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The Skinny on Clothes Hangers

A few weeks back I was asked by Well + Good for my thoughts on wire hangers. I was so excited. I love this topic! As my clients know, I am not an organizer who uses rules. So I won’t make you buy-one-toss-one or color code your files. But there is one thing that comes close to a rule for me, and that’s the need for matching clothes hangers.

It was a thrill to be the featured expert in Are Wire Hangers Really That Bad For Your Clothes? Check out the post for my thoughts. Or read on for my definitive guide on hangers. Wire or no wire – your clothes will thank you for it.

What Hangers Are Supposed To Do

There are a few points of view as to who created the modern hanger. Some credit President Thomas Jefferson, while others credit Albert J. Parkhouse, an employee at Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan. Long story short, folks got wise over time and shaped wood, and then wire, into a loop to hang clothes up off the floor.

What’s more important is the shape of today’s modern hanger. Hangers are designed to mimic the shape of our shoulders. Truly effective ones have a thick base and gentle slopes on each side. This way, when they’re not on our bodies they can help clothes to maintain that natural, just-off-the-model look. The wider the hanger, the more breathing room your coats, jackets and dresses will have, helping to ensure that clothes stay wrinkle free and easy-to-view.

Why Matching Hangers are Good

It’s tempting to load up our closets with a jumble of hangers. But the secret to a perfect-performing closet is simple—it’s matching hangers. If you want a closet that looks like a department, store select one style of hanger and use it exclusively for all your clothes. Using a variety of hangers means your clothes will hang at differing heights and distances from each other, and this makes closets look messy.

Look for a hanger that fits your style, and stick to it. If you have a lot of clothes, try a slim hanger, as it will allow you to fit more of your treasured clothes. But if you’re prone to overstuffing, then limit yourself with wider wooden hangers. With hanger value pack prices low these days, you can transform your closet for no more than the cost of a new dress. And as you place your clothes back, face all your hangers in the same direction. Doing so with give your closet that picture-perfect look.

Why Wire Hangers are Just Bad

As for wire hangers, this is a personal choice, but for me they are a big no-no. Wire hangers are too thin—they cause stretch marks on clothes and bend, causing clothes to clump together in unrealistically tight bunches, and to hang at funny angles

Keep in mind that wire hangers come from the dry cleaners—they are meant to get your clothes home, and that’s it. While it becomes an extra step in your day, I say slow your roll, be mindful, and transfer your clothes onto new, uniform hangers when you get them home and stop using wire altogether. One small step will lead you towards an elevated closet experience.

If you really can’t ditch your wire hanger habit, try wrapping the wire in old fabric—like a torn up t-shirt—to protect your clothes from thin edges. Or get creative and use wire hangers to display belts, accessories, and scarves. As for what to do with those cast-offs? Return them to your dry cleaner, or drop them in your recycling bin. Happy closets—to one and all!

What’s your skinny on clothes hangers? We want to know! Share in the comments below. 

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at [email protected] or @MaeveRichmond.

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