It’s the biannual event we all dread –or at least those of us who have a wardrobe big enough (or closet small enough) where we need to swap out our seasonal clothes.
The first step usually begins about a week before you know you have to do it, and ends like three weeks after you were supposed to. I am not overstating how horrible of a time this is –lifting heavy boxes of who-knows-what is inside, emptying it all out onto the floor as your body goes into a state of shock looking at the mess you’ve made entirely out of clean clothes.
But, “the switch” as we call it, is inevitable. So if you’re going to tackle this project within the next few weeks as we kiss the summery weather goodbye, you’re going to need a little help doing it. After recently going through this terrible full day of rearranging and agonizing over every garment, I’ve got some good insight to share for the rest of you.
Step 1: Make sure you’re really ready.
This sucks, so don’t go into it half-assed. You need a decent amount of time on your hands and few distractions, so I recommend a chilly Sunday with some rain in the forecast and no events going on to feel FOMO over. Don’t shower, don’t mess around –just dive right in with a pot of coffee brewing and some tunes blasting to get you into the zone. It is also so important to start this first thing in the morning, or whenever you feel you have the most energy to power through.
Step 2: Participate in the purge of the current clothes in the closet
Before you start going through the clothes that will soon enter your closet, take a close look at what’s in there now. What haven’t you worn this season? What is a little ratty and worth tossing out? Start to make piles of what needs to go for good, and what can be donated. You’ll feel so much better getting rid of this stuff now instead of being lazy, storing it and waiting another 6 months to decide if it should stay or go.
The common rule: If you haven’t worn something in a year (and even that’s a little long), and you don’t think you would buy it brand new off the rack today, it’s gone.
Though it’s not my favorite thing to do, I bag up all of the clothes in decent shape and drop them off at the Salvation Army or a clothing drop-off box at a local church or nonprofit.
Step 2A: Participate in the purge of the new clothes going in
Same principle applies as you’re sorting through those messy bins and piles of fall/winter clothes. If you didn’t follow step 2 last season, you’re going to need to do it now. So, DO NOT put anything back in the closet that you know you’re not going to wear this year. You’re wasting closet space and doing too much wishful thinking that the speckled pink fuzzy sweater you bought for $9.99 at Urban Outfitters in college is going to be cool again. Oh shit, is that just me?
Step 3: O-r-g-a-n-i-z-e
You might be on your third cup of coffee by now, but it’s time to start strategizing where things are going to go now that you’ve got your roster of keepers picked out. One of my best tips is to organize the clothes by type: sweaters, socks/stockings, jeans, etc. and set up a plan for where you want to store each group for the season. Obviously, try to keep all of the same items in the same place –AKA your sweaters should go in one particular drawer or section, don’t randomly disperse them throughout the closet.
Step 4: Let’s talk about hangers (in no particular order)
Even if you’re not borderline OCD or as fashion-obsessed as me, hangers are an integral part of a happy, organized closet. My best tips when it comes to hangers are as follows:
- Stick with one color hanger. Back in the day it was cool to have red, blue and whatever color hangers matched your childhood bedroom, but now it’s not. Black or white plastic hangers, or if you’re fancy and prefer wood or velvet, are the perfect, consistent solution to keep everything looking neat when you open up the door. No need to confuse yourself with 10 different types in there, since that can cause disorganization, garments falling, different heights and so on.
- Throw out the ones from the dry cleaners. There is literally no need for wire hangers aside from transporting garments to and from service. They do not support the clothes enough to let them hang on that for an entire season, so toss ’em.
- Invest in different kinds for different garments –AKA a pants/skirt hanger. This ensures that your garments are being treated properly while they sit in the closet, so rather than drape a pair of corduroys over a regular shirt hanger, spend the extra cash to get pants hangers. It’ll cut back on ironing time, too.
And, the most important hanger tip…
- MAKE SURE ALL OF THE CLOTHES ARE HANGING IN THE SAME DIRECTION.
I’m a real stickler on this one. It might take a little extra time, especially when you’re loading a whole new wardrobe in and you just want it over with, but try your best to keep all of the garments going in the same direction. So, when you’re trying to pick out an outfit for the day, you can clearly see your inventory. Everything in my closet points to the left (I’m a lefty, but in traditional retail it’s meant to be hung for a right-handed person), and as always, hangers are meant to be hung so they look like a question mark, with the question mark on the OUTSIDE of the pole. Thanks, Aeropostale for teaching me that at my first real job.
Step 5: Put it all away, and clean your room while you’re at it
Are you exhausted yet? 100 percent. But once you’ve made your game plan of where the new stuff will go, it’s time to load it all into the closet and prepare your storage boxes with all of the seasonal stuff who’s time has passed for the year. Take your time doing this and take the hanger advice from above. You’ll have mega peace of mind knowing where everything’s going while placing it in your closet with care and #respect for the clothing. Once everything is in there, you can go down to your basement or up to your attic to put away the rest.
After such a long day of organizing and purging, your room could probably use a little TLC to get itself back in order, too. I always use this opportunity to get any dust bunnies out from hiding in my closet, vacuum the floors in there and restore it to its seasonal best, since we all know we just aren’t deep cleaning closets all year long.
And, my last bit of advice is to love your closet for what it is. Being organized at home is a huge part of feeling accomplished and organized in life all-around. So, if you have a spare second, hang something up the proper way instead of starting a pile on the floor of things you didn’t want to wear to work today. Don’t let things spiral out of control –just deal with the laundry, the new shopping bags of goodies, the empty shoe boxes and overall indecisiveness of what to wear when it happens. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re scrambling to clean the house for a cocktail party or whatever you need to feel neat and put together for.
Best of luck,
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