If you've been here before, you've no doubt noticed that I am obsessed with making paper bead bracelet sets! I have made something like 240 sets of 2-4 coordinating paper bead bracelets. I have another 170+ individual bracelets I made from glass, stone, or paper beads. I think we can agree that this a LOT of bracelets, and that I need a good organization system to keep track of them all so they actually get worn!
What storage and organization method for bracelets works best is obviously dependent on how many bracelets you have and what your home set-up is like.
My top tip here is that before you organize anything, you go through your bracelets and separate them out into categories:
-Ones you like and want to wear as everyday jewelry;
-Ones you like and want to wear but are special occasion pieces;
-Ones you like but don't want to wear (may be sentimental pieces, gifts, etc.);
-Ones you don't really like and don't want to wear.
The organization that I'm talking about today applies to the ones you like and want to wear for everyday. Special occasion bracelets can be stored separately in a way that protects them from dust, tarnishing, etc.; storing them with your other special occasion wear makes a lot of sense. The pieces you want to keep but not wear can be stored away, used as decorative motifs in your home, put on the bodies of willing children/pets, whatever you want to do with them. And the ones you don't like...if you make jewelry, consider putting them in your stash to be deconstructed and constituent beads, chains, findings, etc., salvaged. If you don't make jewelry, these are great pieces to give away/donate.
What number should you be shooting for with your "want to wear for everyday" category? There is no ideal number of bracelets to own. The number could range from 0 to infinity, and there is no shame to be had no matter where you fall on that continuum. But it is worth remembering that it's generally easier to organize fewer items rather than more, so be realistic about whether you actually like something and can see yourself wearing it when sorting your jewelry.
The next best advice I can give you is to store your everyday bracelets in a way that lets you see them easily, if possible. This is especially important if:
-You struggle to remember to wear your bracelets (or other jewelry) because "out of sight, out of mind";
-You don't pre-plan your outfits and are often in a rush to get dressed; and/or
-You don't have a good memory for what jewelry you have.
If you have a relatively small number of bracelets, a tabletop organizer is nice; there are several kinds with shafts that look like arms that put your bracelets on display. Over-the-door or wall-mounted displays are also a good option. (These are not affiliate links; just providing them for reference.)
But I've found that once you reach a certain amount of jewelry, it's quite difficult to organize and store it in a 100% "see what you have at a glance" method. For some people, this might signal a need to do another bracelet sort out. For others (like me), that means it's time to embrace another solution. I'm presenting my current bracelet organization system in the hopes that you might find something here that's worth considering for your own bracelet situation.
Or if you sit back and think "wow, I'm glad I don't have that many bracelets" or "that is an insane level of organization," that's OK too. There are probably 14 people in the world who would use my system in its entirety, and they probably already have their own system ;)
One thing you'll see about my system is that it doesn't rely on a lot of expensive "storage solutions" that a person would need to buy. In the spirit of my College Living 2.0 aesthetic and my overall "I especially like upcycling and sustainable options when they're cheap" orientation, I have made use of stuff that would otherwise by recycled in putting my system together.
Let's get started...
As I discussed in my design post, I create daily stacks that usually contain a paper bead bracelet set along with individual stone/glass bead and metallic bracelets. I store my sets and my individual bracelets separately.
The bracelets for each of my paper bead bracelet sets are collected together and stored in a clear plastic bag that is labeled with the name of the bracelet set. (Some of these bags were purchased, but most of them came with beads/jewelry supplies in them originally.) Yes, I have names for each of my bracelet sets and each of my individual bracelets because that helps me keep them straight. It actually hadn't occurred to me before now that some people might find that strange! But I do give names to everything in my wardrobe for clarity.
With each bracelet set in its own bag, I then organize the bags into shoe boxes in alphabetical order. I alphabetize because my sets all have names, but you could also organize them by color. Use whatever method will make it easy for you go be able to go to the general section where the desired set is located or for you to browse through them easily. (My fourth shoe box has some empty space that I've used to store my few bulky bracelets.)
Now for my stand-alone glass, bead, and paper bracelets. These I do organize by color. A few of these "stand-alone" bracelets are themselves actually little sets rather than individual bracelets. For example, at the bottom left there are 3 light yellow bracelets that go together which I have secured into a bundle using a twist tie from a bread bag. I have 3 shoe boxes: one each for warm colors (yellow, orange, red, pink, purple), cool colors (blue, green, aqua), and neutrals/metallics. I cut cardboard to make dividers so each box has 3 compartments. The top compartment is for bracelets with no metals or a mix of metals; the middle one is for bracelets with gold/other warm tone metals; the bottom one is for bracelets with silver/other cool tone metals. I do it this way because I pay a lot of attention to my metals when building a bracelet stack, but you could use the compartments to further subdivide by color, to separate out different styles/sizes of bracelets, different types of beads...whatever makes it easy to see and find what's there.
I use a similar method with my DIY hoop earrings (left) and seed bead/other tiny bead bracelets (right). The earring pairs are stored in small clear baggies, and any bracelet sets are secured together with twist ties. These boxes have 4 compartments with multi-color on top, neutrals/metals next, cool colors next, and warm colors at the bottom.
So that's 8 shoe boxes of bracelets and 1 box of earrings - now what? I re-purposed a hanging closet shoe box organizer in my husband's closet to hold the boxes. I added labels to the front of the boxes so I'd know what each one contains. The alphabet-labeled boxes are the 4 paper bead bracelet set boxes with letters referring to the beginning of the set's name, like the "Sandstone Coral Brown Gold" set shown above.
For me, this is a very handy way to store a lot of bracelets in an accessible way with a small footprint. But you may be wondering how I know what bracelets I have when it's time to get dressed since they are not standing out in the open on displays or packed in clear cases...and that's a very good question!
I'll preface this by saying that I really do have a pretty good memory for what bracelets I have, despite owning a kind of crazy high number. Of the hundreds of bracelets I have, I could count on two hands the number that were purchased rather than ones I made myself or received as gifts. So most of my bracelets represent some effort/engagement on my part or have sentimental associations. But my method really isn't dependent on having a high recall for my bracelets!
I'll start by discussing what I do when I'm putting an outfit together on the fly - e.g., what most people do when they wake up in the morning and look into their closet and figure out what they're going to wear. This is not my usual method - I'm a big time outfit planner - but even I have days where I haven't done that planning or my needs for the day are quite different from what I'd planned for.
I have created paper bead bracelet sets for a pretty high proportion of my print garments. Some of these garments have inspired multiple paper bead bracelet sets. I give the bracelet sets names that reference the garment; for example: the bracelet set below that was made to go with my sherbet check top is called "Sherbet Check Linen Shirt - Purple/Pink/Orange/Gold." On a day when I'm wearing a print garment, I can first figure out if I have a bracelet set that coordinates by going to the shoe boxes and finding the name in the alphabetized section. If that doesn't work, I can look for bracelet sets based on their color palette, like the "Sandstone Coral Brown Gold" set above. My sets are usually incomplete on their own, so I follow this up with the next step to select the supplemental bracelets to complete the stack.
If I don't have a matching set, the matching set doesn't work with my overall outfit, or I just want to supplement my set, I go to my stand-alone bracelet shoe boxes. If I want a seed bead-based stack, I pull that one out and look at the various options. If I want a larger bead stack, I pull out those 3 boxes and select bracelets that work together. It's really quick because of the way I have the bracelets organized:
-Seed bead/small bead in separate box from larger bead
-Larger bead in separate boxes by color
-All boxes further sub-divided by color and/or metal
But in reality, over 95% of the time, I pre-plan my outfits, and for that I use methods that do not rely on pulling out any boxes but that are actually very similar. But instead of perusing my physical closet, I use my digital one!
It was a big job, but I have photographs of almost every piece of clothing, pair of shoes, and accessory that I own on my computer (in addition to some spreadsheets). This allows me to put outfits together and record them from the comfort of my Steelcase desk chair. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of this outfit planning in its entirety today, but once I have my basic outfit of top + bottom + topper (optional) + necklace/scarf + shoes chosen and recorded, I then turn to my earring and bracelet options. (I don't think I have ever started with earrings or bracelets in creating an outfit; I always chose them as finishing pieces.)
Once again, I can select a paper bead bracelet set that was made for one of my print garments/scarves, a set that has my outfit's color palette, or put together a custom stack from stand-alone bracelets. But instead of going to the physical shoe boxes, I look at the images on my computer. I have my bracelets (and everything else) represented on my computer in multiple ways.
#1: All images together
I have a folder that contains images of everything in my wardrobe in alphabetical order. I use prefixes of the item type so that they are divided by item type, then item name. The top of this example is a screenshot of that folder that shows some of my bracelet sets, which all have the prefix "BR z" in the name. The bottom of the example shows all my bracelets individually using the prefix "BR" in the name. I use this general folder for bracelet selection when I really just want to browse my options as I scroll through. For example, I might see the sandstone/gold butterfly bracelet (center of row 3) and think, "Oh, that would work with the butterfly print scarf, let me build a stack around that."
#2: Images by color
In addition to the one big folder, I also have color grouping folders. This makes it easy to see what I have in either a general color family (Blue) or a more specific color (Soft Indigo). At the general color family level, I also have two folders for accessories: one for bridge pieces (i.e., have multiple colors) and one for solids. Here's a screenshot of part of my accessories in the coral/rust/sandstone color family for bridge pieces. So if I want to see what I have in the way of paper bead bracelet sets in that color family, I can look here.
If I want to see what I have in terms of solid bracelets in that color family, I look in the folder that contains solid pieces.
#3: Color palettes in spreadsheets
But for outfit planning, I am most likely to rely on my spreadsheets where I have created a little color palette row for each item in my wardrobe, and that includes picking my bracelets as well. Here is what my bracelet spreadsheet looks like. The top section is from the paper bead bracelet set tab, where it has the name of the set (upper left), the details about the bracelets in the set (left), the individual bracelets that coordinate well with it (right), and the color palette (upper right). I can scroll quickly down the spreadsheet, waiting for a color palette that looks right to jump out at me. (Because I am me, I have a standardized order for the colors in the palette from left to right - like my own personal rainbow order - that makes this even easier.) The bottom section is from the individual bracelet tab, which has the bracelet details and color palette with one row per bracelet.
Here's an example of an outfit that was put together from my images/spreadsheets. I actually don't (yet) have a paper bead bracelet set created for that print blouse (shocking, I know), so I looked for a bracelet set with sandstone coral and brown in it. The "Sandstone Coral/Brown/Gold" set was selected, then I filled in the rose brown/gold and rust carnelian individual bracelets that were on the spreadsheet. (The spreadsheet listed 6 options, and I just picked 2 of them.)
One important aspect of my outfit planning process is that every weekend, I select my outfits (from my planned outfit list) for the coming Monday-Sunday and stage all the pieces for them in my home office. So I actually do see all the items together in advance the weekend before I wear the outfit. This gives me an opportunity to tweak the outfit closer to the time I'm going to wear it while still preventing me from having to make decisions in the morning...which is, uh, not a strong area for me, let's say. I sometimes only pick the paper bead bracelet set in advance, then complete the stack with the individual bracelets when I'm staging the outfits for the week.
Congratulations, you have reached the end of my extremely multi-faceted bracelet organization methodology! You know how car ads will have the small print at the bottom saying "Do not attempt; professional driver on closed course"? I feel a little bit like this post should have a similar disclaimer: "Do not attempt; professional data analyst with a style blog and photography and spreadsheet hobbies with time on her hands." But unlike with the car ad, you don't need to be a data analyst, blogger, or spreadsheet lover to safely do what I do. It's just that most people will be like, Eh, I'm not interested in making a whole hobby out of this! And that is more than fine!
This said, even a little organization can go a long way to getting your tangled mish-mash of bracelets (or other jewelry) out of the back of that drawer you never open and onto your wrist where they belong. Start by taking them out and remembering what you own! Separate out the everyday pieces that you'd like to wear. Put them together somewhere that is preferably visible and organize them in a way that makes sense to you (by type, by style, by size, by color, etc.). If they can't be 100% visible, organize them in your easily accessible storage in a hierarchical manner that makes sense to you (by size, then by color, etc.). And when you're getting dressed, consider: Would you like to wear a bracelet today? Because there is no better day* to wear a bracelet (or a whole stack of them) than right now!
*OK, if you have a job operating certain kinds of heavy machinery, will performing brain surgery or looking after actively grabby-handed toddlers, or are otherwise doing something that would make a bracelet really unsafe, then...maybe wait until after work or on the weekend to add a bracelet to your look.
Do you like to wear bracelets? Singles or stacks? Do you have a lot or a few? How do you organize them?
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