How to Organize a Small Closet With Lots of Clothes

Maximize the space in your small closet so you can get dressed easily and start your day with confidence.

Published February 18, 2023
man on floor organizing closet

Make getting dressed a breeze and leave your untidy closet in the past. With the right organizational tips, your small closet can easily store your large wardrobe and all your accessories. Learn how to organize a small closet with lots of clothes for an easy outfit selection every day.

Fold Jeans on a Shelf

Woman standing on front of wardrobe holding stack of blue jeans

Keep your small closet as neat as possible by figuring out which garments are best stored on hangers and which are better suited to storing on a shelf. Bulky items like jeans are usually best kept on the shelf in your closet. You can use overhead shelving or a lower shelving unit beneath your hanging rod for storing all your favorite denim. You can even store folded jeans on a hanging shelf that attaches to the closet rod. Storing jeans and other bulky pants in this fashion allows you to see your selections while saving you plenty of space.

Know Which Items to Store on a Hanger

clothes hanging in a wardrobe

While your jeans are best suited to folding, many of your other garments work best on a hanger. Dresses, blouses, dress pants, skirts, and blazers are all items to hang in your closet for the most efficient storage. Try to arrange them by category, sleeve length, or color so you can always see your options displayed neatly when selecting an outfit.

Stack Sweaters

Close-up of folded sweaters on table

Bulky sweaters take up precious space in your closet. Rather than sacrificing an abundance of your clothes hangers and closet space, try stacking your sweaters in a neatly folded arrangement. Fold your sweaters efficiently and then place them in stacks so you can see all the colors and textures you have to choose from.

Add a Vertical Cubby

Closet shelves

For small closets that lack enough shelving to suit your needs, you can always add a few organizational products to help you tame the untidiness. A vertical cubby that hangs on your closet rod or stands free on the floor takes up minimal space while providing you with plenty of extra storage. Use this for displaying shoes, storing hats, showcasing handbags, and holding that stack of folded sweaters.

Store Handbags on a Shelf

Classy hand bag with a sleek finished look

Your collection of fabulous handbags deserves a spotlight in your closet. Display your style on an upper shelf so you can quickly find the handbag that complements your outfit of the day. For bags that are less structured and fall over, try stuffing them with tissue paper or a piece of cardboard so they will always sit up straight.

Roll T-shirts to Save Space

woman rolling t-shirts

Hanging all your t-shirts on the closet rod might seem like a good idea, but it could also take up a large amount of your space. Instead, roll your t-shirts tightly and store them in divided bins. Doing this still allows you to view your options at a glance without sacrificing so much of your hanging space. Keep your bins on an upper shelf, a lower unit, or in a vertical cubby. This storage hack also works well for tank tops, undershirts, and athletic wear.

Hang an Additional Rod

Woman getting ready for work

Most of the clothing hanging in your closet likely doesn't reach all the way to the floor. You can add another rod directly below your existing rod to double your hanging space. Use the top for blouses, blazers, and cardigans while you reserve the bottom rod for dress pants and skirts. For long garments like dresses, you can drape them over the bottom of a hanger, much like a pair of pants, to save on vertical space.

Store Seasonal Pieces Elsewhere

View Of Expensive Mens Jackets Hanging In Clothes Cupboard

Your closet doesn't have to contain every element of your wardrobe. You can store seasonal items, formal pieces, and outerwear in another location. Try to get in the habit of swapping your seasonal items out every four to six months according to your local climate. Store the unused items in a spare closet, under your bed, or on a garment rack in the storage space of your home.

Use the Right Hangers

Blouses hanging on coat hangers in a row arranged by color

The type of hangers you select for your closet can impact how much space each clothing item occupies. Look for thinner hangers rather than ones that are bulky or thick. You will also want hangers that have some sort of texture so your silky or extra soft items don't slide off easily. Thin, felt, or velvet covered hangers are perfect for almost every closet. Look for hangers in matching colors and materials so your wardrobe looks streamlined.

Add Hooks for Accessories

Hats hanging on hook on wall

Accessories are a part of your wardrobe too, so it makes sense to keep them nearby for putting together your best outfit every day. Add hooks to the wall space or doors in your closet so you can store hats, belts, and even jewelry alongside your clothing. Be sure to choose hooks that can bear the weight of the items you intend to hang.

Move Shoes to Another Storage Location

A general view of a a bright hallway showing under stairs cupboard storing coats and shoes

If your large collection of shoes is the main hindrance in keeping your closet tidy, it might be worth considering another location for storing them. You can keep shoes on a shoe rack in your bedroom or mudroom. You can even purchase organizational solutions that hold all your shoes and tuck neatly under your bed for hidden storage.

Store Scarves on Towel Racks

Colorful Scarves Hanging

Get creative wherever possible to make your small closet work for your big wardrobe. A towel rack can double as a wonderful fixture for hanging your collection of scarves. You can mount one or two towel racks on the walls of your closet or the interior side of the door. This creative solution also works well for storing ties.

Add Shelf Dividers

Clothes hanging on rack at store

For all the items stored on your upper shelves or your freestanding shelf unit, a few dividers will help keep everything organized. Dividers will keep your stack of sweaters from toppling over and help you organize your pants and jeans. You can use dividers to create clear designation between categories and keep your favorite hats from being crushed. You can even add dividers to a shelf for shoes so you can grab your favorite pair without sifting through a pile of sneakers and boots.

Throw in a Few Baskets

wire baskets on bed

A few baskets in the bottom of your closet or placed thoughtfully on a shelf can help contain some of your messier items. Use baskets on the floor for shoes, handbags, and bulky items. Slide baskets onto a shelf for small purses, hats, and belts. You can even use baskets for items that need to be dry cleaned, donated, returned, or mended. Designate a basket for items you tried on in a rush and need to hang up at a later time.

Declutter as Much as Possible

Get rid of excess clothes. Smiling woman carrying clothes boxes in hands near walk in wardrobe

Most people only wear about 20% of their wardrobe. Meaning, you probably have at least a few pieces in your closet that you wouldn't miss. The key to any organized space in your home is to practice decluttering. Evaluate the contents of your wardrobe and decide what is truly worth the space it will take up in your closet and your life. If an article of clothing no longer fits, hasn't been worn in a year, or doesn't make you feel your best, consider donating or selling it to make room for the items that you truly love.

The Don'ts of Closet Organization

While there are many ways to get your small closet organized, there are a few things you will want to avoid. Understanding the don'ts of closet organization will get you one step closer to having a small closet that leaves a big impact on your outfit selection and laundry routines.

  • Don't add too many organizational products. You don't want extra items to compromise space that is used for clothing.
  • Don't store sweaters or jeans on hangers. Sweaters can lose shape when they hang for long periods and hanging jeans will add unnecessary bulk to your closet. Stick to folding these items instead.
  • Avoid hanging purses and handbags on hooks. You don't want to stretch out the straps or add extra wear and tear to these accessories.
  • Holding on to clothes that don't serve you is a definite closet don't. Save space for only the pieces that make you feel like the best version of yourself.
  • Don't store bedding or linens in your closet. Stash these items in a linen closet or cabinet.
  • Avoid hanging bulky items like winter coats in your closet. Stash these items away during the off season and hang them on hooks by the door or in another closet during the cold seasons.
  • Don't skip making a plan. Having an organizational plan in place will help you tidy your closet efficiently and keep it tidy for longer.

Make Your Small Closet Work for You

A small closet doesn't have to look cluttered or make you feel overwhelmed each morning. Decluttering, making a plan, and applying a few professional organizational techniques will give you a small closet that offers endless wardrobe possibilities.

How to Organize a Small Closet With Lots of Clothes