When it comes to storing our clothes, accessories, and other personal items, the terms “closet” and “wardrobe” are often used interchangeably. However, these two pieces of furniture or spaces have distinct characteristics and histories that differentiate them. In this detailed exploration, we’ll delve deep into the intricacies of both to help you understand their unique features and functions.

The History and Evolution

1. Closets: Originating from the Latin word ‘clausum’, meaning closed, the closet was initially a small private room, often adjacent to the bedroom, used for prayer or contemplation in medieval Europe. Over time, with the evolution of housing and the increase in personal belongings, it became a space for storage.

2. Wardrobes: The term “wardrobe” comes from two Old French words – ‘warder’, which means to guard, and ‘robe’, referring to garments. The wardrobe, or ‘armoire’ as it was often called, was traditionally a standing closet used for storing clothes. It emerged as a derivative of the chest, which was a simple box form used to store fabric and apparel.

Physical Differences

1. Closets:

  • Integrated Part of a Room: Unlike a wardrobe, a closet is typically an integrated part of your home’s structure. It’s an enclosed space built into a wall.
  • Customization: Closets can be customized extensively. Depending on the homeowner’s needs, they can be designed with shelves, rods, drawers, and other organizational features.
  • Space: They’re often larger and can span an entire wall or room. Walk-in closets, for instance, are room-sized spaces dedicated to storage.

2. Wardrobes:

  • Freestanding Furniture: A wardrobe is a freestanding piece of furniture. It can be moved around, unlike a built-in closet.
  • External Aesthetics: Since it’s a piece of furniture, a wardrobe often has external designs and finishes that make it an aesthetic addition to a room.
  • Storage Features: Inside, wardrobes typically contain a hanging rail and sometimes a shelf or two. More elaborate designs might include drawers, mirrors, or even smaller compartments.

Practical Considerations

1. Closets:

  • Cost: Building a closet, especially if it’s not included in your original home design, can be expensive. It requires construction, finishing, and potentially professional design.
  • Flexibility: Closets offer more flexibility in terms of internal organization. You can install custom organizers, shelves, or even lighting.
  • Value Addition: A well-designed closet, especially a walk-in, can significantly increase the value of a home.

2. Wardrobes:

  • Mobility: If you’re renting or moving homes frequently, a wardrobe is your best bet. You can easily transport it.
  • Easy Replacement: Changing aesthetics? Just sell or replace your old wardrobe. With closets, redesigning or refitting can be cumbersome.
  • Immediate Solution: Need storage now? Buy a wardrobe. Building a closet can take considerable time and planning.

So, Which is Right for You?

Your choice between a closet and a wardrobe often boils down to your living situation, storage needs, and design preferences:

  • Permanent Residence? Consider investing in built-in closets.
  • Renting or Need Flexibility? Wardrobes are great.
  • Aesthetic Concerns? Wardrobes can be decorative elements, while closets give a clean, integrated look.

If you’re still uncertain about which option will best serve your needs, it might be a good idea to consult with a professional. Seeking advice from a custom closet company can provide valuable insights tailored to your space, style, and storage needs. They can help you weigh the pros and cons and visualize potential solutions in your home. Remember, the right storage solution is not only about functionality but also about seamlessly blending into your living space and enhancing its overall aesthetics.


While closets and wardrobes serve similar purposes, their origins, designs, and functionalities are distinctly different. Understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about storage in your living space and ensure that your clothing and personal items have a designated, organized home. Whether you lean towards the integrated elegance of closets or the movable charm of wardrobes, both have their merits. Choose based on what fits your lifestyle and space best!