I need a clothing organization system that isn't a dresser and also isn't my floor.
August 5, 2012 10:01 PM   Subscribe

I need a clothing organization system that isn't a dresser and also isn't my floor. Help!

For the last ten years, I've been keeping most of my clothes on the floor. The floor has many advantages over other organizational systems. For instance, it is

a) low-maintenance
b) easily searchable
c) transparent, as all your clothes are visible.

I'm not particularly lazy, but I'm not a neatnik either, and I've found from experience that if a clothing organization system doesn't have these qualities (such as a dresser, which requires folding, stuffing, and constant opening-and-closing of opaque drawers), I'll quickly revert back to the floor no matter how good my intentions are.

The problem is, now I'm close to 30, and the floor doesn't hack it anymore. Does anyone have a system that works for them and might work for me too? I've thought of getting a bunch of cloth hampers side by side -- any other ideas?

(Note that I only intend to use this for to not-hanging clothes, such as t-shirts, underwear, jeans, and other streetwear. All my good stuff is nicely hanging in a closest.)
posted by tweebiscuit to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. Blues and I use the "series of laundry baskets" system. We've refined it a bit, so we each have a hamper, a cloth laundry bag, and a clear bin.

Hamper = dirty and needs to be washed.
Laundry bag = dry cleaning.
Transparent bin = clean, or clean enough to be re-worn (jeans and such).

It's not perfect, but it definitely helps us to keep stuff off the floor.
posted by charmcityblues at 10:06 PM on August 5, 2012

I was going to suggest bins too, but I was thinking more for clean clothes, I've used a system like this for years. One holds underwear, one holds socks (unmatched, you can match 'em up when you need to wear them), one holds tank tops, one t-shirts, one holds jeans, you get the picture. Mine have morphed into a dresser system but for a while there were just bins or cubes on the floor. Better than heaps fo clothes, anyway - something like this would do??
posted by yogalemon at 10:12 PM on August 5, 2012

Long, open shelves running along one wall. I just moved into a rented room that has these, and it amazed me how much more likely I am to roughly fold a pair of pants and put them on a chest-height shelf than to put them in a drawer.
posted by ostro at 10:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Hang anything hangable. I hang all my shirts, including undershirts because it is so much easier. This reduces the amount that has to go into the drawers to a totally easy amount and I actually end up folding my clothes and putting them away because of this. My drawers are not cramped, and I only have 2 wide drawers that I use for the non-hangables.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:22 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Oh, I feel your pain. I've given up and now I just hang tshirts and casual pants along with all my good clothes. Underwear & bras go unfolded into a drawer, socks into another. This is the only thing that really works for me, otherwise the clothing coming out of the hampers looks dreadful.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 10:29 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I got a closet organizer from Home Depot for about $100. It has four hanging bars of various heights and about 8 shelves with room for shoes and some tall boots under the hanging stuff and one of the shelves. It's awesome! I do keep my underwear and socks in a dresser but I have them in little transparent boxes organized by type so that's pretty easy too. The transparent boxes go on sale often for like 5 for $20 so I basically keep all my belongings in those or open shelves now. It's so great being able to find things :)

I arrange my hanging clothes by type: tshirts, long sleeve shirts, skirts, pants etc. That helps a lot too. Also I cull often and buy judiciously.
posted by fshgrl at 10:37 PM on August 5, 2012

Wife and I have used the bin system for years, our system being: Go to Target and buy those cheap, clear Rubbermaid bins, then fill them with clothes.

Any nice clothes go in the closet on the hangars.

Everything else goes in the bins, sorted roughly according to our own eccentricities. My personal setup is:

Bin 1: Underwear and socks
Bin 2: Undershirts, pajamas and sleepwear, and these soft cotton shorts I wear around the house
Bin 3: T-shirts and other shirts not nice enough to merit the closet
Bin 4: Shorts and jeans
Bin 5: Workout clothes (my gym shirts and shorts, swimsuits, arm bands, and other gym-related miscellany)

For me, it's not so much laziness as I have a lot of clothes because my job may demand I go out of town for a week+ on short notice to make good impressions, so I need to have at least 7 days worth of normal people clothes, then 7 days worth of nice, presentable business clothes as well as enough underwear, undershirts, socks, etc., to get through 2 weeks of no laundry but still present a good image. So we'd need something like 4 dressers to hold everything.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:54 PM on August 5, 2012

This ikea thing. Even if you're sloppy stuff should still be very easy to put away and access.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:55 PM on August 5, 2012

I have a set of bookshelves that I've fitted out with cloth-lined wicker baskets. The baskets look reasonably nice on the shelves and the clothes pile up enough that I can see what type of clothes are in each basket. The best part of the system is that I can pull a whole basket off the shelf, dump it on the bed, and rummage through as needed. Too often I've pulled dresser drawers out too far and accidentally dropped the whole lot upside down. Much better to intentionally empty a basket, find what I need, and scoop everything back in.
posted by dorey_oh at 11:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a drying rack, if it's not too unsightly? I drape my clothes over chairs most of the time, myself.
posted by estherbester at 12:22 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not transparent, but we have a big Ikea Expedit unit and bought about 12 green fabric baskets (the kind that Ikea designs to go into the Expedit). This sounds obsessive, but I bought a set of white Helvetica letraset and labelled each basket - socks, sweaters, shirts, pants, undies. When it comes time to put laundry away I literally just toss everything into it's named basket, and the labels actually look pretty cool. It's working really, really well, actually.
posted by nerdfish at 12:45 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

We use this Ikea STOLMEN system, which I love. It's worth the minimal effort of setting it up. You can pick and choose which bits work best for you, so the whole thing can be transparent/open if you like. I agree with the advice given above to hang everything which can be hung up - this has the added benefit of keeping my clothes smelling fresher and wrinkling less.
posted by guessthis at 2:09 AM on August 6, 2012

I pretty much have the same storage system as you!

Well, okay, in the last few weeks I changed one thing.... I realized I have a shoe organizer (like this but with two side) but not very many shoes for it. I also have a massive amount of "logo" t-shirts that I wear. Many are the same color, so in a drawer or on a shelf I've have to dig in to find the right one.

Lately I've been folding in the arms, then rolling them up (instead of folding them in half), logo out, and placing them into the shoe organizer. The rolling makes a nice bundle so if I do have to hunt for one, it's easy to pick up and put back down in its original state (instead of flopping around).

Everything else is just in bins, because I don't search those. My sleeping shirts are in bins, because I just pull the one on top and that's good enough. Same with underwear (well, its rare that I feel the need to pull out "special" undies). So if your jeans are the same, I'd just throw them in a bin. If not, I've thrown a pair or two into the shoe organizer at times....
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:23 AM on August 6, 2012

You can put a ballet bar along one side and hang everything from it, including open-face cloth shelves for the stuff you just can't hang.
posted by prefpara at 5:01 AM on August 6, 2012

We hang tshirts, dresses, suits, etc. Tank tops, pajamas, jeans and skirts are currently folded on a shelf in the closet. Socks and underwear were in bins but now that we bought a new bed with storage draws, we use those.
We have a walk-in closet that came with those closetmaid wire shelves. And I bought some add-on baskets that hand under the shelving which holds hats and misc stuff.

I plan on buying a 9 cube unit with bins to further organize.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:08 AM on August 6, 2012

*hang not hand
posted by KogeLiz at 5:09 AM on August 6, 2012

Hooks. Just put up a series of hooks. Anything on the hooks is clean enough to be worn again. Anything on the floor is dirty.
posted by kimdog at 6:13 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Open shelving - lots of open shelving - has all the same advantages as the floor plus masses more surface area and doesn't get walked on. Works for everything, not just clothes.
posted by flabdablet at 6:29 AM on August 6, 2012

We also use the big plastic bin method here. Different Corpses have different setups, but my bins are T-shirts, Pants & Shorts, Pajamas, Unmentionables, and Seldom Worn Things. I hang up skirts, dresses, and shirts.

I haven't had a dresser in years and don't miss them at all.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:47 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, my bins are in a closet, I should say, hidden away. It's a great system and makes putting laundry away so much easier, but it doesn't look good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:49 AM on August 6, 2012

Buy a cheap rack and a bunch of assorted hangers and hang every thing. You can hang pretty much everything but underwear (even that I guess if you are enthusiastic enough). You can hang jeans on clip hangers or just fold them over the cross bar on the hanger. Don't use cheap wire hangers they are more pain than they are worth, and I recommend the non slip hangers to make life easier for yourself. Shorts use a hanger with clips/skirt hanger.

It has the convenience of everything on a shelf with none of the folding and piles falling over if you want the thing on the bottom of the pile. Buy a bin for sock and one for underwear. If you are really lazy throw out all your socks and just buy all of one kind, then you'll never have to much socks again, just pick out 2 from the bin and you are good to go. Another bin for shoes is a good idea if you don't like tripping over them.

A row of hooks like kimdog suggested is also a great idea.
posted by wwax at 7:50 AM on August 6, 2012

Stupid auto correct much socks = match socks.
posted by wwax at 7:51 AM on August 6, 2012

Two thongs that worked well for my oldest son who has similar needs:

1) Stacked plastic crates with open fronts.

I cannot find something exactly like what we had, but think milk crates stacked on their side but held together and stable. Then we "upgraded" to a chest of drawers and got rid of the plastic crate system, yo my eternal regret. The closest I can find is this.

2) Elfa

The freestanding, design-your-own drawer system is fantastic. They do closet organization but they also freestanding units. Available in the US.
Container store

I couldn't find a good picture gallery showing what the freestanding units can look like and I have to go. If I find pics later, I will post links.
posted by Michele in California at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2012

Part of our system (in addition to using normal drawers like normal human beings) is to dry our clothes on foldable (but rarely folded) drying racks and harvest dry items of clothes as needed. If you need underwear, go pluck some from a drying rack. This gradually makes room to hang out the next load of wet clothes.

You could put up a pulley system for drying and hanging clothes along one wall or high up if you have high ceilings or a high stairwell.

You could put nails high up on the wall, put clothes on hangers, and use a long-handled thingamajig to transfer the hangers up to and down from the nails.

For things with holes (underwear and t-shirts, I guess), you could thread them on a rope (maybe with hooks at each end) or impale them on a pole (LIFO stack).

Also, buy all one kind and color of sock so you never have to match them. Same with t-shirts and underwear. Jeans, too. Hell, just wear a uniform.
posted by pracowity at 8:41 AM on August 6, 2012

This is the system we use, which I came up with in order to curb my partner's own floor-clothing tendencies.

Almost everything is hanging on the 15-dollar Target racks, and the open bins under the racks hold everything else in thematic piles (shorts, sleeping shirts, undies, workout clothes, etc.) The see-through drawer on the left is for things that just look too messy in the open bins, like my partner's far too many underpants. Hanging something or putting it in the appropriate bin is easily maintainable, easily searchable, and you can see everything.
posted by Pwoink at 8:43 AM on August 6, 2012

Obviously, I meant things, not thongs, in that first sentence.

Here is one Pic showing some freestanding Elfa drawer units (plus their shelves).

Plus The Container Store has a catalog full of pictures. It shows wall systems and closet systems but you can just do the freestanding pieces.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 8:45 AM on August 6, 2012

1) I dropped a tax refund on a Container Store freestanding wire-basketed drawer system, because I hate plastic bins.

2) I gave myself permission to stuff gently-worn clothing back into the drawers.

3) I also gave myself permission to actually stuff and not fold.

4) And I bought a bunch of all the same socks so I don't have to match them.

That worked beautifully as after I did laundry I could just dump, sort, and cram without doing anything fancy, and it kept the clothing out of the way and off the floor.

Aaaand then we bought a house with a walk-in master closet you access by walking through the bathroom instead of sliding-door closets accessible from the bedroom itself and the problem reasserted itself so most of my clothing lives on the chaise we put in there, much to my husband's dismay. It appears I am only neat when it's easy, and the added complication of walking through one room to get to the other is Just Too Much.
posted by telophase at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a closetmaid rack on a wide closet with no doors. I intend to put doors on, just haven't gotten around to it. I fold my laundry. Socks & underwear go in the dresser, along with scarves, handkerchiefs. Could go in baskets on a shelf, etc. Pants, skirts, jackets & shirts go on hangers. Folded tshirts and sweaters go on wire shelves. I have 2 laundry baskets; 1 for medium colors, 1 for whites & darks (easily sorted).

Once worn, socks, underwear and clothes that need to be washed go right into the appropriate laundry basket. Clothes that are still wearable get slung over a chair, or slung over the edge of a laundry basket. A row of hooks on the wall next to the closet, or a coatrack, would do nicely. I have a 3 shelf rack for shoes. Most shoe racks are fussy, and I like a pretty plain shelf, or low shelves on a shelf system, better.

It helps to have enough hangers, strong enough for coats, pants, whatever, skirt hangers, and not too many clothes. Spend your money on having a washing machine, so you can wash clothes promptly. You don't need to own a lot of clothing. I have difficulty following this advice, and the more stuff I have, the more time I have to spend organizing it.
posted by theora55 at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2012

I used to keep things on hooks and open shelves, and still ended up with a lot of things on the floor. Now I hang everything except socks and underwear. Pants are folded in half and draped over the horizontal bar. A sweater that might stretch under its own weight gets folded and draped the same way. I put the clothes on hangers as soon as they come out of the dryer. Of course I didn't have nearly enough room in my actual closet, so I installed an Elfa system that's open. I sometimes wonder if I'd actually hang things up if the rods and shelves were behind doors...I hope I never have to find out.

I used to have bins for socks and underwear, but now I find it's almost as easy to toss them a big drawers. I don't have much variety in these categories, so no organization is really needed. Sock are washed separately from underwear, so they don't get mixed up together. Other drawers are used for non-clothing items.

I also have a row of hampers for clothes that need washing -- whites, jeans, various colors, black. I find that washing like with like makes it easier to organize stuff for hanging -- if all you have is a bunch of t-shirts and two towels, the t-shirts are going to end up together when they're stored.

You mentioned hampers for storing clean clothes. This would work if you're willing to wear the top item in any given stack... or maybe the second one. If you're likely to "browse" the hampers, your clothes are going to end up jumbled, and they might be better off on the floor.
posted by wryly at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2012

Seconding Michele in California's suggestion of the Elfa system--it's very easy to install and very very flexible so you can change your closet configuration (shelves, drawers, hanging poles) as your needs change or as you rotate your go-to clothes across the seasons.
posted by donovan at 11:22 AM on August 6, 2012

I hang t-shirts, dress shirts, fancy shirts, coats, skirts, dresses, fancy pants. I use basic hangers + binder clips to hang skirts/strapless dresses so I never run out of clippy hangers.

Jeans, PJs, casual pants, and undershirts are folded on open shelves. Socks and underwear are lumped into bins/baskets.
posted by itesser at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2012

I just have a really tiny apartment, but I used one of those over-closet-door shoe organizers to put stuff in. You can roll up shirts or sweaters, but bulkier things like jeans don't fit as well. I can pretty much see everything at a glance, unlike a dresser, and it only takes a few minutes to stuff clean laundry into the nooks.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: These answers are amazing! Thanks so much everyone!
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:02 PM on August 7, 2012

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