Your Weekly Organasm: Finding Space For Fall Sweaters, Pants, Scarves, Boots and More

Now that it’s cold, there’s a ton of stuff that you need to pull out of storage and find good space for, and almost nothing you can put back in its place.
Publish date:
September 28, 2012

Fall is the absolute worst season to get organized. Since the weather is at this wishy- washy midway point, you can wear almost anything from your summer or winter wardrobe. Want to wear a sweater? Just lose the jacket. Want to wear a dress? Add some tights, and you’re good to go. The list goes on, and it boils down to this. There’s a ton of stuff -- sweaters, leggings, pants, scarves, coats, and boots -- that you need to pull out of storage and find good space for, and almost nothing you can put back in its place.

It’s a big task, and together with the sudden chill in New York, it’s gotten me really depressed. For the past week, I’ve been huddled on my living room sofa, eating chocolate and watching back-to-back episodes of “I Love Lucy.” I have the complete DVD set, which I borrowed from my mother so as to better enjoy that crazy redhead’s adventures.

I didn’t expect to get inspired. It was on this show that I discovered Lucy’s magical coat closet. Not only can it hold all the merchandise for the big charity bazaar, it can hold the guests for Lucy’s baby shower and Ricky’s surprise birthday party at the same time.

I am most impressed however, by what happens when Ricky gets home from work. He goes to the closet and instead of wasting valuable screen time putting his coat on a hanger, he slings it on a hook and shuts the door. That’s when the wheels started turning in my head. Here’s the thing about coats and hooks. I love, love, LOVE them. They are the perfect union. I know that’s why, every winter, my closet rods empty out as my coats, bags and scarves migrate inexorably towards wall racks and coat trees. It’s just so convenient, so lazy, so perfect.

That’s why I’m installing a wall rack to the back of my hallway closet. It works because it’s too shallow to fit a closet rod. But wait, there’s more. I’m using cable ties to strap some wall hooks to my wire shelves. These I’ll use for guest coats when I have people over.

For a different closet, I’ll put up an extra hook to use as a valet rod. It can hold the outfit I’m planning to wear the next day. And just so you know, I’ve checked all of the closets. I have in my apartment and in each one, there’s a good four to 10 inches of space between the edge of any shelf and the door. I can put an extra hook on any shelf I choose, and if it’s made of wood, that’s even better because I can use screws for added security instead of cable ties.

You know what else goes great on a hook? Jeans. I found this arrangement at a clothing store, and it made me think about how much I hate using pants hangers.

You always have to remove the belt and straighten out the creases so that they hang correctly. Attaching a hook to your closet door helps, but now I see that large S hooks might work even better. And by the way, did you know that shower curtain hooks come in all sorts of different shapes now? There are S hooks and W’s that are big enough to fit around a closet rod, and would be just about perfect for hanging up your jeans and other casual pants.

Now that I’m making use of the extra space in front of my closet, maybe I can find some wiggle room in the back. That’s where I’m putting my garment bags. They are useful for separating my fancy dresses and out-of-season clothes from my current wardrobe. I also love that I never have to buy them. They come free whenever my husband and I buy special occasion suits and dresses. Most of them are plastic, so I’ll keep the zipper open so as to let the contents “breathe.”

The back of the closet is also useful for storing belts and scarves. Frequently used items don’t go there, but if I need any of the other ones, I can easily push my clothes aside to see my collection. Again, I’m using shower curtain rings to hang them. As for belts that don’t have holes, I can use binder clips to attach them to the rings. If you have an over-stuffed closet and can’t see the back, you can gain extra space by screwing some hooks into the right and left sides of the closet between your clothes and the door.

Part of the reason why my closet is under-stuffed is because I’ve removed all my sweaters and cardigans from their hangers. Hanging knitwear is a big no-no, but this is a rule I’ve ignored until I witnessed my favorite Sonia Rykiel tank dress stretching and sagging under its own weight. Now, I’m using a shelf from my handbag table to hold my sweaters. A little bit of organization is always nice, so I’ve popped in a few books to use as dividers. They don’t match and they aren’t very pretty, but I didn’t choose them for their looks. They are just the perfect height to wedge tightly onto that shelf.

Here’s another idea. I’ve put 10 ties, or Mr. Min’s entire collection, on a hanger and used bobby pins to secure them in place. It works because it saves space and he doesn’t need to use them often.

This year, pulling out my long-sleeve shirts, workout clothes, and thermal underwear is a relatively painless task. I owe this to my habit of folding clothes a la Linda Koopersmith. A deep sweater box is the perfect size to hold two layers of folded clothing. It takes mere seconds to pull them out of the box and tuck them into a drawer. You can be sure that come winter, I’ll use the same boxes to pack away my T shirts and summer dresses.

Here’s a another idea. I fold my tights. To do this, I just lay them out flat, fold one leg on top of the other, then fold it down into a square. If my tights are really thick, I’ll roll it up from the toe instead. This makes a neat packet that I can file away into a drawer or a hosiery hanger. Since my collection of tights has spent all spring and summer packed away like this, they look like they’ve just been ironed flat.

Since Mr. Min can never find things, he gets to have all the best storage space. That’s OK though, because it means that I get to use and abuse all of the hidden storage. For example, I consider both our nightstands to be extra dressers. It’s a lot better option than letting junk accumulate in there. Over the summer, that’s where I’ve kept random things like swimsuits, snorkel gear and water shoes. Now that it’s cooler, I’ve replaced them with thermal underwear, ski socks and workout clothes.

Finally, I need to swap out my summer shoes with cool weather footwear. Since I have a lot of shoe storage, all I have to do is bring my boots down to my lowest shelves, then replace them with open toe sandals. There’s a few that I’ll keep in shoe boxes along with a cedar sachet or a silicone packet. Speaking of shoes, here’s another thing I can’t live without. It’s the DryGuy boot dryer. It’s meant for ski boots, but it’s something that comes in real handy even if you don’t enjoy winter sports. It’s the perfect solution for drying out your shoes when you get caught out in the rain, or when your husband or your kids come home with nasty, sweaty sneakers. This thing practically pays for itself since it blows out warm, gentle air that won’t damage your precious footwear.

Now, it’s your turn. Have you already unpacked your fall clothes or are you dreading the task? Are you hating the cold weather as much as I do? Tell me! You can talk to me here, or chat me up on twitter @minjams.