Small Closet Solution

One of the most challenging things about a reach-in closet is not being able to see everything without considerable effort. But, after downsizing twice in ten years, I’ve learned a few tricks about making small spaces work for me.

I had been on the lookout for some short summer tops when I found this one here a few weeks ago. I hadn’t worn it because it hung with all the other navy and black tops. It is easy to forget you have things when they are packed away or stuffed in the back of a small closet. The white jeans are here. The other items are not current.

The seersucker fabric is cool and comfortable since it stands away from the body for maximum airflow, unlike a cotton knit top. I would have purchased the top in navy and other colors if they had been available. Long tops and tunics are things I avoid since they make legs look shorter and usually grab the hips to draw attention.

My solution for ensuring everything gets used and enjoyed is to stage outfit possibilities for the week on a rolling rack. I consider the weather and the activities on my agenda when pulling the items. There are usually a few mix and match options within the various things I select.

Since all my rolling racks are now used in my storage unit, I looked for a new version with shelves. Wheels are always a priority since I will also use the rack when doing laundry or ironing. In addition, these racks are handy when packing for a trip, editing my wardrobe, or switching things over at the end of the season.

The new garment rack is here.

This week, I read a great quote: “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion.” – W H Channing.

72 Comments
  1. Thank you for sharing, Susan. I especially appreciate this quote. I hope you and Mr. Mickey have an enjoyable day celebrating the birthday of our great country.

    1. I leave the rack in front of my closet or move it to where I need it. For example, if it is in my way when I exercise, I roll it into the foyer until I finish working out.

  2. That is a great quote! I will add it to my journal of fabulous sayings. Happy Fourth of July!

  3. Thank you for this post. You look great in black and white…my favorite combination. I too use a rolling rack. Mine folds up but it is so handy that I have it out most of the time. I have a very pretty piece of woven fabric that matches my decor and I sometimes just toss that over it when it’s not in use and it looks fine in my bedroom.
    I’m so happy you are settling into this chapter of your life.

  4. Hi Susan, thank you for another helpful post! You re-quoted a portion of a poem that has been my favorite since childhood, My Symphony by Channing. If you haven’t read in it’s entirety, I think you might enjoy it. Cheers!

  5. Hi Susan, When I wanted a top to be a little shorter, I decided to order a petite medium instead of regular medium and was pleasantly surprised when it worked beautifully. I’ve never considered myself petite because of my height (5-7). My bust is 34, so I guess in this item it worked fine. Thanks for all your help!

  6. Susan, I so enjoy your organizational tips and techniques, you really inspire me. Today’s post is perfect, as the only thing on my to-do list for today is “work on closet”!

  7. You look lovely!

    I just finished downsizing. Unless it is seasonal, if I haven’t worn it within the previous year: out, out, gone!

    In re-organizing my closet: tops are according to color & sleeve length. Did the same with pants (by color). Shoes are by style, all flats (sigh, too many but, I do wear all of them!).

    Off-season clothes (sweaters) are in a cedar chest and the big stuff (down coats, snow boots, ski stuff) is in our guest cottage closet (because of Covid, no guests since 2019 or in the near future!).

    My husband does the same thing with his clothes and closet. Makes it so much easier to find things!

    Your pointers, ideas and visuals are always spot-on and illustrate your dialogue perfectly!

  8. Hello Susan,

    I like that quote as well. When I read it, I thought Channing must be from New England and I was right! New Englanders are known for their thriftiness and refinement whether one is a farmer or a doctor. It would surely be a good thing if more people invested in good character and less in materialism. I’m not from New England but my mother’s family was and I inherited many of their traditions including their value for the old and aversion to the ‘new’. I absolutely hate spending money on anything made today- especially clothing- so, I tend to keep my wardrobe very simple with a few practical and well-made items. Since today is Independence Day, I decided to purge many items from my wardrobe. I just don’t have the patience to search for an outfit anymore. I have one of those old awful narrow and very long closets designed for folks that only had one Sunday suit and a few week day items. I can’t even reach the length of the closet. I really need to have the walls removed and open up the entire length but …..????

    I was talking to my mother not long ago about how my grandmother acquired such a sense of style with so few items in her closet. My mother replied, ‘ You are either born with style or you’re not’ and I agree. Some people like you and my grandmother have the innate gift of style. I, on the other hand, have to work at it- mostly by adding accessories like scarves.

  9. Hi Susan! Happy Independence Day to you and Mr. Mickey. I love the black lightweight blouse. Looks perfect for summer. What earrings were you wearing with the outfit? I wasn’t able to enlarge enough to see them. Thank you!
    Jodi

  10. Found your Web site by accident. 78 years old in the UK. Found my style with you. Am hourglass bu have many things in wardrobe that will now feature some so old viyella 30 years old! Regards Kaye Jamieson

  11. I was wondering what size you ordered? I ordered a Large but I am between Medium and Large and depends on the fit.

  12. I tried to send you an email, but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure if I should put this message in the comments. I love that black blouse and want to buy it, but in their comments some say the blouse is see thru and a camisole should be worn under it. Your photo doesn’t look like a thin blouse, is it? Also, I’m 5 ft. 130 lbs, 36 bust and I usually get large in a Chico’s top (especially knits) but this blouse looks roomy and I’m thinking a Med. might be better since I’m short, etc. What do you think? You look great! I, too, love to wear black tops and white pants, I have gray hair too. Thanks for the info!

    1. I ordered the black top in a size medium, and I’m pleased with it. It isn’t see-through at all. Perhaps the comments pertained to a lighter color version.

  13. Thanks, for the info, and thank you for sharing the new outfit with us. I’ve always enjoyed your blog and all the info you share with us!

  14. Just wondering what size blouse yiu purchased. Would like one also, but wondered how the fit is. You look stunning as usual. Thanks

  15. I so agree that a clothes rack is very helpful, Susan. I have a rolling clothes rack with a bottom shelf. I really like to use it to help me select clothes for a trip, to create outfits, or to sort through seasonal clothes.

    I guess I missed what type of housing situation/size you recently moved into. I hope to enjoy your new surroundings!

  16. Happy 4th to you and Mr.Mickey! You look lovely and ready to celebrate. I like the rolling cart idea to.
    Right now, I’m still working my way through every closet, drawer and cupboard in the house. Thank goodness the job is nearly done. Whew! Our decluttering has been a success. My husband pitched in and together we had a purge and a yard sale is in the works. The realtor is coming next week and soon after our house will go on the market. We’ll miss our home, but not all the work. We continue to look for a much smaller house in a 55 + community. Wish us good fortune in finding that perfect next home. The best to you and Mr.Mickey.

  17. I see that you sold your house but you do not intend on buying another one. What advice would you give to us who are thinking on doing the same? Won’t we end up paying a good amount on the profit we make from the sale of the house when we go to file our taxes? Also, I love that outfit. I think you made a very good decision on the purchase of that top.

    1. If you have a capital gain from selling your main home, you may qualify to exclude up to $250,000 of that gain from your income or up to $500,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. Read more about this topic here.

  18. If you don’t mind sharing this information, will you let us know where do you purchase your garment racks? I have used them for years in storage situations, but in recent years I have had problems finding substantial racks! I like your idea & photo of using a smaller clothes rack to display clothing choices for weekly wear!

    Thank you!

    ~ Anne

  19. LOVE QUOTE!!!!! Need to remember every day. May YOU have good health and much happiness in your new home.

  20. I am 4’11” and I’m shocked at how much better this top and white jeans look since the top is shorter! I had no idea! The idea of tunic and oversize tops I think allowed women to hide tummies but NO, they are not flattering. I love this outfit you have on. I have 3 nice fitting pair of white jeans I love to wear in the summer but now I’m thinking I need to donate a LOT of tops I have. Less is more….and it’s so much easier to get ready when everything isn’t crammed in the closet (that you never wear). Oh, by the way, I’ve lost down to 101 lbs. over the last 3 years; I walk 3-5 miles daily, line dance, and work out with weights 4-5 times per week so I don’t have to hide a tummy anymore. Thanks for your tips….just so you know, they DO HELP!!!

  21. Yes, I agree with Betty that this look is very flattering. You have trim hips and thighs and seem to look best in outfits that show this area, Susan. I have a similar build and need to start thinking about getting rid of some of those tunics, myself!

  22. Just a suggestion that has worked for me, before getting rid of a nice fabric, a color that you like or favorite style except for length, consider shortening a longer top. I have taken off a few inches and gotten a lot of extra wear from several tunics. Reinvent!
    Always thanks to Susan for inspiring ideas.
    Kathy

  23. Great information as I’ve never had a walk-in closet. Love the top! Thank you for sharing great ideas!
    Elaine

  24. I’m enjoying your methods for downsizing and adjusting to less space. We are also in transition. The rolling rack is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Love the idea of a rack for the clothes that you lay out to wear for the week. By laying out my clothes, I believe that I use more of the items that I have in the closet and put them together in a more creative way.

  26. What size was your top? I think I would need same size as you. Love this. Taking it on a visit to France in September.

  27. I must have missed one of your publishings. I am curious, why did you downsize and move? I am doing the same but moving to a new state to be near my son and his family. I am moving from Eugene, Oregon to Dener, Colorado. I am really cleaning out!
    Debbie

  28. Hi Susan! Love the outfit and storage rack! I have been thinking of using a rack like that to plan my weekly work outfits. I even bought little divider like they use at the store, but instead of being dividers for sizes, they are the days of the week. I can’t tell you how many times I have been late to work, because I was trying stuff on last minute, and changing my clothes, because something did not look right, or I just couldn’t find a part of what I was thinking of wearing. I see a pretty lavender eyelet top on your rack! Has it been in a past post you can link to, or can you give us a link to it? Thank you!

  29. We own too many things. Discrimination (the positive type) is important. The more, the less likely the need to downsize. Your style is simple yet classic chic, so I doubt you have overloaded.

  30. Good Morning, Susan-
    I enjoy checking in to see what tips you have and to see the wonderful fashions you share. I ordered the black blouse from Banana Republic. I prefer the shorter tops and as you know, they are not always easy to find.
    Thank you for sharing your life experiences and ideas for fashion, makeup, health and just how to enjoy life as we age. Your messages brighten my day! Say hello to Mr. Mickey!
    Judy from North Carolina

  31. I always look for shorter tops because they allow me to dress using the rule of thirds. Could you please tell me the length of the black top? I wish there were more tops on the shorter side available, I think they would look good on many of us.

  32. We have just downsized from 4000 sq ft to 1300, and will move again when our remodel is finished. My goal is to re-vamp and re-do my wardrobe before we move. It’s not easy!!!!

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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