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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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."
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???
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.
So to recap, here's my crop top drawer before:
And here it was after!
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."
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.
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!"
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:
And here is the beautiful after:
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."
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!
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!
Here is (a rather embarrassing) look at my top drawers — reserved for undergarments and that one single candle — again:
A sneak peek at the after:
And the beautiful underwear drawer when it was all said and done:
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."