By Caroline Bujold
Do you switch your clothes from summer to winter or are you more likely to keep everything in your closet regardless of the temperature outside?
I use to keep all of it in my drawers and closet, but I figured quickly while living in my first smallish apartment, that I would have to rethink the whole thing with the limited storage space I had (Montreal-CAN old apartments have very limited built-in storage).
I started by storing my bulky winter jackets at the back of my one closet and things evolved from there.
Now we have a system and put it to use twice a year.
Why we do it
1. Forces us to declutter
Changing our clothes from summer to winter and back again helps us, twice a year, “weed through“ our entire wardrobe. I’m always surprised at how many items we are able to part with.
2. Helps our clothes last longer and saves us money
Because there are some items we only wear in the winter or the summer, they don’t get used as much. We then tend to keep them longer and, in return, reduce our spending on clothes.
3. We don’t get fed up wearing the same clothes all year long
Besides staples or favourites that we wear all year long, switching our clothes lets us forget about pieces of clothing for months at a time. When we bring them back out, it’s always a nice change and we’re not so bored with our clothes.
4. Lets us have more of what we need
I’m definitely not going to wear shorts in the winter, so storing them out of sight lets me have more space for warm sweaters, for example.
How we do it
If you’ve never done a clothing switch, here are the principles we follow:
1. We start by taking out anything that is not in season
There are pieces of clothing we wear all year long; others that are clearly marked for a specific season, either because of their fabric, their colour or their style. For example: I wear my red blazer in the winter, but my soft pink one in the summer even though neither is warmer than the other. The colours and the fabric make them fit better in one season or the other.
Some items, like shorts, flowy dresses and flip-flops are easy to add to the summer pile; others are less obvious and they give us a chance to examine our whole wardrobe.
Make piles: summer, winter, all year long. Keep shuffling until you’re satisfied with the results.
Don’t forget to do the same with your footwear, outerwear and accessories like purses.
2. We declutter before we store
Before we put everything away, we consider our out of season clothes and ask ourselves:
- Is the item in good condition?
- Does it fit me well?
- Do I still like it?
- Do I wear it on a regular basis?
If the answer is no, we do one of three things: 1 – Bring the item to the tailor for repairs or alterations if necessary, 2 – Add the item to the donation pile if it’s in good condition, 3 – Trash the item if necessary (or if you’re my husband David, put the item in the “garage crap clothes“ pile).
3. Everything we want to keep we hang backwards
We’ve been using this technique for a few years now and it works wonders. All our clothes get hung backwards in the closet; as we wear each item, we put them back in the regular hanging position. This gives us a quick visual of what we wear. At the next clothes swap, it makes it easier to make decisions.
4. Label if you must
Sometimes labelling is more about setting limits than about what is in the box or bin. Basically, if the drawer you assigned for t-shirts is overflowing, it’s time to reduce. Labelling (or assigning a specific amount of space) helps contain your possessions. Plus it makes it easier to find everything.
5. Clean, store and donate
If you have donations, put them by the door or in your car, so they don’t linger too long in your home to give you a chance to change your mind.
Then, clean all your out of season clothes and store them properly. Use plastic bins, duffle bags, compression bags, the closet in the guest room, etc. Vacuum or clean your containers before using, this will help protect against potential bugs.
- We put our shoes in plastic bins at the top of my side of the closet. Since I’m short, I can’t reach, so its kind of wasted space anyway; might as well use it for storage.
- Our clothes go under our bed in plastic bins. We each have one.
- Outerwear goes in duffel bags on a shelf in the basement.
6. Stop before you buy
Finally, when shopping, consider these rules in order to curb any compulsive buys:
- Know what you’re paying for – Investing in good quality clothing is a good idea as long as you invest in the classics and the basics.
- Only buy what you love, not what’s on sale
- Only buy an item if it complements something else you already have – I don’t know how many times I got rid of a nice piece of clothing because I couldn’t match it with anything.
- Buy what you need first – Invest in the classics (see point a)
- Complement with in season and “trendier/cheaper“ items – Sometimes finding a cheaper version of a trendy item is best, since most likely you won’t want to wear it next season.
Clothes you don’t want to keep might be of interest to a friend. When I think a shirt might fit one of my friends I make sure I offer it to them first. I inherited two great cardigans this fall thanks to a friend. My favourite pair of jeans used to belong to another friend. Organizing a clothes-trading night with friends might be something else to do.
If you’ve put a specific item in the summer pile and later on you figure out you could really use it in your yearlong category, it’s OK to go get it. The reverse is also true; don’t hesitate to store or donate an item you realize you won’t wear in the winter.
If this feels overwhelming, don’t fret. Divide the entire process into smaller tasks. I usually do this over the course of a couple days or a three-day weekend. This way you can attend to other life businesses, like you know, having fun.
Hope this helps.
Closet space is prime real estate; so why waste it on clothes that are not season appropriate? Happy swapping.