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    I Had A Professional Organizer Help Me Sort, Fold, And Store My Clothes, And It's Made Such A Big Difference In How I Think About My Space Now

    Before this, I'd actually never seen underwear stored this way.

    Hi, folks! My name is Lara, and I am not a professional organizer. In fact, I did not know you could somehow organize and fold your socks until two weeks ago. I am, however, an active social media user, and I cannot get enough of before and after videos or images when organization is involved. A newly organized spice rack or a drawer of perfectly folded clothes really does something for me.

    A perfectly organized and color-coordinated closet
    Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

    See? I feel calmer already.

    I often feel stressed when I look at my own space, and although I often think about changing it, I had yet to find the motivation or knowledge to do so. But then I got an email in my inbox about none other than Janelle Cohen, professional organizer to the stars* and author of The Folding Book. When I found out that Janelle lived near me in Los Angeles, I asked her if she would be willing to swing by and teach me (and our readers!) a thing or two about organizing.

    As someone who does NOT organize my home in a cohesive (or Instagram-y) way, I was curious what tips Janelle would bestow upon us all. And, btw, when I saw this video of her expertly folding a fitted sheet, I was very sold.

    So, a couple of weeks ago, Janelle agreed to swing by my apartment and teach me (and you, hopefully!) a thing or two about organization. We decided — for the sake of time and also because it's good to start somewhere small — to focus on my dresser. More specifically, the drawers inside.

    A shot of Lara's dresser, drawers closed
    Lara Parker for BuzzFeed

    BTW, Little Ms. Dresser up there is a vintage Lane Furniture dresser circa 1970s that I bought secondhand six months ago, and I love her!!!!

    Let's start with the top drawers of my dresser. These three drawers are reserved for socks/undergarments. (I also found a small candle. IDK.) And as you can see upon first glance, there is no sense of "organization" to the average eye. On my end, I thought it made some semblance of sense, but then I found a bra I literally had forgotten I owned stuffed in the very back of the middle drawer and realized I was fooling myself.

    Two open drawers full of unfolded, disorganized clothing
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    The bottom drawers — which I aim to use for T-shirts, athletic shorts, yoga pants, and miscellaneous clothing items that don't feel worthy of a hanger — were not much better. Once again, I had somehow convinced myself that this was organized, and it was really more just "this shirt was washed most recently." The picture below is meant to showcase my T-shirt drawer, but as you can see, there is also a random pair of shorts.

    Some clothes are folded, but others are stuffed into small spaces
    Lara Parker for BuzzFeed

    And one of my other bottom-shelf drawers — meant for bottoms that are not jeans/dress pants — was truly not even remotely better. An all-around mess! Chaos!

    A bunch of dark-colored pants seemingly shoved into a drawer at random
    Lara Parker for BuzzFeed

    Once Janelle arrived, I pulled out the four larger drawers on the bottom of my dresser and set them out on my floor to make things easier. As mentioned, these drawers are meant for miscellaneous clothing, which includes (but is not limited to) T-shirts, crop tops, running shorts, yoga pants, and one random pair of sweatpants.

    An aerial view of the four drawers sitting on the floor; they're all disorganized, with different types and styles of clothing shoved together
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    We began to go drawer by drawer, with Janelle bestowing knowledge and advice to me around the art of organizing along the way. To start, behold my "crop top drawer." It has a few crop tops, some bramis, and some tank tops that didn't feel necessary to hang up. And, as you can see, it was a mess.

    A top-down look of the writer's crop top drawer before organizing
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    So, we got to work pulling things out of drawers to get started on the folding AND figuring out what should go where. Which brings us to part one of Janelle's advice when it comes to organizing your own space: "Always fold on a flat surface like a dining table, desk, or bed. It is easier to not have to bend over."

    A pile of unfolded clothes pulled out of the drawers next to a small group of shirts that have been folded
    Lara Parker for BuzzFeed

    Janelle and I began working our way through the drawers using a very similar method to File Folding. For anyone unfamiliar, the gist is that you should be folding your clothing to "stand on end" and line them up in rows from the front of the drawer to the back of the drawer.

    Halfway through the crop top drawer, I almost could not believe my eyes. How was there already this much extra space????? What had I been DOING???

    An aerial view of the crop top view, which now has folded clothes and is almost half empty
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    And when it was all said and done with this drawer, I still felt like the amount of space left over was shocking. Prior to this, I was barely able to close the drawer, and that was with me folding (most of) the shirts in the traditional way.

    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    So to recap, here's my crop top drawer before:

    A jumbled mess of seemingly random clothes
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    And here it was after!

    The same clothes neatly folded and placed in organized rows
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    Janelle also mentioned that it's important to remember that when it comes to organizing your space, there are "so many ways to do it and none of it is wrong."

    Several stacks of folded clothes before they were put into the drawers
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    Next, let's take a look at two of the bottom drawers that both contained T-shirts. Who doesn't love a good graphic tee? I certainly do. But did I know how to store them in an aesthetically pleasing way? Mmm, that is a no.

    A top-down shot of two t-shirt drawers that hold shirts scattered randomly
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    This brings us to the second tip from Janelle, which is: "Edit while you fold! This is a great time to evaluate what you have and only keep what makes you feel your best. File folding will help you see everything you have, so items that you maybe forgot about might have a new life now!"

    A T-shirt drawer that is part of the way through being organized
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    After parting ways with several shirts that I had definitely not even thought about since at least 2017, we began to combine the random T-shirts from TWO of the drawers into just ONE, since folding in a smart way saves so much room. Here's another shot of one before for good measure:

    Another T-shirt drawer full of unfolded or partially folded shirts
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    And here is the beautiful after:

    Lots of graphic T-shirts, folded and organized neatly so their graphics are clearly visible from above
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    Next, let's focus on undergarments. When it comes to organizing things like undergarments, Janelle had advice for that too, telling BuzzFeed: "Only fold what is realistic for you! If you aren’t going to fold your underwear because it will be too hard to maintain/doesn't feel right for you, then don’t. Set goals that you can achieve and fit your lifestyle."

    Another look at the underwear drawers, in which nothing is folded or properly stacked
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    For the purpose of this piece, however, we did fold my underwear, and I'll include a GIF below of exactly how we did it. And just look at the beautiful result!

    Three pairs of underwear expertly folded
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    According to Janelle, it helps when organizing to "keep your rows modular and looking Instagram worthy by folding all items the same width." She continued, "Sometimes this means you might have to 'cheat' a little. Fold in a narrow tee less than a loose-fitting one. The more modular, the more you will maximize your space!"

    For underwear that is NOT boy shorts or a thong, start at the hips, fold them inward, then grab the crotch and roll it up until it tucks nicely into the waistband. And voilà!

    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    Here is (a rather embarrassing) look at my top drawers — reserved for undergarments and that one single candle — again:

    Another look at the disorganized drawers
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    A sneak peek at the after:

    Everything is now neat and tidy, and one of the drawers has a bunch of extra space
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    And the beautiful underwear drawer when it was all said and done:

    Everything folded tidily, with similar colors grouped together
    Lara Parker for Buzzfeed

    Admittedly, this is probably the least likely drawer to stay this way. But it is tempting. It is tempting.

    While I am not going to leave today promising to perfectly organize my underwear drawers for the foreseeable future, I am leaving knowing that there are small things I can do to make myself feel more in control of my own space. As Janelle told BuzzFeed, "We don’t have a lot of control in life, but we have control over our space."

    So, there you have it! A few tips on organizing from the queen of organizing herself, Janelle Cohen. You can grab her new book — The Folding Book: A Complete Guide to Creating Space and Getting Organized — anywhere books are sold!