Guidelines for Making Closet Space Count

A few basic rules of good closet organization, when observed, will give you the same sense of accomplishment as climbing Mt. Everest. Some basic sizes and dimensions will help you use your available closet space more advantageously.

Begin reorganizing your closets by emptying them and going over each item.

Styles rarely repeat themselves in the same form and details. If you are saving that fabulous favorite garment in the hope that someday it may someday return to fashion, forget it. If you want to save it for a grandchild’s dress-up party, take it out of that valuable closet space and store it in a box labeled “Memory Lane.”

  • If you haven’t worn the garment for two years because of weight gain or loss, take it off the active list and move it to another storage area.


  • Invest in good, sturdy hangers. Selecting the type appropriate for the garment will help keep your clothing in neat, orderly condition as well as adding a sense of orderliness to the closet space. Wire hangers only add to the confusion.


  • Shop several home building stores as well as the closet sections of better department stores to investigate the latest in closet gadgets. A variety of new items are on the market that will help you be better organized. Beware of the closed storage containers that do not allow you to see what’s inside.


  • All rods should be level and well supported to prevent sagging and sloppiness. Remember, one of the keys to a well-organized closet is a neat closet.


  • If at all possible, the flooring of the closet should be carpeted. This will keep down the dust factor, and items inside will stay cleaner. Again, paying attention to the appearance of the closet will foster a neater maintenance attitude.

Here are certain basic space requirements that are a must for a well-kept closet:

  1. No clothing closet should be less than 24 inches deep (front to back). A hanger is 18 inches wide, the width of an average man’s shoulders, and the garment needs breathing space.
  2. Allow 36 inches from the top of a clothing rod to the top of another clothing rod when creating double hanging space. This will give you enough room for sport jackets, shirts, blouses, most skirts (unless they’re maxi length) and women’s slacks, which should be folded over a trouser haver. If a man wears a long or extra-long jacket, allow another three inches.
  3. Allow a minimum of 52 to 54 inches, but no more than 66 inches, for hanging longer garments. This should take care of most women’s needs as well as men’s trousers, which should be hung by the cuff instead of being folded in half.
  4. Allow a minimum 4-inch clearance between the rods and the underside of a shelf.
  5. Shelving should be no more than 16 inches deep in a 24-inch-deep closet.
  6. Walk-in closets should be a minimum of 4 feet wide if hanging rods are to be in an “L” configuration and at least 6 feet wide if both sides are to be used for hanging.
  7. When planning shelving for garments, shoes, and handbags, the following are suggested allowances:
    • Men and women’s shoes require 12-inch width by 12-inch depth (front to back), and 4-inch height
    • Shelf space for low boots should be 12 by 12 by 7 inches. High-top boots require 13 by 13 by 18 inches. An average hat box requires shelf space of 12 by 14 by 12 inches. Space for folded items will vary depending on the size of the garment and the way it is folded. As a rule of thumb, however, figure on 18 by 12 by 2 inches for a sweater and 12 inches wide by 17 to 22 by 2 inches high for a shirt from the laundry.

If you can’t manage to do your own closet planning, excellent services are available to draw up plans and supply the correct shelving and hangers and get you organized. Just remember, only you can decide what stays in and what’s to be thrown out. Many worthwhile charities are just waiting for your discards.