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Anatomy Of A Closet Swap

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It’s September – time for the Closet Swap! Back to school has happened, crispy mornings have begun and while it is definitely not sweater weather yet we can feel it coming. It’s time to plot your Closet Swap. Don’t freak out! Today isn’t the day you are actually executing the swap, it’s just the day you are perusing the calendar and picking one day in the upcoming month to get ‘er done. The Closet Swap is a seasonal ritual where your in-season clothes and shoes move forward and the outgoing items move back. It is also the time to assess which things get to stay in your beautiful, curated collection and which things are ready for a 2nd life somewhere else. And it represents an opportunity to organize your closet in a way that makes it easy to keep neat in-season and paves the way for future swaps. It may seem like an unappealing chore to you right now but we are going to break it down and make it fun!

plan the event

The 2nd Law of Atomic Habits: Make It Attractive. Once you’ve selected your day you can do a little preparing ahead of time to make The Swap something to look forward to instead of something to dread. Some suggestions for making the event attractive:

  • Treat it as self-care time and clear other commitments/distractions for that time (i.e. children, spouses, sporting events, etc.)

  • Pick out a soundtrack to have on in the background, something that give you Autumn vibes (for me it’s Sting & Marc Cohen)

  • Sip on a hot beverage which tastes lovely and also contributes to the mood (pumpkin Spice something comes to mind)

  • Enlist an accountability partner to help you with the tough choices (teenage daughters are especially good at this, but a good friend works too!)

Another small thing you can do ahead of time is grab some bags to use for donations and/or re-sell and have them ready.

By the way, this method works no matter what your closet situation is. Maybe closet space is tight in your home and you have to literally switch closets seasonally. Or you may have an enormous walk-in closet that fits everything you own; in this case you are merely adjusting to ensure the in-season items are the most accessible. No matter the size of your closet(s) you may struggle with the ratio of hanging vs shelf vs drawer space when your needs are different by season. In any case, once you have reserved that date of your swap you can think about the best way to set up your closet for seasonal success using some sound guiding principles.

shoe storage

Many closets have the same problem: Shoes clutter the floor along the walls, making the little room look even smaller and unkempt. Shoes are best housed on shelves, with frequently-used categories occupying the best real-estate. Keep what you where most often visible and accessible. If your shelving solution is a shoe-rack system, make sure the racks are placed where the hanging clothes above them aren’t so long that you can’t see your shoes – visibility is key! Use cubby storage for off-season shoes, with one shoe facing backward and the other facing the front. The cubbies (or original shoes boxes, if you keep your shoe boxes) can spend their off-season somewhere high or even in another room if your space is tight. You won’t be needing those sandals until resort season comes around, in which case I’d keep your favorites stored in something clear or labeled so you can easily spot them when you are packing for that trip! Store all tall boots in the bottom row of shelving and make sure that row is tall enough to accommodate your tallest boot height. I keep the stuffing that comes with my new shoes and they all get stuffed before retreating to their off-season home so they retain their shape, plus it makes them feel new when I pull them back out in 8 months!

folding vs hanging

Some clothing categories are obviously meant to be hung (dresses, blouses, jackets) and others that are better folded (sweaters) but there are also flexible categories (denim, knits) that can either be hung or folded. Some people have strong opinions, especially about denim and I’ve seen some pretty heated debates on the topic. My personal preference is to fold my denim (easier to access & better visibility) but only if you have the shelf space in your closet after you’ve set out your shoes and sweaters. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of optimizing your closet to fit your needs with a closet system (we’ll get to that next) you should leverage these more flexible categories to fit in where you have the best space in your current setup, be it folded or hanging. So after you’ve done your seasonal edit (please edit!) for Fall you should begin your Closet Swap by anchoring with the categories that are not flexible. Set up your shoes & sweaters on shelves, hang your dresses, blouses & jackets. What space do you have left? More hanging bars? Hang your denim. More shelves? Fold your denim and maybe your knits too. Out of space? Knits can also be folded and placed in drawers (I don’t recommend this with denim.) If you are doing a good job with your seasonal edit (please edit!) you should have room for everything, you just may need to reconfigure between hanging, shelving and drawers. If you can’t fit everything, or your closet is not shoppable because everything is smushed in too tight you need to take another pass at the edit.

closet systems

I am a huge fan of closet systems. I believe a closet system to be one of the best investments you can make in your home. You can put together a patchwork of independent solutions to help maximize your current closet, but installing a system that is customized to your needs will make the difference in your ability to maintain an organized closet that is fun to shop in. There are so many different options available today at varying price points. Whether your builder is installing a system as part of a remodel, you’re working with a company like California Closets or you are designing your own Elfa system I have a few important pieces of advice:

  • Understand What You Need. Count your shoes, measure your hanging space, know how much drawer space is needed. Would you prefer your denim hanging or folded? Are your laundry hampers going to live in the closet? If you are sharing, what are the different needs of each spouse? These are all questions to answer before you start the design phase

  • Utilize Hooks & Racks. I like to place as many hooks as possible in walk-in closets, they are a lifesaver for handbags, scarves, robes and do not take up a lot of space. Another options for housing accessories are racks that pull out. You can place them on the wall or the side of a wardrobe, they are super-efficient and are a great solution for things like belts. I also like the bars that pull out perpendicular to the hanging space. They are great for setting out what you are wearing the night before, or planning your outfits for the week. When you aren’t using the bar it just slides back into the closet and disappears. Love!

  • Flexibility Is Key. Your Fall needs are different from your Spring needs. Your wardrobe evolves with your lifestyle. Your closet system needs to have some flexibility built in. Example: I have more shoe shelves in the Spring and less in the Fall because booties are taller and take up more vertical space. So when I’m doing my Closet Swap to Fall I remove a couple of shelves; they come back in the spring when my sandal wardrobe re-emerges to take priority. You may not know what changes are going to happen in the future but you want to have the option to adjust your closet to suit your evolving needs and not have it be a big deal or cost an arm and a leg.

How does your closet make you feel when you go in to look for clothes? Happy or stressed? I want you to feel happy when you look in your closet. I want it to make you feel great about yourself. The Closet Swap is a great vehicle for a reset. Give yourself the gift of a curated, organized closet with a fun seasonal swap twice a year – you’ve got this!

Need help? I’m here for you – closets are my jam and I’d love to make yours a place you love to spend time. Just hit the button below to schedule a phone chat!

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