Closet organizing 101
Clear everything out
Here's where you have to be ruthless. Start by taking everything out of the closet, and then decide what gets to go back in. If you haven't used something in more than a year, it's time to let it go. If it's in good condition, sell or donate it.
Organize clothing by color and type
Getting dressed will be such a breeze, you'll wonder why you didn't do this sooner. No more hunting for specific items, so you can put outfits together much faster. Plus, with all your clothing organized you'll see pieces that consistently get rejected, which will make it easier to let them go.
Video: Common organizing mistakes
Use plastic bins or woven baskets
Here's another area where keeping similar items together saves time and money. Gather all your socks, pantyhose and other small items and group them by color. You'll know at a glance if you need more of something -- and chances are once they're all gathered in one handy location you'll see that you have more than you thought.
Buy matching hangers
Whether you buy wood or plastic depends on your budget and personal preference, but matching hangers are an easy way to give every closet a pulled-together look.
Rotate seasonal clothing
Have a closet you're not using, or old luggage you don't need? Pack your off-season clothes to make space for items you're wearing now. Your closet will look chic and tidy, and you won't waste time looking through clothes you know you won't wear.
Keep shoes organized, accessible and out of the way. The type of shoe rack you choose will depend on where you have storage space -- on the closet floor, on a rod, or on the back of a door.
Hanging tie and scarf racks
Keep ties and scarves organized, clean and wrinkle-free by hanging them together on a special rack rather than sticking them in a drawer. Plus, it's more efficient if you can see what you have at a glance and match them to the rest of your outfit.
Use the back of the closet door
It used to be wasted space; now it's the perfect location to hang larger items like handbags, shoes, scarves or long necklaces. Look in the closet accessory department of your favorite big box or department store to find just the right back-of-door rack for some of your hard-to-store accessories.
Add a portable hanging rod
If you need more hanging space but don't have the budget for a closet organizing system, this is an inexpensive solution. Hang the portable rod under an existing rod to double hanging space for shorter items like shirts and blouses. If there's room, consider adding a shelf over the main rod; this will give you extra storage space for infrequently used items such as evening accessories and small luggage.
Use vacuum-sealed storage bags
No kidding, you can double -- or triple -- the storage space in a closet by putting seasonal items in vacuum-sealed bags. Make sure the clothes are clean and dry, then place them in the bags as neatly as you can and use your vacuum cleaner hose to suck out the air. Sealed bags can be stacked on shelves, on the floor or at the back of the closet. If you're storing multiple types of items, such as several sets of sheets with Hawaiian shirts and summer shorts, place a list inside the bag before you seal it so you will know at a glance what's in there.
Sharon O'Brien is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon.