One solution to a crowded closet is to get rid of clothes. It can be a good option, and likely, we could all make use of de-cluttering techniques where our clothes are concerned.

But sometimes the problem isn’t how much stuff we keep, but where to put it. A place for everything and everything in its place is a great motto, but you have to have someplace to put everything, and that can be tricky.

I have found experimenting with different ways to store clothes can help identify a space where everything can have a home. Fashion and organization experts both recommend hanging clothes in outfits – so the scarf hangs with the pants, shirt, and jacket with which you generally pair it. This idea saves time in the mornings, since less thinking is involved in figuring out what to wear, and it can save space, since you don’t need a separate storage item for hanging clothes, accessories, etc. Another twist on this idea is to fold outfits together, if you have items you don’t hang.

For years I’ve used a similar technique for my youngest children. On laundry day we fold their clothes in outfits before putting them on the shelf. Even a toddler can get an “outfit packet” off of the shelf to bring to you at dressing time. School-aged children benefit from outfits that (1) match, (2) have all the parts available, and (3) are easily accessible. Just think about how much time you could save in the morning by not having to send kids back to the bedroom for pants that match… socks… a long-sleeved shirt (why do they always pick short sleeves when it’s 26 degrees outside?!).

My folding method works better for us than just setting the pieces of outfits in a stack together. When we stack them together they seem to be more “guidelines” than “intentional choices” and everything gets all mixed up on the shelf as they tear the shirt from one outfit to pair with a hidden pair of shorts they found under the mattress…

So here’s how I fold our “outfit packets”:

(I’m going to go through a multi-layered outfit, since it’s the most involved)

Lay the jacket or sweater out, face down on your folding surface, like so:

Lay out sweater or jacket

Lay out the shirt or other under-layer for the top face down on top of the jacket this way:

Spread second layer over first

Fold the pants (or skirt) to fit the width of the shirt between the sleeves, like this:

Put folded pants between shoulders

Add socks (or tights, or leggings and socks) on top of the pants:

Add the socks

Next, fold the bottom half of the layered shirt/jacket/sweater combo up over the pants/skirt/socks/tights combo, as shown here:

Fold bottom of shirt up over pants and socks

If there’s a hood, fold it down over the pants/skirt/socks/tights this way:

If there's a hood, fold it over the pants and socks

Then fold the sleeves across the whole packet, one at a time, to “close” it up. See?

Fold sleeves over packet, one at a time

Now flip it over and you have an outfit ready to stack.

Flip it over & get ready to stack

Single layer outfits and summer clothes are even easier. For short sleeves, I lay the shirt face down, set the folded shorts between the shoulders, and add socks (if necessary). Then I fold the sleeves over the shorts first, followed by the tail of the shirt up over the shorts (the short sleeves simply aren’t long enough to “close” the packet and end up unfolding when you flip the outfit up so you can see the shirt). You still have a neat packet of clothes, and your child can see the design on the shirt, so they know what they are getting.

Incidentally, these little clothing packets save a lot of space on the shelf or in the drawer. You don’t have to have a separate place for socks, tights, shirts, and pants. While the clothes still have the same mass, folding them together will save space on the shelf, in the drawer, and in the margins of your morning.