Boots and shoes organized to maximize storage space.

“Fall” into Style

by Organizing Your Closet

by Kitty Ault

A seasonal change presents a great opportunity to fantasize, economize and organize your clothing closet. Whether your closet space is limited or vast, organizing it will make your daily routine easier. Closet coordination doesn’t take a big budget, just time and a little thought.

Clutter causes frustration, so first review what you have and identify what you actually wear. Separate items into four groups: keep, consign, donate or give away. Bag up clothes headed to a new home. Inspect the items you want to keep.

Cleanliness is critical. Stored clothes should always be fresh, so if necessary, clean them before storing. Why is cleaning so important? Bugs. Yes, bugs! Moths and assorted other small insects love to eat fabric, especially organic and natural textiles. If there is a stain or food speck on a pricey cashmere sweater or silk top, they may destroy the garment.

Let’s talk briefly about what to do with unwanted items. The average consumer throws away seventy pounds of clothing yearly, and the United States alone sends twenty-one billion pounds of textile waste to landfills annually. Sadly, ninety-five percent of all textile waste could be reused or recycled.

a style consultant helps a client organize her closet
Style consultant Kitty Ault (left) helps a client sort through clothes and organize her closet. Photography ©Gabriella Marks.
A woman sitting in front of her organized closet.
The closet of Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado concierge Scout Gay features a hydraulic hanging system.

There are many options for sustainably dealing with no-longer-wanted clothing and accessories. Santa Fe has numerous consignment stores, but be aware that you must bring on-trend, clean, current styles to resale stores. Many nonprofits, including local shelters, accept clothing donations. With the constraints of the pandemic, however, check first before taking items to drop off.

Thoroughly clean your emptied out closet space with a nontoxic, fresh-scent cleaner. The size and scale of your closet dictate how much you can fit in and how it should be organized. If you have a dresser, built-in drawers, cubbies or shelving already in your closet, that’s helpful. If not, use appropriately sized, stackable clear-plastic bins or create cubbies by placing open storage boxes on their side on shelves, facing out. You can buy shoe racks, shelving units, baskets and bins locally or online. Remember to measure your space carefully so that storage items you purchase will fit. Also, it may be possible to hang shelving and other storage to create usable space. If necessary, consider consulting a closet specialist or use an online tool, such as those available through the Container Store, IKEA, Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Now you are ready to sort and hang the beloved items you have decided to keep. Already you are feeling lighter and excited to tackle your “new” streamlined wardrobe. Use nonslip, black, velvet hangers (their thin profile takes up less space), dress/coat bags, plastic drycleaner bags, and shoe racks and boot trees. To save precious shelf space, turn one shoe of each pair in the opposite direction. Substitute skinny plastic soda bottles for boot trees. For a final touch, add aromatic lavender sachets or cedar packets to your closet.

Display items thoughtfully: you want to visualize and connect with your wardrobe. If an item is out of sight, it will also be out of mind, so clear storage containers are best. Shoes and boots should be visible on a rack or shelf so they can be easily paired with outfits. Everyone has a preference, but hanging clothes by color, style and category (lounge, casual, sporty and dressy) is a logical start. Sportwear and accessories, such as scarves, hats, jewelry, belts and sportswear, can be hung or placed in see-through bins. If you wear work-related attire, such as health-provider scrubs, put them in an easily accessible spot. Stack handbags in cubbies or “file” them upright on shelves using dividers from an office supply store. Use handbag covers or “purse pajamas” for protection. Hang wool, fur and faux-fur coats and snow gear in a coat closet or on a freestanding clothing rack with a suitable cover.

These tips and tricks will help you unclutter and “refashion” your closet. Your newly reorganized closet will leave you ready to transition to the next season and help you look and feel great every day.

Kitty Ault

Kitty Ault is a style consultant in Santa Fe. To learn more about Kitty, visit KAStyle — Style Consulting for How You Live — Refashion, Recycle, Renew.


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