Closet Solutions: A Guide to Storing Menswear

February 6th, 2015

When you invest in quality menswear pieces, like our suggested wardrobe essentials, you want to make sure you’re taking good care of them. Storing your items properly will extend their lifespan and keep them in readily wearable condition.

A good wardrobe also needs a good display. You should be able to easily see all of your options, and know where specific items are stored. A garment isn’t helping your style if you can’t find it, or forgot about it sitting in the back of a dark closet.

Here are some tips from my experience storing menswear.

DIY Closet Solutions

Firstly, If you’ve priced out any custom closet solutions, you know they’re not cheap. I already spend enough on clothes, I don’t like to spend a lot on storing them, too. I also move a lot (six apartments in the past six years) so it doesn’t make sense to invest in fancy closet fixtures made of mahogany, or whatever. For the time being, I just need an affordable solution that I can custom build to store my wardrobe properly.

What I did in my Los Angeles apartment is turn the second bedroom into a walk-in closet (and the third into a design studio with a pattern table and industrial sewing machine). The first thing I needed in the closet was a lot of hanging space, so I lined the walls of the room with a two-story rack using 3/4″ threaded plumbimg pipe from Home Depot. They cut and thread the pipe in the store for free, based on whatever measurements you need. Then it’s just a matter of screwing the pipes together using threaded T-joints and securing the rack to the floors/ceilings with end flanges.

As an alternative, in my college dormroom and my first apartment in Harlem I used slatwall from a store fixtures retailer in Chinatown.

The next thing I needed was space for 100+ pairs of shoes. The most economical solution I found was a rack of wire shelves, also from Home Depot. The six foot shelf holds six pairs of shoes and only costs $8.70. The best part is, with the ClosetMaid system, you only have to secure two tracks to the wall (rather them hanging individual shelves) and you can adjust the spacing of shelves as tightly as you need , based on the height of your shoe styles (low-tops, high-tops, boots, etc).

The last thing I picked up from Home Depot was a cheap adjustable curtain rod that I use as a tie hanging area along the wall. It’s a $5 solution to store and display a whole collection of ties.

The remainder of what you see in the photo above (the cubed shelving unit with the cloth bins) was purchased at Ikea, which is full of great affordable solutions.

Storing Suits

A good suit deserves a good hanger. This means one with a full shoulder, that is properly fit to the point-to-point of your jacket (not too long or too short). As far as the pant bar goes, I prefer a simple sling-over bar (velvet-wrapped for grip) than a “squeeze bar” which often leaves a wrinkle halfway down the leg. As with all hanging garments, give them enough space on the rack to breathe. If you squish too many garments on a small rack, they’re all going to get wrinkled and you’ll have to break-out the steamer every time you change outfits.

If you’re storing off-season pieces long-term, I suggest keeping them in garment bags or in dry cleaner’s plastic to preserve them from moisture and moths. I often put some cedar chips in the bag too, to preserve the freshness.

Storing Shirts

I try to use wooden hangers as much as possible, but with shirts you can save on hanger costs. The wire hangers from the dry-cleaners will work just fine. I almost always keep those hangers, as well as the plastic coverings. When you put a shirt on a hanger, make sure the top button is fastened to preserve the shape of the collar and keep the shoulders from sliding around on the hanger. Ideally you should button the entire shirt, to keep the front panels from folding over and getting wrinkled.

Storing Knitwear

Sweaters should always be folded, never hung. Hanging knitwear will cause it to stretch out, loose its shape, and get deformed at the shoulders. I prefer folding and stacking mine in storage bins, rather than dealing with loose stacks that topple over.

Storing Shoes

Lace ’em up with cedar shoe trees, always. If you wear them very rarely, consider dust bags as well.

Storing Hats

A traditionalist would keep his felt and straw fedoras in their own dedicated hat boxes…but those boxes are huge. You need some serious real estate to be a hat collector who keeps the boxes. I keep my hats stacked on top of each other. It saves space and they all keep in each other in shape.

Storing Ties

Some people say that rolling ties in a drawer is the best way to store them, because it keeps their “fluff” or “dimension”. But who has time to roll up a tie and set it neatly in a drawer? I keep mine hanging, slung over a cheap curtain rod, where I can see them all and quickly pull one down.

Storing Small Accessories

Cufflinks, tie bars, tie pins, collar pins, watch bands, etc. Find yourself a nice masculine looking jewelry box with different compartments, and keep all of these small accessories in one centralized location.

Storing Watches

I wear an automatic watch (Montblanc Timewalker) most days. Problem is, when I stop wearing it for a day or two, it stops telling time, which is the gift and the curse of an automatic movement (it works off the motion of your wrist). For this style of timepiece, you need a self-winding case, which rotates the watch in order to keep it from stopping. Unless you want to wind it manually every time you wear it – which is relatively easy to set the time, but a real pain in the ass to set the date.


Thanks, as always, for reading. And remember, keeping your closet clean and neat is one of the easiest things you can do to start dressing better. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • Guccio1971

    Strong powerful info, my bro…..something I can definitely relate to. I’ve had an idea of what I’ve wanted to do for my closet (aka basement) but overwhelmed on where/how to proceed. I’m with you on the shoes….I also have quite the collection (definitely 100 pairs). Your personal collection has inspired…..this is why AOS is the best in the game.

  • Austin Roberson

    Dan! I think you should do a video tour of your closet! I think everyone would love to see all the clothes that you have. Also when will you come out with your videos?

  • Art

    Fantastic! Can you also post some tips on how to pack when you move apartments? All the shoes, ties and jackets – do you simply pack them in a garbage bag?

  • Christopher_Arruda_LSC

    These are very informative ideas for storage. Thanks!

  • Josh

    I love the idea for the suit storage, but did you literally drill into hardwood floor?

  • D. Knott

    I hate your closet. By hate, I mean love. Don’t ever show it again. Great post.

  • Mercurio

    As I don’t have so many shoes, I keep them in their original boxes, always with a wooden tree, so I can stack them in raws by type and color, so they are always clean and ready.

    • TimL

      I just went thru this too…..
      For the past few years I’ve kept them in the boxes and in a closet and organized.
      Then after seeing Dan’s room, decided to go out and get a shoe rack to put 20-30 pair of shoes on it.
      Hated the look of having all the shoes out.. moved the rack to another room… hated the distance to get them. I put them back in their boxes and in the closet where organized and clean again. :)
      Gave the shoe rack to my daughter. lol.

  • AdamE

    Storage is always an issue, right now, I despise my closet, because everything is smushed into each other because of limited space. I would love to have a room I could retro-fit into a closet, but no dice. As sad as it is to say, when we were looking at houses, that was one of the criteria we were looking for, either a walk-in or wall to wall closets in the master bedroom… We ended up with wall to wall, with separate sections for each of us, plus lots of shelving on my side… so in a month and a half I’ll have a much better storage set-up. That said, the shoe system (and more importantly collection) is super impressive… I like the curtain rod idea for ties, I have tie hangers, but they can’t contain my tie collection, so it’s slowly spread to some wooden hangers with a trouser bar, to keep them from falling for the overflow… At one point as a student, I ended up with a bedroom with no closet (my roomate got the smaller room with the closet, I got the much larger room, without), so I went out and got a nice wood curtain rod, and screwed it into the ceiling near the foot of my bed, and then added some wooden shelves for storing everything else… With a bit of resourcefulness, you can always McGyver something…

  • Dave Coakley

    This is the one i’ve been waiting on. Tremendous article and advice mate.

  • TimL

    HOARDER!!!!………………. just kidding. :)
    Looks fantastic and great ideas. I have the same rack system you have for your shoes but I put my sweaters on top and then hand my suites on them.
    I have tie hangers that hang with little felt fingers sticking out the sides and can get 24 ties on each hangers. I have about 300 ties.

  • Jeanscuffed

    Aside from my rant earlier, where does your Karyn keep her things? I’m sure she understands your lifestyle as a blogger but my guess is that she keeps a simple wardrobe?

  • Tom

    Hey Dan,

    You should check out the odor jet ( Given how lazy I am, esp when coming home, it’s way easier than ironing shirts.

  • tommyjohn_45

    To go along with Dan’s point about keeping the dry cleaning plastic covers… An alternate trick is, most retail stores will supply you with garment bags if you ask, even when buying a single shirt, pair of pants, etc. Even when my wife picks up a skirt or dress, she knows to grab a garment bag for me. I like the durability they provide, especially for travel, but don’t have the benefit of being see through like dry cleaning bags.

  • Juan Zara

    That’s a great solution! Ideally, this is what every man wants. Unfortunately, European cities don’t typically offer living spaces large enough to permit converting an entire room to a closet. To be honest, “open” closets per se are very rare, and most of us have to do away with a medium-sized wardrobe (possibly with sliding doors to save space) and a small chest.

    I agree with the fact that IKEA is a great place to find affordable and, most importantly, fully customizable options.

    I tend to keep the suits, sportcoats, jackets and coats I use the most on the bottom portion of my wardrobe, next to another rack dedicated to just my shirts. On the top half I have two other racks, one for trousers, and the other to keep the rest of the suits, sportcoats, etc. T-shirts and sweaters are of course folded on a shelved portion of the wardrobe where there’s also drawers for socks, underwear, sleepwear, etc.

    For my ties, I’ve found “tie rack hangers” to be the best solution. They hold about 20 ties each (I only need a couple of them) and you can hang them next to your shirts or coats.

    • tommyjohn_45

      Yeah… Definitely don’t have the space to dedicate an entire room to clothing. Hopefully in the near future though!

  • Shawn

    I’ve been waiting for that picture for a while! Wish we’d see the whole thing, with the shirts as well!

  • David

    what do you recommend for belt storage?

    • tommyjohn_45

      Like Juan Zara, I use tie rack hangers, which come with a few smaller hooks for belts. I also have a few nails inside my closet tucked into the front corners that are great for hanging belts while taking up basically no space.

      • Juan Zara

        This. I’ve also resorted to nailing a few nails inside my closet to hang belts and it works great.
        I keep my go-to belt, which has an engine-turned buckle (so it can’t be hung, or at least not on a nail) rolled inside a drawer, though.

  • Nick_L

    The IKEA shelving unit is perfect. I have 3 of those – 1 in my closet being used the same way as in Dan’s photo. The other 2 are used for pictures / artwork.

  • Joe Anhalt

    Very impressive.

  • Miguel

    Wow Dan, that pic is epic, so many shoes to choose from, more pictures of you closet would be nice.

  • Nafi

    This is a “Dan stunting article.”

  • Eric


    The envy based hatred I feel is so strong after seeing that closet…so money my friend!

  • Jeanscuffed