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Making The Swap: How To Store Your Summer Clothes (And The Best Storage Products!)

Time to put away those summer clothes!

It’s that time of year again! Time to swap out your shorts and sandals wardrobe for the sweaters and knee-high boots of fall. Hooray!

Maybe it’s just me, but taking an afternoon to make deeply spiritual decisions regarding the eternal salvation of my wardrobe is about the most satisfying thing ever. And the wonder of a perfectly organized closet appropriately matching the weather out of doors? It’s a beautiful thing, I am telling you this sincerely.

After the jump, a full and terribly comprehensive HOW-TO guide to assist you in this most luxurious and soul-defining time, this time of swapping out your off-season wardrobe! (And a few tips on making your Summer/Fall Transitional Wardrobe go a little smoother in this weird in-between time.)


  • STEP ONE: EMPTY YO CLOSET 1 of 20
    STEP ONE: EMPTY YO CLOSET
    The WHOLE thing! Pull everything out, and then dust, vaccuum, wipe down the walls, toss out any bent or weird-looking hangers, and evacuate those dust bunny colonies. This is serious times, folks.
  • STEP TWO: PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP (OR SUNGLASSES) 2 of 20
    STEP TWO: PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP (OR SUNGLASSES)
    Now is the time to make the tough choices. Be brutal. Be ruthless! Decide what of your summer clothes you really need to keep. Use these guidelines: Do you look forward to wearing it? How do you feel in this item? Is it a high maintenance item (tugging, bunching, no big meals allowed)? Is this a one-season trend piece or would you re-buy it if it were lost/ruined? (In the past I've put off making these decisions until the next year when I unpack, but in my experience, it is better not to wait.)
  • STEP THREE: REMOVE THE STRAGGLERS 3 of 20
    STEP THREE: REMOVE THE STRAGGLERS
    I like to sell whatever is valuable on eBay, donate whatever is in good shape to Goodwill or The Salvation Army, and then junk the rest. Sometimes tossing things out feels really, really good. Other times it's a painful, yet growing moment for me.
  • STEP FOUR: IDENTIFY YO TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE 4 of 20
    STEP FOUR: IDENTIFY YO TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE
    So, maybe this is just me, but I always find that the minute the temps drop and I haul out the winter clothes we have us an Indian Summer. (Is this a term we are still allowed to use? Gosh, it feels rather un P.C.) So what I've taken to doing is reserving one box for "transitional pieces," which are usually my summer dresses that can be paired with a cardigan or blazer and a pair of moccs to feel Autumnal, but still cool enough should the sun come out and you need to shed layers in a hurry. The following are a few examples of what I would reserve for my "transitional" box, which I would only pack up once temps were solidly under 50.
  • TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE 5 of 20
    TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE
    Summery: shorts
    Autumnal: Sweater, beanie, desert booties
  • TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE 6 of 20
    TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE
    Summery: Skirt, tee shirt
    Autumnal: Blazer
  • TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE 7 of 20
    TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE
    Summery: Dress, belt, bracelets
    Autumnal: Cardigan
  • TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE 8 of 20
    TRANSITIONAL WARDROBE
    Summery: Dress
    Autumnal: Cardigan, belt
    See? Easy.
  • STEP FIVE: SPEND SOME TIME IN YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM 9 of 20
    STEP FIVE: SPEND SOME TIME IN YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM
    Now is the time to launder every last item in your summer wardrobe. Any dirt or sweat left in your clothes will attract moths and other insects, and come May 2012 you will find lots of unhappiness in there, so wash it up! (Sometimes, if I'm feeling really spiritual about it, I even iron!)
  • STEP SIX: SEW ON PATCHES TO ALL YOU TEAR 10 of 20
    STEP SIX: SEW ON PATCHES TO ALL YOU TEAR
    Don't put away that summer dress without first addressing that pesky tear in the hem! When it comes time to unpack next year, the last thing you'll want is more work for yourself, and besides, if you don't fix it now, you might not fix it ever, and then that summer dress will languish all summer long, while you wait to remember to get around to fixing it. (Or is that just me?)
  • STEP SEVEN: PUT AWAY FOR HIBERNATION 11 of 20
    STEP SEVEN: PUT AWAY FOR HIBERNATION
    Having tried many iterations of clothing storage (labeled moving boxes, labeled plastic storage bins, labeled pretty-to-look-at fabric bins), I have to say my favorite method for clothing storage is the see-through clothing bag. These, from The Container Store, are pretty fantastic.
  • SHOE STORAGE 12 of 20
    SHOE STORAGE
    Don't forget your shoes! I carefully review my collection of Saltwater Sandals and Havaianas, inspect for wear and tear and ask myself all manner of important life questions, and then purge accordingly. What I keep for the next year is kept near to (but separate from!) my clothes so I can pull them out all at once. I like this guy, from The Container Store.
  • VACPACK 13 of 20
    VACPACK
    If you are dealing with massive amounts of clothing, consider getting vacuum sealable bags. These can go inside the clear bags so you can see what you need, and air-tight means no critters are getting into these bad boys! You can find them for a good deal at Amazon.
  • FOR YOUR EXTRA SPECIALS 14 of 20
    FOR YOUR EXTRA SPECIALS
    Evening gowns and summer-weight suits don't need to be folded up and tossed in a box, they should be hung! But you don't want them getting rubbed against and constantly mishandled and tugged-at in your closet. I like these garment bags from The Container Store in an out-of-the-way closet.
  • ARCHIVAL, FOR THE KIDS 15 of 20
    ARCHIVAL, FOR THE KIDS
    Typically, when it's time to swap out Huck's clothes, I just donate or toss whatever isn't going forward into the next season, but there are always a few key pieces I can't bear to get rid of. I found these archival boxes at The Container Store and they seem interesting. They come with acid-free tissue paper, and are light and air free to preserve those sweet little onesies I can't bear to be without.
  • CEDAR AND LAVENDER BLOCKS, FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL 16 of 20
    CEDAR AND LAVENDER BLOCKS, FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL
    Nothing on this planet is worse than the smell of moth balls. Give me moth holes over the smell of moth balls! Seriously, who thought of moth balls? Now, cedar and lavender, now we're talking! They accomplish the same thing, only they smell nice! Duh! BUY YOURS HERE
  • STEP EIGHT: STORE SOMEWHERE DRY, COOL, AND DARK 17 of 20
    STEP EIGHT: STORE SOMEWHERE DRY, COOL, AND DARK
    I like for my off-season clothing to live under the bed of the person they belong to, in case they're needed in a pinch.
  • STEP NINE: THINKING GLASSES AGAIN 18 of 20
    STEP NINE: THINKING GLASSES AGAIN
    Of course, there is the subject of the fall/winter clothes you've just unpacked to deal with now. Put on as keen an eye and as ruthless a demeanor for your new old friends coming in, and weed out any out-of date scragglers you missed last year at swap time that you won't be wearing.
  • STEP TEN: MAKE YOUR FALL/WINTER DUDS AT HOME 19 of 20
    STEP TEN: MAKE YOUR FALL/WINTER DUDS AT HOME
    Use only the best, matching hangers. (Wood are lovely, and those skinny felt numbers are a revelation!) Fold your sweaters on a shelf so they don't sag on a hanger (sweaters should never be hung!), and do consider getting some boot inserts to preserve the life of your leather friends. BUY YOURS HERE
  • STEP BONUS: SAY A QUICK PRAYER FOR YOUR PRETTY, ORGANIZED CLOSET 20 of 20
    STEP BONUS: SAY A QUICK PRAYER FOR YOUR PRETTY, ORGANIZED CLOSET
    That's a joke. OR IS IT?

What are your tried and true tips for storing your off-season wardrobe? Do tell!

All images via Pinterest unless otherwise linked.

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