Today, summer has exploded on the West Coast. Record temperatures, sun, sun, and more sun. Glorious! Summer! Transitions are ugly, though, proven as us pasty-skin people emerge from hidey-holes with musty-smelling summer clothes hauled out of storage. It’s that time of year, folks! Musty, pasty, and sunny. It’s the seasonal wardrobe changeover. For those of us solar-powered people, there’s nothing more exciting than putting winter away in boxes and bringing out summer. But how about doing it with a method that’ll help you purge your winter stuff now AND help you lay the groundwork for easier purging at the end of summer? Yeah, you like that idea, don’t you?
The purge: a dreaded reality check
The rule of thumb with any kind of purging is, you need three piles. Donate, keep, and dispose. When it comes to clothes, you also gotta proceed with a healthy dose of reality. You’ll need a mirror for a reality check. Does it fit you now? Will it realistically fit you next season? And if it fits you, do you actually like it? Is it in good enough shape to warrant saving for a whole new season? Does it reflect who you want to be in five months? If you love it, it’s an easy keeper. If, upon putting it on, the most common words you use are “but” and “if,” then you have issues and it’s gotta go. For example, you “Well, that looks okay, but it needs ______” or “I’d like wearing this but only if ______,” then honestly, it’s not worth keeping. If there are stains, tears, or other compromises to the clothing, you should be getting rid of them. Either donate them or turn them into rags for cleaning with, but don’t be wearing stuff that makes you look like a slob. Only donate wearable items. If it’s holy and stained, no, not even a poor person wants to buy or adopt it. Instead, make some rags. Many organizations are thrilled to receive rag donations, so ask around.
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Storing: sealing is caring
Don’t be like my Uncle Gerry, who pulled a bunch of clothes our after some time away, only to find several holes in every item after a moth infestation went unchecked. The best seasonal way to store clothes, for me, is in clear Rubbermaid storage bins. They stack well, they close up, and it’s easy to see what you’ve got in the box. I label mine clearly that it’s for winter, and then I put clothes away both clean and folded. When it’s a Rubbermaid-type container with an airtight lid, you don’t need to worry about it getting all musty-smelling for the fall, but you can always put some potpourri in there or some other odour-fighting product. If you can’t put it away air-tight and visible, resort to budget-friendly things like clear garbage bags you tape closed. You might want to include a piece of cedar just in case, since it keeps moths away.
Bring out your summer!
Tastes, trends, and even our bodies change from season to season. Don’t be married to the idea that just because you saved these clothes, you have to wear them. Put them through the same tests as with the seasonal clothes you’re putting away. Does it fit NOW? Does it look good today? Is it in good shape? Are there unfixable stains or tears? Keep only what you love and think you’ll wear.
Planning ahead: winter is coming!
Before you put everything away for a season of shorts and sun, there are two things you should do in order to prepare for the inevitable return of autumn, when you’ll be doing this sort once again. If you’re hanging this season’s shirts, pants, dresses, and such, have a system whereby having the hanger with the hook facing out towards you means you haven’t worn the item yet this season. As you slowly wear things, put them back with the hanger’s hook turned toward the back wall. This way, you’ll know at the end of the season that the shirt you were sure you loved, you haven’t even worn in five months. Maybe someone else can love it instead. Into the “donate” box it goes! You can do the same thing with shorts and t-shirts, but it’s a different method. Get a decent colored sticker and put it on the shirt or shorts’ tag before you put it in your drawers. When you’re bringing stuff out, pay attention to tags and remove stickers once you wear them. End of season, same deal — away with the unworn items. (Or you have new scruffy t-shirts to wear around the home.)
Systems are solutions
When you’re taking the time to establish systems, it’s often a crapshoot. Maybe it’ll work for you, maybe it won’t. Odds are, though, that how you’re doing things today needs improvement. Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to be more proactive about wardrobe organizing. It’s one of the places where our money evaporates the most. We buy more and more clothes without being truly aware of what we already own. Stop that. Keep your money. Keep the good stuff, toss the rest, and become more focused in what you’re acquiring. That’s a golden rule that should apply to all our belongings, and the more the rule gets repeated, the hope is that more and more people will learn to conquer clutter around the home and in the closet.