How to organise a closet in 5 easy ways

By Gia Yetikyel

Photo: The Vintage Bar

Is your wardrobe overflowing? Spend the days between Christmas and New Year's Eve organising it with Vogue's five easy tips

Making sense of how to organize a closet means unpacking, literally and figurately. Oftentimes, having a closet is like being a goldfish from a carnival. Let me explain. As a goldfish, you go from plastic bag to bowl to tank, and maybe even one day, a glorious pond. With each step into a larger enclosure, you adapt to said spaces until you've grown so much you're ready for the next stop. The same applies to closet space. Except in this case, your pond would be a walk-in closet. Most of us start in the plastic bag equivalent: a white-painted closet with one lightbulb swinging precariously from the ceiling, and if you're lucky, a plastic rod to hang clothes from. While some may be tempted to store sweaters in extra spaces, like say, an oven à la Carrie Bradshaw, there are a few closet organization ideas to test before balancing your cashmeres on those metal racks.


I spoke to Julie Purpura, owner and design director of Avenir, a Chicago-based and LGBTQ-founded design firm. Purpura also co-owns the Chicago retail and coffee shop, The Center of Order and Experimentation, with Jean Cate. Below Purpura unpacks how to organize a closet when you're simply lacking the real estate.

Minimalism is your friend

I know, you've heard this one before. Minimalism is both the friend of you and your small closet when you're trying to figure out the best organizing system. But you don't have to go overboard in decluttering just yet. Professional organizer Marie Kondo has popularized the KonMari Method, where you choose what sparks joy and let go of what doesn't, which is all about focusing on what you keep rather than what you should toss. And when giving your closet an organization makeover, decluttering has a lot to do with intention, notes Purpura. “If you have a small closet, you have to live a small closet lifestyle,” she told Vogue. This means paring down everything from shoes and purses to scarves and necklaces. Being intentional with your fashion style and future purchases will impact your closet for the better—sometimes the best closets are the simplest.

It's not you, it's your folding habits

Most people fold their clothes like how you would see displayed in a store. But notice how quickly that perfect stack of clothes falls into crumpled piles of t-shirts and blouses. Purpura suggests rolling your clothes instead of folding them for a more efficient closet system. While rolling your clothes is common for packing, doing so for your closet makes clothing items more accessible visually and physically when picking out the day's outfit. Plus, it rarely leaves wrinkles. If you're not ready to let go of your folding habits, take the shoppable method for a spin. This method encourages you to organize your clothes vertically, which also allows you to shop through your closet visually. That way, you can see everything instead of having to dig through your bins and create a mess you'll dread cleaning up.

Photo: The Vintage Bar

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Photo: the Vintage Bar

Photo: The Vintage Bar

Thin Hangers

This just might be the easiest hack on the list. Sometimes making the most of your storage space means replacing your current hangers. Sadly, that impressive collection of metal dry-cleaner hooks and plastic hangers from college isn't going to cut it anymore. Purpura recommends swapping them out for thin, felt hangers to better suit the small space. Felt hangers won't leave marks on your clothes and offer a grip for the clothes so they won't slip off while you're sifting through your hanging space. And if you're not hanging items because you’re missing a built-in closet rod, try adding one yourself. The easy access will be life-changing.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes

Boxes aren't just for the tchotchke girls! Find some storage bins or cubbies and use that vertical space to make the most of your closet. If you have too many shoes you refuse to part with, replace your shoe rack with good-quality, closeable bins to avoid any dirt or scent impacting the rest of the closet. But your storage solutions don't necessarily have to involve unsightly plastic containers, either. Explore places like Ikea or The Container Store for storage boxes that match the aesthetic of your closet space. Purpura is a personal fan of upcycling aesthetically pleasing boxes to store smaller items and contribute to a clutter-free environment. Stacking pretty boxes, whether they're from a jewellery boutique or one of Purpura's favourites like Diptyque, adds to a closet's ambience. At this point, Purpura even lifted up a small, pink chocolate box and cheerily admitted to purchasing the chocolate because she had her eyes set on the box. It was, in fact, a beautiful box.

Save the crafting for TikTok

I know those TikTok home organization crafts and Pinterest DIYs are ever-so-tempting to vamp up that wall space or overall closet storage. Sometimes, online crafts work well on our screens, but don't do our space justice in practice. Most of us, including Purpura, have been there, and many of us are still learning our lesson. But if you're really itching to try something new, she suggests removing your closet door entirely for a fun challenge that'll encourage you to keep your closet clean.

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