You Don’t Wear What You Can’t See, Part 2

Posted by Jill Chivers in Shop Your Wardrobe Strategies

In Part 1 of this article, I shared some personal examples of an organised ‘shop your wardrobe’ closet (mine).  And why having an organised wardrobe is SO important (imperative actually) if you are to get the most out of your closet.

In this article, the second and final of this series, I’m going to share my top tips for creating an organised wardrobe you can shop in.  These are from my own trial and error efforts – there’s no theory here.

These tips have all come from my own hard-won experience in creating a serviceable, workable, useable and beautiful closet space – one that you want to ‘shop’ in!

Top tips for creating an organised wardrobe you can shop in

1. Organise by type.  There is absolutely NO better way to create a space that’s easy to navigate around than having it organised this way.

Firstly, organise by the type of item – all t-shirts together, all blouses together, all long-sleeve knits together, all skirts together, all pants, all jackets, all dresses – you get the drift.

Remember to sub-categorise if you have a lot of items in one category.  Say it’s skirts, you’ve got a lot.  Then sub-group into short skirts, long skirts, work skirts, patterned skirts, etc – whatever items you have that lend themselves most easily to sub-grouping.  Same for any other category that you have quite a few of – dresses, pants, jackets, blouses, tops.  Sub-grouping large categories them will mean you see more of what you have in each sub-category.

When you walk into a store, they’re organised by type, aren’t they?  Unless it’s the discount rack, where everything is deliberately jumbled up together,  the clothing you find in stores are organised by type – dresses together, blouses together, jeans together, and so on.

So if the stores do it, it’s a great idea to borrow for your own wardrobe.

Stores organise their merchandise by type - all jeans together

Stores organise their merchandise by type – all jeans together


And YES, organising this way means breaking up your suits — no hanging suits together!  Put the dress part of the suit with the dresses, the jacket with the other jackets, the skirt with the other skirts, and the suit pants with your tailoured pants.

You will get TONNES more wear out of your suit this way – it has enormous mix’n’match potential in its component parts!


2.  Organise by colour and print. Once you have your categories sorted out, next step is to organise by colour and print within your categories.  So within say your blouses, organise by colour – all whites together, all creams together, all blues together, and so on.  Same for every other category – once they are grouped together by type, organise again by colour.

With prints, I advocate putting them together in a ‘print’ grouping and not interspersing them with your colours, unless you have few prints and it really works better in your closet to put them with the colour group most dominant in the print.

For me, because animal print is my signature look and I have a lot of it, I keep my animal print items grouped together within each category.  So say long sleeve tops – there’s the coloured grouping, then there’s the print grouping.  Same for jackets and blouses.

The colour wheel is a nice way to organise your colours – blues next to greens, then yellows, then oranges, reds, then purples.  But any colour organising that takes you fancy will work.

Organising this way not only looks gorgeous, it makes it easy to reach for items when you’re creating ensembles in the morning or whenever you’re getting dressed.

For example, want to wear a dark solid skirt and a coloured long sleeve blouse today?  Easy to locate:  here are the dark solid skirts — think I’ll wear navy today — and here are the coloured long sleeve blouses — the orange is calling me.  Quick.  Stress free. Simple.

This also means you can see everything you have in one particular category – there’s no confusion about what you own.

This is how I was able to see my 14 pair of blue jeans.  They were all there – in two stacks.

Stores organise their merchandise in colour and print groups


When you organise your wardrobe by type then by colour and print, it can often mean you reduce your shopping, especially if you have a penchant for a particular item, like, say, oh I don’t know, animal print jackets.

Organised by type and colour+print, you can see how many you already have, and when you are in a real store and come across another animal print jacket, you can call to mind very quickly your own wardrobe and how many items in this category you have.

And unless you deliberately choose to stay unconscious (which I understand, because I did that for some years, but I certainly don’t advocate shopping with your brain in neutral), then it’s easy to make the decision not to buy another item in a category that you already have a lot of items in already.


3.  Make your space as beautiful as you can.  In real stores, they do this (unless it’s the discount variety stores which entice you into believing everything is a bargain with their industrial aesthetic – nothing says “bargain” as quickly as cement).

Store designers lay out the store as attractively as they can, they add in features that make it a visual delight to be there, and they generally try to make the experience of being in the space as appealing as possible.

They do all this so you’ll stay in their store longer, and buy more stuff, which is often not so great.  But the principle of making your space as gorgeous as possible applies here – you DO want to spend more time in your own closet!

So imagine some ways you can make your space as beautiful, as lovely, as enticing as possible – then add those elements into your wardrobe space.  It’s a space you spend daily time in, so it’s worth making it as pleasing to be in as you can.

At the very least, make sure your space is clean (this is the bare minimum), and that your hangers are all the same type for each item of clothing.  This alone makes your space more useable, and it also makes it easier to maintain on an ongoing basis.

One step up from the basics is to use as many organising tools as you can to help get your space working smoothly.  In discount department stores, the kitchen department has lots of great ideas (such as baskets of all sizes and shapes, often stackable) that can be used in your closet. They can also be a great place to buy cheaper versions of the items you find in dedicated organising stores, which are simply wonderful (I just love a fabulous organising store – I once spent over 2 hours in The Container Store in Walnut Creek in California.  Funny how I still remember that, many years later).

These dedicated organising stores, such as Howards Storage World in Australia, The Container Store in the US, and The Holding Company in the UK, will give you loads of ideas on how to better organise your space.  They’re worth a visit just for the ideas you’ll get, if not to pick up some great organising tools for your own wardrobe.

Beyond the basics, the limit is your imagination on how you can make your wardrobe space as appealing as possible, making it a space you want to spend time in.

Stores display their merchandise attractively

Stores display their merchandise attractively


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