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Hung Up on Hangers?

Clothing closets are one of my favorite spaces to organize because whether an out-of-control mess or a custom-designed dream, there are always simple ways to make improvements. Organizing methods, such as hanging items by color, cost zero while other tweaks range from budget to big bucks. A key to making your closet function well and look well-organized is the humble hanger.

Hangers range from Mommy Dearest’s nemesis, the wire hanger, to massive-shouldered cedar coat hangers with brass hooks. All have their purpose, but what’s good enough, what’s got to go and what should you, if so inclined, shoot for as an ultimate?

First, wire hangers do have their place. For a business-person who wears a laundered shirt every day and has them hung by the dry cleaner rather than folded Mad Man-style in a band box, for heaven’s sake, there’s no need to transfer them to “better” hangers.

Also, if the person travels with business attire frequently, leaving the plastic dry cleaning bag on will also make sense, because it helps prevent wrinkling in a suitcase. But if travel is not part of the program, remove the dry cleaner bags before hanging your clothes.

Otherwise, if you wear a starched shirt infrequently, or if you have other clothing dry cleaned, do remove them from the wire hangers and place them on your home hangers. Now the question is, what do these home hangers look like?

If possible, and if you care about such things, they should all match. If you are on a budget, the plastic tube hangers available at Target and similar stores are fine. They have a little more shape to support the clothes than a wire hanger and won’t rust like wire hangers tend to. They are great for kids and for those on a tighter budget. However, clothes such as cardigans and jackets slide off these hangers easily.

A better choice is the Huggable Hanger, which is super thin like a wire hanger but is covered with a velvety fabric. Whether you go plastic or Huggable, get all the same color for a streamlined look. You’d be amazed at how restful this is on the eyes and makes the whole closet look more orderly.

Stepping up from there, my favorite hangers are polished maple with chrome hooks, which retail at about $4 apiece from the Container Store. I bought a few at a time over the years until I had outfitted my entire closet. They take up twice as much space as Huggable Hangers or plastic tube hangers, so you have to be more careful about regular purging of your clothes and allow for enough space between garments so that things don’t look jammed up.

Pants hangers with clips are what I’ve found to be best for pants and skirts. They will leave a little mark where they clip onto the waistband, but I think that is much better than draping pants over the bar of a regular hanger. I’d rather have a little wrinkle I can cover with a belt than a big wrinkle right at my knees. I’m not good pals with my iron and try to avoid it.

Hangers I really don’t care for are the old padded lingerie hangers, usually covered in silk. They take up an enormous amount of space, have short arms, garments slip off of them, and they don’t do any more for the shape of a garment than a nice wood hanger.

I also dislike hangers covered in crochet or other crafty styles — it is too hard to get a uniform look in the closet, however, some people are sentimental about even their hangers. I suppose I would be too if my grandmother had made them for me. In this case, what I do for clients is hang this type of hanger all together with one type of clothing — blouses, dresses or whatever — so that a consistent look is somewhat maintained. But beware; often these are wire hangers underneath and will eventually rust, so don’t use them for your best clothing.