After the long, brutal winter we’ve just endured, the temperatures are finally beginning to rise and the flowers are starting to bloom. And as the seasons change, so should your closet. Of course some pieces like frequently worn jeans and shoes will stay, but your heavy sweaters and boots will need to make way for sundresses and sandals. If you’re like most of us, just the idea of taking on this task can be exhausting. But I promise, if done correctly, updating your wardrobe for warmer weather will make every single day easier for you. (As I’ve mentioned before, getting dressed—whether it’s easy or frustrating—can set the tone for your entire day!)
Here are seven strategies to help you prepare your closet for the upcoming summer months (and with a little imagination, these tips can be adapted for every other season, too!):
Clean your closet. Yes, the actual closet. Take the time to dust the shelves, vacuum the floor, wipe down the walls, and get rid of any clutter that has been building up over the last few months. When a room is clean (even if it’s “just” a closet), you’ll feel more positive and inspired when you’re in it.
Choose a storage technique. If possible, I recommend storing your off-season clothes in another closet. If you don’t have the space, though, you can also keep them in air-tight plastic containers under the bed or in a storage room. I strongly advise that you not store your clothes in the attic or basement, as these spaces aren’t always climate controlled. And often, mildew, insects, and other pests find their way in.
Have any dirty clothes or shoes cleaned. Set aside any cold-weather clothes, including outerwear, that need to be professionally cleaned. It’s best to take care of this task now so that everything will be ready to go next fall. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take out a favorite wool coat next October, only to find that the cuffs are dingy!) Likewise, take any boots and shoes that need new heels, cleaning, and conditioning to the cobbler before you put them away. I also suggest stuffing them with newspaper so that they’ll keep their shape while they aren’t being worn.
Evaluate each item. All clothing should be reviewed before being stored away to make room for your warm-weather clothes. Ask yourself the following questions: Have you worn the garment this year? Is it time to donate it? Is it damaged and worn? If so, can it be repaired? Missing buttons, ripped hems, and broken zippers can usually be fixed by a tailor. After you’ve made decisions about each item, pack up the clothes and shoes you’d like to donate and have others repaired and washed before you put them away. (For more information on cleaning out your closet, see my past blog post “The Giant Tangle.”)
Organize, organize, and organize some more… I can’t say enough about the importance of keeping your closet neat, clean, and yes, organized. If you want to be able to put together fabulous outfits and still get out the door quickly, it’s important to be able to see what you own. When everything is in a jumbled pile, you wear only the items on top—and getting dressed is a very frustrating experience! As you move your warm-weather pieces into your closet, I recommend grouping them by type (e.g., skirts, shorts, pants, blouses, cardigans, etc.) and then by color. And no, I really don’t think this is overkill. The next time you’re looking for a green blouse or a pair of white slacks, you’ll know exactly where to find them. No more digging through drawers or pawing through an entire rack of hangers! (For more advice on creating an organized closet, see my past blog post “Life Post-Tangle.”)
…and don’t forget your accessories! As you evaluate and organize your clothes and shoes, don’t forget about your accessories. This is a great opportunity to eliminate belts, scarves, hats, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories that no longer fit your body or your lifestyle, and to organize those that are left over.
Make yourself picture perfect, literally. Now that everything is put away and you can see your clothing and accessories, take the time to create and document ensembles you’ll enjoy wearing all season. I use the Picture-U-Perfect formula with my clients and my own wardrobe! Specifically, I put together outfits, complete with accessories, and then take a picture so that the next time I need to find something to wear for a certain occasion, I can look back through my photos to find the perfect look. Often, I’ll include some alternate pieces in a look; for instance, several pairs of shoes that would work, or two different colors of shirts that match the same skirt. I can’t tell you how much I love having key outfits totally accessorized and ready to put on. My closet is organized by category and color so I can lay my hands on what I need quickly. Shoes, handbags, earrings, and belts are stored by color and are visible. I do practice what I preach, and it pays off!
Whether you spread the seasonal clothing swap over multiple days or do it all in one fell swoop, I encourage you not to skip any of these steps. I promise, doing the job thoroughly will have a real impact on what you wear, how quickly you can put it on, and how you feel while wearing it this spring and summer!