This week, we drop in again at the law firm with Leo and Jordan. Jordan’s on his way out to door to have lunch with a client.
“Jordan, no tie? Are you kidding me?”
He stood in the doorway to my office looking otherwise great in a freshly-pressed suit and ironed white shirt. But he wasn’t wearing a tie.
“Shut up, it’s fine. Besides, I couldn’t find my lucky tie today.”
“What do you mean, you couldn’t find it?” I asked, rather incredulous that he couldn’t find one of the 5 or 6 ties he owned.
“I couldn’t find it. I swore I left it on the back of my recliner last week, but I couldn’t find it this morning. Maybe my cats got it…”
“Don’t you have, I don’t know, a tie rack? How do you keep your wardrobe organized?”
The blank stare told all.
“Alright, Jordan, when you get back, we’re going to get you organized.”
First off. I lied last time.
I said we were going to talk about polishing shoes. But that was rubbish. Something far more important came to my attention — organization. Just as you ought to keep your office and client files organized to ensure smooth lawyering, you ought to keep your wardrobe organized to ensure smooth dressing. Moreover, you can’t shine your shoes if you can’t find them. Let’s talk organization.
I Keep a System; The System Keeps Me Sane
My house is a tiny early 1900’s rowhome in Philadelphia and comes in at a whopping “not quite 700” square feet. And of course, back in the early 1900s, people who built tiny row homes didn’t think to waste precious living space by building big closets. Space is at a premium in my place, so I have to ensure that everything’s well organized and easy to find. To that end, I’ve come up with a few systems I use to make getting dressed in the morning a snap.
If you live in a newer home, you may have a closet that’s larger than my house. Congratulations. All the ideas here, while specifically dealing with my limited space, can be expanded to for any space.
While you’ll need to find a system that works for you, here are some of my tips to keep everything in order.
Let’s start easy with an infographic:
You can effectively organize your suit wardrobe in three easy steps: 1) Make sure you have enough suit hangers; 2) Hang up all of the suits; 3) Relax with a beer.
Why hang your suits? For one thing, it helps them become far less of a full-on rumpled mess compared to the “throw it on the floor and let it sit there for a few days” method.
If you want to take it up a notch and be full-on compulsive, try grouping your suits by color and formality. For example. I’ve broken down my wardrobe into the following groups:
|| Navy | Grey | Other ||.
Within each group, I”ve broken the suits down by pattern:
|| Solid | Stripe | Check & Other ||.
Check out the picture to the right. That’s my closet. And my suits are out of order. Excuse me a few minutes while I go re-arrange them…
Don’t just throw your ties over a door knob or coathook. You spent good money on them, so ensure they last. Not to mention, if they’re just randomly hanging somewhere, it wastes time as you fumble through them all, trying to find that perfect power tie for you to wear to impress that new client.
But if you’re short on hanging space, or you have more ties than you can hang, you can do what I do — roll the ties and store them in a box. I’ve picked up a few storage boxes from Ikea. They’re great because each box holds 8-12 ties, and I’ve labelled each box with the colors and patterns of the ties inside.(e.g. Red patterned, red striped, blue patterned blue striped etc) A little OCD? Maybe, but it takes me no time at all to find the tie I want in the morning. Take a look:
If you paid any attention to this post, you immediately burned most-to-all of your non white/blue/blue & white shirts. Therefore, organizing them should be a snap.
Just like my suits, I group my shirts in color order, fron let to right || White | Blues | Blue & Whites | Other ||. And within each color, the shirts are arranged by pattern, left to right || Solid | Stripe | Checks ||. Why bother with this? Easy — it makes finding the right shirt to go with the right tie a snap.
Here’s another pro-tip — stop putting your shirts in the dryer. Instead, pull them immediately out of the wash, hang them, ensuring to button the collar, and let them air dry. This will greatly increase the life of your shirts.
By this point in your legal career, you ought to have more than one pair of shoes.
At a minimum, you should have at least one pair of black captoes, and one pair of dark brown captoes or punchcaps. Make sure you have cedar shoe trees for each pair. If you have only two paisr, then your organization is a snap. If you have several pairs of shoes, keep it simple and group them by color. If you’re a big-timer, go have some bespoke shoes made. I keep all my shoes on the bottom two shelves of my wardrobe. Black shoes are on the upper shelf; brown, tan, burgundy on the lower. Each pair is kept with its mate. It’s pretty dang simple.
While you’re at it, you’ll want a place to store all of your shoe shining materials too. Get a shoe valet.
Pocket Squares, Cufflinks, Belts
If you have more than a few pocket-squares, you’ll want to store them in a way other than “crumpled up in a ball at the bottom of a drawer.” I keep mine folded in a box — the same kind in which I keep my ties. If you’re feeling super-fancy, or you have a collection that rivals that you’d find in a men’s store, you might want to consider a rack, like this one by Kent Wang.
For those who are great fans of cufflinks and want to show them off, consider a cufflink box. Not only will this keep your cufflinks from scuffing one another, it displays them quite neatly. Or, do like I do and use an old cigar box.
Treat your belts like ties. Hang them on a rack, or roll them and store them. I simply keep them rolled on a shelf in my wardrobe. (You should have at least one each of black and brown).
This All Sounds Like a Lot of Work
Sure it does. But just like organized files at the office make lawyering easier, an organized wardrobe at home makes getting dressed easier. Once you’ve made that investment into thinking just a bit about how you’ll organize your clothes, there’s minimal time and effort required to keep it going. The time savings in the morning, though, when you need to be in Court by 8.30, makes a big difference.
Stay tuned until next time, where I might really talk about why and how to shine your shoes. Or I might change my mind entirely. Leave me your thoughts and hate-mail in the comments.
H/t: Josh Camson for the post idea.
(photo: Messy closet from Shutterstock)