As a seasoned small apartment dweller, I’ve learned to make the most of limited closet and drawer space by rotating my clothes in and out of tucked away storage when out of season. This bi-annual seasonal rotation, as it turns out, has way more perks beyond maximizing space and is something I’ll forever do now, regardless of space limitations.
It’s a ritual I’ve come to look forward to over the past several years, and I thought it was high time I finally chronicle it here for reference. If you aren’t doing this already, I encourage you to give it a try: once you start, you’ll never go back to cramming everything you own in the closet all at once again!
Step One: Process your clothes
Go through every single clothing item in your closet and in your drawers and make sure each item is washed and clean — this is super important! The dead skin cells we shed along with deodorant, sweat, etc. that pass onto the clothes we wear contribute to the degradation of fabrics, especially when they will go sit in storage for several months. So before doing so, make sure your clothes are freshly washed or dry cleaned.
You’ll also appreciate having done this when you pull them back out of retirement the following year: everything will be fresh, at its best, and ready to wear!
Take this opportunity to also assess for any repairs that need to be made (and make them!) or other maintenance like brushing your coats and blazers, lint rolling as needed, and shaving any pills off your knits.
Step Two: Process your shoes and accessories
Do the same for your shoes and bags: make sure to clean off outsides and undersides of shoes, and condition leather. I also suggest filling shoes, hats, and bags (you can use bubble wrap, crumpled paper, etc.) to ensure these items keep their proper shape in storage. Make sure you check all your handbag pockets so something important like a credit card or lip gloss isn’t getting stowed away!
p.s. check out this post for a refresher on how to take the best care of your shoes and bags
Step Three: Cull the herd
Now that you’ve gone through everything, set aside any clothing or accessories to donate or sell. I love to sell items in good condition that no longer fit me well or bring me joy in order to ensure it lands in someone else’s hands (rather than a landfill) while also recouping some funds to put towards any needed items. I would recommend you save selling for next season in a separate pile if possible in order to maximize the resale potential by selling in its wearable season!
Places to resell: Poshmark, Ebay, DePop, The Real Real, Vestaire Collective, local brick-and-mortar consignments stores
Favorite local places to donate: Boomerangs, Savers, Goodwill, Salvation Army
Step Four: Fold and Store
Fold all your garments and store in bins. The type of bin you need will depend on where you are storing things. If storing under your bed or elsewhere in your home where it is safe from critters and is temperature controlled, choose a breathable storage box like these. If in a basement, garage, or anywhere humidity, dampness, or critters might come into place, choose plastic bins like these with secure lids.
Layer your heaviest garments on the bottom (coats, heavier knits, etc) and throw in tons of lavender satchels to keep everything smelling fresh while naturally keeping away moths!
Tip: keep a few transitional pieces for odd-weather days on hand.
For spring and summer, for example, keep one mid-weight coat and one or two sweaters accessible for the odd cool day.
Shopping without spending a penny
Take out garments from storage, which should be clean, fresh, and ready to wear if you did the above steps correctly! Every single time I do this, its feels like you’ve gone on a massive shopping spree: its so exciting to pull out your past season favorites and to rediscover things that you’ve totally forgotten about!
Tender love and care
Go ahead and hang up everything that excites you: if you edited correctly when placing everything into storage, this should be almost everything! I like to go ahead and steam/iron things as I unload so they are looking their best and ready to slip off the hanger and wear. Taking the time to do this also helps me truly cherish and appreciate each item I have all the more by investing more time in its care to keep it looking in its prime! This always sends my mind swirling in new ways to combine and play with what I already own.
Organize your closet
The better you treat your possessions, the more you appreciate them (rather than looking for your next fix by purchasing more for thrill rather than need). I like to finger space my hangers (this means keeping each hanger two finger widths apart from the next — an old retail trick that leaves negative space between clothing to let you better see every item on your closet rod while also making everything look more polished aesthetically).
Another tip: separate out patterns and colors rather than grouping similar items together. Alternating a patterned shirt next to a white shirt next to a black shirt helps me quickly take in what I own since they are in sharp contrast to each other. I’ve found that grouping together like items makes my eyes skip over particular pieces or patterns, and the point is to minimize overlooking gems that you already own!
Take stock of any needs
Whether its more work-appropriate blouses, a new trend you want to try, or everyday staples like solid knit basics, underwear, or pajamas, make note of any gaps in your sartorial needs as you refill your closet and drawers. I find making a physical list helps me shop more intentionally to find pieces I not only absolutely love but also need in the coming months. This is also helpful to consult when perusing big sales you want to take advantage of! This helps me not purchase things I don’t need in order to invest more in the things I do.
If you’ve made it this far, bravo! This may seem like a lot of work, but I promise you it is well worth it. Not only that, but I look forward to it each season! I do this twice a year: once for spring/summer then again for fall/winter. Each time I pour myself a fun cocktail, put on a favorite show or movie, and make a day of it! I hope this is helpful for some of you and that you enjoy the process.