Sanctuary (closet tour)

As I was posting outfits over the past couple months with all of the handbags in my collection, several of you (including Angie) have been asking me how I store my handbags. I felt a little sheepish, as in my head the question sounded to me a little like "OMG how the heck do you store THAT many handbags?" I know you all didn't mean it that way, but I know I have a bit of a handbag problem...LOL!

I haven't been that great about taking the best care of my huge wardrobe when things get busy and it has been kind of messy and bursting at the seams. So it inspired me to really try to tidy it up and do some editing. I went through and purged a bunch of pre-pregnancy jeans and printed skinnies that no longer fit (yes, I did torture myself by trying them all on), plus a few old clutches that were too small to be practical, and some pilling sweaters, etc. I wish I could be ruthless and get rid of more, but I really couldn't do a major purge because I still love and use most of it.

I think I need to go into a hug my closet phase, but without a total shopping ban because that just makes me want to shop more. I just own too much stuff, as evidenced by Handbag Month lasting for several months. I could also do Dress Month, and a Skirt Month too with a new one every day without running out of items! Don't ask me to count my items. I plead the fifth.

I am going to try to concentrate on being more selective about what enters my closet and limiting my purchases. I have been reading up on minimalism and getting uncluttered and Project 333, but the thought of trying to pick 33 items to wear for the next three months makes me break out into a cold sweat. I've never been good at capsules and mix and match, and I don't think I would enjoy being that restrictive about what I wear, especially given my penchant for matchy matchy and accessory sets. I think I would go stir crazy if I tried it! So I think I'm just going to have to focus on having the right size wardrobe for me.

Anyways, on to the tidying and a tour of my closet. In addition to this, I have a dresser in my bedroom with five drawers, with 1) socks, bras and underwear 2) T shirts and other knit shirts 3) shorts, jeans and printed pants 4) swim, sleep and loungewear and 5) workout gear. Also I have coats in a closet upstairs, and seasonal ski gear etc. in bags. And a few pairs of shoes and sneakers under a bench by the entry door.

I stuffed those air pillows that you get in Amazon packages into the purses so they would hold their shape better, and put fresh rolled up magazines in my tall boots to replace the paper towel tubes. I had to take over another shoe shelf to give more room to my satchels, and put my booties on the floor. I had to stack all my flats one on top of the other, and the totes are kind of stacked on top of one another too, which is not ideal, but that's all the space I had. Necklaces are in a jewelry organizer with earrings on the other side hanging on the closet door. Hats and bracelets in a divided box underneath my shirts. Clutches on a shelf above my dresses. Sweaters in a bin with some larger bags on top. Super fancy purses in their boxes on the floor under the skirts. I like rainbow and ombre effects so my bags and clothes are roughly ordered by color. White first, then rainbow, then black. Short sleeve shirts/tanks to the left, then long sleeve shirts in the middle, then jackets to the right. On the bottom, skirts on the left, then non-jeans pants (just a few) on the right. Scarves, belts, maxi skirts and dresses in another section with clutches on a divided shelf above them. My wedding dress and Christmas ornaments up on the very top shelf. DH's clothes are on the other side of the closet.

My favorite part is the seat next to the mirror. My closet hasn't been this clean for a while, but now that it is, I love sitting down and resting in there for a few minutes to get away from the chaos of the rest of my life! (Though the kids always find me and come in and try on my shoes and necklaces!) Hope you enjoyed the tour of my little sanctuary! Thanks for inspiring me to clean up so I could show it to you!

PS: I just found an old thread where I showed my closet five years ago:
The funniest quote?
"I joined YLF in July (after I started wardrobe shopping for the first time in 5 years since having kids) and now that six months have passed, I think I am finally done!"
Um, yeah, not so much! Rookie mistake.
I was complaining back then that I had too large of a wardrobe, but look at how sparse my closet looks five years ago compared to now! I still have a lot of items in those pictures. And where were all the handbags back then? Yikes!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Bijou replied 4 years ago

    You have a wonderful closet and the organisation makes it easy to find what you are looking for. This is definitely not too large - because you use and enjoy your items. The thing that impresses me so much is that you do not duplicate. I know if I were to do a similar exercise, I would be shamed by the number of black jackets, pants and skirts that I have. 

  • anne replied 4 years ago

    I particularly love your jewellery holder. You've inspired me to find something similar.

  • bella replied 4 years ago

    Your closet is lovely. As long as you everything is visible, in good condition, loved and worn frequently, there is nothing wrong with a big closet in my opinion. Do what works for you! I do have a similar jewelry storage and it is super practical. Works much better than a jewelry box for me, because everything is visible. 

  • Ledonna N. replied 4 years ago

    Wow thank you for sharing. How beautiful and what a wonderful project I thing it will give you inspiration and motivation to enjoy and love your dressing area more. I love the seat in your closet.

    As far as purses it seems like you wear a fair amount of yours. I just purges 230ish purses from my wadrobe. Selling, donating and regifting them. Only to build my wadrobe up again. You are inspiring me to get my wadrobe together.

  • Sally replied 4 years ago

    Wow..just wow. My wardrobe is half that size but still nowhere near as tidy. I'm impressed how you look after and wear all yours.
    As someone else said it's impressive how you don't duplicate. I would be ashamed at the number of striped tops and black pants.

  • Sterling replied 4 years ago

    Good work.  I am impressed as hell.  

  • jill58 replied 4 years ago

    What a pleasure to have all you clothes and accessories so beautifully organized. This is truly inspiring. We live in an old house with teeny tiny closets (this has always been my excuse) so clothes, handbags etc.. are all over the place. It makes life chaotic. Thanks for letting us into your sanctuary. Nothing wrong with having a large wardrobe--particularly when everything is so well cared for. Lovely.

  • lyn67 replied 4 years ago

    Hah, oh yes, I think we all (here:-))have a problem...but your's is at least  locked in a closet nirvana!:-)

  • dakotacheryl replied 4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. And, in my opinion, the minimalist wardrobe is NOT for everyone. So I hope you don't feel guilty.

    I'm in the same boat as Jill, with teeny closets, and clothes spread out in my house...I would love a closet as big as yours, where I could see all my shoes, bags and clothes at the same time!!

  • Runs With Scissors replied 4 years ago

    I think your closet looks lovely!  I think the fact that sitting in there gives you peace says it all.  I also have a large wardrobe (especially in the shoe department), so I totally understand.

  • marianna replied 4 years ago

    It looks like a little boutique! Beautiful!

  • Tanya replied 4 years ago

    Thank you form sharing your lovely closet Natalie!  Everything looks so well organized and I am especially impressed with the big shoe and bag shelf.

  • Sihaya replied 4 years ago

    Wow, this is awesome to see your closet. You have really inspired me as mine is quite a mess and my handbags are all stuffed in a large drawer. As a result I don't rotate them near enough. Lovely. And yes, that seat looks oh so wonderful - I can see how that would be a great refuge for you.

  • BrieN replied 4 years ago

    I love that you think of your closet as a sanctuary. Everyone needs a place where they can re-charge and care for themselves. 

  • replied 4 years ago

    My favourite part is the rainbow of bags!
    I'm so impressed with your resolve Natalie: to tidy your closet, to lose weight... These are both BIG projects requiring a lot of dedication and energy. I'm sure you are a great role model to your kids (and, actually, to me, lol!)

    You know, I think you have to be a bit of a 'natural' minimalist to do the 333 project. So if you're somebody who has 10 pairs of sneakers but who only wears 1 of them, or 17 pairs of jeans but you only wear 5, then a closet purge a-la Project 333 might be in order.

    But this doesn't sound like you :-)

  • LACeleste replied 4 years ago

    So appealing!  Thanks for sharing Natalie!

  • Diana replied 4 years ago

    It's so pretty! Look at all your lovely wardrobe pets!

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    What Smittie said. 

    I don't think minimalism is best for everyone. If you are having fun with fashion and love and wear your clothes and you see your closet as a sanctuary, then you are doing a whole lot right! 

  • Sara L. replied 4 years ago

    I love your organized handbags - the effect of the organized colors is beautiful and soothing.  I wish I had the space you do - my clothes are fairly organized, but my shoes and handbags (bags aren't my thing so I don't have that many, but still) are not that organized and kind of spread out so I can't see them all at once. 

  • JAileen replied 4 years ago

    Wow! Very impressive and beautiful.

    I don't see why you would want do the 333 project. You have a lot of pretty things and you wear them. What's wrong with that?

  • Janet replied 4 years ago

    I agree with the others. Your closet really is beautifully arranged and organized, and you obviously use and enjoy what you have -- you're not just hoarding.

    I'm not much of a minimalist either. ;-) I'd like to pare down some of what I have, but I don't feel pressure to do so. I just know when I need to do some editing.

  • Lisa replied 4 years ago

    I echo others, your closet really does look like a boutique, well organized and lots of variety.  Makes me smile.

  • Peri replied 4 years ago

    Here's what I'm gasping your closet cedar lined? Seriously wow, that's my dream. Not my whole closet but a smaller separate one to sideline winter things into. I do have a cedar chest, but a cedar closet would be FAB! How did you do that?

  • RobinF replied 4 years ago

    This is wonderful, love your post and closet. I agree with what has been said, minimalism isn't for everyone. I personally would get bored. Since you love and wear what you have I don't think you need to feel guilty about it.

  • Anna replied 4 years ago

    Is that a cedar closet? I was thinking of having one built as a few months ago as my clothes got hit by moths. I lost 13 sweaters. They had good taste, they ate my cashmere! You are so much more organized than me. The pillow packs in the purses? Wonderfull way to recycle. I am going to try that.

  • AviaMariah replied 4 years ago

    Your closet is just fun to look at!  You obviously like variety and playing with your clothes so I wouldn't try too hard to shove yourself into a minimalism experiment.  You have the space to store it all so I say enjoy!  (maybe a one in one out rule?)

    ETA: I don't know about you but I found that when I became a mom my willingness to spend time on my clothing actually increased even though I obviously had a lot less free time.  I think that's because my wardrobe is one of the few (if only) areas of my life that is still about me.  :)  I actually posted my first WIW not long after DD1 was born after lurking for a few years.

  • replied 4 years ago

    Closet envy here :)  How fantastic it would be to have everything in one place, and where you could actually see it!  You've done a great job organizing, and it must make getting dressed a pleasure.  I think seeing two of these "clean and organized and well-planned" posts in one day (Angie's post this morning , and now yours) is a sign I need to get my proverbial s^&T together .  My life is a disorganized mess and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

  • rachylou replied 4 years ago

    Ooh! Thanks for the tour! Looks lovely.

    I have a custom closet...that I have since made a mess of. Hehe.

  • deb replied 4 years ago

    Nice closet, Natalie!

  • Angie replied 4 years ago


    A beautifully organized closet with lots of moving parts. WELL DONE. 

    My toes are tickled. 

  • Style Fan replied 4 years ago

    Beautiful.  Cedar lined and organized with a seat.  I would go in there and never come out. 

  • replied 4 years ago

    Can I join StyleFan and be locked forever in closet Nirvana :D

    What a beautifully organised neat closet!

  • DonnaF replied 4 years ago

    Beautiful!!!!  Your closet reflects your maximal style.  I see no problem unless you have LOTS of NWT stuff hanging around for months if not years.  When my mom passed away last year, she had tons of NWTs stuff from Mervyns and Montgomery Ward -- so not even nice stuff but items picked up with sales blinders.

  • cobaltblue replied 4 years ago

    This is amazing, Natalie, and all this variety is how you pull together outfits that, despite wildly varied sources of inspiration and style, are still true to your personality and fashion sense. The greater level of organization should streamline your dressing process - I hope it brings on new and interesting combinations!

  • UmmLila replied 4 years ago

    Love  your closet. I am a maximalist but I figure as long as I do not run out of space in the closet I haven't gone overboard. I have about one hanging bar (of six) left of space.

  • Gail replied 4 years ago

    Major closet envy happening here.
    My closet is large but disorganized , you have inspired me.

  • Chris987 replied 4 years ago

    Amazing! Really does look like a boutique as others have said...but it's all YOURS. !

    I'm another one from the old house - lots of small closets club. I tend to keep my wardrobe fairly small because I really need to see all the basics in one place or I won't remember what I have. Living in a four-season location means I swap things in and out of "current rotation" a lot...if I had a bigger closet I would not have to do it as much.

  • bonnie replied 4 years ago

    I would love to play in your closet. 

  • Staysfit replied 4 years ago

    Your closet is beautiful! Thank you for showing us your masterful closet organization. I understand why you call it a sanctuary. I confess that I have been known to hide in my walk in closet (yes from the rest of the family) so I could read a book without being interrupted. No one thinks of looking for me there.

    I like the fashion boots up high. It's hard for me to figure out what to do with this hard to reach section of the closet. My ceilings are 10' so it's particularly hard to reach above the top shelf. It requires a step stool and tip toes. Vertical items like boots might eliminate the tip toes and would make better use of the space on the top shelf than the handbags and stacked plastic bins I currently store there. It's never fun when a stack of bins comes crashing down on my head.............

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    Closet nirvana!

  • anne replied 4 years ago

    You and me both LisaP! (I have so many tasks that I need to get to to get my life organized - and I keep prioritizing sleep instead of doing them!)

  • Laura replied 4 years ago

    You are providing EXCELLENT inspiration for those of us who like you have a lot of clothes but haven't spent the necessary time organizing our closets. You are teaching us what great organization can do for one's closet. Thank you very much for this excellent post with photos!!!

  • Helen11 replied 4 years ago

    Wow! So beautifully organised. I would love to sit on that seat and take it all in.

    Lisap and Anne, I have an enormous to-do list. Counting and organising my wardrobe is on the list, but there is a mountain of ironing and mending to tackle first. Sigh.

  • goldenpig replied 4 years ago

    Thanks everyone! You really helped me get organized!

    Bijou and Sally, au contraire, I am definitely guilty of duplicating items in different colors. Five pairs of Okalas, five or six VC tube skirts, three Halogen pencil skirts, three Munro Abbys, two studded satchels, etc. And a partridge in a pear tree. I also have lots of black skirts, at least six.

    Anne, I got the jewelry organizer from Container Store, I think this one is similar:
    And they make fun dress shaped ones too. Yes Bella, I like being able to see everything all at once.

    Ledonna, wow, 230 purses purged? You are a master purger! Need to take lessons from you!

    Thanks Sterling, Lyn, Runs With Scissors, Marianna, Tanya, Sihaya, Brie and Celeste!

    Jill, Cheryl and Sara, at least when your stuff is spread out in multiple places your hubby can't complain about how much stuff you have! ;)

    Smittie, thanks so much. I'm still struggling with a messy house and stubborn belly though! Have only lost a few lb which is a bummer. Smite and JAileen, I am definitely not a natural born minimalist so I think I'd be doomed to fail at 333! Thanks Suz, you are too kind!

    Diana, I do love my wardrobe pets, though it has turned into quite the menagerie!

    Janet, you have a fabulous maximal style so it's no wonder you have a larger wardrobe.

    Thanks Lisa and Robin!

    Peri and Anna, yes the closet has a cedar wall next to the mirror. It was like that when we bought the place. The Elfa shelves were installed too, although I did a little re-arranging of the shelves. But the big shoe shelf was largely the same. So we were lucky to have a nice closet to move into.

    AviaMariah I agree it's fun to get some me time after taking care of the kids. It's why I stay up way too late, indulging in fashion time.

    LisaP and Anne, good luck with your closet projects! I definitely do not have my sh!t together, so I know where you're coming from!

    Rachy, too funny! Thanks Deb and Angie!

    Style Fan and Diana and Bonnie and Helen, you and other Fabbers are welcome to visit my closet anytime!

    Donna, it is so tempting at all budget levels to get greedy at sales and shop too much. I think we are all guilty of that, I know I am.

    Thanks Cobaltblue, Ummlila, and Gail.

    Chris, I live in the Bay Area so pretty much one season year round which is why I don't really rotate clothes. 

    Staysfit, boxes crashing on your head sounds like a real hazard! Hope you can rearrange things!

    Thanks Shevia, Laura, and Helen.

    Now my bedroom is a mess from all the stuff I moved out of the closet, but at least my closet is clean! I never get more than a couple minutes to sit down in there before one of the kids pops in, but it is a peaceful retreat. 

  • Maneera replied 4 years ago

    Oooh....I love your closet Natalie. Makes me feel so much better about my LARGE (and perpetually expanding) wardrobe :D

    Sadly I don't have a large closet like yours. My stuff is distributed through 3 double door closets by "Type". I'd love one large closet like this so I can see EVERYTHING together, but I simply don't have the space. Sigh :/

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