RACKS ON RACKS ON RACKS: Store Your Clothes Like Wardrobe Girls Do

We know how to organize a closet like nobody's business.
Publish date:
November 4, 2013
shoppables, storage, closet space, gadgets, Manhattan Wardrobe Supply

My own personal closet at home is all things to all people. It’s both a magical wonderland where pals can come to borrow party dresses and a living, breathing nightmare to those who fear clutter. When McCombs came to visit me earlier this year, she swore the door to my insane closet quietly shut behind her as she walked in, attempting to trap her inside.

I happen to have an entire bedroom that acts as my closet, but some of you may not be as lucky. Clothing storage (especially in New York City apartments!) is a massive problem for most girls I know.

It is most definitely a problem on studio lots, where the wardrobe department is constantly shoved into a windowless room the size of a broom closet. I did once have the most beautiful office ever to exist -- Lucille Ball's personal bungalow on the lot at Paramount Pictures! But alas, that moment in time may never be duplicated.

Us wardrobe girls know how to organize a closet like nobody's business -- my job literally depends on being able to find what I need in seconds flat.

So I've had to get smart and utilize every square inch of space available to me -- that means employing a few very special storage gadgets that are true industry trade secrets. I like to keep everything where I can see it -- because if you can see it, you are more likely to wear it.

Your number one wardrobe storage problem is most likely lack of rail space. It's my problem, too! There is never enough of it. The only solution to this problem is a rolling wardrobe rack. But not just ANY rolling rack.

Don't even waste your money on a cheap, flimsy wardrobe rack. They don't hold up to being loaded with clothes and bend like an aluminum pretzel almost instantly. Spend the extra $20.00 and go pro -- that means chrome.

The best price I've found on a chrome rolling rack anywhere is at Bed Bath & Beyond. When you use one of the 20% off coupons they are incessantly littering the earth with, it brings the price down to just $47.99. Which is amazing, as other spots sell this same rack for $69.00 to $89.00! This is the exact rack that I own 25 of and have put through the wringer for 7+ years. They stand up to hardcore abuse. (They also fold down easily for storage.)

I like to use the rolling rack of clothes that is constantly in my bedroom as a piece of rolling art. I put my best dresses and coats on it -- basically my clothes that are meant to be seen! (If you live with a wardrobe girl, you learn that there is ALWAYS a rolling rack of clothes somewhere in the house. It can't be helped.)

To really amp up the usefulness of collapsible wardrobe rack, consider springing for a chrome rack bottom -- it then becomes an entire additional shelf. Stack some bins (or even just laundry baskets) on the bottom for an instant rolling closet.

Purses are the bane of any organized babe. They take up a ton of space and are hard to store in a way that both protects them and makes they easy to access. We use this clever hanging canvas handbag organizer in show closets to sort our character's purses. It protects them from dust and makes it easy to see what you're working with.

Shoes are their own special drama. I always have custom shelves built for actors' shoes on shows -- but this is not feasible for a home closet. My own personal solution has been to press every single door I have into service by hanging a shoe organizer on it. This includes the front and back of my closet door, as well as the door to my bedroom. Voila! 4X the storage space. (I do take a little extra care to put my cutest shoes in the shoe organizer on the front of the doors that everyone sees.)

Don't waste your money on shoe organizers with vinyl pockets -- they tear too easily. The 100% canvas number below is the exact one I've used for years.

Now that it's winter, tights storage has become a huge ordeal. My modus operandi is to toss all my tights into a laundry basket in a giant twisted mess that I have to untangle every single morning. Don't be like me, kids -- invest $9.99 in a stocking organizer and live like a human being instead of a rat.

If you can afford the drawer space, a genius (and free!) way to store your tights and stockings is by collecting used toilet paper tubes.

Belts are yet another unruly item that can be hard to store. I use a super-simple giant curved hanging hook for the world's easiest belt storage -- and at $3.99, it's hard to beat.

The one above is better (and cheaper!) than the ones I use at work, but they function in the exact same way:

I'm not ashamed to admit that I use an "AS SEEN ON TV" product in both my personal and professional closets. The silly Wonder Hanger is quite simply the single greatest closet space saving gadget to be invented in the past 20 years. It maximizes your precious rail space by utilizing the wasted area beneath your clothes! (I find it works best when you use it to store like items -- such as my ridiculous collection of plain white Splendid t-shirts.)

My last storage tip is also the simplest -- and one of the biggest secret weapons the wardrobe department has. It's a sturdy wooden hanger covered with 2 pieces of unbleached muslin fabric.

What do you do with it? Well, anything you want! A handful of 2" safety pins transforms this simple item into the storage device to end all storage devices. You can use it to hang scarves, bras, belts, necklaces, socks -- basically anything you can shove a safety pin through.

For the record, the classic #3 safety pin is what you want to use with a muslin hanger -- it's a 2-inch-long, nickel-plated affair that can hold almost anything. It never bends or breaks -- I have a handful of them on me at all times.

Now you've got the exact same storage gear that wardrobe girls do! Trust me, your clothes will thank you.

I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.