Cleaning Out Your Closet

Linda Rothschild prepares for a hard day's organizing.Photo: Kenneth Chen

Cross It Off Your List
$150 per hour for Rothschild, $85 staff

Approach: Pixieish Linda Rothschild zips through your closet in no-nonsense style, making sure your most-used items are accessible before stowing others away.
Pros: There’s a staff of six, so you can always get an appointment. Your organizer sends your discarded items to charity or a consignment shop, and sets up smart systems so you stay clean after she’s gone.
Cons: Rothschild isn’t very helpful about what to discard, and she doesn’t offer fashion suggestions.
Rating: 5

Visual Therapy
$3,600 for a full day plus follow-up, or $450 per hour

Approach: Before attacking your closets, Jesse Garza and Lani Rosenstock discuss the image you’re trying to convey, and prune your wardrobe accordingly.
Pros: These merciless editors help you create stylish outfits from your existing wardrobe, replace your hangers with a uniform set, and arrange all clothing by color and category. Then they’ll go shopping for whatever is missing, and bring it back for your approval.
Cons: At these prices, you may not have enough cash left to shop.
Rating: 4

Visual Therapy
$85 to $150 per hour

Approach: Kind, motherly Sondra Schiff (who runs a clutter support group for senior citizens) organizes items into groups, down to the smallest travel-size shampoo.
Pros: Schiff has some great tricks, like turning an item’s hanger around the first time you wear it each spring, so at the end of the season you can see what you didn’t use.
Cons: She’s too nice to be stern about getting rid of things.
Rating: 2

Gotham Organizers
$85 per hour (three-hour minimum)

Approach: Lisa Zaslow uses questionnaires to determine why the systems you have don’t work.
Pros: Zaslow makes clever use of your stored-up shopping bags, turning them into stationery holders and scarf storers. She’s armed with Post-its and markers to label bags, a scraper to remove candle wax once tabletops are clear, and cable cords to tie large wires together for a neater look.
Cons: If you need an organizer, you probably don’t like filling out forms.
Rating: 3

Barbara’s All In One Organizers
$75 per hour

Approach: Barbara Lawrence removes items one by one so you can decide whether to keep them.
Pros: Lawrence doesn’t just organize. She also cleans, dusts, and sometimes transforms. She twisted a silk scarf into a pretty flower shape, then placed it in a long-hidden Venetian glass.
Cons: No gizmos or label machines; just old-fashioned methods.
Rating: 3

A Proper Place
$250 assessment, $150 per hour for brock, $85 for assistants

Approach: Barbara Brock, who has an interior-design background, first sketches out a new floor plan, then sends in junior organizers to help you sort through your items.
Pros: Brock solves large organizational issues (your armoire might be relocated to store your TV), and works with builders who can handle suggestions like closet alterations.
Cons: Brock isn’t likely to get down on her hands and knees to go through the closet with you.
Rating: 3

Linda Rothschild explains what to look for in an organizer.

1. A good organizer must be empathetic and creative—New York apartments have terrible closet space, and original solutions are often required. If she asks, “How could you live like this?,” it’s not a good sign.

2. Be wary of someone who tells you exactly how much time it will take to organize your closets before seeing them. If you have a lot of clothes and shoes, a minimum of four hours could be required.

3. Don’t try to tidy up before the organizer comes. It’s important for her to see the real state of the closets.

4. The organizer should be knowledgeable about products. Do you need wooden or Lucite hangers? Should bins or boxes be fabric or plastic?

5. A good organizer should always be one step ahead of you, not waiting for your direction. It’s her job to make this a painless, not torturous, process.

Cleaning Out Your Closet