Watch: How To Organize Your Closet In Five Simple Steps (Seriously!)

Perrie Samotin

A cluttered closet is something that plagues pretty much all fashion fans, and our own senior editor Perrie Samotin is no exception. Having lived in New York City apartments since birth, Perrie admits she’s harbored elaborate fantasies about sprawling walk-in spaces, Rococo-style wallpapered dressing rooms, and illuminated vanity tables, only to be stuck with standard reach-in excuses for closets, many outfitted with a single hanging bar and inefficient shelving.

What’s more, Perrie claims to be “a retail activist of the highest order” (yes, that’s fancy slang for shopaholic) and packs her closet with an inordinate amount of stuff, often without any rhyme or reason when it comes to organization. While she doesn’t have any plans to become a minimalist, she has resolved that 2013 will be the year she finally gets organized, starting with that cluttered closet.

To help kick things off, we enlisted Melanie Charlton Fascitelli, founder and creative director of the New York City-based couture closet design company Clos-ette, the newer affordable hanger and closet accessory website Clos-ette T0o, and author of  Shop Your Closet: The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Closet in Style.

Melanie dropped by Perrie’s Manhattan apartment to prove that—regardless of size—a neater, more organized closet is absolutely possible for anyone willing to follow a few easy steps.

Step 1: Edit, edit, edit
The first step to a clutter-free closet is to assess your inventory and make smart cuts. Fascitelli’s method for deciding what stays and what goes is the best we’ve come across: She suggests asking yourself  “If I were shopping right this second, would I would I buy this item?” If the answer is no, out it goes. Once you’ve culled the items you don’t want, Fascitelli advises making three piles: One that’s made up of better stuff that you can consign, one pile to offer to friends or family, and another to donate to an organization like Housing Works or the Salvation Army. It’s also useful to ask a stylish pal to come over and help, as she/he might offer new ways to wear something, and be honest about whether an item really looks that good on you.

Step 2: Pay attention to hangers
While Perrie had committed to only using slim-line velvet hangers in her closet, which save space and look sleek, her collection includes versions in mismatched colors and brands, so the overall effect is still oddly messy. Instead, Fascitelli advises everyone to use high-quality uniform hangers in the same style and color, which creates a much cleaner space both visually and spatially.

Step 3: Color code
Organizing your hanging clothing according to color can make a huge diference, and Fascitelli suggests dividing your wardrobe by separates (shirts with shirts, skirts with skirts, etc.) and coordinating each each section going light to dark, left to right, since that’s how the eye naturally travels. Perrie has a great deal of prints, so the duo used the base color of each garment and placed each printed piece to the right of solids that bear the same color.

Step 4: Create perfectly-folded stacks
Fascitelli was not impressed with Perrie’s folded shelves. (Ed note: They were a pretty appalling mess.) Her solution—which is easy and inexpensive—is to pick up some sweater folds to help create boutique-worthy uniform stacks. Above, the duo used cedar-scented versions from Melanie’s Clos-ette Too line which not only smell like a dream, but help protect garments.

Step 5. Small closet means no shoeboxes 
For folks with small closets, Melanie’s big tip is to toss clunky shoeboxes. They take up a ton of space and serve little purpose. Instead, line shoes up on the floor of your closet, either side-by-side, or toe-to-heel. You’d be amazed at how much extra space this provides. (Ed note: I switch up my shoe choices more regularly when I can see them in front of me!)