Bon voyage, winter

29 Mar

Denver has been in the 70s for several weeks now, so I decided to go ahead and pack up my winter clothes. (There’s still a chance we could get more snow, so I left a few layers and a pair of boots unpacked.) With this kind of thing my guess is that you, dear reader, fall into one of two groups: 1) The kind who [likely has one of those enviable walk-in closets and] leaves all her clothes in the same closet all year. 2) The kind who packs and unpacks seasonal clothes.

You’ll be shocked to find out that I’ve been in the second group for years. I’m a big fan of limiting my closet to currently wearable clothes. This helps ensure that I am able to find that chiffon blouse without digging through a pile of wool sweaters. But it’s also good for the clothes themselves: It gives hanging items a break from the stress of hanging and it’s a natural time for you to clean, repair and pare down.

Below are my best tips for transitioning your closet between seasons.

1. Before you begin pulling out the seasonal items from your closet and drawers, prepare a spot for four piles: one for items that you haven’t worn all season, one for items that need to be cleaned, one for items that need repair, one for items that are ready to be packed. You’ll also need your iron, ironing board and a sewing kit near by.

2. Now start sorting. Make simple repairs – sew on that missing button, tack up the loose hem – as you go. Glance over your leather shoes and purses – do they need to visit the cobbler? If you come across clean items that are ready to be packed, take a few moments to iron and fold. The idea here is to take the time now to give your clothes some TLC because when you unpack them next season you’ll be too excited to wear them to make repairs or leave them at the dry cleaners for a few days!

3. Pack the clothes you’re keeping. These should be folded and stored in waterproof bins out of sight. I like these clear bins from The Container Store – clear so I can see what’s inside and 17 gallon because it’s not too heavy once it’s packed. While the rule of thumb is to fold every item as you can, you will likely have a few seasonal items that should hang up such as party dresses or leather coats. I recommend cotton hanging bags for storing these items (which are usually more expensive purchases and worth storing properly).

Caring for your wool items: Wool coats, sweaters, and suits need special care. Be sure they are clean before packing – that’s the single biggest thing you can do to prevent moths from making their home in your beloved reindeer sweater. Then, store them in a breathable container (not the plastic I recommend above!) The natural fibers of wool appreciate the air. The Container Store sells natural cotton storage bags that are ideal for storing wool items.

Also, moth balls are soo 20th century. If you’re really concerned about moths, use an organic anti-moth spray or add a packet of cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel or cedar chips to your storage container. These naturally repel moths.

4. On to the pile of dirty clothes. Sort this pile into items you can wash in the washer/dryer, items to hand wash, and items to be professional cleaned. Then go to it! When items are clean, follow the steps above to pack them away.

5. Get rid of the items you haven’t worn all season. Nearly everyone I know has more than enough clothes. So even if it’s painful, I highly recommend following this rule. Sort the items you haven’t worn into items to donate and items to consign. Various donation centers and consignment stores have different guidelines for what items they accept, so be sure to do a little research before you head over there.

I know it seems like a lot, but taking the time to pack up items properly means you can look forward to the most pleasant unpacking experience ever. Good luck!

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