How to Create a Seasonal Closet to Streamline Your Clothing Storage

Professional organizers give their best tips on seasonal closets.

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Closet dread: the feeling you get at the mere thought of peering into that stuffed-to-the-brim space. A disorganized closet can quickly lead to this feeling, along with a sense of chaos and frustration, late mornings as you try to find your outfit of the day, and a cycle of accidentally purchasing clothing duplicates. The goal, of course, should be a highly functional closet that works for you, rather than against you—and a space that never feels overwhelming.

“A highly functional closet is a closet where someone can easily find what they need, can easily put clothing back where it belongs, and where clothes don’t get neglected,” says professional organizer Jean Prominski, founder of home organization company Seattle Sparkle. “A functional closet also means that the clothes in the closet are all worn either on a regular basis or have a specific purpose.”

Whether you’ve got limited room, an excess of clothing, or a closet that’s simply not working for you, opting for the seasonal closet method is a way to get back your sanity and space. 

What is a Seasonal Closet?

A seasonal closet houses only the items you’ll want or need to wear in the current season. For example, a summer closet wouldn’t have any cable knit sweaters or quilted hoodies, but instead would feature an assortment of warm-weather apparel. ("Closet," in this case, doesn't just have to refer to the closet, but can also extend to your dresser, or wherever you primarily keep your everyday clothes.)

“A seasonal closet is a great idea,” says home organizer Jill Koch, founder of home cleaning and organizing blog Jill Comes Clean. “It not only makes the space look more tidy, but it’s easier to keep organized and reduces the overwhelm since there's less to look at when choosing what to wear.”

She adds that a seasonal closet is also a great way to keep inventory of what you have and helps encourage routine editing as you switch from one season to the next. With every seasonal shift and closet rotation, you’ll have an opportunity to take stock of what you loved, what needs to be repurchased or mended, and what items should be donated or discarded.

How to Organize Your Closet by Season

If a seasonal closet sounds like an approach that’ll work for you, plan to carve out a few hours to go through your existing wardrobe, and then start getting organized. The professional organizers we spoke to recommended gathering the following items before diving in: 

  • Clear, large storage bins. Boot boxes and sweater boxes are long and wide but not very tall, which allows them to slide under your bed or on upper storage areas in closets.  
  • Under-bed drawers. If you want even easier access to off-season garments, consider under-bed drawers. 
  • Vacuum-sealed bags. These can help create more space within each storage container, and they’ll also double up protection against potential insect intruders. 
  • Matching velvet hangers. “Velvet hangers not only look cohesive and more tidy, but they save space versus bulky plastic or wooden hangers,” notes Koch. 
  • Hanging storage bags: These are a great option for large coats and nicer garments that are seldom worn. This keeps them dust and bug-free and groups them together. 
  • Cedar blocks: To keep bugs and moths away, place a small cedar block with garments kept in storage. This is a nice alternative to mothballs, which tend to create a lingering odor.

“No matter where you live or what season you’re in, it’s going to be important to stock clothing that can easily be layered,” says Prominski. “Some articles of clothing may be kept in the closet for all four seasons.” She also suggests creating a combined spring/summer wardrobe and combined fall/winter wardrobe if you have the closet space and don’t want to do a full swap four times a year.

Another pro-tip is to make sure your closet is stocked with versatile garments that work for you. If a piece of clothing can be worn three to five different ways, it’s a real winner that belongs in your wardrobe. 

Finally, make good use of all the unconventional space you have, as well. Koch says, “The back of doors are a great place to hang shoe racks or hooks for hats or accessories. Hooks on walls are also great for accessories, hats, and bags and open floor space [in the closet] can be used for bins and shoe racks, too.”

Where you store off-season clothing largely depends on how much space you have, and whether you can exile it to a guest bedroom closet, storage closet, or just need to store it under the bed in your own room. However, storing these items in clear or clearly labeled containers will help you in the future when you're ready to make the next seasonal switch.

Winter Closet

Winter closets are inherently tricky because your clothes and shoes are simply bulkier compared to other seasons.

“Fill your closet with winter basics like warm socks, sweaters, sweatshirts, flannels, fleece jackets, jeans, thicker pants, short-sleeved shirts for layering, long-sleeved shirts, warm pajamas, and cozy loungewear,” says Prominski. “Depending on what you like to do [and where you live], you may also want to include long underwear and other base layers.”

To accommodate for warmer winter days, keep some lightweight cardigans, lightweight pants, and jackets on hand. For seasonal hobby clothing like rain gear or snow apparel, you can either keep them out and accessible in your closet (space permitting) or in a container all their own. The former is best if you consistently reach for these items, while the latter is ideal if you don’t use these garments very often.

Prominski adds, “Shoes for a winter closet include slippers, boots, waterproof shoes, sneakers, winter dress shoes, and whatever other seasonal shoes you like to wear.”

Summer Closet

As the direct inverse of winter, a summer closet takes up the least space since most garments are light and thin.

“Fill your closet with summer basics like sun dresses, lightweight tops, tank tops, shorts, lightweight pants, and skirts,” says Prominski. “Make sure to include some lightweight cardigans, sweatshirts, and lightweight jackets for cooler days, and switch out your pajamas to items that are good for warm nights.”

Seasonal hobby clothing—like swimsuits, cover-ups, and warm weather exercise gear, also belong in a summer closet. Shoes for a summer closet include sandals, flip flops, sneakers, ballet flats, and breathable dressy shoes. 

Fall Closet

Fall closets often need to have a good variety of items since the weather is unpredictable and temperatures can fluctuate greatly even in the course of a single day.

“For a fall closet, I keep a few warm weather items for those days that might be unseasonably warm but then also start to bring in some heavier items for those colder than usual days too,” says Koch.

A fall closet should also have the following staples: jeans, leggings, light and heavy jackets, flats and boots, sneakers, hats, and a few hand bags to go with the season. 

Spring Closet

Much like the fall closet, your spring wardrobe requires functional transitional pieces that’ll have you covered no matter what the weather decides to do that day.

“For example, you might have dresses or shorts but you'll still want to keep some lighter jackets and long sleeve shirts, as well,” says Koch. “I start to slowly bring in some sandals, but keep the flats. Sweaters can probably go, but a variety of long sleeve and short sleeve options are a good idea.” 

Mistakes to Avoid When Swapping Closets

Every time you switch your closet to a new season, take time to assess your current stockpile of garments. Discard anything irreparable, donate items you haven’t worn all season, and take care to properly store your garments. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid: 

  • Not cleaning stored garments: “When storing seasonal clothes, make sure to wash and dry them completely or have them dry-cleaned before storing,” says Prominski. Sweat, perfumes, and dampness can attract pests and cause damage. Also tend to stains now. 
  • Improper storage: “If you are storing anything in the garage make sure your bin or rack is covered, waterproof, and is clearly labeled,” says Toft. Adding cedar blocks or moisture packets can also help prevent damage. 
  • Keeping non-functional items: If certain garments are sentimental or you’re otherwise having a hard time parting with them, place them in a storage container but take them out of the closet. This allows you to hold onto them, but prevents them taking up valuable closet space. 
  • Poor access to certain stored garments: Consider whether you’ll need to access certain off-season items. For example, winter seldom calls for swimsuits, but do keep them easy to access if you have any warm-weather vacations planned. 

“At the end of the day, do what works for you and your day to day,” says Koch. “Closet organization can take a few tries to get right and may have to be revisited again and again.” What worked at one point or for one season may not work for another or as the years go on, so continue editing and evaluating so your closet feels functional and never, ever conjures a sense of dread.

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