The Closet Organizer

Photo: Danny Kim

What’s the trick to maintaining a tidy closet?
Buy all the same hangers—same color and same size. The hangers in my product line Clos-ette Too have a very short drop, meaning they sit closer to your rod so they’ll save you a lot of vertical room. That’s the simplest answer, but there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Like what?
A massive edit, for starters. Go through everything in your closet and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

So what stays and what goes?
We’ve all heard the rule “If you haven’t worn it for a year, get rid of it.” But trends come back around, so even if you haven’t worn it in a while, it might be worth keeping. The questions that really need to be asked are “Would you buy this today?” and “Is it looking worn-down?” Also, if something doesn’t fit, it just doesn’t fit.

What do you do with pieces that don’t make the cut?
Consign. Even billionaires do it. Getting money back makes cleaning out your closet worth the trouble. Resale on 72nd Street and Designer Resale on 81st Street are amazing for high-end designers. Or donate them. Dress for Success, Housing Works, and the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Thrift Shop are all amazing. Plus you can write off up to $5,000 for charity.

What happens after the big clean out?
Consider the placement of the rod. You don’t want items to be too far out of reach. Then organize clothes by type: shirts with shirts, pants with pants, and so on. Separate those pieces by color, arranging from lightest to darkest. It’s an old visual merchandising trick that taps into how your eye naturally takes things in.

Where do you stand on hanging and folding?
Finer-gauge cashmere and beaded items need to be folded—with a folding board—but hang everything else.

Let’s talk shoes.
Because depth is usually the problem, line your shoes up horizontally, one in front of the other, as opposed to side-by-side. You’ll fit twice as many pairs.

What about all the extras, like belts, scarves, ties … ?
Buy a bunch of nice hooks and a peg wall, like you would see in a garage, then start hanging. You can even cut out the middle and put in a mirror.

What’s your secret shelving source?
Inexpensive Ikea. They even sell closets for people who live in closetless apartments.

What’s trendy in custom closets right now?
Painted wood, instead of natural, is huge right now. I’ve refined a finish that’s not lacquer, but it’s lacquerlike, so it’s nontoxic. I’ve also been adding chandeliers a lot more, so closets feel like a little boutique.

Has anyone ever asked you to create the closet Kurt Russell built Goldie Hawn in the movie Overboard?
No, but we do lazy Susans all the time—just like the one from the film.

Install Clear Shelves

“Lucite or Plexiglas allows you to see everything in dark spaces, especially in closets with high ceilings.”
Illustration by Kate Francis

The Closet Organizer