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Clothes Don’t Fit?

Expand your closet with these storage devices

All clothes closets have at least one thing in common: They’re never big enough. This is due to the scientifically proven fact that clothing multiplies to fill whatever space is provided for its containment.

The obvious solution is to clear out closets on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, the best closet-clearing remedies are those that many people find impossible to administer consistently: seasonal wardrobe weeding, or perpetual pruning using the In/Out Inventory Rule (whenever a new garment is acquired, an older one is retired).

The alternative is to utilize every square inch of closet space, which is what closet organizing companies specialize in doing. But what if a professionally customized closet— or even a do-it-yourself version — seems like too much of a project?

The good news is that you don’t have to completely redo your clothes closet to create more storage space. A few efficient and economical closet maximizers could give you just enough wardrobe wiggle room.


The majority of closet space is used for hanging garments, and closet rods are frequently overburdened with more hanger-hung clothes than they were designed to hold. Luckily you can take a load off and rescue your rods by supplementing them with these handy hanging helpers:

• The Hang ’N Hide Rack — $25; (800) 642-2112, — attaches to a door or wall, holds up to 17 garments on hangers and folds up flat when not in use. Made of chrome and heavy-duty plastic, the 25-inch-wide rack extends 11 1/8 inches when open and is a mere 2 inches deep when folded.

• Merrick’s cherry wood Over-the-Door Garment Valet — $25; (800) 600-9817, — requires no installation. It slips over the top of a door and features a bar for holding clothes on hangers and four metal hooks for hanging accessories such as purses and caps. Also available in white polymer and steel ($10), the unit measures 14 inches high by 24 inches wide by 9 inches deep and can be folded away for storage.

If you just want an extra foot of hanger space, Bed Bath & Beyond carries the ultra-sleek InstaHanger Clothes Storage System — $15; (800) 462-3966, — a wall-mounted foldaway triangular holder made of polypropylene with a 12-inch steel rod that supports up to 45 pounds of apparel. Dimensions are 17 1 / 2 inches high by 3 inches wide by 14 1 / 4 inches deep open (1 1 / 2 inches deep closed). InstaHangers also come in larger sizes that support more garments, and with decorative wood coverings. You can find all the options at www.

• The Rolling Pant Trolley — $20; (800) 829-1133, — utilizes your closet floor for slacks storage, and not in a wrinkled pile, either. This clever cart tucks away under hanging shirts or blouses and rolls out for easy access to your slacks and jeans, with 18 vinyl-coated removable wire pant hangers on a powder-coated metal frame (27 1 / 2 inches long by 15 1 / 2 inches wide by 25 1 / 2 inches high).

Another way to fit more clothes in your closet is by using specialty hangers designed to save space. The Container Store has perhaps the largest selections of hangers, and one of their best space-savers is the 5-Tier Swing-Arm Slack Hanger — $6; — which accommodates up to five pairs of pants on swing-out rods made of rustproof metal.

Towel bars can also provide surprisingly effective clothes storage. When installed on the inside of closet doors, they’re ideal for draping jeans, sweat pants, or any items that often seem too much trouble to put on hangers.



Of course, hanging isn’t good enough for certain kinds of closet-dwelling apparel. Drawers, bins and/or shelves are needed for storage of sweaters and other knits that should be stored folded or rolled. Shelving and bin systems also work well for shoes and handbags.

The versatile rolling 3-Tier Cart with Wire Shelving ($25; Target) combines all the benefits of bins, shelves and drawers into one unit, making it useful for storing various types of apparel and accessories. Wire-mesh construction provides breathing room for stored clothes; it also lets you see contents at a glance and quickly grab what you want.

The middle tier does double duty: two side-by-side wire-mesh drawers—ideal for smaller items such as socks and underwear —slide under a shelf that can be used for holding folded or rolled items. The bottom tier is an open bin large enough to hold several pairs of shoes, while the top tier is handy for handbags.

Each tier is adjustable at 1-inch intervals. The entire cart, made of black epoxy coated steel, measures 23 inches wide by 13 inches deep by 31 inches high (with locking wheels).

Another rollaway closet helper is the multidrawer cart, which comes in a wide range of options with varying numbers of drawers in different sizes and materials. Kmart and Target carry a good selection of clear plastic rolling drawer carts; Bed Bath & Beyond has quite a few canvas-and-steel combinations; and The Container Store stocks Elfa’s modular wire drawer systems which have optional casters.

If shelf space is what you need most, the Hanging 5-Shelf Clothes Organizer —$30; (415) 543-3615,—offers a roomy yet compact storage solution made to hang from your newly unburdened closet rod by a wide, adjustable Velcro strap. The sturdy strap is centered (which prevents the sagging that often occurs on similar hanging organizers that use hooks) and the five shelves are bolstered with extra thick dividers for sag-free strength and stability. Made of heavy-duty poly-blend, the unit measures 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 45 inches high and also features mesh side pockets to hold accessories.


HARRIET SCHECHTER is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author of three books, including “Let Go of Clutter.” Her online advice column is at