Those who know me well, will attest to my
obsession love of organizing. In fact, I have (shockingly) discussed this very subject on the blog a handful of times (most specifically here and here). So, when I was graciously approached to review the book, Organizing For Your Lifestyle: Adaptable Inspirations from Socks to Suitcases, well, let’s just say I have never said yes to anything faster.
Organizing For Your Lifestyle is a great resource for the modern woman; well, in part because it was so eloquently written by one – the fabulous, Jane Stoller. Jane, born in small town Ontario, Canada (homegrown girl), began organizing at an early age, and could often be found happily lining up her pet cats, stuffed animals, and books (sounds oddly familiar).
As an adult, Jane’s passion for organizing evolved to include all types of storage space with a special desire for revolutionizing closets, and she has credited much of her professional success to being organized. For Jane, anything can be achieved through good organizing habits.
Intelligently, the book begins with a quiz intended to uncover one’s “organizing style”, and for me, Jane’s decision to begin the book in this way is illustrative of her firm grasp on the science behind organizing. While there will always be certain best practices associated with organizing or an organized lifestyle, no established process will ever be successful unless it speaks to the flow, to the mind of the individual. While the quiz revealed that I am in fairly good shape when it comes to organizing, it also highlighted some room for improvement.
The book itself is organized (no pun intended) well, beginning with the science behind organization (aspects of which are fascinating), and continues on with tips and tricks for organizing various aspects of a modern woman’s life: the closet, the bathroom, the kitchen, travel, books and storage.
While Jane offers many valuable tips and tricks for streamlining life, today, I’d like to focus on chapter two: the closet. This week, my fellow Canadians and I began the transition from summer to fall, and when the seasons change, one of the first things I do is head straight for my closet.
Transitioning one’s wardrobe into a new season is the perfect time to assess whether one’s closet is organized and functioning well. While I will not be taking you through all of Jane’s juicy tips for the perfectly organized closet, allow me to highlight the three that most spoke to me:
Consider Your Space
The first thing you must do when organizing your closet is to consider the space. For example, how much space do you have? Do your clothes, shoes and accessories fit comfortably in that space? Do you have enough space for the items you prefer folded or hung? Do you have adequate drawer space for folded or intimate items?
Next, unless you are fortunate enough to have custom-built closets, you will likely have to add something to the space (or even create the space) to improve its function. If you are just looking to elevate the interior of your closet, places like Ikea, The Container Store and Solutions (for us Canadian folk) offer endless organizing solutions to suit your needs. If you are looking to actually create the closet space, again, Ikea offers services to create a wardrobe that can be as simple or as complex as your taste.
The lightbulb moment for me was actually Jane’s reference to lighting in one’s closet (again, no pun intended). Jane notes that even the most beautifully organized closets can be undone by poor lighting, and I would have to agree. As an apartment dweller, I do not have the ability to add permanent wiring to my closet; however, these days, there are so many impermanent and wireless options to choose from, that I can’t wait to explore the possibilities. Can you say next weekend’s project?
Use Quality Hangers
For some, the style or quality of a hanger is unimportant; however, those people won’t likely be reading this blog or Jane’s book. For Jane and myself, quality hangers are worth the investment. Not only will they last a lifetime and preserve the integrity of your garment, but matching hangers are one of those essential pieces that can elevate the aesthetic of the space in a big way.
If you’re buying quality hangers for the first time and are on a budget, Jane suggests you replace in stages. Buy enough to hold your favourite or most worn items first, for example, purchase enough wooden hangers for your blazers or dresses, and expand from there as your budget allows.
While Jane suggests wooden hangers for those heavier pieces, and black velvet slimline hangers for practically everything else, I simply have one style of hanger for all of the items I hang. In fact, I have had great success with these simple wooden hangers from Ikea (one of Jane’s favourites too), in white, and appreciate both their quality (at a very reasonable price point) as well as their clean and bright aesthetic.
If you have quite a few pants and skirts in your wardrobe, then you may also want to invest in hangers designed specifically for pants/suits, and Jane offers a handy tip (al la Martha Stewart) for those skirts and pants that can become creased by the weight of the clip. Simply place a piece of folded felt over the waist of the skirt, or directly under the clip. If you don’t have felt, thick cocktail napkins or even card stock will work. Really anything that provides a barrier between the clip and the garment.
Finally, depending on your wardrobe needs, you may also want to invest in a few padded hangers. While they are somewhat of a luxury, they can be worth the investment if you have delicate garments made from silk or satin. The downside is that they can take up quite a bit of room, so if your space is limited, save them for that special nightgown or blouse.
A Place For Everything
One of the most challenging aspects of organizing a closet is not tailoring a space for your clothing, but rather finding the right place for everything else. I’m talking about all those accessories – scarves, belts, jewelry – the list is endless.
Overwhelmed yet? Well, fear not, for Jane has some handy tips for those items as well.
Scarves – While many scarves made from more durable fabrics (i.e poly blend) can be hung on a scarf hanger like this or this, if you have pieces comprised of a more delicate fabric (i.e. silk), it is advisable to fold those to avoid excess wrinkles, creasing or worse, damage. I store my delicate scarves folded, in a covered storage bin, like this one from Ikea.
Belts – As Jane and I can both attest, belts have a tendency to get in the way. While they are an essential wardrobe staple for many, it can be quite difficult to decide what to do with them. While you can now find hangers specifically designed to store belts, Jane suggests an alternative (again, al la Martha Stewart), especially if space is limited – place hooks on the back of a door or a wall of the closet that isn’t in use. Those handy dandy removable hooks from 3M are a great option, or you can add something a little more aesthetically pleasing, like these or these from Anthropologie.
Jewelry – Again, the best way to store your collection will depend on what your collection is comprised of, and to some extent, your personal preference. If you own mostly costume pieces that are more durable, then you have a number of options. Again, you can arrange a series of hooks in your closet (like above from Anthropologie) to hang necklaces, or get yourself an tree, like this one, to hold your assortment of earrings. Alternatively, if your collection is comprised of more precious pieces, then you may want to consider another route. For example, my jewelry is predominantly composed of sterling silver pieces (I bet you can’t guess where from), which are best stored away from excessive exposure to air, light and moisture. Fortunately, each of my pieces come in their own tarnish-proof pouch, which I then place in a large jewelry box, like this one from Pottery Barn. While gold and platinum pieces are a little more resilient, given their value, you may want to store them away in a box or armoire to protect them when not in use as well.
While I could chat all day about the wealth of organizing tips and tricks in Jane’s book, it is so much more enjoyable to sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and explore them yourself.
Organizing For Your Lifestyle: Adaptable Inspirations from Socks to Suitcases is available now on Amazon; however, thanks to Jane, one reader of Pearls, Lace & Grace will have an opportunity to win their very own copy.
The rules are simple:
- You must be 18 years of age to enter, or have parental consent
- You must be following the blog (you can sign up to follow Pearls, Lace & Grace on the blog’s main page – valid email address is required)
- You must leave a comment below this post, which includes your first name and the area of your home/life you want to organize next
Contest is open internationally and will run until September 30. A winner will be randomly selected and contacted shortly thereafter via email.
Best of luck to all, and to Jane, thank you for creating such an inspiring resource.