One of the major things I had to figure out when I went blind was how to keep my clothes organized. I remember several years ago standing at my closet thinking how would I pick out the right outfit for work. How would I be sure that my shoes matched? How would I know if I had stains or spots on my clothes? What would be the best method for labeling my clothes so I knew what colors I had? All these things were running through my mind.
Today, I have a very well organized clothing closet. I feel very confident about my wardrobe. I know that as a person with vision loss it might be easy to not think about how I am dressing; but I live in a sighted world. Appearance and first impressions are powerful and often very critical. I think having a well-organized closet and techniques on keeping your clothes maintained will not only preserve a healthy self-esteem but help with interactions and socializing. So, let me share some of my tips and strategies that I have learned. Feel free to share your ideas too. There is no right or wrong approach to organizing your closet. The most important thing is to access and maintain your clothing in a way that feels comfortable for you.
When I started thinking about how to better organize my clothes I decided to arrange my clothes in a different way. Before I just had blouses, shirts, tops and pants hanging throughout the closet. But now I keep all my short sleeve tops and blouses together. Next are my long sleeves, then skirts and pants. Last suits and evening wear. I have found that arranging my clothes this way allows me to get to items faster. Some people will even take it a step further and organize by color too. For example, all red tops in one place or all dark colored pants and skirts in another.
But when it comes to items I wear that match well, I place them together as one outfit. For example, I have a dark purple top that goes with a dark purple skirt. I place them both on the same hanger. Additionally for scarfs, I hang them around the hanger with the top, skirt or suit that matches. For men, ties can be done the same way.
While organizing your clothes an important thing to do is determine the type of labeling you will use. I personally use braille clothing labels. They come in a variety of colors and I sew each one in the label of the garment. Some people will use large print on 3X5 cards or brass safety pins. One of my friends who can’t use large print or braille uses small wooden symbols that are sewed on the tag. She designates them with a color. For example all circles are assigned the color white. Other friends use talking color identifiers or apps on their smartphones.
When it comes to shoes I have two methods. The first is a cardboard shoe organizer that has shelves for each pair. If you have one of these you can either memorize which shelve has what or you can use large print/braille labels. The second method I just started using is taking raised, self-adhesive letters and sticking them to the shoe boxes. So for example, I have a label that says “bk” which is for black. I found these labels at Target on the scrapbook aisle and they work well for a lot of things I need to label at home.
Other ideas around shoes can be to limit your shoe purchases to basic colors or styles. You can also place rubber bands on the shoes of one color and not on the other. For example a rubber band can be on all your brown shoes. Some shoe styles and textures are distinctive enough to tell differences. For example a heel is different from a flat, or suede material is different from canvas.
Now that the clothes are labeled and organized in your closet the next thing to think about is how to maintain your clothes. I have a trusted and honest sighted person check for spots and stains. I keep a bottle of spray and wash on my dresser for easy access. Once I wear a garment that I think might be stained I put it to the side to be checked later. I also have care labels read to me. Some clothes are dry clean only or wash on delicate cycle. Just recently, a friend came over and went through my clothes to take out old and outdated ones. Ones that did not look well on my body anymore or that had faded and looked worn. It is important to go through your closet from time to time with a sighted friend.
It is also important to find a person that has a good fashion sense to help you pick out clothes to purchase. Whether you are going to a physical store or shopping on-line get a sighted person to help you figure out styles, trends and colors that look good on you. If you don’t have a person to help, some stores have personal shoppers who can assist.
These are just a few of my organizing tips and I hope they were helpful. But at the end of the day it is about personal preference and what works well for you. So, I encourage you to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.