Make Over Your Closet


Step 1. Figure out your budget

You can spend next to nothing or several thousand dollars redoing your clothing corner. Using the ideas found here, you can pull off a DIY makeover for less than $500. But if you think this whole closet-rehab job will just add to your stress, outsource it. Depending on closet size, expect to spend anywhere from $500 using an organizational system to $15,000 and up for a custom designed space.

Step 2. Get out the tape measure

The amount of clothing you own has to be determined by the space that exists in your closet. Start by pulling everything out-separate shoes and different types of clothing (pants, suits, formal wear, you name it)-then measure the length, height, and depth of the space you have. (This may seem time consuming, but it's better to spend two hours on a rainy weekend than 20 minutes every day rummaging through your clothes.) Take the dimensions with you to purchase shelf dividers, hanging racks, and more (see step three). General rule of thumb: You can fit approximately 12 pairs of pants, 15 shirts, or six jackets or suits into each 1-foot span.

Step 3. Make the most of every inch

The overarching theme when organizing your closet should be "everything in its place." These tools will help you get there.

A DRESSER OR HANGING ROD These will help you take advantage of that dead space under shorter garments. Store folded tops and sweaters in a dresser or put short items on a double-hang closet rod, which slips over the existing bar-no power drill required.

A HANGING SWEATER BAG This is another option for folded clothes and usually takes up very little closet space.

SHELF DIVIDERS In most closets, shelf space is at a premium. Dividers keep towering stacks of clothes in place.

A PURSE CADDY Give your bags their own home with a purse organizer.

HOOKS Hang some on the back of your closet door or on a wall and loop scarves and belts on them.

Step 4. Purge, purge, purge

Now turn your attention to those piles on your bed. Sort them into three categories: toss, give away, and keep. Toss anything that's damaged beyond repair or too worn out to donate. Give away pieces that are out of style, don't fit or that you no longer like. Only keep clothing that meets the following criteria: you love it, it fits you now, and you've worn it within the last year and know you'll continue to wear it. If you think you'll be indecisive about which pieces should go in which pile, enlist an unsentimental friend to help. Jettison the give away items either by donating them to a worthwhile charity (try or selling them at an online auction site, like

Step 5. Optimize your shoe storage

Where you decide to house footwear depends on your closet space, but you should be able to quickly put your hands on the pair you want, which means they have to be easily identifiable. We recommend using either a clear over-the-door shoe bag, stackable shoe boxes or an aluminum stacking shoe rack.

Step 6. Turn your closet into a boutique

Presentation is important, so arrange clothing in a neat and visually appealing way. One easy way to make the space inviting is to toss your wire hangers-they lose their shape and leave dents in your clothing-and invest in a matching set. Next, group clothing types together: blouses, jackets, dresses, skirts, and pants. If you want to be even more organized, arrange the clothes within each grouping by color.

Step 7. Create off-site storage

To stay clutter-free, only keep clothes in your closet that you're wearing now. Store everything else, like off-season clothing, special-occasion dresses, and maternity wear, somewhere else. If you live in a small apartment, pack a clear underbed storage container full, then slide it out of sight. Its snap-down buckles will protect your clothing from humidity and dust.

Step 8. Adopt a new shopping rule

Once you've determined how many items you can keep in your closet without it getting out of control, be rigorous with new purchases. When you buy something new, toss something old. Another maintenance strategy: Use the change of seasons to review your wardrobe. Get rid of items you didn't end up wearing, as well as clothes for the upcoming season that no longer appeal to you.

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