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How to Organize Seasonal Clothes

Nordic sweaters should be put away in the summer.
Nordic sweaters should be put away in the summer.
©iStockphoto.com/Lya Cattel

If your dresser drawers simply will not close, you find a bikini in with your heavy winter sweaters, or it takes you a half an hour to find what you want to wear for the day, it might be time to take control of your clothing situation. Take a realistic look at your clothing system and make some changes.

For example, sorting your clothing by seasons is a common way to organize your wardrobe. There is no good reason why your heaviest winter sweater should take up residence next to a summer tank in the prime real estate of your closet.

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To make an organizational system work for you, you must personalize it for your own use. When organizing anything, use the "less is more" concept. If you want to make use of what you own, it's often better to have fewer items in your closet or dresser. The added space will help you be able to see what you own -- and use it [source: Ewer]. In order to have that space, you will probably need to rotate clothing out based on the season or occasion. But this might help to keep you from becoming bored with the pieces that you own. Each time you rotate your clothing, you might even feel like you went shopping.

Using a rotational system also allows you to identify classic pieces of clothing that you will want to preserve with care. Additionally, it may encourage you to shed clothing that may have gone out of style since its last wearing [source: HGTV]. Putting a clothing rotation date on your calendar each season will ensure that you make time to organize and care for your belongings.

Now it's time to turn your closet inside out and your dresser upside down. Keep reading to learn about ways to sort through seasonal clothing.

 

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True organization cannot be achieved until the clothes have been sorted. This may be the most tedious part of the process, complete with agonizing over what clothes to keep, what to donate and what to trash.

Begin by designating space in the room for the organizing process. If you are in your own bedroom, this may mean moving a few pieces of furniture or putting various objects away. If you're working in a child's room, you may need to clear a space free of toys and books. It might even help to move the clothes to another room for sorting in case the process takes longer than a day.

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Start with shoes, as they can usually be sorted more quickly, providing you with a boost of organizing confidence and energy. Make four piles of shoes -- one for each season -- on the floor of the room. Sort your shoes into these piles, taking care to keep pairs together. If shoes have laces, consider tying them together to be sure pairs do not get separated. Once you've completed this, sort each pile into categories, such as athletic shoes, special occasion shoes, donation shoes, etc. Place off-season shoes aside for storage later. Return current season shoes to your closet, putting the most frequently used pairs in the most accessible location. Place special occasion shoes in the back of the closet or on shelves.

Continue the sorting process with clothing. Empty your closet and dresser and create seasonal piles as you did with your shoes. Then sort each of your seasonal piles into the following categories: everyday clothing, special occasion clothing, donation clothing and trash. Return current season clothing to your closet and/or dresser. Place off-season clothing aside for storage. Handle each piece of clothing to determine whether it needs extra attention. Set aside any clothes that need alterations, mending or a simple fitting test.

Now that your wardrobe is in piles all over your room, it's time to insert some order into the chaos. Turn the page to make some decisions about what to keep and what to banish from your closet and dresser.

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Deciding which clothes to keep, which to donate and which to toss can be an emotional process. What should you do with that t-shirt from middle school gym class? What about that sweatshirt from your senior year of high school with everyone's name on it? It can be tough to part with sentimental clothing. If you need to keep a few things from your past, by all means, do so. But if the items in this pile number more than five, consider tossing a few things to get the number down. Purging can also be a liberating process -- getting rid of items from your past can also make it easier to look forward to your future.

One way to sort is to keep only those clothes that you've worn in the past 12-18 months. If items have not been worn during this time, donate or trash them, because it isn't likely that you'll wear them again. Try on any pieces that may not fit, and take an honest look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like the way the clothes fit? If you do and you believe you will wear them again soon, then keep them. If they fit poorly or are out of style but in good condition, donate them so someone else can get some use out of them.

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Don't forget to choose an organizational strategy for the clothes you decide to keep. Consider purchasing or making drawer dividers for your underwear and sock drawer. Divide the drawer into sections based on your needs. Possible sections include a sock section, pajama section and underwear section. Using dividers can keep your drawers neater by designating space for each type of clothing [source: Good Housekeeping]. Keep clothing of the same type together, too. Put all your cotton knit tops in one drawer, bulky sweaters in another and your jeans and pants in another. You can even designate a drawer -- or part of one -- for work out clothing if you have enough of it.

There are multiple possibilities for organizing your closet with the clothes you decide to keep. You can hang clothing based on length or color. You could coordinate matching pieces and hang outfits together, or plan your closet based on your work week and your weekend. Choose a method that works well for your lifestyle.

Once your clothes are organized, you'll need a place to put the seasonal pieces you aren't using currently. Read on to learn a simple, streamlined process for storing your seasonal clothes.

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The best way to store off-season clothing is in large plastic bins. Use a different color for each season, but still be sure to label each bin its contents. Careful labeling allows you to find your clothing quickly. For example, all your winter sweaters should go in a bin color-coded for winter. Label and organize all your clothing this way.

Using bins also protects your clothing from pests. Mice and bugs are not likely to chew through plastic bins, especially since there is no food inside. And as long as the lids are properly secured, moths should also be deterred [source: Martha Stewart Living]. To keep your clothing smelling fresh, even after months in storage, consider adding a dryer sheet or a sachet of potpourri to each bin.

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Decide where to store all the bins based on your availability of storage space. Some families store their off-season clothing in the attic or basement. Be sure the area you choose is safe from water damage. Store your items off the floor of your basement -- even on simple raised platforms -- to prevent mold and other problems. A bit of air circulation will help prevent mold, too. If you are concerned about this, you can drill a few tiny holes in your bins to encourage air circulation [source: HGTV].

If you have several children, store off-season clothing in a more accessible location. Consider building shelves in a laundry or utility room, or even in your garage. Because children grow constantly, it is helpful to have easy access to various sizes and seasons of clothing in the event of a growth spurt.

With your clothing stored and organized, you just may wear a wider variety of what you own. Perhaps your room, or your child's room, will look cleaner -- or even larger -- than it did before. No matter what, you will have a simple system for keeping your clothing organized and a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.

To learn more about organizing your home, check out the links on the next page.

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Related HowStuffWorks Links

Sources

  • Ewer, Cynthia. "Changing Seasons: Clothes Closet Declutter." OrganizedHome.com. (Accessed 1/19/10).http://organizedhome.com/cut-clutter/changing-seasons-clothes-closet-declutter
  • Frieswick, Kris. "The purge: The emotional trauma of cleaning out the closet." June 28 - July 5, 2001 (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/out_there/documents/01690710.htm
  • Good Housekeeping. "52 Ways to Get Organized." (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/organizing/how-to-get-organized?click=main_sr
  • Goodwill Industries. "Taxes and Your Donation." Accessed 1/25/2010)http://www.goodwill.org/get-involved/donate/taxes-and-your-donation/
  • HGTV. "How to Switch out Seasonal Clothing." (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.hgtv.com/organizing/how-to-switch-out-seasonal-clothing/index.html
  • Martha Stewart Living. "The Basics of Mothproofing." April 2005. (Accessed 1/25/2010)http://www.marthastewart.com/article/the-basics-of-mothproofing
  • Money Blue Book. "How to Value Your Clothing Donations and Get a Tax Deduction." March 14, 2008 (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.moneybluebook.com/how-to-value-your-clothing-donations-and-get-a-tax-deduction/
  • The Glass Slipper Project. "How You Can Help." (Accessed 1/19/10).http://www.glassslipperproject.org/you.htm (Accessed 1/19/10)
  • "Understanding the Pareto Principle." Better Explained. March 8, 2007 (Accessed 1/19/10)|http://betterexplained.com/articles/understanding-the-pareto-principle-the-8020-rule/

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