Every year, since I was a little girl, I’ve switched out my clothing for summer and winter.
I usually do it twice a year, with a little in-between switch for spring and fall.
I keep all our off-season clothing in four big storage bins (we bought ours at a grocery store in Texas almost a decade ago and they’ve held up great for many moves!) and stack them in Tally’s closet.
I use two of them and the girls’ clothing goes in the other two.
I like these totes because they stack well, they’re out of the way, but easy enough to access if I need something and they cost almost nothing (they’re under $6 each).
Here’s how I do this seasonal clothing swap:
All about Seasonal Closet Switching, Clothes storage, and Closet Decluttering
- I wait until the weather is pretty fully changed. I’m not pulling out winter stuff in September – I wait until the weather is clearly showing that cool or cold weather is here to stay (in this case, I did it about a week before Halloween).
- I do it the day after I’ve done laundry. This means that almost everything in my closet is IN my closet, not in a dirty clothes hamper or in the washing machine.
- I get a big box for donations/things I don’t want to keep. I toss everything I don’t want to keep in this box and when I’m done, I tape it up and send it to thredUP. They buy what they want to and responsibly recycle or donate the rest. Am I making a ton of money? No. But my primary goal is to get the things I don’t want out of my house as fast as I can.
- I go section by section. I do my tops first, then pants, then dresses/skirts, then shoes, outerwear, exercise clothings, and pajamas. I fully finish a section – taking out the old stuff and putting in the new stuff – before I move on to the new stuff.
- In each section, I pull everything out first. When I’m doing my tops, for instance, I take them all off the shelf or out of the drawer and sort them into three piles – keep out, put away, and give away (I immediately toss everything in the give away pile into the thredUP box).
- I keep out very minimal things from the opposite season. I’ll talk about this more in the FAQs below, but I keep out maybe 3-4 short sleeves top in the winter, and only ones that are in colors and styles that feel fairly wintery. Same goes when I put away my winter things – I keep out maybe 1 sweater, no boots, etc.
- Once I’ve taken out the old, I put in the new. So once the tops are all sorted, I pull out the tops from my winter bin and put any that I want to use this year in my closet. Anything that I pull out and think, “Nah. I don’t like this,” I put in the thredUP box or if I’m not quite ready to part with it, but know I’m not likely to wear it, I put it in the “put away” pile. I can always get it out of storage if I suddenly decide it’s my favorite item of clothing in the whole world.
- I fold up all the things in the “put away” piles and neatly put them in the storage bins. I don’t wash things specially before they go in the bins – so if it’s a top I haven’t worn in a few months, it’s been washed after the last time I wore it, but I don’t wash it again right before things get put away. I also don’t use any packaging – no bags or interior bins or boxes. I just put everything in with my shoes on the top.
- The bins go back in Tally’s closet. Done and done! This whole process takes maybe 30-45 minutes.
When I shared about this on Instagram a few weeks ago, I got a bunch of questions about the switching procress and clothes storage.
Here are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions:
You have so much room! Why not keep them all in?
This is a great question and if you have the space and want to keep everything in your closet all the time, that’s awesome. For me, I want it to be as easy as possible to get dressed and it’s MUCH easier for me to get dressed when I don’t have to sort through a bunch of off-season things. If it’s 20 degrees outside, I don’t want to be digging through shorts or tees to find the winter things. I’d rather have only the things I’m wearing right now. It also makes it easier for me to see what things I’m missing when I only have the things I’m wearing. Do I have the right shoes for my outfits? Do I need a new cardigan? I can see that clearly with only my winter things out. It’s also more fun to bring out things that I haven’t worn in six months – it’s like getting a new wardrobe for free!
Do you do capsule wardrobes for the seasons?
I don’t do a capsule wardrobe. I AM very careful about what I keep and am pretty ruthless about weeding out my closet each season and getting rid of things that no longer fit, are stained or damaged, or that I just don’t like. I tend to wear the same things over and over again, so my wardrobe isn’t huge, but I wouldn’t consider it a capsule wardrobe.
Are there clothes you keep out year-round?
Absolutely! I wear jeans year-round (yep, even when it was 120 degrees in Arizona), so I almost never pack any of those away. Some of my sneakers are year-round, I keep out my light jackets (jean jacket, utility jacket, etc) year-round, and some of my pajamas and workout clothes never get packed away.
How to tell what works in summer, what works in winter, and what works in all seasons?
I think about three things when I’m deciding what to keep out or put away. First, the type of clothing: sweaters are clearly for winter and I’m not going to be wearing them in the summer (same with shorts for winter). Those are easy. Second, the fabric and color: I COULD layer a peach eyelet short sleeve shirt with a cardigan in the winter, but it’s clearly such a summery color and fabric that it’s not going to look right in the winter. Light, breezy fabrics and bright, summery colors go away in the winter and in the summer, I pack away anything flannel or deep colored that’s a better fit for winter. And third, the cut: a turtleneck is just not going to look quite right in the summer, even if it’s a light fabric. That’s a winter cut. I’m also optimizing for putting MORE things away, not keeping out as much as I can. If it’s at all on the line, I put it away so it’ll feel fun and new next season!
What about layering?
I keep out a few cooler items for layering, but I really do keep it as minimal as possible.
What do you do in between season when it’s 40 one day and 70 the next? Do you wait?
This is one reason I wait as long as possible to switch things out. We’ve had some chilly days in late September and early October and it was easy to pop on a jacket over my tee or wear sneakers instead of sandals.
How did you do this when you lived in a place with less drastic seasons?
When we lived in Arizona, I still did switched out my clothing, but it was a lot less because it just wasn’t that cold. I focused more on putting away things that were summery cuts and colors so I still looked seasonly appropriate even if I wasn’t actually wearing WARM clothing.
Do you also change out shoes?
Absolutely! I put all my sandals away in the winter and all my boots away in the summer. I also put away any really summer-y sneakers or dress shoes in the winter.
How to store things to keep wrinkles minimal?
I worry about wrinkles zero. I can always iron or steam things that need it when I pull them back out.
How do you decide whether to Goodwill or re-sell clothing you don’t want?
The question for me is always “is the money or my time more valuable?” Right now, it’s not worth my time to try to sell pieces individually so sending them all to thredUP is a great crossover solution for me. But if you have plenty of time to sell things on Poshmark or on Facebook Marketplace and the money is worth it to you, go for it!
Do you do it all in one go or gradually?
I mainly keep it to two big swaps a year. And then I might do one mini-switch in fall and spring where I put away a few more t-shirts as we get into true winter or pull out a few lighter tops as spring creeps in.
Do you wash everything that has been in storage that you just got out?
Nope – I just pull it out, hang it up or fold it on the shelf or in the drawer and wear it when I’m ready.
If you didn’t have space, what would you do with out of season clothes?
We’ve kept the off-season clothing in one of the girls’ closets in our last six houses. Before we had children, I had some under-bed storage bins that went under our bed.
How do you do it for your girls?
Exactly the same system, except we start with Ella (who is the oldest) and go through her clothing and pass down anything that no longer fits her but works for the next child. Then we go to Ani’s closet and so on down to the youngest. Then we make a list of what they need (Ella needs two more pairs of jeans and some pajamas, Ani has no Sunday shoes, Star needs some tights, etc) and buy as needed.
How do you decide what to keep for hand-me-downs?
Two questions I ask myself: Is it in good condition? Anything pilled, stained, torn, or otherwise in bad shape goes. Is it something I actually even like? Some items, after a couple of children, I just never want to see again. Goodbye!
Any other questions about switching out your clothing seasonally or clothing storage? I’m happy to answer!