Recently I have been trying to implement the 5S system in my Ipa-Nima factory. Created by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota as part of their total productive maintenance system, 5S has now become the methodical way to organise one’s workplace and work practices. Believe it or not, the same philosophy also works wonderfully to organise one’s vast wardrobe.

SEIRI: Sort, Clean, Classify.
Group your clothes by type – dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, jackets – and then by colour, moving left to right, from lightest to darkest. That is how your eye works and it is also a common visual merchandising trick that stores use. Sorting out your clothes this way allows you to mix and match easily and also find out what you need to buy for the new season.

SEITON: Straighten, Simplify, Set in Order and Configure.
Ditch your horrible hangers and get some velvet ones in light neutral shades. This shows off clothes best. If you are short of space, use hangers with multi-bars for your lightest items, like slim skirts. Pants should be hung lengthwise from the cuffs.

All embellished items should be stored in a natural fiber bag to prevent snagging. Never store clothes in plastic laundry bags as it does not allow the clothes to breathe, creating mould. Things like t-shirts, gym wear and bulky winter sweaters are easier to store folded. You can get some clear acrylic dividers or folding boards to separate the stack and keep them flat and neat.

SEISO: Sweep, Shine, Scrub, Clean.
As a basic rule, consider discarding items that have not been worn in the last two years. And to be honest, old items always invariably look a bit outdated when worn again. The exception is great coats or leather jackets in classic shapes and expensive materials – on the basis that they are stored properly and in good condition. These items are getting harder to find in affordable prices and once you have acquired a great piece, consider it an heirloom.

SEIKETSU: Standardise & Stabilise.
Now that the wardrobe is organised, what happens to other accessories? Blank walls are a great place to hang belts, necklaces and shallow handbags. Install some valet bars on the inside of closet doors and unused nooks, or invest in some shelves to line up your handbags. If you are a clutch freak, keep them upright in a deep drawer so that you can thumb them through easily like in a department store.

SHITSUKE: Sustain, Self Discipline, Custom and Practice.
Once you have set up your wardrobe, be disciplined to store things the way it should be. You will be amazed how efficient you will be in the morning.

Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to or visit