Home & Design Trends

The Closet Organization Trend I Just Can’t Get Behind

I do not own a rainbow’s worth of clothes.

March 23, 2022
Photo by MJ Kroeger

When it comes to my home, experimentation is the name of the game. There’s rarely a trend I won’t try, a DIY I won’t take on, or a product I won’t give a shot. I’m firmly in the camp of “you never know until you try” and, honestly, some of my favorite decor moments have been born of this experimental attitude (case in point: tiling my kitchen backsplash solo—without ever having tiled before in my life).

That being said, there is one trend blowing up lately that I just can’t muster the enthusiasm for: color-coded closets. I know, I know—they’re all over TikTok and Instagram, and they look great there. We can probably credit Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit at least partially for the renewed interest in rainbow-hued organization—the duo are basically the Patron Saints of calming chaos by color-coding (just peep their Instagram feed!), and season two of their Netflix series hits April 1, so there’s been a lot of buzz around beautiful ways to corral your closet lately.

Still, I can't help feeling like this aesthetics-driven trend is just that—surface-level. Hear me out. For starters, unless you live in a seasonless locale where you never have to debate what to wear, organizing your closet by color just doesn’t make sense. The idea of my cardigans mingling with tanks mingling with dresses mingling with beach coverups, all just because they share the same hue? Frankly, it gives me hives. To me, it's much more effective (and honestly, less stressful) to categorize your closet by the type of clothing, allowing you to easily choose between a tee or a wool sweater with just a glance.

I clearly have a lot of feelings about this, can you tell? But this next one is an important one—what if you don’t have a rainbow’s worth of clothes to organize? Having been a New Yorker for over a decade, my wardrobe is predictably (stereotypically?) black, with the occasional blue or green thrown in. Plus, there are just some hues that don’t look good on everyone. One of my favorite TikTok creators, @theoutfitcurator, matches clients with their best color for their skin tone, which can sometimes include all pastels, all jewel tones, or even muddy neutrals only.

So whether you’re color-averse or just know what works best for your body, there’s a good chance that you can’t even achieve ROYGBIV alignment within your existing wardrobe. Which sheds light on an integral issue within this whole system—could this trend actually compel you to buy clothing you don’t even love in pursuit of the perfect color-coded wardrobe? We’ve already seen this happen with color-coded rainbow bookshelves, which have sent some home decorators on the quest for specific shades of books to fulfill their shelfie dreams, regardless of whether they ever even crack the spine. Heck, you can even buy pre-packaged collections of books by color on retail sites galore. Are we slowly edging towards the inevitable, just one curated closet away from color-coded clothing bundles?

Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I guess what I’m really saying is this: There are far more functional ways to organize your closet, so think twice before you buy into the Insta-hype and dedicate an entire Sunday to deciphering the difference between turquoise and cerulean (honestly, Miranda Priestly would be ashamed…) and instead spring for some clever closet organizing hacks and solutions. But if, at the end of the day, you have your heart set on a color-coded wardrobe, I say go for it. After all, that’s the perk of having your own space: your home, your rules (just don’t ask me to fetch you a sweater—I’ll probably have trouble finding it).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I color code within categories because it allows me to put together an outfit more easily and quickly. It has nothing to do with what it makes my closet look like. For books, it’s a shallow way of organizing. It suggests that the owner thinks of them merely as things.”
— FHeller

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • M
  • FHeller
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  • TXExpatInBKK
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M March 25, 2022
Colour coding just seems like a trend designed to create style over function frustration that can be solved when someone comes up with the "revolutionary" idea to maximize your space.
FHeller March 24, 2022
I color code within categories because it allows me to put together an outfit more easily and quickly. It has nothing to do with what it makes my closet look like.

For books, it’s a shallow way of organizing. It suggests that the owner thinks of them merely as things.
FHeller March 24, 2022
It’s not rocket science to start by putting same color of similar items together. It’s not a matter of what makes the closet look better as it is to making putting an outfit together more easily and quickly.
AntoniaJames March 23, 2022
Yes, color coding within categories makes the most sense . . . kind of a Dewey decimal system for closets. (Speaking of which, color coding of books at any level is simply insane for anyone who prefers a functional, versus a purely decorative, library. Categories, then alphabetically by author, please.). ;o)
M March 25, 2022
Question: Are your books generally the same size and format, or housed in a large library of shelves? Or are your categories at all shape related? I could never alphabetize because of how many shapes and sizes books come in when they were made anywhere from 1900 to today.
Linlin March 23, 2022
I always thought that you are supposed to Colour code inside the categories? I have my t-shirt and jumpers sorted by colour, so I have one storage box with all my blue and Green tshirts in one, then red and oranges in another and grey and other neutrals in a third and similar with the sweaters. For me it’s very easy to find the right ones
TXExpatInBKK March 23, 2022
Yes, this! I have my closet separated into categories (short sleeves, long sleeves, tees, pants, etc) and within those I color code.