Small Closet SOS: A Seasonal Approach

You have a small closet. You like clothes. Lately, every time you open your closet, your reaction ranges from “So Booor-ing” to straight-up “Ew.”

This could be the case because it’s been eons since you’ve engaged in a ruthless closet cleaning. Or, despite running a tight ship closet-wise (everything fits and is flattering in shade and style) your current number of treasures exceeds your physical closet space.




Here are some novel ways I’ve found to free up space in my seriously small closet.

  • Stow seasonal clutter. When summer comes, the parka and wool rap and heavy knit dresses get cleaned and stashed. So do those space-hogging boots.

While doing this, you’ll come across some items that have been worn to death, and look it. Congratulate yourself on getting out there and living—then toss the worn-out stuff. Repeat after me: I am no hobo!

  • Think like a retailer. You’ve tucked away the seasonal no-gos, whether it’s stashing the flouncy sun hats and flowing caftans since it’s fall, or tucking away knee boots and knit scarves since summer’s here.

But: your closet still looks like an overstuffed mess.

An over-stuffed closet is an uninspiring closet because each time you fling open your closet, your eyes rest on a big ole’ mess. You feel defeated even before you manage to pull something bland (jeans, again?) from its bloated, confusing jaws.

Plus, everything is smashed together, so your visibility is limited and you have no idea what you own. Just like an artist needs to see all of the colors on their palate, you need to know that you currently have exactly three dresses in your best shade of blue. Or, if you’re a guy, that you have four beautifully cut dress shirts and a blazer that fits so fine you could puke.

It’s called merchandising, and you need to know it in order to optimize your wardrobe.

First step? Thin out this season’s ranks.

  • Consider your overall look this season. Anything that does not fit in with this season’s look gets stashed away. Do fine stores hang onto five or six seasons at a time? No. And because you have a tiny closet, neither can you.


All You Small-Closet People in the House: Each season, pick an overall look. Stow away those items that don't conform to it.

All You Small-Closet People in the House: Each season, pick an overall look. Stow away those items that don’t conform to it.

Example. This season I’m feeling rich colors, flowing fabrics and more accessories than usual. This means my leagues of clingy shifts in grey and beige, no matter how groovy, are exiled just like Napoleon was to Elba (joke, joke). And while I really think Brooks Brothers non-iron shirts are handy to have, I happen to have a bunch of them. Blazers, too. (Blazers? Was I drunk?)

These, too, are out of bounds for this season, style wise, so they’ve been neatly shuffled away.

dealing with a small closet

You need to see those shoes…or you’ll never wear them! Tragedy!

You must do this for your shoes and accessories as well. The rest? Since your wardrobe is small, winnow down your shoe collection to the bare essentials, and line them up so you’ll see them clearly each time you open your closet. Or, shall I say, your private boutique?

Promote items you love but seldom wear by putting them up front.

As always, make sure your closet has curb appeal. Vacuum, dust and make sure your items are clean, polished and ship-shape for your most stylish season yet. And make sure you have the right hangers for a limited-space wardrobe.

The upside of having a small closet is this: It forces you to regularly declutter your wardrobe, and forces you to focus on your current style.

Will this take time? Yes. Will your closet look awesome and make you feel good each time you open it? Yes, also. Bonus round: You will look and feel better as a result, since you will dress more sharply, creatively and on-point in terms of who you happen to be at the moment.


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