Seasonal Storage: All together now, or separate spheres?

Angie's comments about preferring to store all her clothes in one place got me thinking yesterday.

Like Angie, my preference is for a relatively small, intermixable wardrobe. (Or at least that would be my ideal. Not entirely there yet, LOL!)

But unlike Angie, I very strongly prefer to store my out-of-season clothing in a different closet or storage space (assuming I have the room to do that).

I live in a true 4 season climate. Every September, I haul out the fall/winter things, inspect them, and transfer them to my bedroom closet, meanwhile inspecting the spring/summer things and moving them to the storage closet. I reverse the process in March. Also, in November and May I typically put a few fall/spring jackets away in storage and sometimes bring out the super heavy (or super light) items at that time.

I wonder if this is because my climate is so varied that I have very few true crossover items. The only things I can think of are one black jersey dress, one white button down (almost unworn in summer b/c it is heavier weight cotton and long sleeved) and jeans, although in high summer I do not even wear those -- they are quite simply too hot for me. Everything else is different -- footwear, PJs, tops, jackets, skirts.

If I store it all in one closet, my brain goes crazy with the too-varied textures and thicknesses of fabric, and I get depressed. I get the urge for a giant purge and run in danger of getting rid of items that are in fact incredibly useful in their proper season, but seem ridiculous at a different time of year.

When I lived in Vancouver, I had a completely different experience. There, I kept all my clothes in one closet all year and felt perfectly delighted with it.

Does anyone share my weird neurosis? How do you manage -- whatever your climate?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Kirti replied 8 years ago

    When I was in India, summer was ridiculously HOT and winters were freezing. There was hardly any spring/autumn weather. So my mom would put away my summer clothes in a huge suitcase when the weather turned chilly and vice versa when it became hot. I loved opening the suitcase at the end of the season, it was like discovering an all new wardrobe! It would be too much to have all those clothes in the same closet; so I understand where you are coming from.

    In France however, the weather is pretty unpredictable so a lot of my jackets are out even in the hottest weather. I do put away some stuff though, my winter coat, gloves and hat, some sweaters and bottoms that are suited only for colder weather like my cord skirt and pants. I too cannot have ALL my clothes in the same closet all year round. I could, but I don't want to!

  • Glory replied 8 years ago

    I live in Ontario and have 4 distinct seasons as well. Very few items cross over with the exception of jeans. I have split my items into two seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. I pack most items away into containers bins but they are stored in my closet. Winter coats and boots I have in a basement closet and range from heavy duty for extreme cold to packaway down jackets.

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I'm like you. I prefer to move out the heaviest pieces in preparation for warm weather, and the summery pieces when we move into fall. We have such differences between summer and winter weather here that there is almost no crossover between my wardrobes until the transitional spring and fall seasons. It's just too distracting to have to flip past wool sweaters and heavy dark skirts in my closet when I'm dressing for a 90 degree, 80% humidity day. Same goes for boots getting switched out for sandals.

    I've lived in the same state for my whole life, so I'm used to this routine.

  • replied 8 years ago

    I store everything together, but do put seasonal items front and center when their season rolls around.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    I store everything all together, although I suppose if I had less closet space I'd have to do a seasonal rotation. Still, I can never tell in Boston when it is actually going to start to get cold (we pretty much had no winter last year, I think it only snowed twice) or hot (sometimes it's freezing in June) so the idea of switching clothing seasons at a defined time does not work for me.

    I have a lot of crossover items, but then again I am a huge fan of layering.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Even though we only have two seasons here (summer and Christmas, lol), I'm much like you. I change the colors I wear to create my own seasons. Last year I tried to put all of my bright turquoise summer things away so that my closet was mostly neutrals for the fall/winter months. In fact, I dyed my first bag, Big Blue last winter and it was so bright that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it work. It stuck out like a sore thumb on my closet shelf and I almost donated it (!) I finally hid it in a bag and then brought it out in spring. It's been a mainstay for me all summer long and the color is perfect. But looking at it in winter just drove my eyes crazy, so I know what you mean.

  • milehighstyle (Linda) replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I do exactly what you do. I live in the Denver area - spring, fall, and winter can be all over the place weather wise, mostly too cold for my liking - but May through September is always hot (perfect for me). I store off season clothing and shoes in the basement and do full closet change outs in late September and late March, with a few tweaks in November and May. Items I keep in the closet year round are mid weight cardigans, pencil skirts, jeans (although like you I hardly wear them in the summer), and a couple blazers. Almost all of my blouses and work tops, dresses, shoes and pants get changed out completely from winter to summer.

  • shiny replied 8 years ago

    This is my goal, and I'm nearly there, one more purge soon and I should accomplish it, but with these exceptions:

    1) Items that are only worn in the dead of winter. Like you, it drives me nuts to see dark, heavy wool items hanging in my closet in Spring/Summer next to cheerier lighter weight items. This category fits in one tub.

    2) Items that are only worn at the height of summer, i.e., beach wear. In this category, last year I got it all down to an amount small enough to fit inside my beach bag. This includes flip flops, flat sandals, bathing suits, and beach cover ups (which for me are inexpensive knit dresses that I can wear to the beach and then also wear straight to dinner after, and which are also nice enough for backyard BBQ's or casual errand running). What was nice about this is that when we planned an impromptu trip to see my friend in FL, I had everything all handy.

    3) Winter coats. They are all in the hall closet, mostly because they are so bulky. My other coats (jean jacket, leather jackets, trench) are kept in the bedroom closet simply because my daughters had this habit of borrowing without asking... )

    My closet is quite small, maybe 5 feet wide? We live in one of those 100 year old houses. It has a low ceiling too. I have knee-high boots lined up on the top shelf. I have sweaters and scarves stashed in two rolling 3-basket wire thingie. 20 pairs of shoes in shoe hanger on back of closet door. Formal wear tucked in the far recesses, then dress slacks, then dresses, then skirts, then blazers, then blouses (my biggest category and the one about to be culled the most), and finally outerwear. Basket for dry cleaning on the floor. I keep jeans, exercise gear, loungewear, underwear, camis, belts, and a small handful of tees in the dresser.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    I am so glad that I'm not completely nuts! It seems many of us who live in a climate with varied seasons need to move our winter things away when it is summer and vice versa!

    I am interested in those who do not, like Diana. Diana, your climate is much like mine (actually, your winters are a bit shorter) and yet you can manage to keep all the stuff there, in plain view....I wonder if this ability to tolerate lots of different textures/ fabric weights in your closet goes with a "maximal" dressing style.

    Shiny, you sound incredibly organized. I love your beach bag idea; that is so clever!

    I, too, live in a 100 year old house. My closet space is even smaller than yours (I mean my "main" bedroom closet) - maybe 3 feet of rod space. But I do have a nice big dresser, as well, for items that get folded.

  • Aziraphale replied 8 years ago

    I didn't know you once lived in Vancouver, Suz! Awesome.

    As you did when you lived here, I keep all my clothes in one closet. We do get four seasons, but they're all mild, so there's a lot of overlap between the seasonal clothes. For example I have denim skirts that I wear year-round, but with bare legs in the summer.

    There are a few things that really don't work year-round, though, like wool skirts and heavy sweaters. I fold those neatly and put them on the top shelf in my closet, where they're out of reach but visible. When the weather cools down in the fall I'll take them down and move up my summer-only clothes.

  • ironkurtin replied 8 years ago

    My closet is very small and the only way to keep it working is to store my off-season stuff. Also, when it is 100 degrees out, the LAST thing I want to see is cashmere! I find it very fun to open up my storage boxes and switch over.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I think the idea of not having everything available all the time makes me nervous! Granted, I do have separate areas in my closet for big sweaters (they are all on a particular set of shelves) or winter coats (all in a specific part of one closet) so I don't look at them much in summer. I do take my tall winter boots and put them in the closet (rather than on the shoe racks by the door) in summer and I do the same with sandals in winter just because I have too many shoes to keep them all out at once! But if I really wanted to wear my snow boots in July, I just have to open my closet door, LOL.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    So interesting, Diana. And I'm just the opposite -- looking at it all at once overwhelms me and makes me itchy to get rid of things I'm not currently wearing!

  • replied 8 years ago

    I'm really struggling with this concept because I WANT to have all my clothes in one place but logistically, my closet is too small. I am finding that I miss having everything where I see it all. I do live in the Seattle area so a lot of my stuff can be used year-round. Currently, I do need to store all the extreme off-season stuff out of the closet because of space limitations. But I want to keep culling until its all comfortably in one place. Because for me, once its out of sight, its out of mind.

  • Echo replied 8 years ago

    I definitely have summer and winter wardrobes separated. In the Midwest, the seasons are pretty well defined, and I still cannot get past my own mental block of not wearing certain items or colours in certain seasons. Boots, for example, NEVER come out before September 1, despite me loving the look in the warmer months on other people. But there is just very little crossover in my mind between seasons, especially because I tend to run warm, so cardis have little place in my summer wardrobe. I tend to wear looser clothing in the summer, so the styles and prints of dresses are wildly different, too.

    I would like to live in a more even climate, as I think I could have a smaller wardrobe with the pieces each receiving more wear. In the winter here, the only clothing pieces that seems to matter are coats, scarves and boots!

  • Chippy Mia replied 8 years ago

    I like to keep all my clothes together with the exception of my fall/winter outerwear which occupies the hall closet. I tried to rotate my seasonal clothes but I find end up buying more and more clothes. Out of sight out of mind.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Oh, and one more thing. I think I like to be able to SEE everything. I don't like dressers because I can't easily see what I put in them. Instead, I have a cabinet type thing with shelves and a door where i keep things like jeans and tees folded up. (I keep things like socks, underwear, and bras in baskets inside the cabinet or closet).

  • rae replied 8 years ago

    Well, I'm sort of like Claire in that there really are only two seasons: the continually-remove-layers-until-noon season and the throw-a-coat-on-over-regular-clothes season. I have enjoyed keeping my two seasons separate for many years, but I'm trying out having everything together this year.

    I sort of like being able to see everythig together, myself. Since I thrift a lot, I often buy off-season. This would get me in trouble when I kept things separate, because I'd forget what I had and buy things I didn't need.

    I do agree that I'd go batty with four seasons mashed together, though.

  • merwoman replied 8 years ago

    I live east of Toronto - and keep nearly all my clothing together in a small walk in closet. Exception - outerwear (coats/jackets) are stored in the main hallway closet.
    My dear SO has customized our existing closet so that we have 2 rows (upper/lower)for hanging items down each side. These rows do not extend the full length - on one side are shelves for storing undies/socks/bras/camis etc and the other side a few shelves plus an area for dresses.
    There is room on top of each upper row to store some bins - I put very seasonal items like winter sweaters/summer sleevless toppers in them and rotate at the start/end of the season.
    The closet works wonderfully well - primarily because it has been customized for our wardrobes - the types of items we wear - and their size.
    Like others - I am very visual. I don't have any dresser drawers - need to see it all!

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    I just realized the downside of a separated seasonal closet -- at least for me. When I travel to a place experiencing a different climate, I have to dig out items from my out-of-season stash. I had to go boot-diving in preparation for a couple of days in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago! ;-) And I'm about to start unearthing my warm layers for the Arctic in a few weeks. Feels a little weird to think about thermal underwear as I sweat in 90+ degree weather!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Interesting thoughts!

    I do understand about the out-of-sight/ out-of-mind thing. That's partly why I buy pretty much in-season. Which sometimes means I miss out. The NAS is tough for me anyway, being in Canada, but if I really decide to get serious about it next year, I will have to take out all my fall-winter items and look them over before purchasing, otherwise I'm sure to make mistakes.

    I like the sounds of your closet, Merwoman. I guess what I do is really a version of that, except that my bins are in my second closet.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    TOTALLY hear you, Janet. I had to dig deep to find my stuff for the trip to Banff. Then it turned out to be much warmer than they'd predicted and I didn't really need all that stuff!

  • kimlee replied 8 years ago

    Suz, up until this summer I generally stored all of my clothing in one closet. However, I have to realize that with our extremely mild winters, I really won't be wearing the wool skirts, velvet blazers, and heavy coats enough to justify having them in my closet for the other 50 weeks of the year (yes, a slight exaggeration but you see my point). I now store them in our office closet and will bring them out only when it is cold enough to justify their wear.

  • DeclawedJaguar replied 8 years ago

    I also use a seasonal closet approach, both to avoid the confusion of having pieces unsuitable to the weather at the moment, and to conserve closet space. There are some summer tops that remain in the closet in the winter, because they are great for layering, some lightweight jackets are always out for those unexpected cool spells, but most summer items get packet away in Oct-Nov and winter items -- in April-May.

    This works for me, because the breaks seem to prolong my enthusiasm for the clothes and save me the irritation of wading through season-inappropriate clothes to get to what I need. Granted, I live in the midwest, where we have four very distinct seasons. This seems to be one of those things that is highly subjective and personal -- to each his/her own, etc.

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    I do keep all my clothing in one closet, but my jackets and coats go in the spare room closet. Tahoe winter is 6 months of the year, but although there's plenty of snow, it's pretty mild (rarely below zero). Conversely, FL summer is also 6 months out of the year, lol.
    At home (CA) I do have a dresser in which my sweaters and my shorts and bathing suits go, so I suppose the extreme seasonal wear is hidden to some degree. I keep all my tops hanging, though, from tanks to turtlenecks, all year long. It works for me. I like to see what I have all in the same place. And I do sometimes wear a tank (under a jacket, and then under a coat) even in winter. Maybe if I'm going to the casinos to go dancing or see a concert, etc.

  • Makrame replied 8 years ago

    I am also a "seasonal closet" type person. Our climate is about the same as yours, Suz. I cannot stand seeing woolens in the summer. I put out of season clothes into a couple of tubs and large shopping bags in my closet, and try to leave only in-season items on the hangers. The jackets and coats are in the hall closet so I don't have to worry about switching those around. I also clean and/or resole winter boots in the spring and put them back into boxes.

    And then, of course, there is DH, who recently looked at his cross-country ski boots and said, "Well, I guess there is no point in putting them away now..." :) Which is funny, because in most other aspects he is much more organized than I am.

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Ha, Makrame's comment about her DH reminded me of another reason why separating clothes by season does not work for me. I am extremely disorganized, a terrible housekeeper, and a big procrastinator, so by the time I'd actually get around to putting around my winter clothes, it would probably be time to take them out again!

  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    As you've figured out, Suz, I also live in a four-season climate near the Rockies.

    My husband and I share a smallish walk-in closet (must admit that the "sharing" is 2/3 for me and 1/3 for him, though). The only things that we store outside this closet are coats and jackets that we are currently wearing in our front hall closet and our rather extensive collection of ski/sports gear in a basement closet. I also use this basement closet to house our heavy winter coats in the summer and our summer jackets and rain wear in the winter. I have a fabric storage container that I use to store winter scarves, gloves, and hats that is placed on the top shelf of our closet in the summer and brought down to the front hall in the winter.

    I do separate my summer clothes from my winter clothes by re-arranging every season, putting the clothes that I'm not currently wearing at the less visible sides of the hanging rod and placing my current items front and center. The majority of my wardrobe is on these hangers.

    We have a couple of drawer units in our bedroom that I handle the same way. I'm a bit (well, more than a bit, LOL) of a neat freak, so I use fabric boxes from IKEA to store stuff in the drawers and just re-arrange the boxes so what I'm currently wearing is close at hand. I also bought a pile of IKEA shoe boxes so I could store my out-of-season footwear on the top shelf of our closet. Our closet does have some shelving that we share and use to store footwear and sweaters.

    I've tried storing out-of-season clothes in another area, but that doesn't work for me. It's unhandy if I'm packing for a different climate (we tend to do most of our traveling in the fall and spring), I'd hate re-hanging and re-folding every season, and, probably, most important for me, I'd probably use the extra space as an excuse to buy more stuff.

  • Keix replied 8 years ago

    I live in a true four-season climate, but I still prefer to keep all of my clothes in one place. Our transitional seasons, spring and fall, can vary wildly in temperature from week to week (or even day to day) by easily 10 degrees F. The coats get packed away in a corner, but I like seeing my sweaters in easy reach in case the weather goes insane again.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Thanks for all the descriptions, everyone! Makrame, that is a great reminder to make sure the boots are weather-worthy ahead of time, and one good reason to switch things out (or at least examine them) at end of season.

    And I laughed out loud about your husband. It might be true that neat freaks are more disposed to separate things out (or put things away, at any rate). I guess I'm a bit of a neat freak, LOL. But absolutely, to each her own. There is obviously no one right way. And I do think it sounds as if climate plays a big role, though it's not the only factor.

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    Yep, KL, in Tahoe daytime highs in the 80's give way to lows of 40 or even less regularly. Talk about needing to layer!

  • JR replied 8 years ago

    Suz, I live not far from you and like you, I prefer to remove some objects altogether (turtleneck sweaters, for example). Other categories get moved to the back of the closet: right now that means long-sleeved tops and long pants. They aren't in active rotation, but I can easily raid those sections for unusually cool days or an evening at the movies. Come fall, anything that can't be worn in winter will be set aside out of the way for a while.

    But I do have more things I would consider cross-overs than you appear to. T-shirts and tanks can be worn all year, with layering. I almost prefer the tanks in the winter rather than the summer. I wear them like a camisole under thinner cardigans or peeking out from under a cropped cardigan. T-shirts can be worn under jackets or cardigans also, especially when I either want to keep the topper on all day or when I anticipate spending time in an over-heated environment, like my elderly in-laws' place. Then I can peel off enough clothing to stay comfortable. Three-quarter sleeve tops also straddle seasons quite well, in general. Some skirts can sail through the whole year as well.

    And that's how it works for me.

  • Zapotee replied 8 years ago

    I do keep my winter - summer items together as well. I just don't have an area where I could store the off season stuff, other than the closets themselves.

    I do have three closets at the moment:

    One is a folding closet. I think this was designed as a pantry but my kitchen cabinetry is quite generous space wise, so I really don't need a pantry. In this closet I hold my knits, sweaters and jeans. What do with this closet is that I switch what goes on the more reachable shelves according to season and either use space bags or the bottom shelves for out of season stuff. Yet, everything is still at eye's view. I do keep my bags here as well on a top shelf and in their respective dust bags. This is the closet that gives me the most headache, especially when I do my Tasmanian devil routines in the morning and I just unfold all of my stuff in haste.

    The second is a hanging closet that holds my blazers, shirts, dresses and skirts plus work pants, vests etc. I use items from this closet all year long, therefore nothing gets put away. I do keep most of my shoes, inside their boxes, in this closet as well. That is the area where I could use some improvement, shoe storage, but it always stays nice and neat.

    The last closet is our shared outerwear closet. Little Zap and I share this closet.

  • Lisa replied 8 years ago

    I keep all seasons (I have 4) in the same closet. One reason is because I run cold, and heavier items (especially cardigans) work well in the a/c for summer months. I also find I can remix more when I have everything together. I do group items though, my heavy winter sweaters and blazers are pushed to the back in the off seasons. I also put the "fall/winter" colors in the back. I'm not going to favor wine or forest green in the heat. When the colder months come and I can no longer remix with warmer weather items, I will push those to the back. A second reason why this works for me is, the stores tend to change faster than my seasons and seeing the winter clothes even though I can't wear them yet, prevents me from purchasing duplicates. When I used to pack them away I'd unpack my clothes and find recent purchases that repeated what I already had. Also, if I'm lucky enough to go away on a holiday to a warm locale, I can easily pack my summer items for the trip.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Zap, I am laughing to myself at the idea of your Tasmanian devil routine. And I know just what you mean about unfolding in haste (and repenting at leisure...) I have to do regular re-folds of the place where I store my folded things...

    JR, you are right. T shirts can do double duty. I don't have many short sleeved layering Ts any more. Just a couple of tanks. I guess I am really wearing more wovens than I thought! And in summer, my wovens tend to be sleeveless.

  • jayne replied 8 years ago

    I am in the storage group, like you Suz. I connect totally with the packing away and packing out later feeling like Xmas! Love really 'seeing' the new wardrobe in a way I wouldn't if they were all together all the time.

    Just like we have different taste in clothes it is clear that there are tastes in storing them. One thing I keep in mind also is having some control in NOT filling my empty closet spaces. You see, after being single for a few years it is tempting to take over all that closet as my own....but I know that BF will move in some day and don't want to have to learn then to live with limited there is plenty of room ready now....

    BF so far uses only 2 drawers in his alloted 8 drawer closet....but this is up from 1 drawer last year....patience young cricket. ....we will get him in the end!

  • cheryl replied 8 years ago

    I am like Angie! I like to see what I have. It makes it easier for layering, etc. Also changing items out seasonally is a big job and one I would rather not do. I do put my heavier winter items towards the back of their section in summer and vice versa but thats it. I want everything at my fingertips. :)

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