Closet organization ideas – 16 steps to the prettiest and most practical clothes storage you've ever had

These expert closet organization ideas will ensure your wardrobe is chic, curated and accessible

a walk in closet with items on display on a table
(Image credit: Nathan Schroeder. Design: Maestri Studios)

When you've got the very best closet organisation ideas, you don't need to worry so much about those rushed mornings when you slept through the alarm and didn't prep your work outfit the night before. A well-organized closet means that a busy lifestyle doesn't have to equal high stress levels.

By keeping everything coordinated and organized, you're not only ensuring your space is visually appealing, but also helping to maintain a calming atmosphere that will ensure everyday dressing is enjoyable rather than frantic and chaotic.

'Editing and organizing your wardrobe is therapeutic, time saving and energizing,' says  Romaine Lowery, personal organizer and virtual organizing consultant at The Clutter Clinic. 'Favorite clothes will be easy to find and getting dressed in the mornings will be a stress -free pleasure.'

Here, we get expert advice on the 16 best ways to organize your closet and make it a space that functions as you need it to. 

Closet organization ideas for curated clothes storage 

The best way to organize a closet is to start from scratch. Get everything out and clean the space, making sure shelves are dust-free and the floor is totally clear. 'Clear enough time to do the job properly - there is nothing more frustrating or disheartening than starting a project and then running out of time' advises Lucy Williams, founder of Please Organise Me (opens in new tab).

'Do not try to do everything in one go - it is tiring and can be overwhelming. Instead, tackle one small area at a time. One shelf, one drawer, one section of hanging space etc. Have a bin bag for rubbish, a bag for items to donate or give away, a bag for “belongs elsewhere”, a pile for needs to be mended. Only put back items into the wardrobe or closet you want to keep.'

1. Clear out the clutter

glamorous walk in closet by Neatsmith

(Image credit: Neatsmith)

Before delving into those handy closet storage ideas you first need to assess how much storage you need, whether you are working with a spacious walk-in closet or more modest bedroom storage

'Before you try to organize your clothes, clear out items you don’t need, like, or no longer use,' suggests Philipp Nagel, director at Neatsmith (opens in new tab). 'Organizing a wardrobe can only be done if you’ve done this first step.'

Romaine Lowery agrees you need to clear the clutter before you can organize anything. 'Empty wardrobes, drawers and containers and try on everything.  Then make piles for charity, recycling, sell and keep,' she says. 

'Get rid of anything you haven’t worn for two seasons and keep only what you love and feel fab in.'

'If you want to test how often you truly wear your clothes, hang all your clothes hangers back to front so the ‘pointy end’ is poking towards you,' says Katherine Blackler, a professional organizer and founder of Sort My Space (opens in new tab). 'Once you’ve worn an item, turn the hanger to the usual direction when you return it to the wardrobe. After 6/12/18 months, there will still be some hangers pointing the wrong way. This is a clear indicator you probably don’t need these items in your life and can now let them go.' 

2. Organize by category 

Dark blue walk in wardrobe with glass doors

(Image credit: Future)

Once you have made your cull, start organizing the clothes, shoes, and accessories you have left into categories. The categories you create will depend on a system that makes sense to you. For example, does it make sense to separate clothes into types, e.g trousers, tops, dresses or would it work better to divide them by occasion – most worn, workwear, loungewear, occasion wear? Once you have a system create piles based on these categories ready for them to go back into the closet. 

'To maximize space, we’d always recommend grouping clothes together, for example tops, dresses, trousers.' recommend Jen and Marr founders of Interior Fox. 'Giving each garment a designated area will allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for and will make best use of every inch. For an aesthetically pleasing wardrobe, make sure to group the colors together within their own garment category.'

3. Re-organize with the seasons

Organized wardrobe with hanging clothes

(Image credit: Future)

Think about the seasonality of your clothes and store accordingly so that you don't have clothes you won't be wearing clogging up access to your current most-used items.

'If you have the luxury of space, such as being able to include a walk-in wardrobe or multiple wardrobes in your bedroom, separate out items for summer and winter so that you don't have to sort through items every day that you only use every six months,' says Neatsmith's Philipp Nager.

'Store out of season clothes elsewhere for six months, and keep holiday clothes in a storage box or travel bag ready to go,' adds personal organizer Romaine Lowery.

'Seasonal clearouts are a must when maintaining a well-organized closet area.' advise Jen and Marr. 'Stowaway winter coats and chunky jumpers in the warmer months in vacuum-packed bags.' This will free up space, keep it clutter-free and create a closet that's only filled with items you know you are going to use. 

4. Create a capsule collection

shoe racks by Neatsmith

(Image credit: Neatsmith)

Creating capsules within your wardrobe is an organizing hack that will make dressing for every day and different situations so much easier.

'My biggest overall tip for organizing a closet is to first divide your wardrobe into capsules before you even try to organize it by color,' says Janelle Burns, lead interior designer of Maestri Studio. 'If you do only one thing, making capsules is perhaps the most helpful.'

She continues: 'Most people default to a few general capsules: career, casual and athleisure. For ladies, I also recommend a cocktail/date night 'going out' capsule to further reduce a closet from feeling overwhelming.'

5. Organize by color 

color organized closet with shoe racks by Jessica Lagrange

(Image credit: Jessica Lagrange)

Once you have organized your clothes into different types, you can create an even more practical storage scheme by then introducing color coordination.

'In each capsule, I group clothing by type (tops, skirts, dresses, pants) then by color,  and I typically start with white, followed by ROYGBV (the 'rainbow' scheme of red, orange, yellow, green, blue violet), tans, brown, then black,' says Janelle Burns. 

'These all also hang in order of least coverage to most coverage, (for instance- for tops I hang them from camisole, tank, short sleeve, 3/4th, to long sleeve),' she adds. 

6. Have an empty hanger area

clothes organization ideas with neutral pale white wardrobe by Neatsmith

(Image credit: Neatsmith)

'Second to creating capsules is to place empty hangers in a certain spot so that there are never empty hangers mixed in with hanging clothes,' says Janelle Burns. 

'When you remove a garment, the hanger comes off the rod, too, then the empty hanger goes to the empty hanger section.'

7. Think about ergonomics

Blue walk in wardrobe with central storage and show rack

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Now it's time to start putting your clothes, shoes, and accessories back into the closet. A good place to start with this seemingly mammoth task is to plan where each of your categories would work best. 

'Alongside organizing exactly where everything is placed, it’s important to think about the ergonomics, meaning how you move and flow in the space. Consider what order you dress in and design the layout, so it naturally fits with your movement.' says Jen and Marr.

Literally, practice it. Go to your wardrobe and see where is most natural for you to reach. What shelves and rails do you naturally go to? It might sound silly but it will give you a clear idea of where to store your most used clothes so that they are always easily accessible. 

8. Invest in the right clothes hangers 

Clothes organization ideas with closet by Maestri Studios

(Image credit: Maestri Studio/Nathan Shroeder)

'Matching hangers are a must, so all items hang at the same height and width,' states Kellie Burke, Principal Designer and Founder of Kellie Burke Interiors. 'I love chunky gold metal ones.'

Janelle Burns says felt hangers are a clever idea because they 'actually do help save space and, added bonus, they keep clothes from slipping off'.

She adds that speciality pant and coat hangers are worth the investment, too, explaining:  'When you buy more clothes, either buy more hangers for the garment type or edit clothes out. 

'Every type of garment should have a proper hanger - it looks nice and it also really helps the day-in day-out function of your closet.'

9. Assess your storage system 

Organized small walk in wardrobe

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If you're finding that your closet is constantly getting out of hand and no matter how much you declutter, the system isn't working, it's time to rethink the design and configuration. And this doesn't necessarily mean starting from scratch even if you have a built-in closet, it's more than likely you can tweak your current space to make it work harder and suit your needs better.  

Look at the clothes you own and assess what your storage needs are. Do you have lots of dresses that require rails? In that case, hang another bar. Do you need to incorporate drawers for t-shirts and sweaters? Can you fill dead space with bins and baskets that you can stash bags and shoes?

'Don’t buy any storage until your declutter is complete and your clothes positioned where they will live. Make sure you measure up and only buy extra storage if it is actually going to enhance the area. The basics that I find the biggest help are drawer dividers.' advises Silverthorn Vicky professional organizer and founder of You Need A Vicky (opens in new tab).

10. Incorporate drawers 

Pink bedroom with fireplace and walk in closet

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Shelves can be great for bulky items like jumpers or pieces you don't have to fold like shoes and bags, but avoid storing piles on open shelving. Katherine Blackler says, consider filing your clothes in drawers rather than piling on shelves. Adapting this Japanese custom (popularised by Marie Kondo) optimises drawer space and stops you disrupting an entire stack!'

11. Be clever with hangers

walk in closet with black dressing table and pink patterned ottoman

(Image credit: Ben Gebo Photography)

You might not think of hangers have much of an effect on a well-organized closet but choosing the right hangers can free up space, be better for your clothes and just be much more appealing to look at. 

'Attention to detail is key when working with an exposed closet. Purchase slimline black velvet hangers, making sure to hang them all in one direction. Use baskets to group together smaller items that do not have a space within drawers such as hair accessories or scarves.' recommends Jen and Marr. 

Lucy Williams founder of Please Organise Me (opens in new tab)., 'We cannot recommend slimline hangers enough! It frees up huge amounts of space and with all clothing hanging at a uniform height, it is visually appealing too.'

12. Keep smaller items organized in baskets, bins and boxes 

blue built in wardrobes

A really simple closet organization idea that's practical but can also look really lovely is to fill any dead space with baskets or boxes. Shelves or cubby holes can be a waste of space unless it contains a basket or bin. That way rather than pile everything, only to have it tumble down on you when you need access to what's on the bottom, up you can place it all in a basket and bring the whole basket down neatly. 

Baskets and boxes are ideal for storing small items like bags and scarves, but if you have the room for larger baskets they are ideal for bulky items like sweaters. That way they don't take up lots of room on your rail, won't get misshapen from being on a hanger and are still easy to access.

See how in this beautiful blue bedroom, a section of the closet has been filled with hat boxes and shoe boxes which can make for really handy storage, something to consider before you go throwing them out. 

13. Add in freestanding storage

walk in wardrobe with shoe storage

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Really maxed out your built-in closet storage? Add extra storage by bringing in some smaller, freestanding storage pieces. A coat stand for example is perfect for lighter spring and summer jackets that you want to keep out in the warmer months but take up too much space on your rails. As you can see in this walk-in closet, a stand for bags, scarves, and hats means they can all be kept in one place and are easy to grab when needed. 

14. Make space for shoes 

Show storage in dark walk in closet

(Image credit: MATTHEW WILLIAMS)

Shoes can take up a lot of room, so having an efficient storage system is key to an organized closet. Shelving works really well as shoe storage as you can clearly see what you are working with. If shelving is going to take up too much room, hanging storage solutions can be great too and can fit onto a rail or be hung on the back of a closet door. 

Just as you would with clothes, you want to arrange your shoe collection with the most worn front and center so you can just grab them and go. And top tip; if you position your pairs facing opposition directions you can free up way more space than if all your shoes pointed outwards. 

15. Hang curtains to hide clutter

pink dressing room with neon yellow curtain over shoe storage

(Image credit: 2 LG Studio)

Firstly, can we just note how fabulous this baby pink and neon yellow color scheme is? But there's a clever closet organization idea to steal here too. Hanging a curtain over any open storage you have in your closet gives a much more seamless look to the space. This would work perfectly if you had a small bedroom with an open closet so you can just pull a pretty curtain over all that visual clutter. Plus, having a curtain is a good way to protect your clothes from fading too. 

16. Add an ottoman for seating and storage

Dark walk in wardrobe with blue ottoman

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

If you've got the room an ottoman or a storage bench can be a great addition to a closet. Not only do they look lovely and give a real luxurious feel, they can double up as storage too. They are perfect for keeping larger pieces that you don't want taking up lots of room in your closet but would still like easy access to. And they are great for outfit planning as you can just pop your clothes for the day on the ottoman the night before to save time rummaging in the morning. 

Should I have clothes folded in my closet?

The most common mistake people make when organizing clothes is hanging every single item.

 According to Nic Shacklock from Online Bedrooms (opens in new tab), this isn’t an efficient way to store clothes.

 'Ideally, you should have hanging space as well as shelves,' he explains. 'To maximize the room you have you should be folding thick clothes such as jumpers and jeans to save space.'

He adds that hanging certain items can affect their shape, too. 'There are certain items of clothing, like hoodies and jumpers, that you’re better off folding, not only to make space, but to avoid ruining their shape on a hanger.

'By making use of shelves and having a bit of an organizational system, you’ll be able to maximize the space in your wardrobe in a much more efficient way.'

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.

With contributions from