closet talk with the founders of AYR

July 2, 2015

The fashion brand’s leading ladies share their genius organizing secrets

In our wildest dreams, we’d have a closet equipped with revolving racks, floor-to-ceiling shelves, and bins for every handbag and heel. In reality, we have to maximize every free inch of space with creative design solutions. To transform a bedroom nook into a smart closet for a recent catalog shoot, we partnered up with a pair of design experts who know a thing or two about the importance of editing. Co-founders of the fashion brand AYR (All Year Round), Jac Cameron and Maggie Winters share their tips and ideas for maintaining an organized oasis for their clothes.

What are creative ways to organize and store shoes?
MW: I like simple clothes and fun shoes, which actually make for good decoration. I installed wall shelves in my closet, and that’s where I keep my shoes. It’s much more attractive than a pile on the floor, although that’s usually where they wind up by the end of the week!

JC: Shoes are tough for me as I love a great ankle boot and those guys take up some space! I found that the best way to store them is in metal wall shelves. I really enjoy the visual of modular storage and these are the perfect size that can also be easily cleaned!

What can you do with unused corners of closets?
MW: Living in New York City teaches you to use every inch of a space. Corner-shaped baskets and hangbars are such a smart way to optimize a small area.

JC: In my closet every inch of space is used as storage for something! I’m a huge collector of denim so I have all of my denim folded and divided up by style in wall shelves. Hangbars can make great use of what is otherwise dead space in corners, especially if you can double down and hang your shorter items, leaving the bulk of space for outerwear and longer items like dresses.

What are the five staple pieces that every closet should have?

  1. A killer pair of jeans that you can live in everyday and they’re the first thing you pick up in the morning.
  2. A crisp white shirt that goes back to anything
  3. A slim finely tailored blazer with a casual sensibility
  4. A strappy slip dress in a heavier weight silk that can be layered on when summer turns to fall.
  5. A cozy sweater that’s light enough to layer under outerwear and warm enough to carry you into colder seasons.

What is your preferred method of organization in a smaller closet (by color, item, etc.)?
JC: By item. I have a massive denim section that’s folded on both sides of my closet by color, allowing space in the middle for tops and outerwear.

MW: By color. I keep neutrals on the low bar because they’re the ones I wear all the time. Living in New York limits your space, forcing you to edit your wardrobe to the things that you constantly reach for and wear the most.

How often do you clean out your closet?
JC: I reorganize every six weeks and do a big purge once a year. It’s about keeping everything clean, organized, and tidy. We created AYR so that you don’t have to clean “out” your closet. We created pieces to wear season after season, year after year.

MW: Once a year, I try to get rid of the things that I don’t wear and make a big donation pile. It’s an occupational hazard (we are always shopping), so out with the old and in with the new!

What is your top tip for keeping a consistently organized closet?
JC: You can’t let it get too crowded; it requires consistent maintenance.

MW: Make sure that you give clothes room to breathe. If you cant see what’s in there, you won’t wear most of it.

What are the common problem areas in the average closet?
JC: For city dwellers like us, it’s simply space and storage. How do you organize your closet when you have neither?

How do you keep your closet visually appealing?
JC: Keep it organized. I don’t sort by color, but organize by style—which helps give it a nice uniformity (everything hangs at the same level). Overcrowding is tough.

MW: Pick nice hangers and think of it as a room, not just a repository for clothes. I have a walk-through closet with custom wallpaper, beautiful mirrors and framed pictures of people I love. It’s a place I like to spend time in rather than a dark hole where I stuff my clothes. It makes getting dressed in the morning less of a chore.

What storage products do you use to keep organized?
JC: I find metal wire containers useful so I can see what’s inside, allowing me to keep things in one place. You want everything to be visible at first glance. Speed and access is important for women on the go.

MW: Different clothes need different types of storage – so it’s important to have hanging space, shelves and drawers. I try to keep most of my stuff visible and not use too many containers because you don’t wear what you can’t see.

Do you have any specific tips for organizing small closet spaces?
JC: Small wire hangers give you more space to hang. Ditch the chunky plastic hangers for more hanging room. Put socks and smaller items in a drawer because they take up too much space. Instead of balling everything up, fold garments in flat piles.

MW: I try to find slim profile hangers and edit, edit, edit! It doesn’t make sense to swap my wardrobe every season because there’s not space for storage, which forces me to edit it to the pieces I actually live in. Invest in pieces that make you happy every time you see them hanging in your closet.