“It’s finally more pleasant outside!” I’m dying to pull out my spring wardrobe, but swapping out my bulky sweaters and coats feels overwhelming. Last year, I crammed everything into a guest bedroom and ended up with stained, smelly, dusty clothes. This year, I want to take good care of my beautiful things. Where do I start?” —Maryam, Toronto
There’s so much promise in a new season and a new closet. Find favorite pieces woven from precious memories; organize light spring looks by color. In your head, the experience of spring cleaning the closet is like a movie edit with you as Marie Kondo. But the reality involves a lot of work and endless piles, and it’s a task best approached with a firm plan in hand. If you keep your eyes on the prize – a wonderful experience next fall when sweater weather returns – winter storage can be very satisfying, indeed.
First of all, it’s time to modify your wardrobe according to what you really wear and make sure it looks vibrant when you take it out again. “It’s an opportunity to check the spots and see what needs minor repairs or tweaks, what doesn’t fit or no longer suits you,” says Kelly Zarif, chief operating officer of Dove Cleaners, which launched on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, in 1993; he’s been in Canada since 1997. Dove is becoming a one-stop service center for housekeeping: there’s a new closet cleaning service that cleans and packs everything for you, and a new consignment program with the RealReal which eliminates the good things you no longer want and resells them on your behalf. There’s even a team that will launder your running shoes or clean your outdoor fabric cushions. Aspirational!
If you’re in DIY mode, the first rule of seasonal closet swapping is to wash or dry clean everything before putting it away. “The most crucial items to clean and repair are sweaters and coats,” says Zarif. “If you let them sit with dirt and salt stains until September, the damage will be done. Removing stains after a period of storage is extremely difficult in some cases, impossible in many cases. It’s also essential to eliminate odors from your winter clothes. Not only do body odors, dirt, and microscopic food scraps attract moths, the odors permeate the fabric and will leave that stinky yellow stain under the armpits of your crisp white shirt.
It’s also a great time to tackle pilling: Dove has a whole anti-pilling department, for your information, but I bought a nifty cloth razor from Steamery, and was delighted with how it revived sweaters, coats and even woolen plaids. which were beginning to show uneven wear.
Sweaters shouldn’t be stored on a hanger during the winter, because they’ll get that annoying indentation of the hanger on the shoulder, or what my mother called ladyfingers. If you dry clean them, ask for the folding option. “Remove the plastic,” Zarif says emphatically, “and keep it folded up in a drawer, dresser, or trash can. If it’s clean, it’s less likely to be eaten by moths. There are a dizzying number of sweater folding youtube videos to help you make nice rows.
For clothes that require hangers, Zarif puts an end to a topic that has long stressed me, in a Joan Crawford-Dear Mum a kind of path without hangers. “As long as the wrap maintains the shape of the garment, it doesn’t matter if the hanger is wire, plastic, or coated.” I’m still going to stick to my wooden hangers though, and please don’t tell my husband it’s no big deal.
Zarif recommends storing your best items in breathable garment bags, rather than the acid-free bags currently on the market. “If the clothes are clean, moths won’t get into the breathable garment bags,” she says, adding that these bags from Amazon are fine, as are the breathable boxes. Storing clothes in plastic bins without air circulation is likely to be too hot, and moths are attracted to warm, damp, dark places. “I don’t recommend it,” she said.
Zarif is a fan of cedar blocks to naturally repel pests (she gets them from Home Depot). Herbs can also help – mint, lavender, rosemary, thyme, cloves (which are technically flower buds) – in essential oil form or dried in sachets that can be stored in drawers, boxes and between hangers. Since no one ever wants to smell like mothballs, this is a nice first step if you don’t have a big problem. If you have a moth problem, Zarif says get it all out of there. Everything must be dealt with. Get a professional to assess and recommend treatment. Wash all clothes in hot water or take them to the dry cleaners. “Tell your dry cleaner there’s a problem!” says Zarif, because these clothes must be separated.
Don’t forget your shoes! Most importantly: Clean winter boots and shoes before they fade, otherwise those stains will stay forever. If they have salt on them, it will continue to do damage unless you act now. Zarif recommends keeping the silica gel packs that come with the shoes to absorb moisture during storage. Make sure high boots are stored with boot trees and use your shoe bags! Zarif says they’re breathable, prevent the buildup of dust and dirt, and are more likely to keep your treasures cooler than a box – and heat is the enemy of long-lasting clothes. and shoes.
This brings us to a subject I think about a lot: celebrity closets filled with Birkins and Chanel bags and Louboutin shoes, all displayed in rows of candy colors. Is it really good for them? Not in Zarif’s opinion. “If a purse won’t be used until fall, put it in the dust bag,” she says. “It looks good on social media, but it’s not good to have your bags on display all the time.” Unless you have an army of dusting staff, keeping them out of direct sunlight and in cool temperatures with airflow is your best bet.
Once you’ve gone through your things, now is the time to physically deep clean your closets: vacuum the carpets, corners and crevices, and wash everything down with a solution of water and vinegar.
Obviously, this task takes time and thought, so set aside a day for a good wardrobe change and you’ll reap the rewards in the fall.
Buy the tips
Stock up on a few essentials to keep your winter clothes looking their best
Squared Away Cedar 36-Piece Set, $25, bedbathandbeyond.ca SHOP HERE
Store these small cedar blocks between hangers or inside breathable fabric storage boxes for a pleasant scent and a layer of moth protection.
Chefic Underbed Storage Boxes, $29 for two, amazon.ca SHOP HERE
If you don’t have spare closets to rotate out-of-season clothes, use the space under the bed with these breathable flat boxes.
The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo and Spray Duo, $36, thelaundress.com SHOP HERE
A nice option to hand wash your fine wool and cashmere sweaters (in cold water) and steam them before putting them to sleep for the summer.
Steamery Cloth Razor, $78, goodeeworld.com SHOP HERE
I promise you’ll never know what you were doing before owning this gadget: it resurrects any item that grows tissue pills instantly and satisfactorily!
Librao-Ca Clothing Storage Bag, $39, amazon.ca SHOP HERE
Breathable, waterproof and dustproof storage bags will help protect your clothes from summer heat waves and potential colonization by insects.
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