Sweater Folding: You're Doing It Wrong

Oh, you're most definitely HANGING your sweaters up wrong, too.

I see you rolling your eyes at this headline, because folding a sweater (or any garment, really) is like the world's most obvious thing, right? How could anyone manage to fold one incorrectly? I'm inclined to agree with you, because I am a master clothes folder.

Anyone who knows me in real life just fell on the floor and DIED AN INSTANT DEATH because my own personal clothes are always just thrown in a big jumbled rat pile on the floor -- but I worked retail for damn near 12 years. I'll kick anyone's ass in a shirt folding competition.

But trust me, you're probably folding your sweaters dead wrong. It may not seem like it, but proper sweater folding is a big deal! It's particularly important if you've paid to dry clean your sweaters. You can stretch the number of wearings per cleaning if you just take the time to fold them properly.

I was about to bust out my camera and take some pics to show you how it's done, but Arthur Anton Jr, COO of Anton's Cleaners (42 locations in Eastern MA, duh!) nails it in under a minute in this zippy video.

Important takeaway from this bit of cinematic genius -- save the random bits of plain white tissue paper that come into your life. (Colored tissue is not colorfast and could stain your clothes. Avoid!)

You could also take the route Marianne did and buy yourself the $18.99 Flip Fold. The manufacturer calls it "the ultimate folding tool."

It's this piece of plastic that you lay your shirt on and flip it around for a perfectly folded shirt in seconds. (Basically the deluxe version of the plain wood shirt folding board they make you use at every mall job you ever had.)

I, of course, laughed at it because I am a folding GENIUS, but Marianne points out that if you are a bad or lazy folder, the thing is pretty great. She says:

"I love it. Kind of totally love it. I feel stupid for spending, like, twenty bucks on it but it's so rad. I am not a BAD folder but I am an apathetic folder! And this makes them all so precise!"

Some of you may be sitting there smugly thinking, "Whatevs, Alison. I just hang my sweaters! Problem solved."

No, it's not -- and I guarantee you, you're hanging your sweaters up wrong, too. Stop me if you've had this sweater problem before:

  • Hanger digs into thin knitted fabric, causing misshapen lumps at the shoulders.

I call this phenomenon "shoulder titties." And it's almost impossible to get them out once they are in! Luckily, you can avoid them altogether just by hanging your sweater up the correct way. But before I tell you what that way is, let's discuss sweater hanging problem #2:

  • Sweater won't stay on hanger, slides onto floor incessantly. (Most common with V-necks or off-the-shoulder sweaters.)

You might think you can solve this sliding problem by simply using a velvety "Huggable Hanger" that grips your sweater, but then you are right back to square one with the bulging shoulder titty situation.

I promise I am going to eventually tell you the solution to both of these sweater hanging problems, but first I'm going to share with you the horror story that led to me finally learning the secret of proper sweater hanging.

I spent the first half of my career as a costume production assistant, or PA. This is code for gofer, grunt, peon, scrub, errand girl and indentured servant. Your main function as a costume PA is to pack up and return clothes by the rack-load to fancy stores, all day every day. This means that you are personally responsible for the many, many, MANY thousands of dollars of merchandise that are under your control at any given time.

The woman who taught me how to be a costume designer was a tough old bird. She didn't suffer fools and she never let me off the hook for anything, ever. I always paid for my mistakes. This was never so true as when I was dragging a rack of clothes into Barney's in Beverly Hills one day and suddenly heard a valet yelling, "Miss! Miss! You dropped something!"

I turned around and was horrified to see a light blue, 100% cashmere Derek Lam sweater on the ground, covered in black streaks from being drug under the rack. It was, of course, ruined. Who do you think took the hit and had to pay for it? If you guessed Ms. Alison Freer, you would be correct.

That sweater was $982.00 plus tax. NINE. HUNDRED. AND. EIGHTY. TWO. DOLLARS. With tax, over $1,000.00.

At the time, I was making $400.00 per week. BEFORE taxes. In Los Angeles, one of the most expensive places to live in America. I cried, I sobbed, I begged -- but my boss was having none of it. If I wanted to keep working for her, I had to pay for it.

I paid that stupid sweater off in $50.00 increments every single week for the next 20 weeks.

Was my boss harsh? Hell, yes. Did paying for that sweater in my literal blood, sweat and tears teach me to treat the show's clothes better than I would my firstborn child? Double hell, yes.

This terrible story does have a silver lining -- my boss admired the crap out of me after I sucked it up and made it right, and put me up for my very own designer job while I was still her PA. That was the gig that sent my career straight into high gear and got me to where I am now. (Firmly in the middle!)

A kind costume supervisor took me aside after the cashmere sweater disaster and taught me a brilliant way to properly hang a sweater so that it will NEVER slide off a hanger. Allow my pain to be your gain:

See? You were totally doing it wrong. Admit it.

I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.