattano’s is cut vertically and hangs on the side wall to hold knit hats, gloves, face masks, and a lint roller.

Organizers for Watches, Ties, and Jewelry

Keeping your accessories organized can be pain: It’s hard to find the perfect space for a ton of little things. But unorganized accessories tend to get lost. And if you know exactly where each of your hats, scarfs, watches, ties, and pieces of jewelry are, you’re much more likely to actually wear them.

The Container Store

Stackers Medium Expandable Jewelry Storage Tray

Merrill generally orders custom velvet drawer inserts for her clients from the October Company. These from The Container Store are a little less elegant, but just as practical, and a whole lot simpler to score online.

A series of valet trays is a good accompanying accessory to internal storage trays. You can pretty easily use a bunch of them to organize a wide range of stuff—inside a drawer or on top of a set of drawers.


Trove Square Box With Lid

Shea keeps some of her small accessories in this small cork box from Design Within Reach. It’s also stackable.

Open Spaces

Large Bins With Lids (2-pack)

For larger accessories that don’t need to be hung—like hats and scarves—Shea and Kalita use these stackable felt bins from Open Spaces. They’re big enough to accommodate a lot of stuff, but not so large that you’ll get lost digging through them. Kalita also likes this basket from Muuto.

The tie rack: goofy, yet unimprovable.

Closet Systems

Let your closet work for you and opt for a closet system that will maximize your space and take the guesswork out of having to buy all types of bits and bobs.


Classic 6′ Reach-In Closet

For high customization, you can’t go wrong with Elfa from The Container Store. It’s “highly customizable with a wide range of track lengths, shelf sizes, and accessories, allowing for precise design adjustments,” Lark says.

Here’s another closet system from Ikea that offers a little less customization but is affordable and just a car ride away in many big cities.

Wayfair Basics

Closet System Starter Kit

For a super barebones approach to organizing your closet, opt for a cheap kit from Wayfair. this one has a hanging rod and multiple shelves.

DWR String Cabinet Shelving

This GQ Home Awards winner has been around for decades, and its longevity in the closet space mainly comes from its modular mid-century design that makes for a seemingly endless combination of storage options.

Other Nice-to-Have Closet Items to Consider

Once you’ve tackled all the basics, it’s time to think about design—the sort of adjustments that’ll make you feel good about getting dressed every day. “A well-styled closet is important, since it’s one of the first places you will see when you wake up each day,” says Shea. Plus, if you actually like how your closet looks when organized, you’re more likely to keep it that way.

Actually taking care of your clothes should be an important step in maintaining your beautifully organized closet. “A sweater shaver is a cut above (pun intended) the rest when it comes to sweater care,” says Decker. “It beats out the pumice stone and other types of de-fuzzers to keep sweaters pill-free. ”

Your closet might have overhead lighting that makes it possible to actually see the clothes you’re grabbing. If it doesn’t, well: it’s time to fix that. Shea has a pretty sophisticated smart lighting setup in her closet. She’s programmed the lights to turn on whenever she or her husband walk up to the doors. The easiest way to get this setup for yourself is with a Phillips Hue starter kit.

Another extremely affordable way to incorporate lighting into your closet is by sticking a puck light like this one close to the door. The push-button function isn’t the most elegant solution, but you can’t argue with the results.

If you have anything really expensive that you don’t often wear—watch, jewelry, granddad’s bolo tie—it’s not a bad idea to keep it in a safe.

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