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Organizing the closet gets you dressed faster

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“Closet space is like money. You use up as much as you have.” — Ray Michel

When your closet is disorganized, getting dressed is a daily frustration. But organizing a closet can take six or more hours.

How to start? Do not empty the whole thing at once! The resulting chaos can be overwhelming, and chances are you won’t finish and will randomly stuff things back. Instead, work on one section of the closet at a time.

Like with like
Start by rearranging your wardrobe by type of garment. Group skirts, pants, blouses, dresses and jackets together. Now sort by occasion: items worn to work, items just for home, evening wear, outfits for casual events, etc. Sort items within categories by color. Hang suit pieces separately (jackets with jackets, pants with pants, skirts with skirts) to see the full range of mix-and-match options. Also, you’ll see what you really have (too many pair of black pants, too few white shirts, etc.)

Time to edit
Now decide what to keep. What takes up the most space? Is it in good condition? Is it in style? Why haven’t you worn it? Most people wear only 20 percent of the clothes in their closet. Take a quick look at yourself in the garment. If you don’t feel fantastic in it, bag it up. Unlike wine, clothes rarely improve with age. Also get rid of items with stains, things that need extensive repair and shoes that hurt.

Divide and consign
For clothes that don’t fit or you don’t want to give up yet, pack them up and out of the closet. Revisit them in six months. If they still don’t fit or you haven’t wanted to wear them, it’s time to recycle. If it’s hard to decide, have an objective friend help. Take your discards to a consignment clothing shop (find the stores nearest you in the Yellow Pages). If your clothes sell, you get cash; if not, they’ll be donated to thrift shops or charities.

Sort by season
Since it’s spring, move fall/winter clothing to the back of the closet or under the bed in storage boxes. You can also store out-of-season clothes in suitcases or a spare-bedroom closet (special occasion clothes can go there, too).

Suck it up
To triple storage potential, pack clothing in Space Bags. They are plastic bags you fill, then suction the air from with a vacuum. The bag is reduced to one-third its original size, and its contents are well-protected.

Accessories might make the outfit, but they make a mess of most closets. Sort and purge extra belts, ties, scarves and such. Install belt and tie racks (my belts are on a 10-hook plastic hanger; $2 from Target.) Wall hooks work fine for three or fewer items. Scarves store best folded in a drawer. Purses go on shelves.

Upgrade hangers
Uniformity in the closet is a good thing. Invest in hangers in one style (I prefer clear plastic) — spring for wood hangers, if you can afford. By using one style of hanger, your clothes hang at a consistent level and aren’t scrunched, so they stay in better shape and need less ironing. Wire hangers are hard on clothes; recycle them at the dry-cleaners.

Stretch space
In kids’ closets, install double rods and hang as many of their clothes as possible. The logic is that kids are more likely to hang clothes than fold them, and that dressing is easier done from the closet rather than drawers. Next, install shelves to hold shoes, a laundry basket, toys, etc.

Sew simple
Bring garments that need mending to the place you mend, such as the family room while watching TV or the car during rides. Get your supplies in order: thread, scissors, needle and the missing button.

With an organized closet you see only the clothes you like to wear, and getting dressed is faster and easier.