Cheap Ways to Keep Your Wardrobe in Order

cheap wardrobe organization tips

I have mentioned many, many, MANY times that I daydream about California Closets. Oh, how I long to pay someone thousands of dollars to make my wardrobe look like an organizatrix’s dream. But until then, I’ll stick to my nearly-free techniques for keeping my wardrobe looking shiny and new:

Put rolled magazines inside your tall boots: Forget spendy boot-shapers. Keep those knee-high boots looking new by rolling up old mags or catalogs and sticking them in the shaft.

Learn to fold your sweaters: You love your sweaters, don’t you? Well, then, act like it! The folks at the Gap fold that way because it looks good, but it also minimizes wrinkling and creasing. Here’s my preferred method.

Put bangles on an old wine bottle: Jewelry racks are marvelous, but unnecessary. When your bangle and bracelet collection starts to get out of control, pull an empty wine bottle from the recycling bin and store your jewelry around the neck.

Use the sun to refresh clothing: Febreze is a great product that can reduce trips to the dry cleaner. But even better? Febreze + sun. Turn a garment inside-out, spritz with the fabric refresher, and hang outside in the sunshine. Don’t leave it too long, or colors will fade … but that heat and light can kill off many stinky bacterias.

Freeze your shoes: Speaking of stank-alleviators, here’s a great way to get stinky shoes under control. Pop ‘em in a sealable plastic bag, and throw ‘em in the freezer for two to three days.

Hang those belts: Belt racks can be quite cheap, but if you’ve got a hammer, a nail, and an available expanse of closet door, your belt rack can be free. Nail at an angle so the belts will stay secure as the door opens and closes. Hang by the buckle, or slip the nail through belt-holes as needed.

Originally posted 2010-11-03 05:40:00.

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50 Responses to “Cheap Ways to Keep Your Wardrobe in Order”

  1. ashe mischief

    Oh mah gawd– the tip about the magazines and the wine bottle are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

  2. Anonymous

    I reuse plastic liter bottles of selzer (well-dried and with the caps on) as boot keepers. The smaller end fits right down to the foot. I use a wad of newspaper or tissue in each boot to keep the foot in shape. Velma

  3. Roberta

    I lifted the magazine/boot idea from you last year – and had fun reading year-old Entertainment Weeklies when I got my boots out of storage this fall.

    I bought a Shaker-style peg board and hung my necklaces on it last year. I doubled and tripled them up and that inspired me to layer the necklaces that way.

    I think I got that idea from you too. 🙂

  4. Future Lint

    It's a small thing, but when lining up my shoes on shelves, I face one forward and the other shoe of the pair backwards. It saves space and I remember what the heel of the shoe looks like!

  5. tinyjunco

    tees, sox, thin sweaters, leggings, stockings, tights, etc. can be easily organized in a drawer. fold larger items to a width equal to drawer height. roll everything up, then set items on end in the drawer, side by side (they hold each other up).

    that way you can easily see what you have and grab it on the go. works really well for me, especially since if i can't see it i may as well not have it at all!

  6. angie

    You should freeze your shoes? Who knew! Not that I have room in my tiny freezer, but I really like the idea.

    A recycled biscuit tin makes a great storage box for spare buttons.

    • Bjorn Button

      Great Post. I was wondering what to do with my wrinkled sweaters. I even worked in retail for years and didn’t learn how to fold my sweaters properly. Since my wife and I remade our walk in closet from a boring disaster to a custom closets, we are ready to tackle the smell (OK, i admit. Its my shoes and not my wife’s that smell!)

  7. Sheila

    I used to keep my loose earrings in ice-cube trays – you never lose the other one!

  8. Michael McGraw -

    You can put the empty six-pack containers into the door of your refridgerator to organize all those spice bottles–oh, wait! Closet organization. Ya, put magazines in the boots.

  9. Cara

    I'm so glad that I decided to start following you yesterday – this post was the first to show up in my reader, and the magazine in boot idea is fabulous! I just swapped out my summer shoes for my fall/winter boots and they were flopping everywhere!

    I've got my belts and necklaces hanging from cuphoops in the back of the closet, which really annoyed my father in law who some how ended up with the job of removing them every time we moved, so he attached them to old pieces of baseboards, which are then attached to the wall. Now, it's only 2 screws per board that need to be removed!

    I also stole an old tacklebox from him to organize my earrings.

  10. Sophie Miriam

    Someone I once vaguely knew had a gauze ribbon through which she stuck all her earrings.

  11. kate

    Any ideas for reducing pilling on sweaters? I hate that, and the shaver things don't seem to help that much. I was thinking of trying my dog's fulminator….

  12. kate

    And I will definitely try the freezer trick on my sons' soccer cleats and shin guards! Thanks!

  13. Len♥reNeverM♥re

    freezing the shoes?
    Great tips Sal~ as long as they are NOT my brother's in my freezer~ewww!

  14. withacapitalz

    anyone have any good tips on how to keep cardigans in order? mine seem to wrinkle no matter how i fold them.


    I had never heard of freezing shoes before! I would love to see the expression on any of my roomates' faces when they open the freezer to see my sneakers in there 😉

  16. LaShaune

    I am so delighted that you shared the rolled magazine for boot shapers. Another recycle option and keeps my boots nice!

  17. Kristin

    For more jewelry storage, take a (pretty!) empty picture frame. Glue either ribbons or netting to the backside. Hang on the wall and use to display and store your earring collection. If the frame is sturdy enough, you can screw small hooks into the bottom and use those to store and display necklaces.

  18. Rosie Unknown

    This is so helpful! Thank you!

    I use wine bottles in my boots; and I hang my leggings over the bars of hangers based on length, so I always know where to look for cropped or full length.

  19. La Belette Rouge

    Hee-hee! Love these cheap and cheerful ways of organizing. You are a clever badger!xo

  20. K.Line

    You come up with all of the good suggestions! I don't have much to add except that I store winter hats I'm not using in the bowls of summer hats (firm, raffia ones). Helps them to keep their shape. And I put skirts of the same weight on the same clip hangers (2 per) because sometimes I think one will work with an outfit but the other one is better. Because they are "similar" in gauge, there's more one-stop choice that way. And it's space-saving.

  21. Queen of Sheba

    Ooh, I like the seltzer-bottle-in-boots trick! (I love the magazine-in-boot trick, too, but the only one we get that's really big enough is my husband's Wine Spectator, and he hates it when I roll those!)

    I am in SUCH a style rut. Leggings + fitted skirt + boots OR skinny jeans + heels + cardigan are so easy that I've forgotten how to think in other shapes. And colorwise all my outfits end up being either tonal in a very basic way, or complementary. What do you do when you realize you're in a rut??

  22. Jackie Chambers

    Forget Febreze–it's cheap vodka you need!

    Febreze is mostly overpriced perfume.

    Costumers and collectors of vintage clothing rely on vodka for fumigating clothing, especially rayon (which holds odors) and dry-clean-only items.

    Mix the vodka about 60/40 or 50/50 with water in a spray bottle. Mist the clothing and hang in a well-ventilated area. Repeat if necessary. Works like a charm!

    Remember to use cheap vodka–the stuff filtered through charcoal. The vodka is really just the evaporating carrier for the odor-treating charcoal. Spendy stuff won't work nearly as well.

  23. i_b_erin

    For all you wine drinkers….use your empty bottles for your boots also!

  24. More Than Meets the I

    I learned how to fold T-shirts and arrange them by colour on Howdini last year. It saved me so much space and everyday toil! I had an enormous sense of achievement after having made my wardrobe look neat and functional 🙂

  25. Chaos for Breakfast

    Those are great ideas….definitely going to use the magazines in boots one. I brought a cheap cutlery hanging tree, painted it green to go with my colour scheme and use it to hang bracelets, rings etc

  26. Queen of Sheba

    Thankee Sal! I remembered some of those entries but couldn't find 'em.

  27. JennyDC

    If you can't fit your shoes in the freezer, I find that stuffing stinky shoes with newspaper can help with the smell.

  28. Emma at Daily Clothes Fix

    Great ideas, Sal. Will definitely be trying the bangles on a wine bottle. Now where's my corkscrew? 🙂

    As for ideas, I store my belts on the trouser hangers in my wardrobe. Helps me see what I have and you can get loads on. (My trousers go on hangers and go on the rail).

    And my necklaces go on a corkboard on the inside of my shoe cupboard.

  29. Eliza

    Decorative cardboard boxes (particularly photo boxes) are inexpensive, particularly if you don't care about the design.I like to get the hideous, bargain priced ones, and paint them solid colors with acrylics.A coat of spray matte sealer stopps the painted surfaces from sticking together,and lets you wipe them clean with a damp sponge. It's a bit time consuming,but cheap and a good way to hide clutter.
    I also like to roll my colored tights, and keep them in a round hatbox. Easy to see everything, and I have a color wheel always at my fingertips!

  30. Louise

    I put wine bottles in my tall boots! (I only use pretty wine bottles though!) 🙂

  31. Anonymous

    I LOVE the wine bottle idea!

    My mom keeps her jewelry separated by using egg cartons! She cuts off the lid and voila–a dozen little cubby holes for ear rings, rings…whatever!

  32. volcanicprncess

    I got a pair of men's dress socks (the stretchy nylon ones) at the dollar store, and put about 2 handfuls (about a month's worth for me) of COMPLETELY dry used green tea leaves in each sock, then knot the top. I stuff them into shoes to deodorize and dry out shoes. The stretchiness of the socks lets you stuff it into the toes of any shoe. (NOTE: it only works with plain green tea leaves – not black or white or red or green plus whatever.)

    Also, a cotton ball with vanilla extract on it, placed in a closet or drawer to scent the stuff inside. Or use your favorite perfume. Or those perfume scratch-n-sniffs from magazines.

  33. peregrinaje

    Learned this trick as a runner:

    When your running/athletic shoes are wet, stuff them with newspaper — the newspaper helps them to dry faster and absorbs the scent.

    (this is the cheaper/easier option than volcanicprncess's idea, which sounds great but I don't have the energy to do!)

    And I assume y'all know this, but you should never put running shoes/cleats in the dryer… they wear out quicker that way.

  34. orchidsinbuttonholes

    Such great tips, Sal!

    I love keeping pretty boxes that gifts came in and repurposing them for things like storing my perfume or bangles (although I love the wine bottle idea, too).

  35. Yan

    Second the cheap vodka suggestion — it works great. I use about 70% vodka to 30% water with a few drops of natural essential oil — but only use the mix with essential oil on lined or things that will not water spot. No silk.

  36. Rachel

    I love the tip of folding sweaters. I've got these great shelf cubbies in the top of my closet where I keep my sweaters, but they look all messy and fall off a lot. An old frame with a square of mesh screen (like the kind for your windows) stapled to the back makes a great earring organizer. Something ornate from a thrift store, maybe spray painted a fun color, looks great.

  37. Louise

    I've been using an over-the-door shoe holder to store scarves. You know, the kind with the pockets? When I open my closet door, I can see all my pashmina scarves at once and it is easy to pull out the one I want. Much better than having them in a drawer.

  38. gina

    Great suggestion to freeze shoes. I love the wine bottle suggestion! I miss having someplace to hang clothes out in the sun and fresh breeze!

    A few more suggestions:

    Wine bottles to keep tall boots standing.

    Tie racks for scarves and belts.

    Old tea cups and saucers for jewelry. These are available way cheap in thrift stores in some fun designs. Or use those tea cups that came with your wedding china that you never actually use for tea.

    Those skirt and pant hangers that have a hook on front, allowing you to hang another hanger on them. You can layer your skirts and pants, but unlike the single hangers that hold multiple pants or skirts, you can still pull out each item separately to see how it matches with other clothes or to hang out front to wear the next day.

    Keeping shoes in the boxes they come in allows for easy stacking. Most boxes have a drawing and a description on them, allowing you to tell which shoe is inside.

  39. Lise

    Magazines in boots–brilliant! Wine bottle for bangles, frozen shoes, vodka for stink…I learned so much in this post! Thank you!

  40. Sarah

    I organize my lingerie drawer with little bins made from paper bags–just fold them down repeatedly to the desired height, and the multiple layers of paper make it quite sturdy. These can also be used as free-standing bins on a shelf for things that aren’t too heavy (or you could reinforce the bottom with a piece of cardboard or something). Paper bags come in various sizes, and are free!