How to do the perfectly organized seasonal clothing swap

By:

Liz Jenkins

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As professional organizers, we often seasonally rotate clothing for clients and create storage solutions for overflow clothing. This is great for those who don’t have large closets, or who have a large volume of items that don’t fit in the spaces they do have. We prefer to leave some breathing room for clothing and accessories so it is easier to find what is needed and things don’t get all scrunched together.

A seasonal swap can look different depending on where you live. Here in Nashville, our seasons aren’t as distinct as they may be up north so our seasonal swaps typically fall into the category I like to call “heavy winter’ or ‘heavy summer’. Meaning parkas, wool sweaters, etc. being packed up for warmer weather and swimsuits, shorts, etc. being packed up for winter. Many of the items we have here are transitional like cardigans, light jackets, t-shirts, etc. For climates that have more defined seasons, there may end up being 4 seasonal swaps but here in the south, it’s usually just twice a year.

We like to keep things somewhat accessible for travel needs, and to make it easy to do the swap so we typically store these out of season items in a guest room closet, under a bed, a storage room, basement, or in a walk in attic. Someplace that is accessible but not cluttering up a main living space.

Once you’ve identified the items you won’t need for a season, pull them all out and take a look at them. Note if any have staining, is looking tired or worn, or if any repairs are needed. Nothing is worse than pulling out things you want to wear for a new season and finding out that it isn’t actually wearable! Then, group them in like categories and take a few minutes to edit out items that you know in your heart you really won’t wear next year.

A few of our recommendations for the storing of seasonal swap items:

  • Always clean (launder at home or dry clean) prior to storing as stains and odors can appear over time that may not have been noticeable at the time
  • We like to store hanging clothes either using Z racks (large garment racks with a Z design on the bottom for stability) or regular garment racks with a cover to keep dust off of the garments.  
  • For non-hanging clothes we typically use weathertight totes (from Container Store) that have a gasket seal and fold or roll clothes inside. We add desiccant packs to the totes to absorb any moisture. Depending on the volume of each category, we suggest separate bins for groups of items (sweaters, pants, etc.)
  • If clothing will hang for a long period of time, it is best to use a hanger that has a wider shoulder piece to prevent dents from forming over time. For a seasonal rotation, standard hangers are generally fine.
  • We like to label bins by more generic terms like “out of season” or “seasonal” so you don’t have to relabel for each season or have empty bins.
  • We recommend wiping out bins each time you swap and making sure it is completely dry.
  • If you like scent, you can add sachets or essential oils to a bin to keep things smelling fresh. Be sure that the essential oils are added in a way that won’t impact the clothing like on a wool ball or a diffuser designed for proximity.