Reader Sara sent me this request via e-mail:
You have mentioned before that you have a lot of clothing and some is in storage. I also have a lot of clothing and plenty of storage space–but instead of put away, all my clothes are in piles and baskets around the house. I haven’t quite figured out what to store! Like you, I love layering and I love my clothes. But as is, with all of them out, a bunch don’t get worn because they are at the bottom of over crowded drawers, backs of over crowded closets, or in laundry baskets. I am hoping some sort of seasonal rotation could cure this problem. If you have a system for cycling and storing your wardrobe, do share!
Honestly, I don’t think it’s organized wardrobe cycling helps me keep everything in rotation. My constantly-changing outfit list does that, since it forces me to do a thorough inventory every couple of months. I believe that anyone with a vast wardrobe should make a point of becoming intimately familiar with its contents. Otherwise, the vastness is wasted, good clothes go unworn, and multiples may get purchased unintentionally.
Even if you aren’t interested in formulating outfits in advance, find a reason to take inventory. Cook up a list of underutilized items and make a project of building outfits around them, or make yourself reorganize how you store your goodies. Anything that helps you memorize what you own will help you utilize what you own.
All that said, I DO have a system for storing and reviving my seasonal clothes. It’s based on my own, slightly old-fashioned internal rules about what is seasonally appropriate, so it certainly won’t work for everyone! But in case you’re curious, as Sara was, here’s what I do*:
Cycle 1: At the beginning of each season – when things are still transitioning – I’ll cycle out season-specific fabrics. So, for instance, at the beginning of September I’ll put away linen, light cotton voile, and maybe some lightweight silks. At this point, I tend to keep most items from the exiting season in play.
Cycle 2: Once the weather really begins to change, I’ll store anything else that makes me think of the previous season. So, for fall, this means lightweight skirts, non-layering tees, and some mid-weight dresses. At this point, I also bring out of storage items that fit the coming season.
So, essentially, the first step is to remove anything seasonally INappropriate, the second step is to liberate from storage items specific to the emerging season. Here’s how I time the swap-outs:
- Fall: Cycle 1 in early September, Cycle 2 in mid-October
- Winter: Cycle 1 in early November, Cycle 2 in early December
- Spring: Cycle 1 in mid-April, Cycle 2 in early May (spring is short around here!)
- Summer: Cycle 1 in mid- May, Cycle 2 in early June
As you can see, the only times my wardrobe ISN’T in transition are the dead of summer and the dead of winter. Whenever I cycle clothing in or out, I evaluate its relevance to my style. If it’s an item that has caused me fitting woes in the past, I’ll try it on, too. As many style experts have said before me, seasonal changes are a great excuse to overhaul and cull, and I definitely do both.
*Since late 2014, I have done away with off-season storage and culled to fit everything in my everyday closets. But this is the system I used for many years before that!
Image courtesy Mark Grapengater.