Clearing out your out-of-season clothing for the spring and summer
As the seasons change, so should your wardrobe. Properly storing your fall/winter items away for the season will not only give your closet extra breathing room, but it will also help to ensure the longevity of your clothing.
If you’ve never done a wardrobe edit, it’s time to start. You should do this once at the beginning of spring, and once at the beginning of fall. It’s not a complicated process, but it is one that will make your life a lot easier. Here are the six steps you need to follow.
Step 1: Designate stations
You’re going to be categorizing all your clothing so you know what to do with it, so designate different spots for each of these 5 categories:
Station 1: Keep for next season
These will be fall/winter items you still like, that fit you, and that are not damaged. You’ll be packing these away for the season--we’ll get to those details later.
Station 2: Alter
These will be items that need slight size adjustments or minor repairs.
Station 3: Outfit
These will be items that require an additional piece or two to create a full outfit. You’ll want to revisit them to properly plan what you need, so keep them separate for now.
Station 4: Donate
These will be items that don’t fit, that you don’t love, or that you don’t wear often. If you’re in Edmonton, we suggest donating used suits and menswear to SuitUP Edmonton or the Bissell Centre Thrift Shop.
Station 5: Trash
These items are beyond repair and need to be recycled or thrown out.
Step 2: Divide out obvious seasonal clothing
Remove all obvious winter items from your wardrobe and put them in the “keep for next season” pile. You won’t be wearing this stuff for at least another 6 months, so there’s no sense in having it take up prime closet space. Think flannels, heavy knits, tweed, winter outerwear, wool ties, boots, etc. If it needs repairs or alterations, do that before storing it for the season.
Step 3: Evaluate each piece
Now that you only have what’s seasonal left, it’s time to decide if you will actually wear the pieces in your wardrobe. Here are some things to ask yourself.
Is it in good condition?
If you encounter anything that is too damaged to fix, throw it right into the trash pile. If it’s something you like enough to have a tailor fix it, put it into the alter pile. Small seam rips and pilled sweaters can be easily mended, but a thigh blowout probably means it’s time for the garbage.
Do I like it?
Did you hate the way it draped when you tried it on? Is it a print you no longer love? If you don’t like it, donate it.
Do I have a use for it?
If you’ve been holding onto that sequin-covered blazer for 10 years just in case you find yourself at an Elton John theme party, it’s probably time to let it go. Seriously, consider whether the items in your closet are serving a purpose for your lifestyle. If you haven’t worn shorts in 3 summers, donate them.
Is it current?
Some items are timeless: many suits, classic loafers, t-shirts, a white dress shirt. But some items really do go out of style, so consider when you bought it and if people are still wearing it today. If it was trendy 5 years ago, it’s probably NOT trendy anymore.
Do I have a full outfit to wear with it?
Sometimes we have items in our closet that we love, but we never wear because we have nothing to wear it with. Pull those items aside and put them into the “outfit” pile. Make a note of how you might style them, and then figure out what items you need to make it work. If you’re not sure what you need, send us a photo of the item and we can give you some guidance.
Don’t forget your shoes!
Heavy boots should be stored away for the season, and don’t forget to try on and evaluate all the spring/summer shoes you have as well. Assess any damage and determine if they’re worth bringing to a cobbler or whether to throw them out. If you’re not wearing a pair of shoes because they’re uncomfortable, it’s probably just time to buy new shoes.
Each season, hang all your clothes with the hangers facing one direction. As you wear the items, put them back with the hanger facing the opposite direction. At the end of the season, you’ll be able to see what you wore and what you didn’t touch. At that point, you can make the decision to alter, outfit, or donate it.
Step 4: Try everything on
Try the remaining spring/summer items all on and make sure they actually fit. If it’s only a little too big or small, put it into the alter pile. If it’s more than a size or two off, donate it. Don’t keep it “just in case” you might fit into it again. There’s a chance that by the time it does fit, it won’t even be in style anymore.
Step 5: Identify and fill gaps
Now you should have solidly established what items you’ll have left for the season. This is the time to identify any holes in your wardrobe. Maybe you don’t have enough spring/summer sport shirts. Maybe you need more casual trousers. Maybe you don’t have the right outfits for your upcoming vacation. Whatever the gaps may be, make a note of them so you can fill them.
Once you know what gaps you need to fill and what you need to outfit those few favourite solo pieces in your wardrobe, head in and we can help you find what you need.
Step 6: Clean and properly store seasonal items
You aren’t just going to leave your fall/winter clothing in a pile. Store it properly so that when you get it next season it’s in prime condition.
Clean everything before storing it, including shoes and outerwear. If you put dirty clothes or shoes away for 6 months, stains and odours will work themselves in and your clothing will be in even worse condition than when you put it away. Dirt and odours can also attract bugs.
How to store out-of-season clothing
Store suits, outerwear, and sport jackets, on large wood hangers in a fabric garment bag. Do not store anything in a plastic dry-cleaning bag, because it won’t breathe. Hang trousers as well, being sure to line up the creases so they look crisp next time you wear them.
Fold knitwear and anything else delicate. These items will become misshapen if they’re stored on a hanger. Stack folded items with the heaviest pieces on the bottom. Store folded items in a covered, breathable container, like a fabric garment bin with zipper closure. Avoid cardboard, because it can attract bugs. Plastic bins are okay as long as they are breathable, but fabric is best.
Never use mothballs. They’re made of toxic pesticides that release noxious odours and pose a health risk. Keeping clothing clean and safely stored is your best defence against pests.
Store shoes on a shoe tree and in a dust bag. Take a look at our article on leather shoe care for more shoe cleaning and storage tips.
Store all garment bags and boxes in a dark, cool, dry place that is safe from potential mice or bug visitors. A closet in a spare room is usually best, keeping any bins or boxes on an elevated shelf.
Once you're done, you'll be left with a clean, fresh closet that is much easier to sort through every day.
Feeling overwhelmed? Get in touch and we can help. We offer complimentary in-home wardrobe edits to our clients to help you get ready each season.