Clothing Care: Winter Wardrobe Storage

April 4 2012, 3:15 PM

Spring has finally sprung, and that means it’s time to get your warm weather wardrobe out of storage and pack up those winter duds! For those of you not already switching out your closets, now is a good time to start; it’s easier to dress yourself when the right season’s garments are in front of you. And because caring for your clothes goes a long way toward extending their lifespan, we asked personal fashion stylist Rachel Lefort (whose work credentials include Christian Dior, Balmain, and American Couturier Maggie Norris) for her top tips on storing those bulky winter wardrobes:

Knitwear

It may seem obvious, but don't bypass Lefort's sage advice to clean winter knits and sweaters before storing them (either according to the garment label or by hand in cold water; check out this Wall Street Journal article on Italian cashmere king Brunello Cucinelli for more on washing your 'shmere at home). Then, fold all knits carefully with acid-free tissue paper (available at thelinenlady.com) to help prevent creases on the fold lines. Finally, store knits in canvas fabric storage bags, and include a sachet of lavender or block of cedar inside (though not directly on the fabric) to prevent moths, which feast on wool, silk, and cashmere.

Leather

Leather items should be dry cleaned by a reputable professional leather cleaning service, but beware of the risks, Lefort says: A leather garment is made up of several animal skins, each of which can react to the cleaning process differently, so there is the possibility of discoloration, texture changes, and more. The bottom line: Ask your leather care professional for all of the details. Once the garment is clean, Lefort hangs it on a substantial hanger—either a padded or cedar wooden hanger—and stuffs it with acid-free tissue paper to keep the original shape. Store for the season in a cloth garment bag, like this one available from the Container Store.

Shoes and Boots

Lefort has three courses of action for footwear spring cleaning: toss, donate, or keep. Go through your fall shoes and toss the worn out ones, donate those that are in decent shape but just outdated or uncomfortable, and repair and polish the keepers (if it's too much for a DIY project, find a top-notch cobbler). Then, stuff the insides with tissue paper or cedar shoe trees to keep the shape and store each pair in their own shoe box for breathable storage. To see shoes better while stored—you never know when the odd cold-and-wintery day might mar the balmy spring forecast)—Lefort attaches a drawing or photo of each to the outside of its box.

Winter Sports Gear

For ski and snowboard wear, follow the care instructions on the label or wash items in cold water on delicate with an athletic wear detergent like Sport Wash. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets on all high-tech fabrics; Lefort also suggests adding an extra coat of waterproofing to each garment before storing for the season. Place all of your outerwear and accessories together in a clear plastic bin (fine for synthetic materials), so that everything is in one place and easy to find next winter. Also, after you have your skis and boards waxed by a pro, store them upright (inside your house, to avoid the constant temperature changes of a garage) with a thin towel between them. Lastly, be sure your boot liners are completely dry before placing ski boots with the buckles closed inside a padded equipment bag.  

For more winter clothing care tips, visit Rachel Lefort.