Proper storage is the best thing you can do to prolong the life of your clothes, and a custom-designed closet is just the thing to make that happen.
My favorite sweater was black and soft as a kitten. It went with everything, I wore it often, and I refused to let it see the inside of a washing machine, dutifully and lovingly hand-washing instead. As the days grew hotter and sweater weather disappeared into summer, I put it in a locked plastic bin in the basement, where I assumed it would be safe. I was wrong. Months later, I pulled it out—it was a mildew-riddled mess, unsalvageable. It was a lesson I learned the hard way, but it made me figure out how to store all of my pieces correctly, making sure they last to be enjoyed for seasons.
Fashion trends may move quickly these days, but when I find the perfect cozy sweater, flirty party dress, or flattering jeans, I want them to last. Unfortunately, that can be a challenge here in the D.C. area, where our seasonal temperature changes mean half of your wardrobe is out of commission for half of the year, providing plenty of opportunities for damage without the right care. Proper storage is the best thing you can do to prolong the life of your clothes, and a custom-designed closet is just the thing to make that happen.
Preserving Your Pieces
How you store your clothing can make a big impact on how long each piece stays attractive and usable. In some cases, it can even mean the difference between a beautiful, treasured garment you can wear for years and a moth-ridden mess you have to throw out after a single season. By following these guidelines, you can extend the life of your wardrobe and enjoy both everyday and special pieces longer:
Make Your Clothes Comfortable
Insects and mold are the biggest threats to your clothes. Unfortunately, the spaces we tend to keep off-season clothing—basements, attics, and other areas with poor temperature and humidity control—are breeding grounds for both unwanted critters and fungi that can leave irreparable damage (particularly if you live in a historic home). To minimize this risk, store your clothes in cool, dry, dark places in your main living areas, where you can monitor conditions. “If you would be comfortable sleeping there, the area is probably safe for wardrobe storage,” says John Claude Hallak, president of Hallak Cleaners. Ideally, this means organizing your bedroom or guest room closets to leave enough room for off-season clothing.
Let Your Clothes Breathe
It can be tempting to put off-season clothes and other items you want to keep out of the way in plastic containers. However convenient these contains may appear, they can wreak havoc on your clothes by trapping moisture and causing mold growth, odors, and color changes. Similarly, it’s common to leave clothes in plastic dry-cleaning bags in an attempt to preserve their neat appearance, but this too can cause damage. Instead of plastic, use fabric garment bags or boxes that let your clothes breathe and prevent moisture buildup. Adding a small cotton bag of dried lavender in your storage contains will help deter moths and leave your clothes smelling fresh, even when they’re out of commission.
Upgrade Your Hangers
Wire and poor quality plastic hangers can damage your clothes and lead to misshapen garments. As Carrie from Making Lemonade notes, “Slim velvet style, wooden, or even nicer plastic hangers extend the life of your clothing because it doesn’t create as much of a crease and eliminates those embarrassing shoulder bumps.” You don’t have to stick to only one type of hanger; different types of hangers work best with different clothing items, and you want to be sure to have a variety of options to suit your wardrobe.
Keep Each Piece Happy
Different clothing items have different needs; while a hanger is a perfect place for a dress shirt, jersey and knits may be stretched under their own weight and permanently damaged. To make sure that each garment is stored in a way that preserves its shape, use the following guidelines:
Dress shirts and blouses: Hangers, buttoned
Dresses: Hangers, using interior straps to prevent warping
Trousers: Hangers, hung from bottom or folded
Sweaters: Shelves, making sure they are not overstacked
Jeans: Shelves, folded twice
T-shirts and jerseys: Shelves or drawers
Intimates and socks: Drawers
The D.C. area is full of beautiful century-old homes with limited closet space, often leaving you cramming clothes into spaces haphazardly. Unfortunately, this causes unnecessary wear and tear on your garments, increases the need for ironing, and even runs the risk of permanently crushing delicate fabrics. What’s more, putting everything into one messy drawer or tossing it on top of a shelf makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for—and can make you forget about that great shirt you bought or that amazing skirt until they’re already out-of-season. Instead of lumping everything together, store off-season pieces in breathable fabric bins on upper shelves to give your current wardrobe the room it needs. Creating a space for everything (and keeping everything in its place) ensures that your clothes are cared for and easily accessible when you need them.
Going Custom to Create Proper Storage
While the rules of proper clothing storage seem simple, actually following them isn’t always easy, especially if your closet doesn’t offer you the options you need. If you’re a bit of a sweater-hoarder, does your closet have enough conveniently placed shelves for the season? Or if t-shirts are more your thing, are there enough drawers to keep them handy? Are your slacks getting relegated to the top shelf because your garment bar is too full of blouses, leaving you to iron them before each use?
A custom-designed closet can take your personal style into account to create tailored storage solutions that make the most of your space and create a home for every piece in your wardrobe, whether in-season or off. At Closet America, we build custom storage solutions designed around your needs, giving you the storage elements that work for you. Our personalized design process happens in your home and includes taking a full inventory of your closet contents to understand exactly what needs to be stored, and where. Together, we can determine the proper hanging to shelving to drawer ratio, make sure shelving will fit your storage boxes, and make the most of every inch of your closet to give your clothes the room they need to breathe. If you are getting multiple closets done at once, we can even plan for that guest room, laundry room, or hallway storage to become a dedicated space for seasonal clothing. We are committed to not just giving you a place to store your things, but giving you the right kind of storage that suits both your stuff and your lifestyle.
Whether you have walk-in closets, reach-ins, or a combination of both, taking the time to create custom solutions designed just for you lets you enjoy a beautiful, functional space every time you pick out that perfect outfit for the day. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises when you take your favorite pieces out of storage, because you know they’ve been kept safely during their time off. Your wardrobe is a reflection of your personality and unique taste; with the right storage systems, you can make it last, and will never have to mourn the loss of another cozy sweater.
Closet America is the D.C. area’s leading creator of custom-made closet, office, garage, and pantry storage solutions. Our experienced team of designers and engineers create unique solutions with your space in mind, storing everything in its place, perfectly. Contact us for more information about our services or to schedule a free design consultation.