From messy to neat to somewhere in between, closets have a lot to say. By evaluating what’s inside, we can gain insight into various aspects of our lives.

Here, experts lay out eight scenarios for the status of a closet, and share what the arrangement might reveal about your lifestyle, fashion preferences and overall situation.

1. Packed With Bargains

What it means: You probably get a thrill out of finding good deals.

woman with shopping bags

If you have so many bargains that the closet isn’t manageable, it’s time to evaluate your purchases, suggested Randi Lyman, founder of A Helping Hand, a professional organizing service in Austin, TX.

You might save time and money by getting the closet in working order first, and then hitting the sales.

2. Cluttered With Nostalgic Items

What it means: You might be hanging on to the past.

“Deciding what ‘keepsake’ items to hold on to can be very challenging,” said Kayleen Kelly, founder of Organizing with Kayleen Kelly, a professional organizing service in the Jacksonville, FL, area.

For a closet that functions better, try placing nostalgic items, such as sentimental college sweatshirts or vintage clothing, in the back. Then move items you wear more frequently to the front.

3. Filled With Stuff That Should Be Somewhere Else

What it means: Something might be out of sync.

For those with items in their closet that should be kept elsewhere, such as tools that really belong in the garage, “an area of their life might need attention,” said Beth Zeigler, founder of Bneato Bar, a professional organizing team in Southern California.

That area could involve time management, work, family or health. Start by exploring which area needs attention.

“If we do have time to take care of ourselves at work and personally, our closet usually follows suit,” Zeigler said.

4. Generally Tidy, But Not Right Now

What it means: Something unexpected might have happened.

While clutter can be a chronic issue, “sometimes it’s situational,” said Maria Spetalnik, founder of Conquer the Clutter, a professional organizing service in the Washington, DC, area. There might be an illness in the family, a new baby or a job change.

If your closet recently has taken a disorderly turn, “breathe easy,” Kelly suggested. “You have the proven skillset to get back on track—you just need to grant yourself time to focus.”

5. Everything in Order

What it means: You’re a logical thinker.

You might have clothes lined up by type, such as long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts and pants. Each section then is arranged from light to dark colors or some other consistent pattern.

“These type of thinkers also tend to keep their suits together as a set and purchase outfits that they only wear together,” Spetalnik said.

That setup can be helpful if you need to get dressed quickly in the morning, or you don’t want to disturb others who are sleeping while you prepare for the day.

6. Clothes Arranged by Color

What it means: You’re artistic.

It might be more important to see how the colors relate to one another than what is “supposed” to go with what, Spetalnik said.

You also might prefer to try on several outfits before choosing what to wear for the day.

To enhance the visual display, look for a solution that fits with your preferences. For instance, one of Spetalnik’s clients decided to string fishnets from the ceiling to hang strappy shoes.

7. Too Much of Everything

What it means: It might be hard to focus.

People who struggle with concentration or categorization tend to put things out of order and must shuffle through everything each time they get dressed. “They may own multiples of the same thing because they have forgotten they own them already,” Spetalnik said.

To better manage the space, look for ways to downsize. If you have many pairs of pants that are the same style and color, consider keeping several and giving away the rest.

8. Messy, But the Rest of the House Is Tidy

What it means: You’re busy.

“When we only have a limited amount of time, we tend to address the common areas, or spaces people are most likely to see when visiting, and disregard the less visible,” said Peter Lorenzo, owner of ClutterCrashers, a professional organizing company with locations in Morristown, NJ, and West Palm Beach, FL.

To get back on track, ask for help with other areas so you can take the time to care for your closet—and, by doing so, take care of yourself.

Tell us what your closet says about you in the comments below!

Rachel Hartman


  1. Messy and generally untouched; the floor is a bigger closet than your closet

    What it means: get your life together.

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