The Best Hangers
The best hanger you can buy is The Container Store’s Basic Natural Wood Hangers. They’re available in three styles that will cover almost every piece of clothing you own. Each one is wide and thick enough to be durable and versatile, and the build prevents unsightly creases and tears. At $1.25 a piece, they’re not too expensive to stock your whole closet.
But we’re aware that not all closets have the same needs, which is why we recommend different hangers for different budgets and types of clothing, ranging from skirts to suits, below.
How we picked
There’s an overwhelming amount of hangers out there, ranging from dollar-store varieties to those from high-end specialty hanger shops like the Hanger Project and Butler Luxury. Whitmor and Honey Can Do make a wide selection of hangers of every ilk, and The Container Store and Bed Bath & Beyond offer up anything you can ask for. Beyond that, there are dozens of smaller manufacturers of widely varying quality.
Most of the editorial reviews and comparisons we found only identified only the best (or a good enough) hanger for a certain type of clothing: for dresses, for blouses, et cetera. There isn’t a lot out there that attempts to determine the best hanger overall, and that forced us to rely heavily on our own testing and background research. We referenced a number of buyers guides from Oprah, Real Simple, and the Huffington Post. We also talked to a number of experts on the subject, including Kirby Allison, founder of the Hanger Project, and Robert Antón Patterson, owner of Revolver clothing boutiques in San Francisco.
With all this in mind, we developed a set of criteria for what a hanger should be. It should be versatile and have a natural shoulder shape that is supportive of the garment’s structure without stretching, tearing, or creasing it. It should be durable and strong, the clothes shouldn’t slip off, and there should be no sharp edges or splinters that could snag clothes. Plus, it should fit over standard 1” – 1.5” hanger bars, with a twistable hook that allows a hanger to face whichever way you desire.
We also had to determine how much one should pay for a simple hanger. While it’s tempting to rely on the wire hangers from the dry cleaners (or cheap plastic hangers from the dollar store) and be done with it, this can end up costing you in the long run. Kirby Allison explained that even if your wardrobe is purchased from cheap brands or made from inexpensive fabrics like polyester, the basic level of support a quality hanger provides will make them last longer.
With all that in mind, we set to work finding the most qualified testing candidates for an all-purpose pick as well as some garment-specific ones for common needs like skirts, suits, and coats. We drew our picks from the aforementioned guides as well as user reviews on sites like Amazon, The Container Store, and Bed Bath & Beyond. We combed these websites for popular hangers with good user reviews. Ultimately, we narrowed the list down to 25 hangers for various types of clothing that we tested in person over the course of three months.
We used each hanger as intended, evaluating how easy they were to get clothing on and off of and seeing if they’re flexible enough to hold different styles. We also tugged and pulled at their seams, trying to see if they’d break.
For hangers with a bar, we pulled at the bar to see if it would break or snap off of the hanger. Most did come off, but the best ones were easily popped back into place and took much more force to release. This means they are capable of holding much heavier pants and won’t break in half in your closet. Important.
Our pick for everyday clothing
Unlike cheaper plastic models, these wooden hangers come in three styles to fit your various garments’ specific needs, which will help increase the service life of your clothes. You can get basic, barless shirt hangers; shirt hangers with bars, suitable for hanging pants; and blouse hangers with notches (for thin straps) and ribbed plastic to prevent shirts from sliding off. By picking and choosing which proportions fit for your clothing, you can customize the hangers to fit your closet. That way, for example, you aren’t hanging silk shirts on the stay-put plastic ribbing or wide-neck blouses and cardigans without.
The hangers are also wide and thick enough to prevent creases in the shoulders and arms without being so thick they overtake your closet. They’re 17.5 inches wide from end to end; individual shoulder widths will vary (mine is, for example, 16 inches) but generally, shoulders span ranges from about 15-20 inches, and you won’t want more than a 2-3 inch difference between your own shoulders and the hangers. With hangers too wide, your sleeves will have trouble falling naturally; too skinny, and you’ll have unnatural creases before the shoulder. Their half-inch thickness isn’t quite suit-hanger level, but it’s more than enough to keep unsightly creases from developing in the shoulders. This is not the case for thinner, cheaper hangers like the Slimline, from Closet Candy.
They’re also a great deal. At about $1.25 per hanger, our pick is among the cheapest wooden options out there. And they get even cheaper if you buy in bulk (good to have as an option, but not good when you’re forced to buy at least 50 at a time, like you do with the Proman Kaskade). That, combined with their solid construction and durability, makes them a great pick for anybody with a normal closet of low- to mid-priced shirts, cardigans, pants, and dresses. Reviewers on The Container Store’s website agree, too, giving the hangers 4.9 stars over 13 reviews.
If our pick is sold out…
Besides the Container Store, these were the sturdiest, taking quite a bit of effort to break off the pants bar. And also like our pick, they’re an attractive, uniform blond wood, which goes a long way towards making your closet look more organized. They don’t have grippy spots for loose blouses, but they do have notches for tanks. That should cover most of your wardrobe.
The (big) step up
The Hanger Project offers several different profiles for both women’s and men’s clothing in several different widths and contours, customized for everything from delicate blouses to heavy jackets. Each hanger is available in different sizes, so if you are a particularly small or large person, your clothing will never be at risk at damage from a poorly-sized hanger.
On trouser bars and blouse hangers, the Hanger Project uses felt to grip clothing and keep it from sliding off onto your closet floor—a step up from the ribbed plastic used in The Container Store’s wooden hangers.
If your closet consists of mostly mid-priced clothing and synthetics, there’s no need to spend the money on products from the Hanger Project, which could easily stretch into the many hundreds of dollars if you have a lot of clothes. But we do think the expense is justified if you’re already spending money on your clothing.
As with any good skirt hanger, the clamps slide to and fro along the metal railing, allowing you to place them at the edges of your skirt to ensure the waistline stays taut and even. (But not too close to the edges of your skirt — you do want to allow some wiggle room to prevent stretching.) The little notch on the bottom of each hanger allows you to stack them, which saves invaluable room in the closet.
Amazon reviewers like it—with 87 reviews, it has 4.4 stars. A few reviewers complain about how high the bar falls on the hanger; it’s about 1” closer to the bar than a normal hanger. But most, like me, didn’t find this a problem.
Our pick for suits
As a bonus, they’re also constructed by the legendary commercial hanger company Beverly Hangers, although these particular hangers are exclusive to and designed by The Hanger Project with the input and direction of suit makers.
Each one is about $24, but as long as you spent more than $400 on your suit, it’s worth the investment. You’re likely to keep these hangers longer than your suit—if not your whole life—since a basic, sturdy hanger won’t go out of style.
A budget pick for suits
Note that these hangers cost about the same for the regular clothing kind as the suit kind, and the rubber became a hindrance dealing with more delicate, lighter clothing, which snagged on it during testing. That’s why we didn’t prefer the Mawas for regular everyday clothing. For jackets and suits, though, they’re great.
Hangers for winter coats and jackets
Jacket hangers, which are broad enough in the shoulders to support the weight of a heavier winter coat or sport jacket but don’t have a crossbar to hold pants, can be hard to find.
Here’s what I would get: the Mawa Bodyform Nonslip Contoured hangers. They’re cheap at $6, which is odd because usually coat hangers cost 5-10x as much as their regular counterparts. They’re metal, made in Germany, and are a little on the thin side, but that’s okay because it will keep the bulk down when you’re talking about two dozen coats in a closet for an entire family. The thing that makes them better than higher-end and lower-end hangers, which have less and more support proportional to price, is that these hangers have a rubber coating which is entirely able to support a coat without you having to zip or button it up, since the rubber grips the inside of the garment. This kind of grippy feel would be annoying on delicate or everyday materials that could snag. But on winter coats and even jackets and blazers, it’s wonderful; it distributes the load over the entire surface of the hanger so that there’s less worry about creases from the narrow edges of the hanger’s top/neck section. (They’re available without crossbars but I recommend getting them with, since they cost only $1.50 less and the ones with crossbars are more versatile. They’re also available in larger sizes.)
But you can go even cheaper: if you’ve got a closet full of winter coats that you don’t worry too much about or that are very light (down filled), then regular wooden hangers like The Container Store’s set we recommend will do just fine.
If you want to go really high class, you could get the Hanger Project’s jacket hanger, which has all the wonderful qualities of their suit hangers without the crossbar. But since this hanger is $23, you might as well just buy the suit hangers with crossbars for $2 more. I’d personally get the Mawas, but they are really nowhere near as classy/nice/lovely as the Hanger Project’s hangers.
What makes a good hanger?
A hanger enhances your closet and prolongs the life of your clothes—it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Good ones will be versatile in the types of shapes available and clothes they can handle. They’ll also have a supportive shape and a strong design made of sturdy materials.
We looked at a few hangers that did “everything,” designed to hold blouses, button-up shirts, pants, skirts, coats—everything. Attempting to accommodate so many clothing styles meant hangers poorly accommodated at least one—not to mention shaping a hanger in that many directions meant building it from flexible plastic, which is (as explained below) inferior to wood. You want your hangers to be slightly more specialized but to come with options for different styles of clothes so you can customize to your closet.
Kirby Allison, founder of the Hanger Project says a hanger should “mimic your body.” That means it needs to be about as wide as your shoulders and thick enough to let your clothing fall naturally. It also should taper off at the ends, not circle under, which can lead to a sharp dropoff and warping of the garment at the shoulders. With that in mind, we ultimately eliminated most plastic models, which tend to either have rounded edges, not be thick enough to provide adequate shape or support, or both.
Durability is, of course, a necessity, especially considering a hanger has so many fail points: Where the hook meets the body, where the bar (if it has one) is attached, where the separate sections are enjoined in the middle. There’s no reason a hanger shouldn’t last a long time.
The hanger’s hook should be wide enough to fit over most closet bars and be capable of twisting to face either way, so that you can ensure your clothes all face the same way in the closet no matter how you put them on the hanger. Luckily these are both pretty basic features in hangers, and we found very few without.
As for material, we ruled out all crystal-cut hangers, which tend to be cheap, easily breakable, and not terribly supportive. We also eliminated velvet hangers, which are often too thin (leading to sharp creases) and have many user complaints of velvet flecking off onto the clothing. Ultimately, we found wood the best hanger material: As Allison said, “If you’re paying for a hanger, you want a nice one.
Second, if you’re spending a lot of money on really fine clothing, you’re buying fine natural fibers. In order to honor that garment it needs to be hanging on a nice wood.” Sure, “honoring a garment” isn’t really a quantifiable descriptor, but we did find that overall, wooden hangers were shaped in a way that allowed garments to fall naturally. Robert Antón Patterson, owner of Revolver clothing boutiques in San Francisco, elaborated: “Wood is more eco-friendly and will last longer.” Unlike the plastic hangers we tested, it was quite difficult to break most of the wooden hangers we tested.
You should absolutely not settle for the wire hangers that you get from the dry cleaner. These are designed for transporting clothes only and can undesirably stretch garments if left hanging for too long. While they do have tons of other household uses, they bend and break easily, don’t hold up well over time, and are prone to rusting in more humid environments. So wire hangers were dispatched from the running before the race began.
The everyday hangers we didn’t choose
The Whitmor Sure-Grip hanger was the best plastic hanger we tested—it even had a swivel neck, which we found to be a rarity in a plastic hanger—but Amazon and Walmart have had trouble keeping them in stock for reasonable prices.
Bed Bath and Beyond’s Heavyweight White Hangers are sturdy and durable, but without any sort of grip, any wide-necked, sleeveless, or spaghetti-strapped clothing you have will quickly fall off. They’re super cheap at $0.58 a hanger, but they just don’t work.
The plastic All-In-One hangers at The Container Store promise a lot—the ability to hang shirts, blouses, dresses, pants, and tees all on one hanger. Unfortunately, their razor-thin edge will inevitably create unsightly shoulder creases.
The Slim Grips suffer from the same skinny problem as the All-In-Ones, in addition to being much less durable: they easily broke in half with just a slight tug. Plus the material used to create the grippy shoulders stuck together when two hangers were placed side-by-side.
Closet Candy’s Slimline hangers have a unique shape that’s supposed to help clothing stay up without the use of grippy material. In practice, our blouses still slid off. And the edge is too thin.
We tested two padded hangers: the Whitmor Satin Padded Hanger and The Container Store’s Natural Canvas Padded Hanger. Excepting material, both were very similar: generally useless for most closets. Ostensibly, their rounded, soft shapes prevent shoulder lines in delicate garments, but in practice they were difficult to use. For your expensive clothing, we recommend the Hanger Project instead.
Like the Proman Kaskades, these Wooden Wood Hangers are only available in bulk. I don’t think many people need 100 skirt hangers, and even if they did, I’d still steer them away. The clasps aren’t protected and are thus likely to scratch your clothing, and although they are adjustable, they make a terrible, nails-on-chalkboard squeaking sound when moved.
These Homebasix hangers are simple and sturdy, but considering they’re more expensive than our picks and have no grip for wide-necked clothing, they just aren’t the best pick.
The Organize-It-All Chrome hangers are sleek and sturdy, but have nothing to grip shirts and prevent slippage. Without that, you won’t be able to hang loose blouses and shirts.
Honey-Can-Do’s wooden hangers have broken on several of our editors, and Amazon reviewers complain of recent construction changes for the worst. Pass.
Closet Complete Ultra Thin Velvet Hangers are super popular, and the velvet will absolutely prevent your clothing from slipping. However, too many reviewers report velvet flecking off onto clothing, and in the end, they’re too thin and bound to leave sharp creases.
The Honey-Can-Do Crystal Suit Hangers are too expensive, at more than $2 per hanger.
Friction hangers are well-reviewed but pricey ($3/hanger) without being multipurpose enough to justify the price. Since the hanger doesn’t connect all the way around, it’s really only good for pants and light blouses.
Same thing with Organize.com’s Open Bar Hangers, plus they’re even more expensive.
Hangers.com has a lot of hangers in every appreciable variety, but they’re mostly just available in bulk, too pricey for what you get.
These Olka hangers are interesting, but an all-plastic hanger with no grip isn’t the best pick for most closets.
The Great American Hanger Co’s Unfinished Cedar is also dismissed in the WSJ article, and reviewers are equally negative, saying they’re “thin” with “limited use.”
The skirt hangers we didn’t choose
This Whitmor stacking skirt hanger is nice if you want to layer your skirts, but most people would prefer they hang separately.
These Whitman Natural Skirt Hangers don’t have much room for adjustability and don’t use anything to protect the clasps. Pass.
The Container Store’s trouser clamp and skirt hanger set pairs a decent trouser clamp with a incredibly mediocre skirt hanger. If you insist on getting a trouser clamp, this one’s pretty decent, but at $4, hanging your pants over the bar of a normal hanger is a much more cost-effective storage method that’s no more likely to crease your pants.
These Jawbreaker hangers might be clever, but they cost $2 per hanger for seriously inferior quality. As one Amazon reviewer said, “Cheap, low quality garbage.” No good.
Richard’s Homewares skirt hangers look nice, but they’ve got the same clasp we’ve found to make creases and marks on our skirts.
Jacket and suit hangers we didn’t choose
Other suit hangers were either worse than our higher end picks or more expensive than our budget pick.
We like The Container Store’s Superior Natural Wood Hangers with Ribbed Bar. They survived the torture test and cost only $12, but they’re nowhere near as good of a deal as the Mawa suit hangers which are metal, $7.50 and have that rubber coating that grips the entire garment where it makes contact.
We also liked The Container Store’s Superior Natural Wood Hangers for $10, without a crossbar, for jackets. They’re broad enough in the shoulders to provide adequate support but they aren’t better or cheaper than the Mawas.
I tried the popular Honey Can Do Wood Wide Shoulder suit hangers and I could break their pant bars or unseat the single nail used to hold them in place with 2 fingers. It was horrible. That’s why they’re only $13 for two, and yet so much worse than the Mawa. Avoid.
The Richards Homewares Euro Wood Rib Bar Suit Hangers were only slightly stronger. They’re unsized, generally unimpressively constructed, and cost $16 apiece. For that price, you might as well spend another $10 and get the Hanger Project hangers, which will last forever, or spend $4 less for our budget pick.
We also looked at the Real Suit Hanger with Wooden Pants Bar from Bed Bath and Beyond, which was extremely sturdy for a $13 dollar hanger. This one might have been our value pick, but the jagged pant hanger left dots and creases on our pants after a week of testing. Avoid this one.
Originally published: February 17, 2014