Accessory Organization on the Cheap

I would love, love, love to have the California Closets folks reorganize my wardrobe. First, I’d need to buy a house that had a closet larger than a breadbox, but still! I look at their designs and drool over the elegant, easy, beautifully designed storage solutions. And when I’m rich and famous, I’ll hire out their services.

In the meantime, I’ve gotta make do with far less elegant equipment. And although I’ve already discussed a few great ways to organize clothing, I thought I’d focus on accessory storage today. Because a mass of wrinkled shirts may be a bit frustrating, but a tumbleweed of belts, scarves, and necklaces is downright infuriating. So here are my methods of keeping my accessories protected, neat, and accessible without breaking the bank!

A belt rack from Target – attached to the exterior of my Ikea armoire – keeps these guys in line. Belt racks can go inside closet doors, mount to closet walls, or even attach to bedroom walls if you don’t mind using your accessories as decor.

COST: $5

Next to my belts, I’ve recently hung two sets of scarf organizers from The Container Store. They’re basically like large, flat hangers with holes punched through ’em. I used to cram my scarves inside my armoire but they kept the door from closing properly and were always getting snagged on the hinges. This solution allows me to see my whole collection, and incorporate scarves into outfits FAR more easily.

COST: $6 apiece

As you are likely aware, I own many pairs of shoes. So I use several different organization and storage solutions for them. This rotating rack holds 18 pairs and I nabbed it from the Container Store a couple of months ago. Mine sits next to my desk, but a fixture like this could tuck inside a wardrobe closet or sit outside a coat closet.

COST: $20

I’ve also got an over-the-door rack that hangs inside my closet. Unsightly, but obscured from view. Someday I might invest in a slightly better version, as this Ikea model works best with one shoe per slot. I’d love to squeeze a pair in each slot, if I could!

COST: $10

My closet has some built in shelving that holds my tall boots, but the remainder sit on these plastic-coated stacking shelves from Target. These sit on the closet floor. I love how shoes look on shelves, and if I had the room and the moolah (and the necessary husbandly approval) I’d line the walls with shelves for my shoes. In this fantasy world, I’d also have a pet wombat and a machine that dispensed fresh French fries at all times.

COST: Around $7 per shelf

While this is one of my chintzier storage solutions, it gives me easy access to my hat collection and perks up my office quite a bit. Basically, I tacked a piece of twine to the wall, and attached some plastic laundry clips. The hats never get crushed and I can grab any one of them quickly and easily.

COST: Clips were $3 a pack, and the twine was in the kitchen drawer!

Larger bangles get slung over this standing paper towel rack. I set this guy atop my dresser.

If you’ve got fewer in your collection, you can also pop them onto the neck of a pretty wine bottle.

COST: $12

So my dad made this gorgeous necklace rack, and I’m SUPER lucky to have it. Since I own about 40 gajillion necklaces, those long arms are really handy, but a slightly larger version of my belt rack could work for a smaller necklace collection.

Dad also made my jewelry box, which is sitting on the dresser top. I don’t have a ton of earrings, so I don’t need a ton of earring storage.

COST: Priceless, obviously.

The necklace rack is a bit older, and I’ve since added this adorable storage unit that Trinknitty made for me. She wrapped a picture frame in fabric and put burlap where the photo would’ve gone, which is where earrings are hung. Metal studs along the edge of the frame can support lightweight necklaces and bracelets. How clever is that?

COST: Again, this was a gift … so, again, priceless.

Now let’s talk about YOU. Do you use any similar methods to store and maintain your accessories? Anything different but equally budget-friendly? Does anyone have a more elegant solution for scarf storage? Please share!

  • Casey

    A rotating shoe organizer?! Where has this been all my life? lol. Definitely going on my wishlist of organizing items. Right now I don't have room for much else (husband's dress uniforms are on the back of our bedroom door, and I have no closet space to use shelving :p), but this is brilliant. hehe!

    Thanks for these tips, Sal! I am in desperate need of doing some heavy duty organizing from top to bottom in my closet right now, and accessories are a great (and easy) place to start. šŸ˜‰

    ā™„ Casey
    blog |

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend! These are some truly clever solutions. I have shoe racks and separate jewelry boxes for earrings, necklaces, and rings, but I think I need to hang my scarves as well as my tights and look for a necklace rack once the shopping ban is over.

  • WildBirdVintage

    I am sold! Going to Target ASAP to get one of those nifty belt racks. Thanks for the organization inspiration…which I always need.

  • Elena

    These are great organizing tips and I will definitely be purchasing the rotating shoe organizer!

    Any tips of what to do with purses/bags/clutches? I seem to have a problem organizing those.


    • Ruth

      For my clutches (and small bags) I use a hanging shoe organizer that looks like this (though mine has more pockets):

      It holds a lot and takes up ~3″ in width.

  • Anamika

    Thanks for those great ideas. New one for me was using wine bottles as bangle storage. Great idea for me since I don't have very many bangles and bracelets.
    I use a necklace organizer from Urban Outfitters that looks like a mini coat rack. It serves my needs quite well for now.
    As for my small scarves and belt collection…they are everywhere and I can't find them when I need them! Your post is now inspiring me to get organized with those.

  • ashleymoss

    Thanks for the tips!! By the way, I got an over the door shoe organizer from Walmart that holds a pair of shoes rather than one. I don't believe I paid more than 10 for it either.

    I'm so going to get one of the rotating shelves!! I've filled two over the door bags and still have way more shoes! What a great idea…

  • Rebecca

    Next to the actual outfits themselves, organizational photos are my favorites. I need to do something with my belts. Right now they're in a basket on the floor of my closet and they don't stay coiled up, so it is frustrating to find and separate them. I'll have to take another look and see where I could hang a holder similar to yours. (Most of my closet wall space is spoken for already….)

  • Bridget

    I definitely err on the side of making things look neat and taking good care of them…which you are definitely doing!

    But for me, I guess I like to corral all of the same thing in the same place, which is why I'd puppy-eye HM until he let me put up shelves where they will all fit. And I have had some bad shoe squashage problems with the over-the-door racks. And for me, it was also an excuse to limit my tendency to buy more shoes because "I can always find more room!" Now, if I don't absolutely love them, they don't stay. And they make a pretty rainbow.

    The other thought for scares is using a tension rod and looping scarves around — you can do it in random order, or in color blocks around them room. =Instant art!

  • futurelint

    I have that same belt organizer and have gone to like 5 Targets looking for a second one and they are gone! I'm so sad!

    I have a set of cheap plastic drawers from Target, the top drawer is earrings, then bangles, then bracelets, then misc (bow ties, large fabric brooches, flowers, etc) My necklaces are in the walk-in closet, on different vintage hooks I've thrifted (one is shaped like a duck, one has a old town crier, several are just plain hooks in different shapes and metals. Each hook holds one color of necklaces (one for reds, one for golds, one for browns, one for turquoise, etc)

    Unfortunately my scarves are in one of those step-on-it to open garbage cans, shaped like a robot… it's never had garbage in it, so it's okay, I just have to take everything out to find a scarf! Those hangers you have might be a better solution, but the can does keep them out of sight!

  • metscan

    I think all I can say is wow, wow, wow! You have so much of everything. And I see that it is vital for you to have everything ( if it is possible ), in order. Do you have spare place for summer/winter clothes? I know you love all your clothes, but is there any chance to sell/trade/donate something away? Maybe I know the answer. Anyways, you have found great solutions to store your belonings!

  • Charlotte

    Your paper towel holder bracelet rack is brilliant–I often see these for $1 at Goodwill. My house was built in 1928, and for that time period has good closet space, but…my closet looks a bit like the IRT at rush hour, it's so packed. OK, my two closets–I've taken over the one in the guest room as well. And I hate packing things away too neatly (in plastic storage bins) because I forget what's in there, although I've resorted to this for some smaller (less than shawl-sized) scarves. I inherited an armoire from my MIL, so my sweaters are stacked on the shelves there, along with a few shelves of rolled shawls (they wrinkle less than when folded). Tights go into ziploc bags and have their own drawer. Bracelets go into a pottery bowl that just fits them, earrings into two wooden jewelry boxes (gifts from my son), brooches into a painted wooden box with tiny drawers (gift from my son). I took the rod out of the closet in my study, put in MDF shelves, and that's where I keep my shoes (boots on the top shelf, stuffed with old towels to keep them upright). Ideally I like things to be hidden, but immediately visible to me when I open a door or a drawer–I don't like items of clothing or accessories "out" because I have so much other stuff "out" (pottery, etc.) that it begins to look claustrophobically cluttered. I will probably go to hell for putting cup hooks inside the antique armoire and hanging my necklaces from them, but it keeps them visible & untangled. When I start running out of space seriously, I know it's time for a purge. I tend to hold onto things too long (I'm a Taurus) even when I haven't worn them, because I wouldn't have it if I didn't like it, even if I don't wear it….That story.

  • randomblogette

    Great ideas! I love the paper towel holder as a bracelet holder. I stopped buying bracelets because I had no where to put them and I swear that I have lost a few of them! I also love the necklace holder too. Even though I have a shopping ban these are essentials for my bedroom to make it more organized. I think that these won't count! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Andrea

    Some great ideas! I'm admiring your collection of jewels, oh my!

  • Roberta

    Although I was annoyed by It's Complicated, I did adopt some of Meryl's decorating ideas. One was a larger version of your necklace rack (I also have one of those). I got a long Shaker peg rack from the Container Store and drape my scarves over that. I also bought a cheerful kids clothing rack (primary colors and big ball hooks) for my outdoor scarves and put that on the outside of my coat closet. My purse goes there too when I come home – so I can always find it!

  • the cheap chick

    Yes, yes you do have a lot of shoes. :)
    I use a cork bullentin board to display all my necklaces and bracelets and the few hats I own. I just push the long-ended pins (not the ones with the flat circle) into the board and hang the jewelry/hats from them. Cheap and easy.
    I also store my boots with repurposed wine bottles in them, to help them keep their shape.

  • evanadine

    i recently bought the exact same hangers for my scarves! i used to hang scarves and belts from a set of hooks inside one of my closet doors, and purses hung from hooks inside the other closet door. alas, when we moved, i lost a plethora of insides-of-doors, so scarves and belts are now hung, and purses are currently in a box until a better solution is found. the belt hanger i use is this:
    i have similar shoe racks that grace the bottom of my closet, though boots are finding a place of their own still.
    for my jewelry, i have a lovely jewelry armoire. the sides open up to allow hanging room for necklaces… rings are snuggled between velvet waves… earrings have little cubbies… larger bangles are held in a deep drawer… and there are still other drawers left over for brooches and other random accessories. thanks to a generous santa claus a year or two ago, i have the jewelry armoire pictured here:
    not cheap, but highly effective!

  • myedit

    Love the rotating shoe organizer. I just bought two rolling racks to ease the sruch and wrinkles in my closet and I also use my prettiest shoes and hats and purses as decaotion in my living room and workspace. Hey, i can't wear them all the time but I can still enjoy them.

  • Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    OK, I have to ask. Is that rotating shoe rack next to your desk at home or AT WORK?

    I wear earrings with fishhook backs. I got this idea from a friend, but it really looks great and adds a bit of sparkle to the top of my bureau. I took a small decorative stuffed fabric dressform and stuck long hat pins all over it. Each pin holds one pair of earrings. They're all in view, untangled, and easily accessible.

  • Anonymous

    This is wonderful, Sal, thank you so much. How about your bags? I am having a heck of a time with mine. They are all getting squished. Can you please show us how you store your bags?

  • Sal

    Wow, such a lot of great ideas! Thanks for sharing them, everyone.

    metscan: Yes, I do have off-season storage in my basement, but not for accessories. As for having a lot, well, this is my passion and my side business! I sell, trade, and donate when I feel like it. But since I have the space for storage, don't put myself in debt buying, and procure a huge portion of my stuff thrifting, I don't feel any overwhelming drive to reduce.

    Couture Allure Vintage Fashion: I keep a pair of flats in my desk drawer at work, but believe me, all this stuff is at HOME!

    Anonymous: Oh my gosh, I guess I could … but my bags are a disaster area. I really use just one handbag nearly every day of my life, so the rest are in a messy pile atop my armoire! Anyone else have suggestions for handbag storage?

  • Diana

    I love all your accesories organization techniques! You have quite a collection.

    I'd be curious to see a picture of what IKEA armoire you have. I'm thinking about buying one of their wardrobes once I have the funds.

    I rigged together a holder for my bangles with a soda bottle, some knitting needles and some craft wire. You can see it in this post:

  • Kristin

    Idea overload! My old system was doing alright, but I think some of these can really help my closets out!

    Elena: I bought a small drawer unit from Target (about $15), with all clear sides and drawers. It's got 4 drawers in varying depths, and I organized my handbags in there. That way, I can see them from the front, and when I open the drawers, they're all neatly lined up and protected.

  • ambika

    I saw *the* most impressive closet this weekend–all matching hangers, shelves and just pure awesomeness. I was filled with envy.

    Love those scarf hangers. What a great idea.

  • Rad_in_Broolyn

    Wow, you are so on top of it! I must admit jealousy, as my apartment is wee and tiny and our clothes storage space small. But my major question to you is what about the kitties? My clothing storage strategies are about keeping my cat and her claws away from my clothing. My cat would attack that beautiful scarf rack. And tear those delicate lovelies into shreds. Maybe yours are just more refined?

  • FashionTheorist

    I need to do some serious reorganizing. Just about the only thing I'm happy with, organization-wise, is the jewelry: my darling husband got me a lovely jewelry armoire (one of the ones with swing-out panels on the side with necklace hooks, as well as multiple drawers with little dividers) which holds everything but the earrings. Those live on a strip of crocheted lace my mum was sweet enough to make me years ago (although, for anybody without a conveniently talented mum, a substantial piece of store-bought lace would work too). The lace is open enough to hook earrings into. It's currently tacked up across the top edge of my vanity mirror, and is moderately decorative as well as keeping the earrings all visible.

    My big issue is shoe organization. I have lots of boots, platforms, and Serious Heels, and they don't play nice with any mass-produced shoe storage solutions. Right now, they're all piled semi-neatly under a bench in our mudroom (we don't wear shoes in the house), but that's not a viable long-term solution. I have a funny feeling that the hubster and I will be custom-fabricating some sort of rack/cubby system one of these days – in our copious free time.

  • Sal

    Rad_in_Broolyn: Thanks, lady! Although my kitties have some couch-shredding proclivities, they are actually very good about leaving most of our other stuff alone. The scarves don't seem to interest them … yet anyways! If they ever show an interest, I'll have to find a higher spot for the scarf hangers for sure.

  • Barb

    I solved my necklace/bracelet storage issue similarly, but used 4-hook key rails. They're only 6 inches long, so can be staggered on a small wall. Plus have the matching coat hook rail for my most used scarves and belts. I put up single robe hooks by the closets – great for items that belong in closet but are coming/going. (If items are on hangers, you can hold a whole lotta stuff on one hook.) All came from Target, so didn't even have to go to the hardware store.

    I keep shoeboxes for out-of-season storage. To avoid storing empty boxes, I switch out by brand. Ex: a Clarks boot box currently contains Clarks sandals. Boxes stack nicely in closet or go under the bed.

    I have purses hooked to a belt hanger in a storage closet (i.e. not the stuffed bedroom closet).

  • Elaine

    These are GREAT ideas!!!! Thanks so much!

  • Sak

    I am a bit of an organizer, very nice post, and it is giving me great ideas.

  • Amy

    I received one of those rotating shoe organisers for Christmas, and I must say, it has changed my life! Well at least the shoe-loving aspect of my life – I wear a different pair nearly every day now that I can see all of them! Great post, I'll be trying all your other tips šŸ˜€

  • The Waves

    Wow, you really have things figured out! My accessories are always all over the place. There have been times when I have made poor attempts to get organized, but nope, I swear my accessories have a life of their own. :)

  • Julia

    So many useful ideas!

    I've used a small plastic tupperware type container with drawers (Sterilite) from Target that sits on my dresser. It was just a several dollars. I also have a tie/scarf hanger from target which is perfect for my 5 scarves…

    I could definitely use some good shoe organization though. Great ideas, thanks!

  • lisa

    Interesting! I always like seeing how other people store their clothes and accessories. I have a wire-and-canvas shelving unit from Ikea that I put my handbags on. Shoes stay in their boxes and get stacked on my bookcase or in my closet. I have one dresser that has some very shallow drawers which provide great jewelry and accessory storage.

    I love the idea of using pretty pottery and dishes like saucers or Chinese/Japanese rice bowls to store trinkets. They're usually really inexpensive and add a great decorative touch.

  • Style Artisan

    The first thing I did to organize my closet was to make my hsuband move his things out of it!

    Then I purchased those ultra thin velvet covered hangers which literally doubled my hanging space. I bought them at Costco for only $16 for a set of fifty, a bargain when you consider that Bed, Bath and Beyond sells them for $40!

    My biggest issue right now is scarves. I have way too many. I bought some tiered pant hangers and can fit quite a few on each hanger, but they are taking up valuable rack space. And my wall space is already taken, so I am still trying to come up with a better solution.

    These were some great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lorena

    By reading your post and comments I confirm that we never have enough closet space ! We need help organizing.. my dream is for my closet to look like a boutique… all displayed –
    Anyways the paper towel holder is a kick ass idea, never crossed my mind…
    I keep my bangles on a hanger, I cut the wire of the hanger on the side and made a little loop to keep it from falling apart, works great.
    For my shoes I have shelves (rubbermaid) from the top – close to the ceiling – all the way down to floor level that helps with my 100+ pair of shoes.
    For bags I use a trunk, but I am running out of space, again..

  • All Women Stalker

    A wealth of ideas, this post. I got drawers for my shoes, hooks for my necklaces, a wooden box for my earrings. Nothing for my scarves…I will copy your ideas, of course. :)

  • Joelle

    Love the rotating shoe organizer!

    My mom has an extensive earring collection, it outgrew every earring 'tree' she bought, so we got one of the kiddie mesh wings from Claires, the one that looks like a big flower and nailed it to the wall. The earrings hang nicely and it fits everything with room for more. I think the flower cost about $12.

  • Eyeliah

    Yes yes and yes, I have some hanger hooks that hold my belts, as one drawer where they are well organized. scarves are in a drawer and I have the shoes racks as well as the pocket thingy (but mine hangs inside the closet and fits a pair of shoes in each slot). I store my bangles on a tree meant for coffee mugs and have a similar hanging thing (not a frame thou) for my earrings. šŸ˜‰ I have a 'How I Store' category on my blog that shows all my organizing if you are interested. small space = mega challenging!

  • Rosie Unknown

    I have a cork board with those long push pins and a piece of lace hung across the top for my necklaces and my earrings, since I don't have that many. I have all my scarves and belts hung a an over the door rack, and my shoes are all over the house.

    Thanks for the great post, it is super helpful! I'm an organization freak, and I still learn stuff from your organization posts.

  • K.Line

    Wow, I'm late to this party but I have to say the org porn is FINE. I'm just going to look at the photos one more time…

  • Didi

    Bed Bath and Beyond has an over-door shoe rack that holds 36 pairs of shoes or shoeboxes. I fit a few more by stacking flats 2 pair high.

    I have three of the same scarf hangers you have, and in my coat closet, I have an over-door towel rack for my heavy winter scarves.

    For my jewelry, I have the Lori Greiner mirrored jewelry armoire (which, btw, Sal, is a silver safekeeper so all your silver won't tarnish) from QVC that is great organization, comes with a stand to use as a cheval mirror or can be hung on the wall, and is about 5" deep when not on the stand. It holds a TON of jewelry.

    Also, I used to squish my bags up and stack on the top shelf of my closet, but since I buy more expensive ones these days, I stuff them with tissue paper, and put them in dust bags, lining them up around the top of my closet on the top shelf, because I don't change them every day. I keep a small folding stool in my closet so that I can get them whenever I want.

  • Melrose

    that hat storage is genius!
    im definitely stealing this little bit of creativity!

  • Cary

    Post apartment move my necklaces are "organized" in a pile on my chest of drawers. I'm planning to get a cork notice board cover it in linen and pin my necklaces up.

    I love the idea of using a teeny chest of drawers for brooches and rings. I can't remember who posted this but a great idea all the same!

  • tigerteacher

    Great storage ideas! I only have one to add – I use a pants hanger to store bangles and bracelets (of which I have many.) It's one of the ones with 5 horizontal lines that swing out. I hang it out of site in the closet. I will definitely be trying to recreate the burlap and picture frame to store and display my brooches and pins! Thanks!

  • Esti

    I use a white metal shower caddy (much like this one to store my headbands, necklaces, and some of my earrings. It's hung up over my dresser, next to the (off-center) mirror, with the headbands hooked into the big basket on top, the necklaces hanging (admittedly in slight tangles) from the loofah hooks, and particularly big/long earrings dangling from the slotted soap holder at the bottom. It's great and actually looks quite pretty, in a slightly messy way.

    Brooches, hair accessories, and bracelets go in a stack of clear plastic boxes of different sizes, bobby pins go in a clear martini glass, small earrings go on a mesh frame I got at Claire's when I was nine, and other odds and ends go in two traditionally carved wooden boxes that were gifts from my Hungarian relatives. I also have an embroidered Hungarian cloth over the top of my dresser.

    After sacrificing my actual vanity to the position of TV stand in my new apartment I was a bit sad, but this is actually my favorite prettying-space I've ever had.

  • Laura Elaine

    All so lovely! And I made my mom a necklace hanger out of a picture frame! I left the wood unfinished to match the wood in her room, used a pretty shell print paper (laminated) as a large border, then had a sea green color as the inner paper. I then screwed pretty jeweled drawer knobs on it to hang necklaces from.

    As for my necklaces, I bought a cheap shelf with some pegs and hooks on it, painted it and added a jewelry tree (no really, it's a metal tree:) on top. Cocktail rings (I have dozens) are compartmentalized into 3 sections in a cigar box that I added wood sections into, and painted all purdy. My everyday jewelry goes in a pretty tea cup and matching oversized saucer on my nightstand :)

    Shoes…those are in several places. I have a ginormous shoe shelf for heels (they're all still in boxes), then boxed boots on the closet shelf, flats on the back of the door, sneakers on a floor rack in the other closet, sandals hanging in the same. Vintage boots go on the top of that closet. Handbags all hang on an over-the-door purse hanger (comes in a set of 2!) I got at Target. So nice to have them off the closet floor!

    My scarves are stored the same way! Though I hang my hanger on a doorknob – classy! Belts same as well, only mine cover two sides of my closet door! šŸ˜ Basically, I feel my accessories are pretty organized, I just have to go to a couple of different places to get stuff :)

  • Missa

    Such great ideas Sal! I need one of those belt racks sooo bad, my belts are a tangled mess in a basket right now and a couple of those scarf things would be nice too. LOVE the hat line so much!

    I did just organize my necklaces on a thrifted vintage thread rack and I'm pretty stoked on that :)

  • Ash

    Australian houses barely ever have closets šŸ˜› I keep all my shoes in a tallboy set of drawers and I am going to eventually print out photos and stick them to the outside. There are issues with my rollerskates and boots which is a bummer so I'm pretty sure they're squashed between my other wardrobe and the wall… Everything of mine seems to get tangled on jewelery racks, but I have a princess(esque) curly styled bed and I string all my scarves through, they look quite great as they are colour coordinated.

  • gina

    What great ideas for storage! My uncle just bought one of those rotating shoe racks right before Christmas and I was fascinated by it. I think he got it from Wal-mart for somewhere around $12 dollars.

    I have one of those apartments where you walk through the closet to get to the bathroom. I bought and over the door rack for the bathroom door, and use that for my towel, my robe, and also to hang outfits that I intend to wear in the next few days. That frees up the 2 towel racks in the bathroom, which I use for hanging my scarves.

  • Edie

    your blog is too fine. Thanks for sharing this Thanks.

  • Emily

    I linked to this post from your more recent post about closet organization. This post is great… but my favorite part is this: “In this fantasy world, Iā€™d also have a pet wombat and a machine that dispensed fresh French fries at all times.”

    I laughed so hard at this!!

  • Rose

    Wow… I adore your sense of creativity! I suddenly feel inspired to put some of my latent crafty skills to work solving my uselessly-stored accessory problems. I especially love the hat storage notion, as mine are currently stacked in terrifyingly unbalanced piles on the shelf in the closet. I have to take the entire stack down to get a single hat. But there’s plenty of wall space in the bedroom… brilliant!

    Thanks for this!

    Note: also got here from today’s organization post. I couldn’t resist clicking on the hats-on-a-string link.