The “Hanger Trick” Tames Your Closet

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the “80/20 Rule”?  This principle holds that in most areas of life, the few (20%) are vital and the many (80%) are trivial.  Simply stated, 20% of what we do produces 80% of our results.

The Pareto Principle and Our Closets

While the Pareto Principle initially referred to wealth distribution, it can also be applied to our wardrobes.  In truth, most people only wear 20% of their clothing.  The other 80% is simply over-crowding our closets and taking up valuable space, leading to the common phenomena of staring into a full closet and exclaiming, “I have nothing to wear!”

Introducing the Wardrobe Management Tip Series

This article is the first in a series of tips for managing your wardrobe and “taming your closet.”  Every so often, I will share one of the tricks I’ve used in my own closet, and this tip is definitely one of my favorites!  The beauty is in its simplicity… I can’t take credit for coming up with this tip, but I don’t remember the original source.

The “Hanger Trick” – Simple but Powerful…

I call it the “hanger trick, and here’s how it works.  Go into your closet and turn all of your hangers around so that the hook faces outward instead of inward.  Each time you wear an item of clothing and hang it up again, put the hanger back in your closet the “normal way” (hook facing inward).  Over time, you will end up with a mixture of inward-facing and outward-facing hangers, much like the image below.  You will see which items you love and wear, and which pieces aren’t receiving any love, so to speak.

closet hanger trick

Increased Wardrobe Awareness

For the past two years, I have used the “hanger trick” and it has helped a lot in increasing my awareness of my wardrobe and what I’m wearing.  At the beginning of the year, I turn all of the hangers around so that the hooks face outward again (although you can start this anytime, even today!)  When I get dressed each day, I challenge myself to wear at least one item I haven’t yet worn this year.  This helps me to broaden my style horizons and evaluate all of the clothes in my closet.  I often end up creating a fresh new outfit using a previously neglected item.  At other times, I may put something on and ultimately decide that it isn’t working for me anymore and should be discarded (donated).

Re-Evaluate Unworn Items

At the end of a given time period, if items haven’t been worn, their stay in your closet should be re-evaluated.  I usually decide to donate anything that I haven’t worn in a year, with the possible exception of formal wear and a few sentimental pieces. If you haven’t worn something in a year, it probably doesn’t fit your life or your style anymore.

A Caveat Regarding Weight Changes

A caveat… If some clothes simply don’t fit YOU anymore due to weight gain (or loss!), ask yourself whether you’ll ever realistically be that size again.  If your answer is yes, try to store these garments in another closet or in a box instead of in your main closet. Set a limit for how much you’ll keep.  After all, if you lose weight, won’t you want to buy brand new clothes to show off your hard-won shape?  Or if you’ve lost weight, why would you want to hold on to your “fat clothes”?

Try the “Hanger Trick”!

I hope you find this tip helpful.  I challenge you to try the “hanger trick” even for just a month or two.  It will definitely open your eyes.  I know I thought I was wearing most of what I owned on a regular basis, but the hangers don’t lie!

About Debbie Roes

Debbie Roes is the creator of the popular "Recovering Shopaholic" blog and the author of the books, "UnShopping" and "End Closet Chaos." She also provides freelance ghostwriting and copyediting services on a variety of topics, including business, technology, finance, productivity, personal
development, health, wardrobe management, and personal style. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and is a certified professional coach.


  1. My closet is full of clothes yet I never know what to wear!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yours is a common problem! Stay tuned to my blog, as I will be giving more tips on managing your wardrobe. I just posted one today on tracking your wardrobe and more tips are on their way…


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