A Spring Closet Detox

Staying at home has motivated me to tackle some projects around the house. Over the weekend, I decided to take another whack at my closet organization. This time, I focused on winnowing down and tidying up my shoes. I probably should have taken a “Before” photo, but frankly I was too embarrassed. 🤦‍♀️ There were loose pairs stacked on some of the boxes, and the ones I’ve been wearing most often were in a jumble on the floor.

Shoe storage in clear plastic boxes. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I cleared out over 1/3 of what I started with. Here’s how it looked once I was done.

Shoe storage in clear boxes. Details and more shoe storage tips at une femme d'un certain age.

I like these clear plastic boxes for shoe storage. (I use the Women’s size for shoes, Men’s size for my ankle boots or bulkier shoes.) They’re not airtight, so air can circulate, but they keep dust off. (Moisture and mildew aren’t an issue in our climate, but in some climates you might want to add some of those silica packets.)

The leopard slippers at the bottom right are my new House Shoes.

Closet Organization in 7 Steps

I’ve done a few passes through my clothing over the last few months, and think I’ve edited down reasonably well. I’ve found that a Marie Kondo-esque everything-at-once purge-and-tidy session just feels too overwhelming, so I’ve developed a process over time that works well for me:

  1. Divide and conquer. I tend to work in smaller chunks by clothing type (tops, bottoms, jackets, shoes) but you could also go by work vs. at home clothes, or season, whatever makes sense for you.
  2. Pull everything in the category you’re working on out of the closet, and put it on a bed, the floor, any space where you can spread out and see what you have.
  3. Before you start organizing, remove anything that you know right away isn’t going to make the cut. Move aside to sell/consign, swap, or donate pile.
  4. Organize what’s left (with my shoes, I arranged by boots, sneakers, loafers, oxfords and sandals).
  5. Take another look…what duplicates or worn out items can you let go of? Pull those out.
  6. Decide how you want to organize the keepers. Do you want to arrange by item type, by outfit, or have most-worn items in the most accessible spot? What system will you be able to maintain over time?
  7. Only then, put it away.

My Own Closet Organization

Some of you have been asking to see how I’ve organized my closet. I still have some more work to do, but here’s how it looks as of now:

Our walk-in closet. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

We have a narrow walk-in closet. (It’s a bit dark even with the overhead light, so I’ve brightened the images for better detail.) Le Monsieur has right-hand side, I have the left. (Yes, those are some Wallace & Gromit stuffed figurines on the shelf; they were a birthday gift to le Monsieur back when we were still dating.)

Closet organization: pants. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Our closet was designed and built about 17 years ago, when I was still working in a corporate setting and needed more hanging space. I don’t have a separate bureau so still hang almost all of my clothing. After some experimentation, I’ve found that organizing items first by type (e.g. pants), then by color works best for me.

Closet organization: longer hanging items, jewelry & scarves. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I have four short racks, and one taller one which holds a few longer jackets, both of our bathrobes, my “scarf condo” and jewelry. (The scarf condo needs a bit of reorganization.)

Closet organization: hanging sweaters. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

As there’s not much shelf or drawer space, I hang my sweaters. You can see my method here: How to Hang a Sweater.

These are the hangers I like.

Closet organization: tops & tees. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Behind the open door are my tops and tees…

Closet organization: jackets. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And jackets.

So there you have it!

What closet organization challenges have you found a way to master?