Top Five Tips for Your Seasonal Clothing Swap

October 14, 2023

It’s finally starting to feel like fall out there! The heat lovers among us are groaning and it’s time to start busting out those thicker layers. The question is, do we have the space? If you’re finding that your closet is particularly squeezed this season, it may be time to start the tradition of a seasonal clothing swap. Turning over your wardrobe twice a year–once in the spring and once in the fall–will keep things fresh and make the best use of your space. New to the process? Just looking to improve your wardrobe game? Here are our top five tips for handling a seasonal clothing swap:

(1) Plan your storage

Whether it’s a spare bedroom or a shelf in the attic, identify the off-season home for your summer clothes. Make sure you have what you need to store them safely. Clear plastic bins work great for space management as well as easily seeing what you have tucked away. For more delicate items that require hanging, you may need to make room in a lesser-used closet. Go the extra mile with a simple labeling system and inventory list so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Understanding your storage limits ahead of time will help with decisions during the sorting process. “I can only keep what I can fit in this bin/on this rack” is a great external benchmark when your wardrobe has ballooned with unused items. Keep your sustainability options in mind if you’re hoping to go more eco-friendly or minimalist with your wardrobe style.

(2) Plan your time

Especially if this is your first time turning over your wardrobe, you may be surprised how long it takes to get through everything. It’s important to make time to get the whole job done right. Anything to keep those half-sorted piles of clothes from hanging around longer than they should!

Depending on your schedule and wardrobe size, it may make sense to block out an entire day or break the task into smaller chunks over several days. Be realistic about how you work best (do you focus well over long periods or in short bursts?) and plan around that. See our tips on time management if you’re worried about keeping things on track. Whatever you choose, give yourself the time you need and go at your own pace. And make it fun!

(3) Make it fun

Setting the mood makes all the difference when tackling a big project. Put on some comfy clothes, grab a seasonal drink, load up your favorite playlist, maybe even invite a friend over! Body doubles are always handy, and we all know how game-changing a second opinion can be when we’re stuck on a decision in front of a mirror. 

Be mindful about who you choose to call on for help. If you know you have a hard time staying on task, invite a friend who can keep you in line. If you’re already decent at staying focused but the task just seems daunting, bring over the person that will help it feel less like work and more like a fashion show!

(4) Prepare your supplies and space

Before you actually start unloading your drawers and hangers, make sure you have everything ready for the process to go smoothly. Here are some things to consider:

  • Where/how did you decide to store your out-of-season clothing? Have your bins (or other storage method) out and ready when you get started.
  • Bring some extra containers for any unwanted items. Clearly label them as consignment, donate, recycle, etc. to avoid getting mixed up while you’re working.
  • Where will you be sorting your clothes? Flat surfaces like beds and desks/tables work best. Make sure the surface is big enough to handle the load and clear of any clutter. If you don’t have enough free space available, you might want to pull in some extra real estate (like folding tables or chairs).
  • Make sure you have enough lighting to clearly evaluate your clothing. If your room or closet is naturally dark, you may need to add an extra lamp or two. If you don’t already have a mirror available in the space, set one up if you can.

(5) Don’t be afraid to make cuts!

Pull EVERYTHING out once you’re ready to sort. Drawers, closets, even the extra bins or baskets that may be hiding in odd spots. Don’t forget any fresh or undone laundry! Once you have all your clothing together and sorted by category, try to realistically evaluate what you no longer use or need. Let go of anything with stains/tears and items that no longer fit. This is where a friend and knowledge of your storage limits can really help guide your decision making.

The fact is, most of us only regularly use about 20% of our entire wardrobe. The other 80% is special use or just crowding. If you’re stuck on a hard decision, ask yourself: is the “just in case” security of keeping this item worth the space it takes up? (Keep in mind that overcrowding can actually damage the items you’re trying to keep on hand.) If you know you have extra room and the item can stay out of the way, you might be able to keep it…but if you’re already having a hard time making space for what you actually use, it might be time to let go.

With these top five tips, your seasonal clothing swap is already bound for success. For a more in-depth guide on the process from start to finish, check out our blog from last spring. And as always, drop by our Facebook Declutter Group to let us know how it goes!