When determining which of your clothing to store in your closet, a lot will depend on how big your closet is, what other storage options (such as chests or dressers) are available to you, and how many clothes you own.
What to Store in the Closet
The short version of what must be stored in the closet is: anything that will wrinkle or otherwise lose its shape when it is folded. This includes:
___ Pants, with the possible exception of jeans.
___ Jackets and blazers.
___ Certain sweaters. Cardigans, especially thin or delicate ones, can be difficult to fold well and often hold their shape better on a hanger. (But, if you hang a sweater, be very careful to use the right size and type of hanger to avoid stretching.)
___ Certain shirts and tops. Button-down or Oxford-type shirts, blouses, and any other shirts that require ironing should be kept in the closet. Basic cotton T- shirts and tanks can go in a drawer, but if you own knit tops with features like pleats, draping, or lace, you might find they look more polished when stored on a hanger. Any top that can be described as “fancy” or “slinky” will usually do better hanging up. And tops with an asymmetrical shape or “extras” like beading, bows, or peplums, as well as tunics and other voluminous shirts, should be hung in the closet too.
What to Possibly Store in the Closet
Other types of clothes can do equally well in the closet or elsewhere, depending on your preferences and options.
These potential closet items include:
___ Jeans. I like to hang mine next to my other pants, but denim will usually hold up if folded in a dresser drawer too. However, if your jeans have embellishments like studs, rhinestones or anything else that could rub off or snag, they should be kept hanging up.
___ Shorts. Most can be stored anywhere, though if they are longer, or structured more like pants with ironed creases or dressy pleats, you might want them in the closet.
___ Almost anything that takes up considerably less space when flat than when folded. Long, bulky sweater coats and oversized sweatshirts fall into this category. If your storage space is unlimited, this might not matter so much, but if space is a concern, larger items will take up a smaller percentage of your closet than your bureau or under-the-bed box.
___ Most sweaters. The majority of sweaters should not be hung up in your closet, but where you place them once you fold them is up to you. Many closets with one or more shelves at the top provide more space for sweaters than would a shallow dresser drawer. (Though if you tend to have problems with moths or other pests, your sweaters should not be on an open closet shelf unless it can accommodate plastic boxes or bags.)
___ Bras, underwear and socks. They can live in the closet or the dresser, it all depends on which feels more convenient to you. You might find it quicker to grab your lingerie, dress, and shoes out of the closet at the same time. Or, you might prefer to arrange hosiery and intimate apparel in a more accessible dresser drawer instead of a high closet shelf.
(See also: 4 Ways to Store Clothes)
___ Sleepwear and workout clothes. I keep these on my closet shelves because my current apartment has a lot of closet space relative to other storage. Though these clothes, like T-shirts, are not usually stored in closets, remember that you don’t necessarily have to buy extra furniture to hold them. Your particular home might lend itself to a slightly non-traditional organizational set-up.
___ Belts and scarves. Accessories are part of your outfit, and for some, it will be easier to see which ones go together when the accessories are right next to the clothes.
___ Shoes. They don’t have to go in the closet, but many people prefer them there. (TIP: How to Store Shoes)
What Not to Store in the Closet
The only clothes that you should never store in your closet are those that have gotten wet or dirty, or absorbed a scent like smoke or strong perfume.
Even if you do not plan to clean these items immediately, you should keep them apart from other clothes until you get around to dealing with them.