The goal of closet organization is to increase visibility and accessibility so that you can efficiently and effectively create fabulous outfits for all aspects of your life. When items are stored and displayed in a neat, orderly way, it creates a sense of control and calm. The creative juices flow, allowing us to come up with a larger variety of outfit combinations. This gives us the biggest bang for our fashion buck, and reduces time and stress.
There are many ways to divide a wardrobe into sections to make it more manageable. There is no right or wrong. It is about what works best for you, your lifestyle, and the available storage space. Here is a list of strategies that have worked well for me and my clients. You can implement one or more of these at once, or even change strategies through the year.
1. Colour Coded by Item Category
This is the most common way to organize a wardrobe. Your different item categories — jeans, blouses, shorts, skirts, dresses, knitwear, T-shirts, pants, jackets and outerwear — each have their own section. You can make the categories look pretty by hanging similar colours together, and going from light to dark. Or you can hang similar silhouettes together if that makes things easier. Like keeping all sleeveless layering tops in one group instead of remixing them with the rest of the tops. You can further subdivide by season, hanging cold-weather and warm-weather items together.
2. Seasonal Switcheroo
This is a very popular way of dividing up a wardrobe when you live in a climate with four distinct seasons. Most of my clients like to keep what they are going to wear for the next six months on hand and pack away the rest. Some like to do a seasonal switcheroo every three to four months. This way of dividing up the wardrobe is especially handy when storage space is limited.
3. Work and Play
Some of my clients have found it handy to keep what they wear to work during the week separate from what they wear over the weekend, or when they get home in the evening and change out of work clothes. They further divide work and play clothes into colour-coded wardrobe categories.
4. 30 Days
A few of my clients create a 30-day capsule from their existing wardrobes, put the items on a rolling rack, and wear mix-and-match outfits from the selection for a month. Then they start the process again with a different set of wardrobe items for the next 30 days. The capsules do not include wardrobe basics.
5. Weekly Outfits
This is a great way to divide up your wardrobe when you want to minimize the time it takes to put outfits together in the morning. Or to ensure feeling great in your look all day because it’s a tried-and-tested combination. It usually involves doing a mini outfit creation session on the weekend so that you know exactly what to wear for the next seven days. The strategy works well for Team Daily Uniform and Team Plan Ahead, but does not work well for Team Mood Dresser.
5. Lifestyle Capsules
Organizing a wardrobe according to your lifestyle can work well too. For example, I have a retired client who likes to organize her clothes into four sections. She has a section for her part-time job and volunteer work, another for socializing with friends and running errands, a third for workouts and hiking, and a fourth for at-home loungewear. Interestingly, apart from some outerwear, a few pairs of shoes, wardrobe basics and a couple of accessories, items do not cross over between the lifestyle sections.
6. Ready-to-Go Outfits
This is the least popular way of dividing up a wardrobe, but a practical one for some nonetheless. A handful of my retired clients like to hang complete outfits together. They might hang up to four tops and a few toppers with one pair of bottoms. They’ll hang a scarf and necklaces with the toppers too. They keep a separate section for what they wear to tennis, golf, and walking the dogs. Another section of wardrobe items for crafting, gardening and painting. And another section for at-home-only attire. This strategy can work like a charm when you have a small wardrobe, like to repeat outfits, and have the discipline to put items back in the right section after laundry.
I live in a four-season climate, but do not switch out my seasons. Storage space is at a premium too. Every wardrobe item is in the same place year round because I like to see exactly what I have at a glance. I organize items per category, and colour code them too. I have a few drawers for wardrobe basics, keep shoes on the floor on racks, and outerwear in the coat closet downstairs. I don’t plan what I wear beforehand unless I’m packing for travel. I’m a mood dresser, and I love the spontaneity, freedom and creative process of deciding what to wear in the morning. For me, this is part of what makes fashion fun. That’s why having all my options available to me at once is important.
Please share the way you divide your wardrobe into sections in the comments below.