The Victoria Day Long Weekend is the time when many of us make the closet switch from our winter wardrobe to our spring/summer wardrobe.
Stylist Malorie Bertrand will help us put away our winter wardrobe with confidence as she shares her simple spring closet cleaning tips and trends:
Clothing storage 101
I highly encourage you to store clothing from previous seasons. It leaves you with more room in your closet so that you can have the stunning, airy wardrobe of your dreams (butterflies fluttering around and all). In all seriousness, having an uncluttered closet means that you can store all of your clothing and accessories in one space (ideally), which in turn makes it easy for you to put outfits together because you can see everything in one go.
- Hang your clothing on a clothes rack in your basement or other storage area
- Storing your clothing in air-tight containers and garbage bags encourages mold and nasty smells
- The more air circulation, the better
- If you don’t have much storage room, roll up your clothing and put it in open-air boxes, i.e. no lids
Sort clothing into piles
- To donate – What goes in here? Items that you only wear a handful of times in one season; anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t flatter you; items that only go with three or fewer other pieces in your closet.
- To recycle – Clothing that is beyond repair, worn out or stained. Cut them up into rags, sew them into rustic quilts or donate to a fabric cooperative such as Ecoequitable.
- To keep – Aside from including your go-to, love-love-love items, the to keep pile also contains those you want to wear but just don’t know how to. Most often with my clients, they either just haven’t tried pairing an item with others to make an outfit; they don’t know how to match clothing or they need to buy one or two wardrobe staples to make better use of their existing clothing items.
Don’t do this alone though; start browsing Pinterest or Google street style shots of your favourite celebs in outfits that you’d like to copy.
If you have a few key outfits in mind when you’re putting pieces together, the task will be easier. For example, one of my clients loves Jessica Alba’s street style. We put together an inspiration board of Alba’s outfits and used them to figure out which pieces she was missing, i.e. blazers to wear out or to work.
My client already had some great tops to wear under blazers, but she needed some trousers and colourful flats to make the most of what she had.
Here are some of my favourite street style shots that I’m using to style my spring wardrobe right now:
It's important not to donate everything in your closet, leaving you with nothing, no outfits and a long shopping list. Be strategic. Keep wardrobe staples, (more on those below), put together as many outfits with what you have as you can, and make a shopping list of pieces that are versatile and high-quality.
- Avoid buying trendy items that don't go with anything else in your closet, i.e. a sequin skirt you can only wear at NYE
- Avoid fast-fashion shops, their clothing won't last more than a season (you will be wasting money) and don't get me started on the unethical labour treatment of garment workers who make clothing for these mega companies
- Shop with your list in hand so that you buy only what you really need
- Shop with a second list of all of your current clothing items
- If you're tempted to buy something that isn't on your list, go through your current closet items list and see if that new item will go with at least three other pieces. If not, don't buy it.
Spring closet staples
- Tops in white, grey and black or a nice pastel that suits your skin tone - these tops can be worn with all of your bottoms and under all of your cardigans, coats and blazers. Neutrals can go with any other colour. You can even wear head-to-toe neutrals, like Mrs. West.
- Light-wash jeans - Great for running errands with one of your tops or to wear out with kitten heels, jeans are classics. Period.
- Blazers - One black (for all seasons) and one grey or beige for spring/summer. Blazers can go over anything, dresses, tops, sweaters, you name it. They are really useful for making a dress look more professional or dressing up pants.
- Silk tunic dress - Something in neutral colours with a subtle pattern or a solid colour. Try to find something that is knee-length. This means it's work appropriate but still sexy. Midi-length dresses are tough to pull off unless you have thin calves, whereas everyone has pretty knees. Avoid straps and try to find a dress that has some sort of sleeve. Again, makes it work appropriate and means you don't have to worry about bra straps.
- Trousers - They are great for work paired with cute flats, a blouse and a blazer but can also be dressed up with heels and a tank top. A black pair will go with anything but I'd suggest a beige or light grey pair for the warmer months.
- Button-up shirt - I can't say enough about how useful it is to have a couple of button-up shirts in your closet. You can dress them down with jeans, tuck them into a cute skirt, wear with a blazer for work...I could go on.
Display your clothing
- Hang everything up if you can
- This makes it easy to see everything, keeps things from wrinkling and means you can sort them by type and colour.
Sort by type - Doesn't have to be in this order but I found this works well for me. I wear tops more often than dresses, hence why they're in the front.
- Tank tops
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Button-up shirts
Sort by colour - I like to start with white on the left and work my way through the colours, ending with black. Patterned pieces usually have a dominant colour, sort with that. If it's a mix, just put it beside whichever other piece it matches within its type.
I don't have enough closet space to hang my pants and shorts, so I roll those up and have them in a short drawer under my hanging clothes. My shoes are in the remaining two drawers (the ones I don't wear daily) and the daily shoes are in the front hall closet. Winter shoes are stored in the basement.
Jewellery is hung from a jewellery rack that I bought a while back from Umbra. It hangs at the far right of my clothes. My day-to-day jewellery is in small bowls on my dresser.
I have another hanging rack from IKEA for my belts, tights and scarves.
I only need one drawer in the dresser and this is for my delicates and bathing suits. I bought simple IKEA storage bins to sort my underwear from my bras, socks, bathing suits and lounge wear. I also keep a small box in the back corner for sewing stuff, a lint remover and a lint brush.
There you have it. I hope I've inspired you to try whittling down your wardrobe and given you some tips to make it an easier task. Don't be discouraged if this takes you a few rounds. I am constantly donating things and figuring out what really works the best.
Malorie Bertrand of EF Magazine thinks her lesson in life is to learn to focus. Until she achieves this, she remains a full-time science communicator, a part-time blogger, freelance writer and stylist, and some-time event coordinator and host. You can read her most recent writing in The Guardian and see her styling work on krop.com. She has been writing about ethical and sustainable fashion since 2007 to raise consumer awareness and promote emerging designers. In her ongoing efforts to highlight sustainable style, Malorie consults her clients on how to build a minimalist wardrobe and hosts workshops in her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario.