Refining the Closet

For my husband and I, it was a most natural progression to move from curating our wardrobes to refining our closet.

I had long dreamed of having one of those perfect closets you see in advertisements. The ones where clothing has space to breathe, the storage is impeccably placed, and the closet has a decor of its own sophisticated enough to rival that of a more public space.


The Purge

No matter what style you gravitate towards, when you look at those beautifully designed closets on pinterest, they all have a little hidden, often overlooked detail: not a single picture contains clothes shoved into every nook and cranny.  No matter how lovely your storage, clothing, hangers or shoes if you can’t create space between the items in your closet, it is just not going to feel glamorous.  How could it? When presented with an overwhelming, exploding closet, we can’t help but feel a sense of anxiety and little bit of stress creeping into our minds.

Similar to how we attack building our actual wardrobe, we start with throwing out the old.  Even before we started to upgrade our storage or take a stab at organization, the simple act of removing the excess created a much improved space.  Tossing out our excess clothing was by far the most impactful step of the closet makeover.

In my research into minimalism and building a wardrobe, I came across a book that recommended I pull EVERYTHING out of closet and toss it onto the bed.  I have never felt I had a ton of clothing so the task seemed manageable. The pile grew far larger than I had anticipated.  Seeing all of the clothing I owned actually helped me get rid of some.  I didn’t feel as though I had to hold on to everything when I had so many pieces.  As a result, only the clothes that actually fit both my body and current style (ones style does evolve over a decade or two!) made it back into the closet.  After this great purge, my hangers actually had an inch to either side of them!  It was the first time I realized how powerful the space to breath could be.



Perhaps the most obvious item to tackle in a closet upgrade: the hangers.  I knew what I wanted  to see: uniform, wooden hangers with brass hardware and a dark finish.  However, there’s more to a quality hanger than how it looks.

Basically, you can size a hanger to your garment or to your shoulders.   Ideally, all your clothing would fit you just right so that there wouldn’t be much of a difference between the two.  I have broad shoulders, so I ordered most of my shirt hangers to fit my shoulders to avoid that unattractive “shoulder nipple” that can occur when your hangers are too short.  Nevertheless, I do own two very structured jackets that are a little snug in the shoulders so for those I ordered hangers to fit the actual shoulder width of the garment.

Along with beautiful hangers, you can find a very helpful illustration here.


We had two unique storage situations: out of season pieces and special occasion items.  For our out of season items, we simply folded them up and put them in attractive linen bins. If your storage needs or space require you to go vertical more than one level, I would suggest considering bins with tops so they stack.

The special occasion items required garment bags.  A single color and style of garment bag provided a uniformity to the closet that is both pleasing and practical.  Garment bags should be made of breathable, natural materials.  We selected the cotton bags from the container store since there were so many options from large storage to single garment bags.  You can find a few of those here and here.


Shoe storage was a three part process.  First, we needed a shoe rack.  We went with a simple closetmaid stackable shoe rack.  However, I think each space will have its own requirements.  The important thing to remember is to put it in a place where your shoes are easily in reach.  We tried having them on the top of our closet, but I wasn’t quite tall enough to reach every pair which turned out to be highly inconvenient.

Next, we purchased cedar shoe trees for all our pairs of shoes.  The purpose was twofold: keep them smelling great while also in the perfect shape.

Lastly, those few special occasion shoes received linen shoe bags from one of my favorite San Francisco boutiques Elizabeth W.  Shoe bags can help keep your shoes from getting dusty and add a nice layer of luxury to your shoe storage.

Odds & Ends

We do have storage at the top of our closet for my hats and out of season items.  My husband is a few inches taller than I am so a little ladder was a huge help to me.  Despite being a little heavy, I love our wooden step stool.  It’s pretty enough that if I get lazy and leave it out, it doesn’t subtract from the beauty of the closet.  However, it easily folds up and can be stored (in our case) behind the closet door.



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