For years, my preferred method of jewelry and accessory storage has been to just pile it up wherever I happen to take it off. Any dish, tray, windowsill or ledge within reach was fair game. My desk at home was constantly heaped with mounds of jewelry that I'd discarded every night after work.
This big-ass mess meant I'd have to traipse all over the house trying to remember where exactly I'd shed stuff any time I wanted to wear something. It also meant that I could never put my hands on what I needed when I needed it — which is how I blew the opportunity to wear this giant safety pin necklace to my own book launch party where I literally gave out safety pins as party favors:
What a seriously great opportunity, missed forever — all because I was a disorganized piglet! But finally getting my massive jewelry and accessory collection under control wasn't inspired by this tragic event, nor was it a part of a 'New Year/New You' resolution. No, I clawed my way out of being a disheveled turd because my family was coming to visit.
Determined not to have my mom know what a slob I truly am, I finally got my giant messy rat's nest of jewelry and junk corralled into one neat container — and it's the most glorious container of all time.
Yes, it took a two-piece industrial-sized tool box (the kind most commonly used in a machine shop or auto garage) to sort and store all my jewelry. But it was the BEST IDEA EVER, and has made my life miles easier. Suddenly everything I own has a place, so putting stuff away is a breeze.
But the best part is that now, finally, I can always find whatever I'm looking for in seconds flat.
The shallow, flat drawers of this toolbox mean that everything is always right where you can see it. (Just use a few silverware trays or proper drawer organizers as trays to corral stuff. You can also use any old thing you happen to have laying around; I pressed some old jewelry box tops into service.) This storage system works beautifully because when you can actually see your stuff, you're more likely to wear it and — bonus! — it's way more fun to put everything away when you're done with it.
I lined the drawers of my tool chest with non-slip Contact paper so all the jewelry trays would stay put, but the best part of my new storage system is, hands down, this magnetic bowl meant for wrangling loose nuts and bolts in a mechanic's shop. It adheres to the bottom of the drawers like whoa while handily and securely holding random earring backs, safety pins, and all sorts of squirrelly little metal bits and bobs.
I got the idea for this clever organizational hack from looking at how the big costume houses store their rental jewelry, so this storage solution counts as a true #ProTip. (Though they technically use old-school wooden map drawers, so if you don't have space for a full machine-shop caliber tool chest (or your home decor won't allow it), this clean, classic set from Ikea would also work nicely.)
The best part of my new system is that even after storing every single bit of jewelry I own, I still had ample drawer room left over to finally wrangle my 16 dozen pairs of coveted, highly collectable eyewear.
A handful of these clear vinyl-topped glasses organizers have put a stop to my habit of wearing nothing but my same old boring black Ray Bans every single day — again, because I can finally see exactly what I own for the first time inyears:
If you really want to set yourself up in royal style, spring for a spiffy shop stooland park it in front of your tool chest so you can sit comfortably while perusing your gems. The dudes in your life will be crazy jealous — you can count on it.
So there you have it: true inspired storage — hiding in the humble aisles of your local hardware store!
Alison Freer is the author of 'How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing'.