13 Ideas For How to Color Coordinate Your Closet and Keep Your Clothes Organized
It'll make getting dressed a whole lot easier.
There’s no one right way to organize your wardrobe. Hours of watching shows like The Home Edit, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and even Hoarders are proof of that. Rather, closet organization comes in many different forms that cater to different lifestyles and categorization preferences. For some, that means grouping items together by garment type (long-sleeves vs. short-sleeves, skirts vs pants, etc.), while others divide their closet into seasonal sections. There are also a handful of color coordinated closet ideas to try, too, and yes, they’re just as structured as they are aesthetically pleasing.
I’ve actually gotten into the habit of color coordinating my own closet at the start of every season. Admittedly, it doesn’t stay that way for very long, but it does give me an idea of what shades I favor and lack in my wardrobe (information that comes in handy when I’m shopping). Personally, I tend to stick with the classic ROYGBIV method, but a traditional rainbow arrangement isn’t for everyone, so I reached out to a few organizational experts to map out some alternative methods to color coordinate your closet.
Neutralize Your Hangers
You want your clothes to be the focus of your closet, not the miss-matching hangers holding them up, which is why certified interior decorator at Inspired Home Interiors, Pattie Kelly tells InStyle the first step to color-coordinating is to rid your wardrobe of clashing hangers.
“Move everything onto a white or beige velvet hanger, and this includes pants that can hang using clips,” Kelly says. “Creating a blank canvas like this allows the clothing to take center stage when color coordinating.”
Or, Color Coordinate Your Hangers
I realize this tip contradicts the last, but professional organizer Stacey Agin Murray swears by this method that involves purchasing different colored hangers for different categories of clothing in your wardrobe.
“For example, use beige for pants, blue for tops, and pink for dresses, or use beige for work clothes, blue for activewear, and pink for cocktail dresses," Agin Murray says. "Or, for fans of clear crystal hangers, tie a colored ribbon around the hook of the hanger or place a colored label in a noticeable spot on the hanger."
This type of color coordination acts as a kind of labeling system, so you know what type of clothing goes with a specific hanger or ribbon color.
Select a Neutral Palette of Storage Bins and Organizers
Even if you’re pro color, The Container Store’s divisional merchandise director, Lauren Hill recommends keeping your storage solutions, like bins and baskets, neutral as adding more color and dark hues to your space can make it feel more enclosed.
If you don’t have a specific system in place for how you organize your clothes, arranging them to mimic the colors of a rainbow is a great start, master organizer Jill Viglione, CPO® certified, National Organization of Productivity & Organizing Professionals, tells InStyle.
“Sort clothing from left to right starting with the basics: white, cream, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green, patterned clothes, brown, grey then black. The result is a closet that looks like a rainbow,” she says.
Go Dark to Light
If rainbow doesn’t resonate with your style, certified KonMari consultant and founder of Room to Thrive Home Organizing, Diana Horn, suggests giving the dark-to-light method a go. Instead of organizing your clothes like a rainbow, hang your clothes with the darkest colors on the left and the lightest colors on the right.
“Organizing guru Marie Kondo, whose method I’m certified to teach, says the resulting palette reminds her of the crash of a wave in the sea,” Horn tells InStyle. “While you might not need ocean-specific imagery for you to love your new wardrobe, we could all use a light and welcoming vibration, like a breath of fresh air, when we go to our closets.”
Color Coordinate Each Type of Clothing
If you’re the type of person who likes to categorize their wardrobe by type (short sleeves, long sleeves, skirts, pants) or style of clothing (formal vs. informal), certified professional organizer Amy Trager suggests color coordinating within each category.
“Follow the general rainbow of ROYGBV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet), adding in brown, white, grey and black, too,” Trager says. “Hang from one side of your closet rod to the other. When you get to the next section of clothes, start the rainbow over. This will also give you a quick visual clue of where to look for each kind of clothing.”
Identify Colors You Consider “Dominants”
Professional organizer Susan Santoro of the blog Organized 31 wants to make it clear that color coordinating your wardrobe doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow ROYGBIV to a “T.”
“You don't have to use a particular color coding system, you decide which system works best for you,” she advises.
For example, while many people get stuck figuring out where to place items that are white, brown, grey, black and patterned, Santoro came up with her own system: white before red; brown, grey and black, in that order, after violet.
“It works well to decide what color you see as dominant in a patterned clothing item and then place it with the items of that color.” she says.
Colors You Wear the Most Can Go Towards the Front of Your Closet
“When organizing by color, you still want to take into account your outfit selection habits,”Melanie Berliet, general manager of The Spruce tells InStyle. For example, if you gravitate toward a lot of black clothing, “make sure your selection of black garments is easily reachable.”
Separate Seasonal Items in Colored Bins
If you, like me, rotate which clothes hang in your closet by season, Agin Murray recommends using colored bins to separate them. For example, a white bin can be for winter and be used to store extra winter gloves and thick wool socks, while a blue bin might hold items for summer.
Use Color to Group ‘Like with Like' Footwear
“Using color to group ‘like with like’ gives us the visual cue we need to do a quick scan of what we own and locate it quickly,” Agin Murray says. This especially comes in handy when you’re digging through your shoe collection. So group black flats with black flats, tan sandals with other tan sandals, and so on.
Doing this will also allow you to notice how many shoes of a certain color you own, what you’re missing in your collection, and helps you spot pairs that need to be replaced.
Prioritize Your 'Power' Colors
Everyone has certain colors they feel they look best in. These, Campbell says, are your “power colors” — hues you feel most confident in when you wear them — and they should be the highlight of your wardrobe.
“Lead with a power color to 'theme' your closet and then choose those outfits that make you feel incredible towards the front —especially if you don't have different shelving units in your closet or lack space,” Campbell instructs. “Alternatively, if you don't have a particular power color, you know what clothes you feel great in consistently, so organize those first in your closet. Color coordinate those power outfits from lighter colors to bolder colors for easy styling.”
Use Colorful Closet Tabs
Similar to Agin Murray’s colorful hanger and ribbons tactic, fashion and lifestyle expert Alyson Campbell also recommends a colorful thief party product: Sorting labels that you can use to personalize and easily mark off key sections of your closet.
“I recommend utilizing a sharpie marker that you can opt to color in on your tabs for additional easy visual cues,” Campbell tells InStyle. “For example, designate a color per season and then color coordinate your closet tabs to match!”
Sort Patterns By Their Primary Colors
You might be wondering where patterns fit into a monochromatic color scheme. According to Marty Basher, an organization expert with Modular Closets, there are two steps. The first is to organize by color, and the second is to add a patterned category to that organization.
“Most people tend to gravitate to certain colors when buying clothes,” Basher says, and it’s because of that, “the majority of one’s clothes might be in just 3-5 colors,” making patterns easy to file in among them. Once you separate the patterns from the solid colors, you'll be able to quickly spot them in the bunch.