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Clothes on wooden hangers
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Succumb to decision fatigue before you even leave your bedroom in the morning and your day will only go downhill from there. These expert closet organizing tricks will help you get dressed quickly, so you can start your day looking good and feeling confident knowing there isn’t a heaping pile of discarded outfits waiting for you to put away tonight.

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Clothes on wooden hangers
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1 Get Rid of Your Clothes.

Experts agree: It’s easy to get sucked into the “nothing to wear” vortex when you’re staring into a closet full of ill-fitting, dated, or worn-out clothes. “If it’s no longer doing you any favors, it’s time to part with it,” says Audrey Slater, a New York City fashion editor and stylist who’s consulted on many closet clean-outs. “These things take up space and get in the way of what does work in your closet.”

Spend an afternoon going through your wardrobe with a trusted friend, advises Melanie Charlton, founder of Clos-ette Custom Closet Design and Clos-ette Too closet accessories. “That means someone whose style you admire, who will say no to you. Try on everything—it’s time-consuming on the front end, but saves you so much time on the back end.”

Another plus: Parting with pieces doesn’t have to be all about loss, says Slater. “Donating always feels great,” she says, “and it’s so easy to sell stuff now, whether online at eBay, ThredUp, or Tradesy—or at a local consignment shop.” That means money for new clothes that look and feel perfect. Find more secrets for selling clothes online here.

Shoes on a closet floor
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2 Leave Your Shoes on the Floor.

When Slater gets dressed every morning, she starts with her footwear and works her way up. “Your comfort and the weather will tell you what you should be wearing,” she says. “If it’s freezing and you have to wear boots, that will narrow your other decisions. If it’s a pumps-and-dress day, it will eliminate everything else.”

With this strategy in mind, she suggests keeping your everyday shoes on the closet floor, in full view, or on simple shelving. And keep the other pairs easily accessible, too. “Clear boxes take up too much real estate,” says Slater. “Just keep them in the original shoe boxes and write a simple description on the front.”

If, like Charlton, you prefer to keep your shoes out in the open, use her trick for fitting more per square (forgive us) foot: “Organize shoes heel-to-toe in pairs, so you can see more shoes per row at a glance.”

3 Spill Out of the Closet.

Install a hook or valet rod on the outside of your closet door as an outfit staging area. “Over the weekend, pull out a few things you’d like to wear in the coming week, and leave them outside the closet,” says Slater. “When you get dressed every morning, use those pieces as inspiration.”

Charlton often goes a step further, pulling entire outfits in advance. “Proper prep leads to better performance—with getting dressed as with everything else in life,” says Charlton. “Pick out three outfits to wear for an event ahead of time, and on the day of, you can decide which to wear.” Better to narrow down from three looks at 7 a.m. than 30, right?

Chrome Classico Horizontal Tie & Belt Rack
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4 Climb the Walls.

“I discovered the best accessory device by accident,” says Slater, who moved into her new home and found a multi-hook tie rack affixed to the closet wall. “The pegs stick out to hold ties—but I hung my belts from it.” With her belts in full view, Slater is more likely to find what she needs quickly and head straight to the kitchen for coffee.

Charlton uses all shallow vertical space on walls and inside doors—starting from the top down, to take full advantage of ceiling height. “I love lots of hardware,” she says. “Peg boards from the hardware store can be mounted on the wall and used to hang hats, jewelry, handbags, and scarves.”

5 Organize Like a Thrift Store.

Charlton finds that organizing the closet by separates (shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, blazers), and then color-coding within each category (light to dark) works best for 75 to 80 percent of her clients. “Once your closet is organized this way, getting dressed becomes more systematic and you become better and faster at getting dressed,” she says. “You’ll train yourself to think, ‘I have a pencil skirt, and the right shirt to wear would be here, and there are the colors I want.’”

6 Or, Organize by Activity.

And then there are the other 20-25 percent of people, notes Charlton. Those people find it easier to organize a closet into outfits or lifestyle categories: date night outfits, workout clothes, work wardrobe, weekend wear. “Some people don’t want to have to think,” she says. “They want the sports bra right next to the leggings, the cocktail dress with the shoes and the bag.” Sound appealing? Go for it—but put your most-used clothing category in plain sight, and tuck seldom-used clothing (say, fancy dresses) off to the sides.

Credit: Jens Mortensen

7 Keep Your Uniform Up Front.

Every woman should have three outfits per season that she can throw on and feel confident in, says Slater. “Each should work on many different levels of appropriateness,” she stresses. “These are your pinch hitters.” Keep these pieces available so that you don’t have to search for them—just reach into your closet, get dressed, and head out the door. Oh, and don’t worry about repeating a look twice (or even three times) in one week: “If it works and you feel great, wear it a lot,” says Slater. You can always swap out jewelry and shoes to keep the look fresh.