Sunday 27 February 2011


How to Effectively Organize your Wardrobe?

Notice the two vertical blocks of IKEA's CD racks?

I have been told that our place looks very neat, and people wonder how we manage to keep it so neat with a toddler running around. I am asked to provide a list of how I plan my wardrobe, and here it is.

Don't be discouraged when you see our place, as firstly I am a neat freak, and I married a neat freak, and we gave birth to a neat freak, J. We are told at the daycare that J loves to help to clean up, and put things back to the shelves where they belong… ha ha… just like mommy. Since we are a family of neat freaks, it makes tidying up much easier, as there is strength in unity. You can’t do it alone. We also live in a country full of neat freats (Denmark). The average Danish home is very simple, Scandinavian-Zen style and clutterfree.

Having said that, there are some strategies that could help those who are not neat freaks like us.

3 Golden Principles

But before I start the list for the wardrobe, there are 3 golden principles that we practice in general, also with wardrobe:

1. Everything has its place and each compartment is a category

2. Take 5 minutes to tidy up after each day

3. Bin everything that does not fall into a category

Before planning our wardrobe, or even our apartment, I make a list for a compartment for everything. Those things that does not fall under any category or compartment, I will either throw them away or if it is worth it, I will create a compartment for them.

In this way, we manage to keep everything neat, as everything is slot back to where they belong the moment they arrive our home. And at the end of every day, when I am totally exhausted with J, having such a system helps me to clean everything up within minutes.
Below is a list specifically for organizing wardrobe:

1. Wherever possible, hang the clothes

Avoid folding clothes. Wherever possible, hang the clothes. I find that it takes me less time to hang clothes than to fold them and put them in drawers. I hang even the T-shirts that I use for going out (you don’t need to hang those casual T-shirts that you use daily that are fit for painting the house, of course).

2. Hang the clothes from the beginning

I hang my clothes with hangers from the moment they get out of the washing machine. The clothes are hung to dry on hangers and when they are dry, the clothes together with the hangers goes straight back to the wardrobe.

3. Arrange clothes by length first

Most people do this anyway, but I make some more defined groups. I hang the shirts together, the pants together, etc. There are 7 main groups by length as follows:

1. Her shirts
2. Her pants
3. Her skirts
4. Her mid-length dresses
5. Her long dresses
6. His shirts
7. His pants (folded half to space the length space)

4. Measure the length of space required

Everyone’s height is different. Remember to measure the clothes together with the hanger to find the optimal length of the hanging space that you need. Then tailor-made the shelves to fit you. You will find that you save space, if you do so. For us, my Significant Other measured the space it will need for my shirts, the space it will need for his’s shirts, etc.

5. Use different hangers for different clothes

Use thin and light hangers. The wooden hangers look good, but they are not very functional and take up space. I only use the straight wooden ones for the pants. I use the IKEA's kids' colourful hangers for the sleeveless clothes. They are less wide and take up less space. For my Significant Other, we use the wider plastic hangers or the thin metal ones for the shirts. We only use the wooden hangers for jackets, as they can take more weight.

6. Then arrange by type

I hang all the short sleeves together, because they take up less space (the short sleeves will be arranged by colours, of course). Then comes the long sleeves (and it will be arranged by colour again).

7. Then arrange clothes by colour

You may wonder whether it will take a longer time to keep everything in place. Actually no. I simply slot my clothes back to the colour spot where they belong together with other clothes of the same colour. When I want to retrieve my clothes, it is easier to pick them out. There is a zen-like quality to the clarity of clearness, when the wardrobe is arranged by colour.

8. Go vertical Singapore-style

Most people put their trinkets, creams, etc. horizontally on dressing table. These take up precious space. I learn from the Singapore urban planning strategy and create "high-rise homes" for them. If the trinkets are citizens of the Wardrobe-land, then the vertical IKEA CD racks would be their homes.

9. The upper shelf for him and the lower shelf for her

My Significant Other's shirts and pants are hung on the upper bars and mine are hung on the lower bars.

10. Shelves

Plan the numbers of shelves, drawers and baskets you need. Some things are better folded and displayed on shelves such as the following:

1. Thick woolen cardigans
2. Casual homewear t-shirts
3. Shorts
4. Bath towels (this can be stored in the bathroom, if you don't have space in the wardrobe)
5. Bed linens (this can be stored somewhere else, if you don't have space in the wardrobe)

11. Drawers

No matter how much you try to hang your clothes, there will still be things that work best folded. Below is a list for each drawer:

1. Jewelery
2. Her bras
3. Her underwear
4. His underwear
5. Pajamas

12. Baskets

Most of us run out of drawers at some point. There are some things I find useful to put into baskets. You would also want a basket for the clothes that you want to re-use, which are not quite ready yet for laundry, but are not clean enough to be placed back to the wardrobe. Here is a list for the "Re-use Basket":

1. His socks
2. Her socks
3. Her stocking
4. His clothes for re-use
5. Her clothes for re-use

13. Folding clothes

Fold the clothes so that they are similar in size to optimize the shelf space used to store them. However, this can cause a potential marrital argument. If you and your spouse have a different style of folding clothes and could not agree, then it is better to let this go. It is better to have a good marriage and nicely folded clothes :-)

14. Hanging tree

We find having a hanging tree useful to hang clothes which we want to re-use such as pants. You can also use hangers that is behind the door.

15. Hanging hooks on the side of the wardrobe

We save space by hanging belts on the side of the wardrobe.

16. Racks on the side of the wardrobe

You may find that a rack on the side of the wardrobe serves as a useful hanging place for his ties and her long winter scarfs.

17. Small compartments

We find it useful to have small compartments for the following items, and IKEA’s CD rack serves the purpose perfectly:

1. Scarfs (3-4 CD compartments)
2. Necklace (3-4 CD compartments)
3. Ring
4. Make-up
5. Perfume
6. Skin care items (although we prefer this to be kept in our bathroom)

18. Mirror mounted on door

We find it useful to have full length mirror mounted onto the door that we enter our walk-in wardrobe, as it saves wall space. If you do not have a walk-in wardrobe, it is useful to have one of the wardrobe doors to be made of mirror. To save budget, this can be from IKEA’s Pax.

19. Table space

We find it useful to have a table space in our walk-in wardrobe for things such as hair-dryer, etc.

20. Spotlights

Lastly, if you are building a walk-in wardrobe, spotlights in the ceiling complete the look :-)

The benefits of being organized

We pay for cleaning help, so it does help us to save money by reducing the cleaning time, when the place is neat and easy to clean.

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