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Press } Articles } January 2004 - Sunday Times

Idea of the week: A wardrobe tailored for your clothes

FOR most people, having a cleaning lady fold your socks and T-shirts in neat piles is a real thrill, so imagine what it would be like having your entire wardrobe organised by someone, writes Julie Earle-Levine.

Melanie Charlton does a lot more than fold knickers. She will look at all your clothes, tell you what to keep and what to throw away, and then design and build a wardrobe that suits your needs. If you wear lots of jumpers, for example, she will take account of this in the design by having lots of shelves to hold them.

She is what you might call a closet organiser.

Charlton, a former fashion editor and shopping addict, started her company Clos-ette in New York last year. Since then she has been inundated with requests for her services.

She had been working with shop designers, helping them display their stock, when a magazine editor asked her to help with her closet. Charlton had never considered starting her own business, but when Vogue magazine called her out of the blue to ask her about the services she offered, she suddenly realised there might be more to closet organising than she thought.

She said: “Vogue called and said they wanted to do a story on my company. I said, oh yes, my company? Let me call you back.”

She scrambled to put together Clos-ette and has been busy ever since.

Clos-ette works by offering a three-step process. Charlton goes to a client’s home and starts by drawing up an inventory of the clothes. Then she does an “edit”, which involves deciding what to throw out and what to keep. Then finally she designs and builds the perfect closet with the help of an architect and stylist.

She insists everyone needs the “right” closet. “You spend that much money on clothes you want to be able to protect them,” she said.

Charlton said Clos-ette wardrobes include storage spaces for socks, tights and pants. Ordinary wardrobes do not usually have such things.

Her clients range from a 16-year-old girl to young professionals and couples. One client was so enthusiastic about Clos-ette that she flew Charlton halfway across the world to sort out her wardrobe.

Having the perfect wardrobe doesn't come cheap, however. The initial consultation costs $250 (£140) and subsequent visists are $200 an hour. Most projects cost between $15,000 and $30,000 (£8,000-£16,000).

Nevertheless, Charlton said she has had many inquiries from Londoners seeking her help to sort out their messy wardrobes. So if you think you have what it takes to be a closet organiser, now may be a good time to give it a go.

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