Got clutter? Seasoning your closets

Patty McPherson

What do you do about changing out the clothing in your closet from season to season?

Here in New England, you could change out the closet four times a year. But it can be difficult, too, because one week it’s in the 90s and then a cold front plummets the temperature to 35 degrees. You have to be flexible to live in New England!

So, it’s easier to group fall clothing with winter, and spring stuff with summer. That way you only do it twice. The simpler and more accessible your system is, the better the process will be to complete each time.

For the kids, I suggest open baskets labeled “Too Big” that hold clothing items for the future, including out-of-season items that will eventually fit. When it’s time to pull out warmer or cooler season clothes, or when you need larger sizes, just pull down the bin. Then, take those items that are in the closet currently and divide them into two categories: things that can still be worn the following year/season (they go back into the “Too Big” bin) and everything’s that will be too small for the following year/season (mark those “To be donated”). Items like jeans or sweatshirts stay in the closet if they fit, since they can be worn year-round. Because kids are always growing and their clothing sizes change, it’s easier to have as many clothes as possible in close proximity, so you can check frequently to see if what fits. Otherwise, they’ll be out of sight and out of mind, and you may miss the opportunity for your kids to wear the clothing.

For adults, since our sizes don’t change much for items like snow boots and sweaters, use plastic tubs you can store in the garage, attic or shed. Since it’s easy to separate my stuff from my husband’s, all of our clothing that is season-specific (for winter, heavy sweaters and boots, for instance) goes into one labeled bin. It gets swapped out with the other season-specific bin (with, say, shorts, tank tops and flip flops). Again, try to do this twice a year. If you know you have a vacation coming up for which you’ll need summery things, this method works well, too, instead of having ALL the clothes you own in your closet at one time.

Some people are lucky enough to have space in their bedroom closet to keep all their clothing at hand year-round. If this applies to you, it’s still helpful to separate and organize clothing by season and type for easy access. It doesn’t make sense to have seasonal items intermixed; why should you have to look through items that are not even options? Create zones of winter vs. summer clothing, just as you arrange pants vs. dresses, for example. That way, when you scan your footwear for something to wear on a cold, wintry day, you don’t waste time looking through flip-flops and sandals.

If you do choose a storage spot away from your primary closet, remember it must be cool and dry. Choose a place that is not likely to be exposed to heat. A dark spot will prevent fading and keep the area and, therefore, the clothing cool.

Make sure the storage area is dry because wetness will attract mildew and insects (this may rule out your attic or basement).

Utilize space bags and plastic tubs to protect your clothing. Transparent plastic boxes are tidy and stackable, and will keep your clothes clean and dust-free in the off-season.

Lastly, don’t forget to label the containers. If you have one seasonal bin for each family member, it can simply say “Seasonal Clothes – (insert name)” since you’re swapping out only two sets of clothes each year.

Patty McPherson is the owner of Orderly Manor in Plymouth, and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. She can be reached at 774-269-6519 or by e-mail at