Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stump the Organizer! What Do I Do With These Off-Season Clothes?

“I thought I was really being organized when I took my summer clothes out of the closet and my drawer but I don’t think I thought everything through. Now they are in a pile on the floor. What do you suggest?”

Lu this is a great question. It sounds like this may be the first time you have stored off-season clothes, so we’ll go through the basics. By the way, I welcome everyone’s questions for Stump the Organizer Saturday (SOS). Let me know the name of your favorite charity with your submission. At the end of the year I will draw for a charity from your entries and make a donation – I’ll post the winning charity. Lu has entered the National Breast Cancer Foundation (www.nationalbreastcancer.org).

There are several good reasons to store your off-season clothes. Getting to the clothes you need is easier and faster if off-season clothes are out of the way. The extra space in your closet increases air circulation and prevents the wrinkling that results from clothes being pressed together. Your off-season clothes may actually last longer if they are protected from dust, bugs and moisture. Storing clothes is simple with a strategy and the right tools.

First decide where you want to store your clothes. The extreme temperatures and humidity of an unfinished attic and basement can be hard on clothing. A cool, dark, dry room place is ideal. If you are blessed with ample closet space consider dedicating an area to off-season storage. A spare closet is the next logical choice but it’s not always available. Create your own spare closet by setting up a wardrobe in an extra room or a finished basement. Wardrobes are available in a wide range of prices and styles. The most inexpensive wardrobes are garment racks that have a cloth cover. The most expensive wardrobes are fine furniture that contain drawers and shelves in addition to a garment bar.

Further protect your clothes with containers and bug repellent. Good clothes need to be stored in good containers. Fabric boxes and garment bags allow air to circulate and are the containers of choice for natural fibers, leather, suede and fur. Air circulation prevents trapped moisture that can lead to mildew.

Thankfully, bug repellent can be much more pleasant than poisonous naphthalene. Solid cedar blocks and hangers are a popular effective alternative. Give the cedar a quick swipe with some sandpaper every year to refresh it. Rosemary, thyme, mint, and cloves are among several herbs that are natural bug repellents. Place a handful of herbs in a cloth bag to create a sachet, and replace the herbs annually to insure potency. These natural bug repellents smell lovely, and you don’t have to worry about possible carcinogens.

Clean clothes are less likely to attract bugs than dirty ones. Before you store your clothes make sure the pockets are empty and they are freshly cleaned. Dirt and perspiration can irreversibly stain clothes if they are allowed to sit for a period of time. It is also worth mentioning that you only want to store items that you love and look good on you. This is a great time to bid so long to frumpy, uncomfortable clothes. Somehow the end of the season makes it easier to let go of the clothes that don’t serve us well.

Keep like items together – casual dresses with casual dresses, for instance. Packing is easier when like items are together. Hanging clothes in garment bags will prevent wrinkles, but may stretch knits out of shape. Neatly fold knits and loosely pack them in boxes. Use labels to identify the contents of the bags and boxes so you can easily find what you need.

Odds are if you are packing off-season clothes you are simultaneously unpacking stored clothes. Swapping everything in one session may feel overwhelming so consider swapping clothes in two or three sessions that are several weeks apart. Scheduling insures that the packing and unpacking gets done and provides you with a timeline for getting things mended, laundered and dry-cleaned. Since weather changes gradually, you will always have the most comfortable clothes handy.

Packing off-season clothes is an organizing task that yields great benefits. Taking the time to weed out unwanted clothes and packing clothes that are wrong for the weather generates space in your closet and drawers. Your clothes will look better longer because of the care in cleaning and storing them. And you will look like the sharp, organized person that you are.
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