Years ago, a change of seasons was a fraught time for me. Excited as I was about the warmer or cooler weather ahead, I dreaded the looming Big Closet Switch.
It was a messy, days-long chore. It always looked worse before it got better: clothes spread all over the room; keep/donate/does-it-still-fit piles everywhere; last-season’s clothes needing to be washed before being binned; next-season’s clothes needing to be ironed (nooooo!) after getting crumpled in bins.
The problem is, I really love the change of seasons. It’s fun when you first pull on a cozy sweater in the fall or head out the door in only a light jacket in the spring. But the way I had organized my closet was turning the change of seasons from a fun celebration into a dreaded chore.
How did I free myself? I discovered the Year-Round Closet.
Have you ever put away your seasonal clothes only to have the weather shift unexpectedly—snow in April or 80 degrees in October—and found yourself digging around in the off-season bins for something to wear? A year-round closet solves this problem!
Maybe you’ve noticed that we’re no longer in the rigid era of "no white after Labor Day" clothing rules. Having access to all of your clothes all the time lets you expand the way you wear your clothes (mixing fabrics, layering) and get more wear out of them.
You’re probably wondering just how big my closet is. Sure, having all your clothes out all the time is easy if you have a large, walk-in dressing room. But that’s not what I have. In fact, my closet is a small, old-house closet built under the eaves with just 34 inches of hanging space, six 20-inch shelves, and a couple of odd nooks.
A small closet meant that the first step in reorganizing was to pare down. The 80/20 rule—you use 20% of what you have 80% of the time—definitely applies to clothes. I had way too much that I wasn’t wearing.
Go through your clothes and weed out the ones you don’t wear (out of style, never fit right, wrong color, doesn’t go with anything) and the ones you shouldn’t wear (holes, stains, too small, stretched out). They’re clogging your closet—let them go! Give them new life by donating or recycling them.
(NOTE: To recycle old clothes, towels, and linens, bring them to any H&M store or search “textile recycling” to find a drop-off center near you.)
“But they’re still good. Can’t I sell them and make some money?” you ask. Beware! Trying to sell things is often a trap that leads to continued clutter. Keep your eye on the prize of having an easy, organized closet. You have my permission to sell some items ONLY IF
The key to successfully slimming down your wardrobe is to make it a habit to routinely set aside clothes you’re no longer wearing. Keep a donation bag in your closet and, when it’s full, bring it to your local donation center.
The other secret to the year-round closet, especially if you have a small space, is to find other places to stash distinct parts of your wardrobe. For instance, I keep pajamas in a drawer under my bed. No reason for these space hogs to be in my closet.
You can do the same with other types of clothing that don’t mix with your everyday wardrobe, such as formal wear, workout gear, swimwear, and outerwear. Use the coat closet, a spare room closet, underbed storage, or a bin at the top of your closet.
If you’re really tight on space, go ahead and put extremely off-season items—e.g. shorts and sundresses or ultra-warm sweaters and mittens—in a couple of bins in a storage area of your home. This will take away the outliers and give you a mostly-year-round wardrobe.
Are you ready to take on the Year-Round Closet challenge? If so, please share your progress with pictures or comments!