The 5 Step Closet Clean-Out To Tackle This Weekend

Row of Shoes

Back in 2011, a Princeton University study concluded that concentrating on a task can be more difficult when clutter is present. The researchers found that "multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation." In layman's terms, when your personal space isn't organized, the distraction can directly affect your productivity. Now that you're adjusting to working, writing, and yoga-ing from home, implementing a few closet organization tips — especially if you live in a small apartment — is not just a fun life hack to try out, it can be crucial to keeping you focused. Plus, a few small projects to set goals around can provide a welcome distraction.

As you work to clear your space and minimize those competitive visual interactions (a.k.a clutter), a two-prong approach is perhaps the best way to frame your view on refreshing your closet. First, from a purely organizational perspective (ie. storage solutions), and second from a more style-focused angle (like what to keep and what to get rid of). Ahead, digest five easy and effective tips from two experts who agree that taking the time to organize your closet during quarantine is not just an investment in your physical space, but also an investment in your mental well-being.

Closet Organization Tips Step 1: Take Everything Out

The very first step of any promising closet clean-out is to pull everything out. "It may feel overwhelming at first," Room to Breathe Founder Lindsay O’Brien tells TZR. She founded her Brooklyn-based organizational company to help individuals streamline their spaces. Stylist Neelo Noory agrees that physically taking out everything is the best initial approach. "It helps me when I see a clean slate," Noory explains. "Take every single thing out and start with empty shelves and rails. I also like to clean every nook and cranny before placing anything back inside."

Closet Organization Tips Step 2: Sort by Category

Once you've taken all of your clothing and accessories out (and your room likely looks like a mess), start sorting. "Sort into categories like blouses, sweaters, jackets, dresses, jeans, belts, hats, and so forth," O'Brien says. "If you have a portable garment rack, use that to sort your hanging clothes first by clothing category: shirts, dresses, jackets, etc.; then by sleeve length: tank, short sleeve, long sleeve; and then by color: left to right, dark to light." Once you've categorized your pieces this way, you'll quickly identify any redundancies. "For example, it may help you realize that you just don't need all 27 black sweaters," O'Brien says.

Closet Organization Tips Step 3: Divide Into Three Piles

O'Brien recommends creating three piles once you've sorted all of your clothing: donate, sell, and keep. With this approach, you're making a little extra cash, giving pieces you no longer wear a second life to someone in need, and you're streamlining your wardrobe — all in one fell swoop. If you need a little more help with the latter, Noory suggests creating a capsule collection for yourself. "Grab 14 classic pieces that you could see yourself wearing every week, like your favorite pair of jeans or your go-to blazer or coat," she says. "Then, mix in 14 more special items, like the shoes you saved up for and can't stop wearing or the sweater your mom knitted. Starting there is fun because now you can mix and match with varying combinations using less than 30 items." When in doubt, think of it like packing for a trip Noory advises — "what do you want with you always?"

Closet Organization Tips Step 4: Organize

Now that you've streamlined the actual items for your wardrobe, it's time to physically organize them in your closet space. "The first thing I always recommend for closets is having consistent hangers," O'Brien says. "It may seem silly or unnecessary but it's such a quick and easy way to make your closet look and feel more put together since everything is hanging at the same level." Her top pick is a slimline velvet hanger because it saves space and prevents clothes from slipping off. "People don't realize how much space the thick plastic or wood hangers take up," she adds. Next, reach for clear shelf dividers to "add structure on open shelving," O'Brien says. "I'm also a huge fan of the Woven Kiva Storage bins from The Container Store. They look sleek, come in three different sizes and styles, are super sturdy, and they're lined so they won't damage clothes as some woven baskets do." As for bags and hats, O'Brien has a "slight obsession" with Command hooks. "Use them behind the door or any open wall space to hang bags, hats or sweatshirts," she says.

Closet Organization Tips Step 5: Get Crafty With Your Space

If you're working with a small closet, rest assured there are plenty of solutions for organizing your wardrobe and keeping it that way. "One small tip is to display shoes with one facing forward and one facing back —you'll be amazed at how much space it saves," O'Brien shares. Utilizing vertical space is another important thing to consider as you can add shelves for storage instead of leaving bins on the floor. "Containment and structure are key for maintaining organization," O'Brien notes. She also recommends separating wardrobes by season "so the clothes you're currently wearing are front and center." The off-season pieces can be stored in a bin under your bed or in a closet if there's room. "Tucking things away or cycling things in and out of your closet make older items seem like new," Neelo adds. "You don't always have to consume to feel refreshed, you just need fresh eyes."