November 07, 2014 03:00 PM

We can all relate to that feeling of despair when you look into your disorganized closet and wonder if you’ll ever be able to find that one amazing sweater again. However, we’ve got an advantage that most girls don’t: We’ve got PEOPLE StyleWatch contributing editor Jill Martin at our disposal. When we feel that sense of closet chaos, we just call her up (she does have her own organizational line and has penned several books on the topic, after all) and she restores order to our lives. Even cooler? She took us inside her own closet to show us just how she applies her tips and tricks in her own life. Read on for all the scoop!

Samantha Okazaki/Today.com


The first step? Say it with us now: Cleanse your closet! “Go through your closet and determine what pieces actually belong there,” she says. “You will be surprised at the percentage of clothing you actually wear. Most of us only wear 25 percent of what we have in our closets. That means 75 percent has to go. Take a deep breath — you have your work cut out for you!”

So where to start? Consign or donate anything you haven’t worn in a year; anything that’s had tags on it for a year or more (take it to a consignment shop or send it to a site like ThredUp; anything with stains or rips; anything that is too big or too small. Holding on to that one dress that looked amazing on you 15 pounds ago? Get rid of it, Martin says. “If you lose weight you are going to want to buy new items — trust me!”

Use your newly found empty space to fill it with hangers that won’t make you crazy — like Martin’s own designs, which come in fun colors. “They’ll give you 70 percent more room in your closet,” she says. “You should make your closet look like a boutique. Pick a color that is your ‘happy’ color and create an environment where you feel like you’re shopping in your own home!”

Samantha Okazaki/Today.com

Next up: Our favorite part of the closet, the shoe area. “When cleansing your closet, your heels, flats and sneakers need a little honesty too,” she says. “Here’s what can go immediately: Any pair that is scuffed or damaged to the point where you don’t feel your best in them. Any pair that you don’t wear — even if they are fabulous. If you don’t ever choose them they have no business taking up room in your closet! And — deep breath, because this one will hurt — any pair that hurts you to the point it ruins your night!

Her best practice for shoe organization is easy and affordable. “If you don’t have a lot of shoe space, invest in plastic bins that you can stack. If you want to get super-creative (or treat your closet like a celeb’s) you can put a photo of the shoes on the outside of the bin,” she suggests. “It makes your closet look fun and organized! Just snap a pic on your iPhone and send it to the nearest CVS store using their app. Pick them up the same day!”

Samantha Okazaki/Today.com

And last but not least (and possibly most scary): accessories. “Raise your hand if any of these pertain to you and your jewelry: A) Every time I go to put on a necklace it is tangled with another one. B) I have so much costume jewelry, every time I open my drawer I cannot find anything and so many of my pieces are broken. C) I love my earrings, but they are always missing a partner,” she says. “Sound familiar? Join the club. We spend so much money on jewelry, then we don’t protect our investment. All it takes are a few (inexpensive) tricks to change that!”

In her own apartment, Martin hung a hat stand on the wall, then hung her prettiest necklaces from the pegs. “My theory is, ‘If you do not see it, you are not going to wear it!'” she says. “Plus, this can double as wall art. For your more delicate necklaces, hang small 3M hooks anywhere you have wall space. They are super inexpensive and will keep your most tangle-prone pieces separated and wearable.”

Any parting words from the queen of the clean closet? “Take a weekend to do all this, and you’ll feel better by Monday morning. I promise!” We’re off to snap photos of our shoes!

Check out even more tips and photos at Today.com, and tell us: Are you using her tips this weekend? What’s your best closet organizational strategy?

–Alex Apatoff

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