Spring clean your closet: Use the change of seasons to update your wardrobe

Tara Kingston

For those who live in cooler climates, switching your wardrobe to a spring/summer style is a must once temperatures begin to rise. It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier if you know where to start.

Empty and sort

Laura McHolm, founder of NorthStar Moving, is an organization expert whose company has worked with such high-profile clients as Angelina Jolie and Eva Longoria. She recommends taking everything out of the closet and creating four piles: keep, give away, throw away, and store.

The keep pile will contain everything you’ll be wearing in the upcoming season, as well as holdovers from the previous season. Jeff Landis at Montopoli Custom Clothiers in Chicago says technology in textile manufacturing has made many fabrics easier to wear year-round. He recommends keeping a solid-colored suit and navy blazer in mid-weight fabrics in your closet all year.

Get rid of it

When making the decision to keep or let go of an item, ask yourself how long it has been since you have worn it, McHolm says. If nostalgia ties you to the piece, she recommends taking a photo to keep the warm, fuzzy feeling without taking up closet space.

If you just can’t part with the item, place it in a clear bag or box with the day’s date and store it. If you go back to it in the next few months, keep it, McHolm says. If not, donate it or sell it on eBay.

Clothes that are in poor condition – stained or ripped – should be tossed or recycled into rags.

Box and label

For the items in your store pile, like sweaters, heavy coats, wool suits and snow boots, McHolm suggests taking a photo of each item and making two copies. Then, when you box up items for storage, place one photo on the outside of each box and put the other photo in a storage file. That way, McHolm says, you’ll know what’s in your storage unit and can find it easily without unpacking everything.

Keep and organize

Decide how you want your clothes to work for you. How you decide what to wear every day? Do you prefer to keep one kind of clothing together, such as all tank tops together, all jeans together, etc.? Or do you like it more general, keeping all dressy items together and all casual items together? Either way, Landis recommends organizing by color, dark to light, to make grabbing combinations easier.

McHolm says to sort shoes by use or occasion. For example, keep sport shoes on one side, work shoes on the other. Then break down the dressy shoes by flats to heels and light to dark, she says.


Tips for storing your stuff

- Before storing, make sure clothes are freshly washed or dry cleaned to get rid of any crumbs or food stains that could attract pests.

- For items that can be folded and boxed, organization expert Laura McHolm likes clear boxes to make it easy to see what’s inside.

- For items that should remain hanging, clothier Jeff Landis prefers using wishbone hangers and a cedar-lined closet. Ditch any wire hangers, as they can cause misshapen clothes.

- Landis says lavender is a pest repellant, so forget the mothballs and use lavender sachets to keep clothes bug-free and smelling fresh.

- For hanging items, Landis recommends cloth covers so natural fabrics can breathe. Plastic covers, like those from dry cleaners, can trap moisture and ruin fabrics.

Year-round shoes

Marjory DeRoeck, personal image consultant at www.theimagestudio.biz, says there are five shoes that should stay in your closet all year long.

1. Ankle boots: These are fun to wear with cropped pants and skirts, and are lighter than knee-high boots.

2. Light-colored pumps: This shoe elongates the leg. Because of the light color, even suede can work through spring.

3. Metallics: Whatever color works for your skin tone – pewter, soft gold, silver – can be dressy in winter and fun for spring.

4. Bright color: While this shoe can coordinate with a winter outfit, such as a red shoe with a certain sweater and slacks, it packs a punch when paired with neutrals for spring.

5. Ballerina flats: Those comfy shoes still have a place for spring and summer, especially if they sport a fun texture like animal print, tweed or snakeskin.