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What’s In Your Closet?

We’ve all got ‘em, and chances are, yours says a lot about you.

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Our closets, and the stuff we keep inside them, offer intimate insight into who we are. They’re a physical amalgam of the things we’ve deemed important enough to save, even though they’re hidden away, out of sight.

We turn to our closets to prepare for a job interview, a first date, or a trip to a new place. Maybe yours is expertly curated, or bursting with treasured possessions, but it’s just as likely a weird corner in your bedroom that barely functions. Whatever it looks like, we want to hear about it. Email stephanie.talmadge@racked.com if you want to tell us about what lives in yours.


My Beloved Kobe Jerseys Get Special Treatment

Tell us about yourself.
Neil, 25, a graphic designer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
The oldest thing are a pair of Atlanta-inspired Adidas Halfshells from when I was first getting into sneakers in high school. The newest, non-sneaker item is a natural leather belt from Tanner Goods.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
For me it's not the dark corner, it's the bottom of the stack. There are some pretty great sneakers in here, but some are a bit loud and others are, um, not work-appropriate, so they rarely leave the closet. Oh, and workout clothes, those don't get out much.

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
My tees are organized and folded by category/subject/brand/band, my jerseys are arranged and hung by sport/favorite team/year, and my shoes are stacked across the floor by sport/athlete/category.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
Man, I wish I could say I have all consistently-sized black hangers, but you can clearly see that's not true. I do, however, have my beloved Kobe jerseys on purple and gold hangers. Judge away, I accept who I am.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
I have a strange obsession with skulls and skeletons and found these amazing skeleton arm salad tongs a few years ago, but I use them more as Halloween decor than, you know, for salads, so those live on top of some shoe boxes.


The $13 Too-Small Shoes I Refuse to Throw Away

Tell us about yourself.
Emily, 25, law student living in New York City.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
I got my first pair of designer jeans in seventh grade from an old thrift store in St. Simons Island, Georgia. They were Seven flare-legged jeans that were slightly distressed, and I was obsessed with them for a good five years. Thanks to an early growth spurt, they are still sitting in a basket at the top of my closet, and I’ll occasionally lounge around in them or wear them to run errands. They're a little less stylish now, but comforting in that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants kind of way.

My mantra when buying clothes is: If I'll love it ten years from now and it'll last that long, it's not an unreasonable purchase. The newest item in my closet follows that, and it was my holiday dress for last season. It's a black stretch woven dress from Helmut Lang that I found on sale at Nordstrom Rack. It's part classic, part ‘90s, a little edgy, and wholly perfect. I gravitate toward black and classic cuts, so it's a dress I'll still love when I'm 35. As a woman about to enter a professional industry that remains somewhat conservative, it's important to pick long-lasting pieces that can be reused in a variety of ways. I can see myself wearing this dress to a New Year’s party, too, but also pairing it with a blazer, tights, and boots.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
A pair of nude Tahari flats I got at T.J. Maxx that I purchased a half-size too small. I bought them about six years ago and was in love with them. I think part of me is still waiting for them to magically stretch out. Doubtless, but for some reason I can't imagine parting with them because I scored them for only $13 and was so proud.

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
Anyone who has a closet in the city knows that the key to maximizing space is to organize things effectively. To make the most of my limited closet space, I organize by item type and then by color. From left to right, I organize (and partially cram) by jackets/blazers, tops, skirts, work dresses, and then fun dresses. I have an over-the-door hanger for shoes and a rack on the floor for heels and flats, but the boots thing I'm still working on. Currently, they are just tossed in the bottom of my closet. My cat — who I find napping there often — doesn't seem to mind.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
I'm not terribly picky about hangers. Despite some secretly harbored Pinterest-esque dream of wood hangers perfectly spaced about two inches apart, I'm not there yet (and probably never will be). I tend to go with either felt or wire hangers, and the only real stipulation I have is that they all be facing the same way. Beyond that, I have a weird clothing organizational system that involves numbered hangers and a corresponding spreadsheet, but that takes idiosyncratic to a whole new level.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
A jump rope. I'm on the second round of Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide, and it requires my most loathed piece of fifth grade gym equipment. I stored it there first almost by accident, but now I kind of like the daily reminder that taking care of myself and feeling my best is something that happens by more than just what I put on my body.


Oh, This Kimono? It's From My Uncle Who Was in the CIA

Tell us about yourself.
Ruth, 74, a writer living in Los Angeles.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
The oldest thing in my closet is Grandma Minnie’s two-piece wedding dress: a silk skirt and handmade lace jacket, circa 1909. In 1954, my mother had them tailored so that they fit me for a Halloween costume! They actually still fit now, and I wore the jacket to my niece’s wedding. The newest thing in my closet, which you can see, if you look closely, is a pink Trina Turk dress.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day? Why do you keep it?
The item that I keep in my closet that never sees the light of day is a white silk Japanese kimono with real gold thread that my Uncle Paul sent when he was working for the CIA during World War II. He sent one to each of us, but since I knew my sister was never going to enjoy hers, I told her that I wanted her to give it to me for my 70th birthday. She wanted to give me a year of maid service, which I could use but was not special.

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
My closets are organized by items I wear regularly, dressy things that I wear occasionally, and things I never wear but have purchased as treasures over the years. My shoes are lumped together in two piles on the floor. My UGGs and handmade boxing boots in one group, and thenmy Mizuno sport shoes that I wear daily, as they are the only shoes I can walk in without tumbling and that do not hurt.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
I own two kinds of hangers: ones covered in fabric, which I think are easier on garments, and then a few wire hangers left over from the dry cleaner. I have a passion for silk-covered hangers, and I have many items hung on those.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
The weirdest thing in my closet are Grandma Minnie’s foxtails, complete with head and feet (including toenails). One is pictured. I don’t wear them, but I do feel very close to them, as they seem quite alert/alive, and they were a gift from my Grandma Minnie when I got married in January of 1965. She died very soon thereafter.


My Shoes Are Taking Over My Whole House

Tell us about yourself.
Paris, 21, a photography student living in London, England.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
The oldest thing in my wardrobe (UK!) is my favorite yellow teddy bear night top. It was passed on to me by a friend/relative (you know, the uncles and aunts that are actually just your parents’ friends and not even related to you) and is probably ten years old, but it still fits me. It’s covered in teddy bears and flowers, and I have no idea why I keep and love it so much. I still wear it sometimes. The newest thing would be the pair of gorgeous glittery trainers from Johnnie B that I got for Christmas. I’m definitely a child at heart, so I’m obsessed with all things glittery, and these are dripping in gold sequins.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
I’ll always keep my signed shirt from my first school, and my hockey bag. When I was 13, I left my first school, and we all brought in spare school shirts and got them signed as a keepsake. It’s been in my wardrobe ever since, even though I never actually look at it. Also, I was an avid hockey player during my school years and played for my county. Though I haven’t played hockey for years now, and I miss it, I’ll never get rid of my hockey stick, bag, and gear. It’s shoved somewhere in the back of my wardrobe. (I think?)

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
I’ve always had everything color-coordinated — even down to shades. Everyone thinks I’m a bit strange for doing it, but it makes life so much easier and it makes choosing an outfit quicker. (Although, admittedly, my gym stuff stays at the end, and isn’t organized.) I had to buy a shoe rack for my wardrobe when I moved in, as I have too many. I also take over all the space on the shoe rack my housemate bought for downstairs, which she finds infuriating! Some are also kept under my bed, some still in their boxes! Shoes are a nightmare to store. I normally give up and pile them on top of each other.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
Bloody hangers. We’ve always had those horrible metal hangers that everything slides off of. I’ve resorted to buying myself those velvet hangers, which are truly a life-saver. I also, dreadfully, ask to keep hangers from shops when I buy clothes! I get slightly upset when they don’t let me keep the nice wooden ones. Wooden ones are the way forward.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
The weirdest thing in my wardrobe… probably this strange bag made of two halves of a vinyl record. It’s horrible, and sits in my wardrobe doing nothing. I should get rid of it, but it was from my (actual) aunty and uncle, so I feel like I can’t throw it away.


The Flannels of Boyfriends Past

Tell us about yourself.
Giana, 24, an editorial assistant and adjunct professor living in Montclair, New Jersey.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
Technically speaking, the oldest piece of clothing in my closet is a funky, purple-striped, oversized Michael Gerald cardigan that belonged to my grandfather (?) or one of my uncles — an attic find. Newest is a yellow/purple-flowered tunic with a tie around the waist that I just ordered from ModCloth.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
Flannels that I collected from my ex-boyfriends? Just kidding! (Sort of..).

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
That's a really good question that I should be asking myself! There really is not much, errr.... method to the madness. I hang up dresses and shirts that would wrinkle; I’m trying to keep those somewhat in order. Workout, sleepwear, and old stockings with holes in them usually fall in some of the drawers or little baskets I keep in my closet. I have a bucket of shoes stuffed in my closet where I keep the less-worn-but-can't-throw-out items. The shoes I wear day-to-day end up being thrown about my room or under my bed.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
The state of the hangers in my closet is probably the most embarrassing part of that dark hole. I use whatever I have — literally! Plastic, metal, the ones I get from department stores. Some of them are even broken in half and I still use them! Hangers just don't wind up being a top priority on my list, but I'm starting to think they should be.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
My closet is actually pretty tiny, so I can't afford too much room for random gatherings. I am a hoarder,, though. I have this canvas bag of old Halloween costume items. Minnie Mouse ears have made their way in there, despite the fact that I have not been to Disney World since 2010. I also have a King's Robe that is kid-sized....


Reviving My Robert Pattinson-Inspired Pea Coat

Tell us about yourself.
Stephen, 24, a journalist living in Washington, DC.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet? The newest thing?
The oldest thing is probably the American Eagle charcoal peacoat I have from high school (I'm shocked it still fits well). I bought it during the peacoat heyday, a.k.a. Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Edward Cullen. After years of storage, I realized I missed it, so it'll see a revival this winter. The newest thing is a pair of chinos I got on sale from J.Crew. I'm proud of my clearance-plus-sale-plus-free-shipping-promo-online shopping lifestyle, especially since I got these for $15.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
There's this thick-striped navy and slightly-less-navy sweater from Gap that I was gifted like seven or eight years ago that I've worn all of twice. I love who gave me the sweater and I keep it, telling myself, ‘Oh, yeah, put it over an Oxford,' but every time I try it on I'm just like, 'Ew, horizontal stripes,’ and then take it off. Maybe one day, Gap sweater. Maybe one day.

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
I moved to DC around seven months ago and lucked out with a huge closet. Oxfords and work shirts go on the left, and then pants and light jackets go on the right. I keep T-shirts folded in a chest of drawers in my bedroom. Shoes have their own shelf above the shirts on the left, and my sweaters are folded or rolled and stored on the right shelf to avoid losing their shapes on hangers. Travel bags are tucked onto shelves wherever there's room, and my bookbag/everyday belts/ties hang on the hooks on the door.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
I really need to bite the bullet and invest in actual quality hangers. You know, the wooden ones that are a little curved so my Oxfords don't get misshapen? I know, I'm not living my best hanger life with the rainbow array of plastic hangers from Walmart and Target. Maybe that can be my New Year’s resolution: stalk Marshalls and T.J. Maxx until I have an entire set of wooden hangers.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
There are two containers you use at parties for punch or lemonade — or in my case, sangria. There's just nowhere else in the apartment for them, so they live on the tip-top shelf in the closet (I told you this thing was massive). But the fact that I have two designated sangria pitchers that each hold around five gallons of liquid should give you a clearer indication of who I am than my clothing does.


Becoming an Adult Means Hanging up Your Pants

Tell us about yourself.
Sarah, 25, a graphic designer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

What’s the oldest thing in your closet?
The oldest thing is this vintage dress I got from a friend in college — it’s amazing, it has shoulder pads, a beautiful open back, and it’s floor length. Even though I sew, I couldn’t bring myself to cut and hem it (in case someday I decide I want this dress to be long again) so every time I wear it, I safety pin it underneath with a hundred safety pins to be the right length. Nothing in my closet is very old overall though, I’m really honest about getting rid of something as soon as I realize I haven’t worn it in awhile and don’t plan to.

What lives in the “dark corner” of your closet? In other words, what do you continue to keep in there even though it never sees the light of day?
My bachelor’s degree. Haha! My university didn’t send it to me until a year after I graduated, so by then the magic had worn off, I forgot to get it framed, and it just sits in the tube they mailed it in.

How do you have your closet organized? And what about shoes? Where the heck do they go?
You can’t really see from the photo, but it’s all organized by color. I used to have it organized by item length, but this worked when the closet opened from one side. This new closet opens in the middle and it felt off-centered to have it by length. Underneath there’s a shoe bin I found at Goodwill for a couple dollars, and it holds all of the shoes I wear most often. I also keep a rolling cart under my bed with shoes I need to keep but never wear, like fancy heels for fancy events and such.

Wax poetic to me about hangers.
I bought this pack of 50 velvety hangers with grooves from Ross for ~$10, and they’ve been so good to me. Nothing ever slides off, I love them. I’ve also started hanging up my pants like A Real Adult, so I need to get more pants hangers.

What’s the weirdest thing in your closet that’s just there because it has nowhere else to live?
You’ll see in the picture my weird sunglasses stand. I wear glasses, and actually have a bunch of prescription pairs from essentially an influencer promotion I did a few years ago. So I found this clear plastic stand on Amazon that can hold all of them, and I can look at it while picking out my clothes and see what pair matches today.

*These responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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