Discussions of wardrobe organization always center on closets. How big is your closet? What kind of shelves and racks are inside? What gadgets do you use to keep it in ship shape? But many of us have dinky, cramped, turn-of-the-century closets (see me waving my hand in the air?), and are forced to find other, creative ways to store and organize our goodies. Here are some of the most common non-closet clothing-storage solutions:



These monsters are, essentially, freestanding closets and are sometimes referred to as "wardrobes." What better place to stash your clothes? The one shown above is among the most common layouts, with a cupboard-like section up top that typically features a hang bar and a drawer or two below. I've got one with sliding doors on both sides and shelving above the hang bar, so there are definitely variations on the theme.

ADVANTAGES: Armoires are generally big, so they hold a lot. They're also pretty grown-up looking - even the cheap, Ikea versions - so they may enhance your bedroom's decor. Certain versions are configured to accommodate short hanging pieces only, but it's still nice to have a non-closet option that can store must-be-hung items.

DISADVANTAGES: Armoires are generally big, so they take up a bunch of space. If you're living in a microscopic studio apartment, a hulking armoire may look comically out of place. Big can also mean expensive, although you can certainly go the thrifted/Target route to minimize cost.

Chests of drawers

Yeah, I know: Duh. It's that base-covering urge that I just can't seem to squelch. Very few furnished houses and apartments are without a chest of drawers or two. (Chest or two of drawers? Hmmm.) This storage staple comes in all shapes, sizes, materials, and configurations and can be nabbed at virtually every price point if you're willing to buy used.

ADVANTAGES: Again, generally qualify as grown-up furniture. Chests of drawers often serve as dressers since they have open space up top for jewelry boxes, accessories, and miscellany.

DISADVANTAGES: Obviously, everything stored in a chest of drawers must be folded. Or wadded. Anyway, nothing delicate, easily wrinkled, or required-to-be-hung is gonna thrive in there. Although these guys can be procured for cheap (or even free), some show wear-and-tear pretty easily. Simple to spruce up, but buyer beware.

Beneath-the-bed solutions

Although some beds are actually equipped with drawers built into their frames, there are plenty of less permanent options: Bags, bins, and boxes designed to slide under a bed and out of sight.

ADVANTAGES: For most people, this is a wasted space anyway. Why not fill it with clothes? Since many closet-less spaces also lack basements and deep storage, under-the-bed storage is a great alternative for less-used or off-season items.

DISADVANTAGES: Out of sight, out of mind! I always make sure to utilize under-the-bed storage for items that get infrequent use yet are extremely memorable because otherwise, they're as good as gone. This solution is obviously best for foldables or durable goods like shoes and bags, since anything fussy will get wrinkled and mussed. And unless you've got a mondo bed on stilts, the storage area itself is pretty limited.

Roll racks

Although they were designed for use in retail environments, roll racks have made their way into the bedrooms of many fashionistas. Some use them as 3D inspiration boards, but others employ them for extra storage.

ADVANTAGES: If you're the type of person who draws inspiration from what's right in front of her, this is a great way to let those sparks fly! Roll racks are obviously mobile, so they can be temporarily stashed in another room as needed.

DISADVANTAGES: Even a roll rack hung with gorgeous duds is still a roll rack, and probably won't look terribly sophisticated. This solution is more fun and less grown-up, in most cases. Roll racks are limited, too, since everything on them must be hung.

Wall displays

Pinterest is absolutely lousy with wall display ideas: Towel racks for your scarves, corkboards for your jewelry, crown moulding for your shoes, and on and on. I've even seen photos of clothing on hangers tacked directly to walls. There are infinite ways to transform your wardrobe items into displayed works.

ADVANTAGES: Nearly all wall displays are DIY-able, and therefore, cheap. If you're a fashion-y, arty person showing off bits of your wardrobe in creative ways can feel rewarding and fun.

DISADVANTAGES: This is another option that may seem a little casual or young to certain eyes. Items on display in full light are likely to fade eventually.

So! Those of you with small or non-existent closets, do you employ any of these alternatives? What others would you suggest? 

Image via Linens N Things

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image. 

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