Everyone knows the danger of closets: over time, they become black holes that attract everything from umbrellas to suitcases with a magnetic force of unparallelled strength. Eventually, it gets so bad that the closet becomes altogether unusable and your clothes are relegated to a chair, or worse, the floor.

Clare Kumar of Streamlife, a Toronto-based organization company, explained why keeping your closet clean and structured is so important.

“You’re in and out of there at least twice a day, if not more. Anything you’re using that frequently better work for you, otherwise you’re putting speed bumps into your day,” she said.

Organizing your closet can seem daunting at times, but when broken down into steps, the process becomes much easier to digest and potentially even, dare we say, fun. Follow these expert tips to tackle your wardrobe one garment at a time:

Plan your priorities

Prioritize Photo: Amy/Flickr

Kumar said that before you even open your closet door (and risk getting hit in the head with a pair of angry winter boots) it’s crucial to think about your priorities. Make a list of non-negotiable elements for your closet to better understand what you need.

“You need to understand what your clothing priorities are. If you used to work corporately and now you’re at home with kids or vice versa, it means a wholly different wardrobe,” she said. “Getting clear on the priorities and writing them down is a really good first step.”

Let go and liberate

Liberate Photo: Pinterest

Once you’ve decided what your closet priorities are, Kumar said to get rid of things that aren’t serving you anymore, a process she dubbed “liberate.” She detailed an easy system for determining what to keep and what to lose.

“I always talk about the three Cs: number one, get rid of anything that’s an unflattering color for you. Then you’re going to look at cut. Some things are really well made with great fabric and they just need an alteration,” she said. “Next, take a good look at the condition of a garment because if it’s tired, you know you’re not going to wear it. But above all, it’s got to make you feel great, it’s got to give you confidence, that’s probably the fourth C.”

Homogenize your hangers

Hangers Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Before you put your clothes back in the closet, it’s imperative that you choose the right hangers for them. The wrong hanger can potentially damage your clothes or cause them to slip off and get lost on the floor. And above all, Kumar said that all the hangers in your closet should look the same to create a homogenous look.

“Number one is to unify them as much as possible because it dials down the visual noise. Closets are already pretty busy places in terms of all the colours and patterns, and if you can get all the same one type of hanger you’ll have a huge advantage,” she explained. “I like cloth hangers, they’re the ones that have that velvety feel.”

Categorize your clothes

Arrange Photo: Rubbermaid Products/Flickr

Next on Kumar’s list is arranging. This is where it’s crucial to develop a system that works for you and allows you to find your clothes easily. Kumar had some suggestions for arranging your clothes in a space-effective way.

“To get the most out of closet space, you’ve got to group clothing by size. So long hanging clothes go together, short hanging clothes go together, and that effectively opens up more space because you can create two levels if your top bar is high enough,” she explained.

She also suggested grouping clothes by function or color within each section to create a more streamlined look.

“Color blocking helps you find where to put something away and locate it at the same time. I usually put the darkest clothes in the brightest spot and the lightest clothes in the darkest spots. If you can’t see it, you’re beating yourself up,” she said.

Shape up your shoes

Shoes Photo: Pinterest

For many, shoes tend to create the biggest issue in terms of keep a closet clean and organized because they can easily create a messy look. Kumar said that clear plastic shoe boxes are a key element of her own closet because they create such a cohesive look and feel.

“I get rid of the boxes that shoes come in because they’re all different shapes and sizes and they don’t necessarily stack so well, plus they tend to fall apart overtime. Clear plastic shoe boxes are probably my biggest go-to home organizing tool, period,” she said.

Make your accessories accessible

Accessories Photo: Pinterest

Finding a home for your accessories can either be a mundane task or a fun, creative project — it all depends on how you address the issue. Kumar suggested making this part of the organizational process an opportunity to add a personalized touch to your space.

“We did a makeover where the woman had mounted door knobs all over the back of her door and was hanging hats on the door knobs,” she said.

Let there be light

Light Photo: Pinterest

Finally, let there be light! Kumar said that people rarely factor in lighting during their closet makeovers, even though it’s one of the most important things to remember.

“In terms of making it user-friendly, it has to be well-lit. That’s one of the biggest problems and you might not think about it, but if you can’t tell your blacks from your navies, you’re in trouble. It’s this extra stress that you don’t need. So lighting is paramount,” she explained.

Nurture your nook

Nurture Photo: Rubbermaid Products/Flickr

Once it’s all said and done, having an organized closet doesn’t mean anything if you’re not willing to hold up your end of the bargain. Creating a system that you know you’ll be able to realistically maintain is one of the most important parts of the process.

“The end part of the plan is nurturing. If you set up a smart system when you’re arranging it, then the putting away will be easy. For some people, maintaining order in a closet is easy if the system is in place, but if it’s not and you’re finding things building up, then you’ll really want to work on this aspect of organization,” she said.

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