How To Purge & Organize Your Small NYC Closet (And Keep It That Way)

This is how I keep my small NYC closet organized & in sync. I'm sharing with you so that you may experience the bliss I feel when getting dressed.

How To Purge & Organize Your Small NYC Closet

My wardrobe and closet have come a long way since I decided to adapt a minimalist wardrobe. I used to have a closet full of uncoordinated pieces making it hard to put together outfits at times. So I was always complaining that I had nothing to wear and running out to buy a new outfit for every occasion. Filled with frustration, I did a clean sweep of my closet almost 3 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I have a routine to keep my small NYC closet organized and in sync. And I’m going to share with you so that you may experience the bliss I feel when getting dressed.

How To Purge & Organize Your Small NYC Closet by clothing type

The Initial Purge

Take everything out of your closet. Yes everything. You’re going to sort everything into 3 piles- Keep, Toss & Donate. And you must be ruthless while sorting. No maybes. That’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Keep the items that you wear regularly. The pieces that make you look and feel great. If you have pieces that are too big and you’re not going to commit to getting them tailored (immediately), then they go in the Donate pile. The same with pieces that are too small and you keep vowing that you’re going to lose the weight to get into them. If it’s been more than a year let it go. Someone else can use them right now. And you won’t keep hurting your self esteem by telling yourself that you need to lose weight every time you look at them. Anything that you haven’t worn within the last year goes in the Donate pile. With the exception of seasonal and occasion pieces. Speaking of occasion pieces, if they no longer fit your lifestyle then let them go. Like all of the mini bodycon dresses tucked in the back of the closet. If you don’t go clubbing anymore then it’s time to pass them to a new home. If you quit your corporate job and decided to be a Freelance Content Creator, then you can probably donate the majority of those suits. Anything damaged beyond repair goes in the Toss pile. Never donate anything in a condition that you wouldn’t accept.

Rebuilding Your Wardrobe

I got rid of about three quarters of my wardrobe with my initial purge. My style had matured. A lot. I literally had a closet full of clothes that I didn’t wear. I didn’t feel too bad though as this gave me a reason to go shopping. But I was really strategic about my new purchases and had strict rules. When I found a potential piece to add to my closet it had to meet certain criteria before I could purchase. And I use the same criteria to this day. I ask myself three questions. Do I absolutely LOVE the piece, no ifs ands or buts? Can I create at least three different looks with it? And will I actually want to wear this piece a year from now? If I answer no to any of these questions I don’t purchase. It doesn’t matter how low the sale price is, or how good I think it will look for such and such event, it stays in the store (or on the site). I also keep prints at a minimum and stick to mostly neutral pieces with pops of color here and there to maintain a minimalist wardrobe.  This criteria has not only helped me to pick pieces that I love and can wear over and over again, but all of the pieces in my closet can be paired to create endless looks.

Maintaining Your Wardrobe

I’m not as ruthless as I should be at times though, and some pieces that I should have rejected creep into my closet every now and then. That’s why I do a seasonal purge to clean out these pieces and get my closet back in sync. Every season I go through my wardrobe and take out the pieces that I don’t wear or plan to wear, those that don’t pair well with the rest of my closet, and played out pieces. After doing your initial purge and rebuilding your wardrobe this process will definitely help you to keep your wardrobe small but mighty and filled with only clothing that you love and will actually wear. You’ll find that it’s now easy to get dressed and will rarely complain about not having anything to wear. Having a small wardrobe is actually a good thing for me as I have a small NYC closet. When space is at a minimum your organization skills have to be on point.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet (or any small closet)

The secret to organizing a small closet is adding shelving and drawer systems to utilize otherwise wasted space. Then you can organize to your hearts content. I find it easiest to organize my wardrobe by type of clothing, then color. Hanging from left to right I have jeans, then dress pants, skirts, short sleeve tops, camis and bustiers, vests, kimonos, dusters, blazers, denim jackets, long sleeve tops, and last but not least dresses & jumpsuits. Velvet hangers keeps everything streamlined. I don’t have to do seasonal storage since most of my pieces transcend seasons or can be layered. Ninety percent of my active wardrobe is in my closet all of the time. With the exception of coats, jackets and wool blazers which are stored in another closet, and another small area that I’ll show you later.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet sterility drawers

Whatever is not hanging is stored in these storage carts with the wheels removed. In the left cart there’s bras in the top drawer. Then panties in the middle and socks & stockings in the bottom. On the right I have long sleeve tops in the top drawer. Layering camis, tanks and crop tops in the middle, and short sleeve tees in the bottom. On top of the carts I have a small box with belts, along with a couple of my smaller bags, my watch case and my real jewelry box.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Steel Rack

To the right of the carts I have a 3 Shelf Shelving Unit. Sitting on the top shelf in the corner is my large foldable hamper. My chunky sweaters are folded on the middle shelf. Next to them is a box with a handful of pieces designated as Summer only. On the bottom shelf I have two cloth storage cubes. One with lingerie and sleepwear. The other has an array of cosmetic travel bags along with my sewing kit.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Shoe Rack

My shoes are stored to the left of the storage carts on stackable, expandable shoe racks. I’ve really paired down my collection. If you can’t tell I’m a huge fan of animal prints, especially leopard. Animal print is my neutral of choice in the shoe department. I’ve also incorporated more low heels, flats and kicks into my wardrobe and stopped buying super high stilettos. My knees and back can’t handle them regularly anymore.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Boots

Boots are stored on the left side of the closet shelf…

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Boots

Speaking of boots, I added the snakeskin pair to my collection for Fall and can’t wait to wear them. Snakeskin is big this Fall, however it’s a timeless print that will go with everything. I also found the black leather pair in TJ Maxx and they have the perfect shape and heel height. You can find a similar pair here. Both boots have block heels which are super comfortable and easy to walk in. My ankle boot collection is now complete.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Bag Storage

I have a selection of bags stored to the right of the boots…

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet Bags & Hats

The rest are hanging from an over the door hook rack with my hats.

How To Organize Your Small NYC Closet over the door hooks

The other closet door has a over the door hook rack as well. I use this rack to outfit plan and store new pieces until I put them away.

I have a small storage space across from the closet (behind the room door) where I have another shelving unit with boxes and cube storage. On the top shelf I store beach hats and my sunglasses. Along with my costume jewelry in this 3 drawer acrylic organizer. On the middle shelf there’s swimsuits in the box on the left. And headwraps and scarves in the bin on the right. On the bottom shelf I have workout clothes in the bin on the left. I store Sorority paraphernalia in the box to the right. I’m actually looking for a slim, tall chest to replace this set up.  I actually updated this setup. Here’s what the corner looks like now…

How To Use Cube Storage As Dresser

I opted for this 8 cube organizer shelf instead of a chest or dresser. It takes up less space than the other shelving unit that was in the space, and allows me to hold more. So I was able to move some of my smaller bags from the closet for easier visibility and access. I also downsized my jewelry collection, getting rid of pieces that I don’t wear, and putting the items that I want to wear on display in this jewelry organizer.

Umbra Jewelry Organizer for necklace display

I had so many pieces of jewelry hidden away in boxes, or under items. It’s so much easier to grab pieces and go now that they’re on display in my organizer. I just need to add a mirror to the wall so I can get a last peek at myself before I go.

Acrylic Jewelry Organizer Review

My statement pieces that I don’t wear as often, and some extra hoops are still in this acrylic drawer organizer. I took out my stud earrings though, and placed them in an odds & ends tray that I had sitting around, to make them easier to find. You can get a similar tray here. My sewing kit is hiding behind the acrylic organizer since I have some extra space.

How To Organize Your Watches In A Small Space

I moved my watch case from the closet to the new cube storage. It’s now right next to the acrylic drawers. Having all of my jewelry together and visible makes it so much easier to pair pieces quickly when I don’t have a lot of time.

How To Organize Your Sunglasses

Speaking of making things visible, I moved all of my sunglasses out of their cases and into this sunglass organizer. A few pairs are missing as they were in use. I found myself wearing the same sunglasses over and over since I never have time to look through all of the cases and choose a pair. Now I can quickly select a pair to go with my outfit while choosing my jewelry. My closet now feels completely organized. Redoing this corner also allowed me to find more items that were not being worn and needed to go.


This is how I purge & organize my small NYC closet and keep my wardrobe in order. I hope that my tips and visual aide will help you to get your wardrobe and closet all the way together too!

10 Responses

  1. Look forward every week to reading and implementing your fabulous style of fashion. I’m 60 years old but have a sense of staying fashionable and your post is just the style I was looking for..

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