T.The fantasy of opening your wardrobe to find neat rows of colorful shirts, jackets and trousers is pretty universal. In fact, in two separate, weird fashion jobs I was paid by a superior to organize theirs.
The process usually begins with a cleanup, as any kind of organization is aided by space. What follows can be more complicated.
This week we got some expert advice on what should hang versus what should be folded and the best order in which to store things.
Visibility is key
A well-organized wardrobe should make dressing easier. According to Kirsty Farrugia, professional organizer and owner of the Art of Decluttering, it’s useful to be able to see every single piece of clothing when deciding what to wear.
He advises: “If you end up not being able to see everything, it can cause the problem of forgetting that you also had some pieces because you can’t see them.”
Elinor McInnes, the creative director of slow fashion brand Joslin, recommends having shelves inside your wardrobe so you can see what you have folded next to what is hanging and mentally put an outfit together without having to pull anything out. To help with visibility, organize everything by category, then by color and tone.
Get organized by how you dress
Make sure that any items you have in high rotation (which means you wear them at least once a week) are easily accessible. Mary Poulakis, the managing director of Harrolds, says she focuses on “easy access to frequently worn pieces like favorite throwing shirts, blouses, shirts and jackets.”
Likewise, McInnes has a section for her favorite “mix and match dresses” which are worn often. She says to make sure the section is in the most accessible part of your wardrobe and advises, “If you regularly wear a dress together, always keep it together.”
Finally, Poulakis recommends putting away “your clothes in the order you would get ready in the morning”. So, you can reach underwear and underwear first, then t-shirts or shirts, pants or skirts, then jackets or sweaters, then coats and accessories.
Of course, dressing up is personal, so if you build a dress from the shoes up, the way you organize your wardrobe may be different than that of someone dressing from top to bottom.
Have a wear zone
Another thing that can make getting dressed easier is to install some hooks in the closet so that you have a place to hang clothes that have been worn but don’t need to be washed immediately. McInnes says, “this keeps clutter off the floor and reduces the amount of laundry you do weekly” and can help with clothing decisions.
She also recommends storing pajamas and clothes you wear indoors in a tub on a shelf in your wardrobe. This means they are “easily accessible every night and easy to store” without bending over.
What to hang
The most important thing to consider when deciding what to hang or what to fold is whether it will lose its shape if it is hung. Because knitwear can be heavy and prone to stretch, John Roberts, CEO of The Woolmark Company, says a general rule is “hang the fabrics, fold the needles.”
According to Roberts, textile garments such as tailored work shirts, jackets and suits should be hung so that they “remain wrinkle-free”. Poulakis states that “hanging trousers and special evening dresses are a must to minimize the time spent on ironing and dry cleaning.”
Finally, be careful not to hang long dresses if they are particularly heavy, as the weight of the dress can damage the shape of the shoulders. Instead McInnes suggests using two thin hooks and folding the bottom of the dress over the second hook to support the weight of the bottom of the garment.
What to fold
“All knitwear should be folded flat or rolled into a drawer with good mothball protection,” says Poulakis. McInnes warns that hanging shirts can “permanently ruin the garment” by stretching it over time.
Poulakis also says he prioritizes folding bulkier items over delicate ones. “For example, your favorite denim can be easily folded without compromising the structure of the garment or damaging its manufacture.” The same goes for leather pants and skirts.
Organize folded drawers
In the interest of having visibility on the objects in the drawers, both McInnes and Farrugia recommend the folding method by Japanese author Marie Kondo. McInnes says, “You fold things ‘upright’ in your drawers / closets … and create double the space.”
Farrugia describes it as folded in “file fashion”. The principle is that each item is folded so that it can be stored vertically, rather than in piles, so when you open each drawer it is obvious what is there. There is a more detailed guide available here.