For fashion designers, closets aren’t just storage space, they’re home to their pride and joy, their pièce de résistance, their job: clothes. You’ll rarely (if ever) find sweaters half-falling off hangers or wrinkled blouses piling up in the corner. If anyone knows how to keep a closet organized, it’s them.
Their secret to keeping the mess to a minimum? Proper storage. No, we’re not talking about a custom walk-in with fancy valet rods and floor-to-ceiling shelves. When we asked Clare Vivier, Nina Sarin Arias, and four other stylish insiders to reveal what keeps their wardrobes looking neat, we discovered it’s all about the right bins, baskets, shoe racks, and dividers—hardworking basics that make pulling together an outfit seamless. Read on for their space-saving essentials:
For Your Favorite Tees
When Apiece Apart cofounder Laura Cramer is low on dresser space, she gets creative. “I use these baskets to keep clutter off the floor and store folded clothes,” she says. Woven from plastic strips and reeds, her pick is perfect for anything that won’t easily wrinkle (think: gym gear, plain T-shirts, and sweatshirts).
Good hangers are the backbone of a spotless closet, but there’s a lot of debate over which ones are best. Wood or velvet? Rubber or metal? Clare Vivier surprised us with her pick: acrylic. “Skinny hangers are a no-brainer for me to keep the maximum amount of clothing on my racks,” says the Los Angeles designer.
For the Things That Always Get Lost
Nathalie Saphier, founder and designer of Replica of Los Angeles, keeps several of these stacked drawer units in her closet to store swimsuits, socks and hosiery, underwear, and tote bags—basically anything that’s small and doesn’t need folding. “I like that they’re mesh, which makes it easy to see things,” says Saphier.
Ah, the power of an S hook. Joyce Lee, head designer at Madewell, bought some for her home after seeing her visuals team use them at the office. “I started using them to hang all of my belts because they take up such a small amount of space,” says Lee. Psst: Caps, clutches, and scarves can also hang out on the contraptions.
For Cold-Weather and Travel Essentials
Smaller containers come in handy for things you might feel tempted to toss in piles, from shawls to gloves. “I have baskets for eye masks, headphones, cashmere wraps—all the things I make sure I have in my carry-on when I travel,” says Vivier. When shopping for catchalls, ARIAS founder and creative director Nina Sarin Arias opts for handmade ones with character, like this navy design crafted from cotton rope.
Saphier sums up this 42-pair organizer perfectly: “It’s the jam!” The gray plastic hooks let you hang shoes on both the front and back, and there are telescopic tension poles on either end so your footwear can soar to the ceiling. “It still isn’t enough for my Imelda Marcos–worthy collection, but it’s a start,” she says.
For Dainty Accessories
Cramer’s second piece of advice: Use the top of your dresser or empty space on an open shelf to display smaller collectibles like decor (think: anything from jewelry to buttons to personal mementos). The designer loves the white and cream tones of ceramist Colleen Hennessey’s shallow bowls and trays.
For Statement Jewelry
Oleema Miller, cofounder and designer of swimwear brand MIKOH, has made a habit of collecting jewelry on her travels. The bulkier items in her collection now live in stackable acrylic drawers. “These boxes perfectly display your treasures while keeping them separated, safe, and looking as special as the first day you wore them,” she shares.
For Your Underwear Drawer
Divided compartments will stop your undergarments from getting jumbled up—fold your bras and they’ll actually stay that way. Lee swears by these fabric ones “for keeping underwear and socks nice and tidy.”
For Anything Extra
Seasonal gear and spare linens do not belong with your everyday staples. If you don’t have a hall closet, Lee suggests stowing sheets, towels, and winter coats under the bed in one of these woven water-hyacinth bins.
For Admiring Your Work
If you have the luxury of a walk-in closet, we’re guessing it’s missing one critical element: seating. “In general, I try to keep pieces hanging or folded in my closet, arranged by color. Then when I’m deciding what to wear for the day or packing for a vacation, I lay out the items on an ottoman,” explains Arias. Hot tip: A bench can also serve as a folding station on laundry day.
Now all we need is a wardrobe to match our new closets.
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