The Great Clothes Swap-Out

Since I don’t have a closet the size of a small guestroom (I’m guessing most of us don’t), about twice a year I set aside time for closet organizing and swap out my past season’s wardrobe for the present season’s wardrobe.  When your closet isn’t big enough to hold your entire wardrobe for the year – there is no getting around this.

In the spring, my timing for this chore is influenced by the age-old annual debate: is it ok to wear white before Memorial Day?

In pre-central air days, it was just more practical to wear white during the hot, humid summer months.  Historically, an entire wardrobe only included a few outfits for either winter or summer, so it was easy to distinguish one from the other with summer obviously including whites in lightweight fabrics.

In modern times, a lot less attention is paid to this “rule”– but invariably it rises to the surface of my consciousness every spring and fall when it’s time to swap my wardrobe.

So around Memorial Day and Columbus Day weekend I set aside time for this dreaded task. 

For many years, I emptied out my dresser drawers and closet and folded everything.  Then I would pack an entire season’s worth of clothes into multiple, random-sized cardboard boxes and prepare them to be stored in the attic by taping them up.

Complying with my husband’s one rule about the attic – I would then clearly label each box with its contents by using a Sharpie to cross out the previous season’s description and update it.

When I realized that this process took me most of the day – I decided there must be a better way. Over the years, I have added some systems to streamline the whole process.

Here is what I do now:

  • I only move the clothes that reside in my dresser drawers and on shelves in my closet into uniformly sized plastic tubs.
  • Each tub is labeled “Diana’s off-season clothes,” so I no longer have to update the labels.
  • I do the same thing with shoes.  I have a tub for my off-season shoes that I also store in the attic.  If they are worn out, I toss them at the end of the season.
  • I don’t fold the clothes that hang in my closet and place them into boxes anymore. Instead, I take them right up to the attic on hangers where I have wardrobes set up for the off-season.

In addition, I am really strict with myself about discarding clothes that I don’t wear.  I carefully evaluate each piece of clothing as I remove it from my drawers or closet, and if I haven’t worn it all season, it goes in the donation pile.  No hesitation.

These few simple changes helped me:

  1. Save time.  I cut the wardrobe-swapping time in half.
  2. Keep everything well ordered. The plastic tubs that I use now are uniform in size, which makes them easier to handle, move, and store.
  3. Lighten the load.  I no longer move items in and out of storage, over multiple seasons, just to not wear them.  It feels wonderful to donate articles of clothing to others who can use what I no longer wear.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that just about the time I get tired of one season’s wardrobe – it’s time to swap in the new season’s clothes. And best of all, for a few weeks after each swap, I feel like I just went shopping!

TA DA Tip of the Month

It’s almost Memorial Day – have you swapped your fall and winter clothes for your spring and summer wardrobe yet? Next time you do, try these three simple practices:

  • Buy enough hangers for all of your clothes so you can easily move an entire season’s worth to hanging wardrobes you set up in the attic, or to a different closet somewhere else in your home. If you don’t have extra hanging space in your home, check with local dry cleaners. Some let you store with them for free.
  • Figure out how many tubs you need to use to store off-season clothes and make sure they are uniform in size and can be easily carried. Label them once.
  • Evaluate your accessories and if you only use a subset of your belts, scarves, pocketbooks, and shoes each season, store the rest of them somewhere else.

Simplifying this semi-annual routine can save you time and help keep your closet, shelves, and dresser well ordered. Ta Da!

2 comments to The Great Clothes Swap-Out

  • Sheryl DeTombeur

    Another idea is to hang all your hangers in the same direction once you wear an outfit turn the hanger opposite direction, that way when you clean out your closet the following season you will see what you have not worn and can decide easier if you want to toss it.

    For shirts in your dresser turn them inside out once you have worn it. The shirts that are right side out are ones you haven’t worn, again you can decide if you want to get rid of them, this is a much easier way to keep track.

  • Great suggestions Sheryl- thank you!

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