How To Spring Clean Your Wardrobe
Photo: aola Kudacki

SPRING HAS ARRIVED, and with it the annual urge to update your wardrobe. The oversize sweaters and warm coats you bought last fall will now make way for the breezy silhouettes and cheerful shades of the new season. But where to put it all? And then, of course, there is the prospect of a summer vacation and the often daunting task of strategically packing suitcases with dresses, shoes, swimsuits, accessories, beauty products, and outfits for every occasion. The keys to making it all work: organization and efficiency. To ensure that the season is as stress-free as it should be, read on for essential tips for keeping your wardrobe organized through the coming months.

START EARLY There’s no time like the present when it comes to cleaning. “It’s time to spring-clean when you can’t fit one more rolling rack in your house,” jokes Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president of fashion office and store presentation. To avoid an inevitable sense of overwhelming, set aside a full day just as the weather starts to turn. “That way, you have time to assess what pieces you need to replace or invest in for the season ahead,” explains Kate Foley, a stylist and contributing fashion director at Vestiaire Collective. Beginning the process at the start of the season will also allow for the judgement of in-between layering pieces—like light jackets or cardigans—which transition well as the weather changes.

DEVISE A PLAN Go in with a strategy in mind. Often that plan may start with chaos. “Open the closet and take everything out,” advises Dee Hilfiger, designer of Dee Ocleppo. “If you really want to do it the proper way, you have to take everything out and weed through your entire closet.” Once it’s all in sight, begin by sorting items into three piles: keep, store, and donate. “I keep anything that has sentimental value or a classic item that pairs well with everything and that can be worn for years to come, like a good blazer that you feel confident wearing,” says Foley.

EMBRACE THE PURGE Getting rid of clothes you’ve lived with comfortably in your closet (and life) for years can be a difficult task, but when it’s over it’s well worth conquering any temporary bouts of separation anxiety. “If you haven’t worn something in a year and it’s not from an important label, just throw that baby out,” says Claire Distenfeld, owner of Fivestory New York. “You won’t even know it’s gone, and there’s nothing sweeter than an airy closet that mimics a boutique.” Foley advises tossing anything that doesn’t fit anymore or is from a past trend. “Platform sneakers, spike earrings, and tall gladiator sandals are all starting to look dated,” she says.

BE OVERPROTECTIVE For the important pieces that are going away for the season, a little care goes a long way. “Sweaters can be tough to store because if they are not put away properly it causes pilling,” notes Foley. “My tip is to launder the items before storing them, then put them in a protective enclosure for the season, like canvas boxes. The cotton material allows the fabrics to breathe.” Adds Hilfiger, “You have to make sure things are stored correctly because you don’t want to pull something out six months later and find that moths have eaten all of your beautiful coats. A cedar closet is great for avoiding this, but you have to sand it every once in a while to keep it fresh.” When it comes to the most expensive items in your wardrobe, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional. “Furs aren’t necessarily hard to store, but it is a bit expensive, though it is worth it,” says Distenfeld. “Gowns are the same as furs; ones with embellishments and light fabrics should be professionally stored.” For those who prefer to keep their more costly pieces at home, look for the coolest and darkest corner of your closet for the best place to store furs, and stay away from plastic garment bags, which will cause the fur to dry out. Gowns do best when hung on padded hangers and kept in cotton canvas or muslin covers.

GET CREATIVE Keeping everything in top shape is not always as easy as folding. For hard-to-store items like accessories and heavy pieces, sometimes you have to think outside the box—literally. “Bags are hard because they’re all different sizes and shapes,” says Hilfiger. “Sometimes I actually hang them on hangers, believe it or not, or else they’ll get crushed.” To cut down on space requirements for bulkier items, such as large coats, Foley suggests “removing everything from the pockets first, fastening all of the buttons, and storing them in plastic bins.” Distenfeld recommends moving to higher ground. “Find the highest shelf in your apartment, the one you didn’t even know was there,” she says. “Get a stepladder and put all of your heavy, chunky stuff up there. Just be sure to wipe it down with antibacterial wipes first.” Creativity also comes into play when storing more complex wardrobe items. A jacket-and-pants suit should be considered two separate entities and packed away as such, making it easier to pull out as a quick separate fix on a chillier evening.

STICK TO A PROCESS Whether packing for a summer getaway or a business trip, it is crucial to create order. Take your cue from Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, director and a cofounder of D’NA boutique in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “I will typically pack all of my shoes together, each one stuffed with tissue paper to maintain its form and encased in a cloth bag,” she says. “I group heavier garments and tailored pieces, and I place the lightest things on top so that they don’t get crushed.” It also helps to consider what you will wear on the plane to save space and keep from overpacking. “I try to wear my biggest coat,” says fashion consultant Sofía Sanchez de Betak. “The same with boots—I pack one delicate pair and wear the everyday style to travel.”

TAKE EXTRA CARE If you have a special item like a couture gown or an embroidered handbag that requires a little TLC, you don’t have to leave it at home. “Tissue paper has become a part of my packing ritual,” says Abdulaziz. She suggests placing a sheet or two between the folds of a garment so that the surfaces don’t rub against each other. For heavily constructed pieces, stuff the bodices or sleeves and shoulders so that they maintain their form while packed. Linda Rodin, a stylist and creator of Rodin Olio Lusso, is also a fan. “I put my blouses in tissue paper so they don’t wrinkle, and I use dry-cleaner plastic to wrap my shoes,” she says.

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT There are few things worse on a trip than excess baggage. That said, take a moment to differentiate between the pieces you know you will wear and those you hope to wear. “I think you go through a little fantasy trip in your head when you’re packing,” says Rodin. The key is to stick with the things you would normally wear at home. “I try to bring my all-time favorites, the things I know work with everything or with anything I may buy or wear during the trip,” says Sanchez de Betak. Finally, don’t overthink it. As Abdulaziz says, “Pack what you feel most comfortable and timeless in.”


From: Harper’s BAZAAR US