I Don't Know the Best Way to Store My Clothes and Accessories
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Part of my job as a wardrobe consultant involves going into clients’ closets and seeing what they have to help them get where they want to go. It’s a very personal experience and I am continually honored that my clients trust me in such a personal, often vulnerable, space. Once we go through everything, I make wardrobe recommendations and help clients determine the best ways to organize their closets. Closet organization really depends on how you think and what you gravitate towards: some clients find it easier to make outfit selections when items are grouped by type and color; others find it easier to group items by occasion, such as weekends with the kids or work day outfits. Whatever works for them, and you, is the best way to group your items.
Once you’ve invested in wardrobe pieces, you need to take care of them to make them last as long as possible. I use the term “investment” broadly here, meaning anything you have that you love. It doesn’t necessarily need to have had a substantial, or any, cost; if you love it and it has value to you, it’s an investment. While we all dream of the closets we see on Pinterest and Instagram with the perfectly curated displays, the truth is, even if you have the space, a lot of those displays don’t do justice to how the items are best taken care of and stored. Unless you really will dedicate yourself to dusting your entire shoe collection once a week, or vacuuming the dust off of your designer bags that sit out on shelves regularly, you should plan on storing items away properly to prolong their lives. The following are my top wardrobe storage recommendations.
Fold all knits and delicate fabrics. This includes sweaters of all materials, modal, and other delicate knits. These fabrics tend to stretch if hung so it’s essential to store them away in a box or drawer. If you are limited on drawer space and need to use sweater boxes, I recommend clear plastic ones. You can easily see what is inside and the canvas fabric boxes only invite more dust, dust mites and moths…the last thing you want in your knits!
Store items in drawers and bins so you can see each one. Even if you aren’t fully on board with KonMari Method, this is one tip that will make getting ready a lot easier. Not having to rifle through the items you aren’t wearing to find the one you’re looking for is worth taking the time to fold in a way so you can see everything. You can simply roll them and place them in a drawer in a single layer, making all of those items visible.
Hanger types make a difference. Non-slip velvet hangers are my favorite for every day items such as button up shirts. They are thin, allowing you to get more on the closet rail, and even larger sized tops and wide neck shirts stay on them well. Thick wood hangers for suits and heavy jackets help shoulders keep their shape.
Pack away anything that doesn’t fit. I don’t generally recommend hanging onto things that no longer fit because they can really bring us down when getting ready by reminding us of our past or a goal we have yet to achieve — at minimum, it makes us feel like we have nothing to wear. However, there are some instances, such as pregnancy or illness, where it does make sense to hang on to clothes we love but can’t wear right now. Store these away where you won’t see them every day until it’s time to pull them back out again. It never feels good to be confronted by items that don’t fit every time you walk in your closet.
Use garment bags. These are perfect for coats during the off season, rarely-worn special occasion dresses, and suits. Like the sweater bins, I recommend clear, plastic garment bags so you can see what is inside and to deter dust, dust mites and moths.
Utilize shoe boxes. People are always surprised when they see just how little is actually in my closet. I only invest in shoes that fit comfortably, will last through all-day wear, and that can be worn with a variety of outfits. Because I don’t actually have a ton of shoes, I can keep them in their original boxes and still easily find what I’m looking for. If you want more uniform shoe boxes for stacking, or do have an extensive collection, clear plastic shoe boxes that allow you to see everything are essential. The shoe boxes that have drawers cost a bit more than the ones with lids but they also make it easier to get shoes in and out so whatever works for your habits and budget is the right choice for you.
Protect handbags. When you purchase a designer bag, it nearly always comes with a dust bag. Use it! I also highly recommend stuffing the inside of handbags with acid free tissue paper. This helps purses retain their shape while ensuring their linings stay fresh. Even if your handbag didn’t cost a month’s rent, it’s still worth storing this way when not in use. You can get dust bags from the Container Store that have outside labels or use my favorite hack: old pillow cases. Many retailers sell vertical closet shelf dividers, enabling you to store your bags filed upright. If you want to keep them in bins as well, the large, clear plastic sweater boxes usually have enough space to store three mid-sized purses vertically inside.
Take time to treat materials and put items away clean. Use a suede and leather spray on boots, bags, and other wardrobe pieces of those materials, spray a protective material on outwear if you live in a climate that warrants doing so, and clean your items regularly (professionally, if necessary). TIP: Use a clean, dry toothbrush to bring suede items back to life.
Having your clothes and accessories stored in a way that you can see them while protecting them will extend the life of your wardrobe materials, making all of your investments last longer.