09/01/2012 11:01 am ET | Updated Oct 29, 2012

Clothing Organization: What My Family's Closets Say About Them (PHOTOS)


Somehow, by default, I became the queen of laundry for my family. And that has meant that I have had to learn (and indulge) their individual shopping and storage styles, or what I lovingly refer to as their "clothes crazies."

My 20-year-old son, for example, hates new clothes, both shopping for them and wearing them, so has whittled his wardrobe down to fives: 5 shirts, 5 t-shirts, 5 pairs of pants, 5 sweaters... you get it. You would think that this means a never-ending cycle of washing his clothes and stowing them away, but he is pretty oblivious to whether or not they are clean, and also doesn't believe in putting clothes away. Ever. He uses the Two Basket Method: one for clean and the other for dirty. Things move easily between the baskets, so I am never quite sure which is which. And he has added an ingenious spin: the bean bag chair, where clothes live when they are not quite dirty enough to wash, but not clean enough to wear.

My daughter, on the other hand, shops a lot, and never throws anything away. She has sweaters from her childhood, some of which strangely still fit her grown-up frame. She stores her clothes as if she was stocking a store, à la Benetton, in blocks of colors. Her closet is a rainbow from black to white, with every shade in between. She once confessed that she has kept certain items that she never plans to wear again, just because they fit nicely in the color wheel. She has one walk-in closet, two dressers, one closet for coats and another for accessories. All full. And she doesn't even live here anymore. Putting her clothes away can be very stressful. I often mistake dresses for shirts, and where does a black and white checkered blouse with pink and blue flowers belong? With the pinks? Blues? Blacks or whites? She does not have a miscellaneous category to make it easier for an amateur.

My husband Bob is also an avid shopper as he has several different personas, all of whom must be garbed. His multiple clothing personalities are not compatible and live separately. His work clothes: suits, ties and white shirts, hang in his office closet. His everyday fun clothes are in our bedroom. His fat clothes live in my office closet -- they rarely come out and it is better for all of us if they remain unseen and undiscussed. Rock and roll Bob's t-shirt collection, dating back to the '70s, lives in the attic where they can make noise, smoke and not bother the other clothes. Sport clothes (golf and soccer shirts which are only worn for important matches, because it really helps his team to win) are in the downstairs hall closet. Shoes are scattered throughout the house. Various costumes collected from heaven knows where: a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket, boxing robe, bowler hat, doorman jacket, and traffic policeman raincoat.

In the interest of fairness, I will admit to my own minor clothes crazy: I hate to throw things away. My closet contains several pairs of jeans that are at least 20 years old, a pair of sneakers my son outgrew 10 years ago, a jacket I remember buying when I was 14 and trying to be cool, and a box of socks that have not seen their partners in years. I also have several outfits for "gardening" (I don't garden), pointy high heels that I bought in another life and eleven sweaters that even I admit are too ugly to wear in public. The nice thing about clothes crazies is that they are private, at least until you blog about them. And, as a family, we can get dressed for Halloween in under a minute.

Want more? Check out our gallery below for some tips on cleaning out your closet and be sure to check out Stylelist on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Spring Clean Your Closet In 11 Steps

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