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.
Ever had this maddening experience?
You step outside and see your breath for the first time in the season. Yay, it’s sweater season! You run up to your closet and reach for that favorite sweater that’s been tucked away since spring. Eager to feel the comforting hug of snuggly wool (or maybe luxurious cashmere) on your arms, you pull the sweater over your head.
But, wait, what’s that? Is that a little piece of lint? No! It’s a hole! And there’s another! Nooooo!!! Moths have feasted on -- and ruined -- your favorite sweater.
Many of you may know Gretchen Rubin who gave a “bonus keynote” address at the conference. She has some interesting ideas about personality types, but my favorite takeaway from her talk was about how we can declutter our clothes.
If you have trouble deciding whether or not to keep an article of clothing, see if it passes the “Ex-Factor” test. Imagine you are wearing that faded, tattered sweatshirt and you run into your ex. Would you be happy to be wearing that?
Gretchen’s other insight about paring down clothes is that she noticed that people actually feel they have more to wear after getting rid of excess clothes. It sounds counterintuitive, but I experience this with my clients all the time. Once you weed out the excess, you feel more satisfied with what you have and experience a feeling of increased abundance.
Check out the first in my 4-part Spring Cleaning series with NBC10's Emily Volz.
In the first video, I talk about switching your coat closet from fall/winter to spring/summer.
Here in New England, many of us have older homes with small coat closets or mudrooms. So instead of trying to squeeze all the coats into the closet, we have to make some adjustments and put at least the bulkier coats away for the warm seasons.
Before putting coats away, be sure to follow these steps:
Once the bulky coats have been put away, use a small vacuum to clean the closet and wipe the shelves to get rid of the dust.
Now you're ready to stock the closet for spring and summer. Replace the heavy coats with light jackets, windbreakers, and raincoats. Hang summer caps and hats on hooks attached to the closet doors or along the side walls.
Because my spring jackets take up only about half the space of the winter coats, I have room to add a storage bin unit to my closet in the warm season.
As you can see in the photo, each of my two daughters has a drawer for her bathing suits and flip flops. One shelf has the sunblock container along with another container for goggles and a water-resistant zippered case to take along to the beach. The rest of the shelves are stocked with towels, which I roll to make them tidy and easy to grab.
At the bottom of the closet, I keep a first aid kit and two picnic blankets handy.
Now you're organized and ready at a moment's notice to enjoy the warm weather and be outdoors this spring and summer!
Do you have a closet that's been bugging you because the configuration is totally inadequate for your needs? Have you been wanting to outfit your pantry with better shelves? How about a closet or pantry door that could be made useful (spice rack, gift wrap organizer, etc.) if only you had a good, sturdy shelf rack for it?
Get yourself over to the Container Store where, from now through February, they're offering 30% off their Elfa closet and shelving components, including 30% off installation!
Measure your space and they can help you plan the closet layout and recommend the products you'll need.
Even better, sort all the items that you want to store in the newly-redesigned closet, making a list of how many of each type of item (e.g. 4 pairs of heels, 6 pairs of casual shoes, 3 pairs of boots, 1 pair of slippers, etc.) and bring that with you too so the store's designers can have a better idea of exactly how you need to use the space.
As always, if you need help with any of this process, feel free to schedule an organizing session and I'll help you get it all sorted and straightened out!
Here in New England, the weather is starting to change from summer to fall (even though Thursday's forecast is 78 degrees!). One quick thing to take care of right now is to put away the summer sunblock, bug spray, and other summer cosmetics.
Round up the all the sunblocks in the house and check them all, tossing any that are nearly gone, nearly expired (or will be by next summer), or just gross from beach sand and grime.
Do the same with the bug sprays. While you're at it, test the sprayers and toss any that are malfunctioning (sprays a little trickle or has to be pumped 10 times before it will spray).
Gather any other summer cosmetics such as those bottles of ear drying liquid, mosquito bite spray, aloe vera, etc. Check these too to make sure they are full-ish, not expired, and in good condition.
Put everything worth keeping into gallon-size plastic freezer bags. If you don't have much, put it all in one bag. If you have a lot, sort it by type and use one bag per type. Store the bags near your summer accessories (beach towels, bathing suits) or near your luggage so it'll be handy when you pack for that beach vacation you're taking this winter. (You're taking me with you, right?)
Wandering through Ocean State Job Lot today (a favorite store, but beware because it can be tempting to over-buy) I spotted this: my favorite kind of jewelry organizer!
This is very similar to the organizer I use for my costume/everyday jewelry, but at half the price I paid.
It can either stand on the floor or be hung on a wall or on the back of a closet door, as I have mine.
What I love about this organizer, is that I can see all of my jewelry at a glance. No need to open multiple drawers or boxes.
So, if you're in need of a better storage solution for your jewelry, hustle on down to your nearest Ocean State Job Lot and see if they still have these in stock!
The weather here in New England is finally warmer, which means it’s time for the winter-to-summer wardrobe switch! Even if you took my advice (see my 9/23/16 post) and set yourself up with a year-round closet that doesn’t require the semi-annual switch, it’s still a good idea to check your wardrobe a couple of times a year to weed out old items and keep your clothes in good condition.
This year, find some inspiration and motivation from this vintage WWII postcard that I found at the Churchill War Rooms on a recent trip to London.
In those days, people were trying to conserve all the resources they could for the war effort. Today, we have an interest in being thrifty and conserving for financial and environmental reasons.
As you go through your wardrobe, look at each item and consider:
Although this sounds time consuming, make it a game to see how quickly you can accomplish this wardrobe pruning. If you’re having too much trouble deciding on an item, it’s OK to keep it for now and see if you wear it this season. Try the trick of putting the hanger backwards on the rod or putting a folded item backwards in the drawer or shelf. In the fall, when you go through your items again, you’ll know if you haven’t used it because it will still be backwards. It might be easier to part with it then.
Here are three options for what to do with the clothes you edit out of your wardrobe:
1. Consign them: This option is only for in-season designer clothes in excellent condition. Resale shops are picky!
2. Donate them: Find your favorite spot (donation box or thrift store drop-off) near you and take the clothes there right away.
3. Recycle them: This comes from my very first Tip of the Week back on 9/12. For those really tattered or stained items, H&M stores offer fiber recycling drop-off bins and they even give you a coupon for a percentage off your next purchase.
Finally, focus on the clothes you really enjoy wearing. If you “make do and mend” these beloved clothes, they’ll serve you for a long time.
This week's quick tip is a reminder that it is now time to put away the summer clothes and get out the fall/winter wardrobes.
If you want to free yourself from this time-consuming ritual, read on.
For young children who are still growing, there's no escaping the need to go through their clothes seasonally. Now is the time to:
-donate or hand down what they've outgrown
-put away shorts and sundresses (Because if you don't, they'll try to keep wearing them all winter long!)
-stock the dresser with sweaters and footie pajamas
But for adults and teens, consider switching to a year-round closet.
Years ago, I used to perform the semi-annual Big Closet Switch and each time it was a messy, agonizing, days-long chore. It always looked worse before it got better: clothes spread all over the room; keep/donate/wish-it-still-fit piles everywhere; next season's clothes wrinkly from the bin and needing to be ironed (ugh!) before being re-hung, re-folded, and put away.
Then a few years ago, I read an article about having a year-round closet. I loved the idea of being able to ditch the dreaded closet-switch chore, but I also liked the concept of having access to my warmer or cooler clothes to wear anytime.
We're no longer in the rigid era of "no white after Labor Day" clothing rules, so why do we still think we have to switch our wardrobes with each season?
Here are just a few of the things I've discovered with my year-round closet:
-T-shirts and tank tops are not just for summer — they are great as under-layers to keep warm in winter.
-The big sweatshirt that I used to pack away is just what I want when the sun goes down or the wind picks up on those early- or late-summer evenings.
-Around here, fall doesn't really get started until part way through October and we can't count on spring until tax day, so I appreciate having a flexible wardrobe for those "Don't like the weather? Wait 10 minutes" seasons.
Here are a couple of little tricks to make a year-round closet work for you:
-Shoes can take up a lot of space, so consider just swapping your shoes each season and store the off-season shoes either at the back of your closet or in a bin in a storage area of your house.
-Coats are another bulky item that you might not want in your closet all the time. Keep them in a mudroom closet, hall closet, bin, or even dry cleaner storage when not in use.
-If you don't have a lot of space in your main closet, formal clothes (dresses, tuxedo, etc.) that you rarely wear can be stored in a different closet.
-Swap winter and summer accessories each season, instead of your entire wardrobe. Winter accessories include hats, scarves, gloves, and boots. Summer accessories include flip flops, hats, bathing suits, and coverups.
I'd love to hear how your closet switch is going this year and if you've made the change to a year-round wardrobe.
Closets and wardrobe consultations are some of my specialties, so feel free to contact me if you need help getting yours under control.