Fewer slacks, more sweats: Organizing your pandemic wardrobe

Keywords @Home / Interior Design
Try hanging all your hangers the same direction for a neat look. And move work clothes like these to a less prominent spot. (Shutterstock)

Remember when we wore fully coordinated outfits and different pairs of shoes every day of the week? Doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago? So much has changed in the past six months, including our wardrobes.

Some people did a closet clean-out in March, when it seemed as if the novel coronavirus would be a short-term problem. Everyone wanted to use their time at home to get organized and take care of chores that had long been on the to-do list.

But at this point—with no end in sight to the global pandemic—it makes sense to adapt our closets and dressers to our current lifestyle and to (sadly) acknowledge that pieces of our pre-pandemic lives are not returning anytime soon. Here are a few simple ways to organize your clothes and maximize your storage space.

Formal clothing, accessories

No one is going to a cocktail party, fundraising gala or theater production in the near future. It breaks my heart to put this in writing, but it’s true. If your closet is packed with hanging clothes that are taking up valuable space, you might consider moving them to a guest room or basement closet—if that’s an option. I’m not suggesting you get rid of them, though if there are some you no longer like or that don’t fit, you could set them aside for donation or sale.

The same goes for formal shoes and handbags. Consider storing them elsewhere to make room for the pieces you are wearing. If you’re concerned about your items gathering dust, hanging storage bags will protect dresses, plastic shoe boxes can protect delicate shoes and handbags can be stored in cloth bags or pillowcases.

Loungewear, exercise gear

Loungewear has always been a tempting purchase. Who can resist a comfortable fleece jacket and sweatpants? Before the pandemic, most people had a reasonable collection of comfortable pants and tops to hang out in on the weekends, but our stay-at-home lifestyle has made loungewear a main clothing category. But many people’s closets and dressers weren’t ready to accommodate the influx of casual clothes.

One way to create additional—or different—storage for items such as sweatshirts and sweatpants is to reevaluate what’s in your drawers and on your shelves. Although it’s possible to hang sweatshirts and sweatpants, most people prefer to fold them and store them on shelves or in drawers. Maybe some of your formal shoes can be moved from a closet shelf to accommodate your sweatpants. Try hooks to hang sweatshirts and fleece jackets where they will be easy to find and to keep them off the floor.

Likewise, all of that exercise gear that’s been getting more use—and possibly multiplying—can be moved to a more accessible spot in your closet or given additional space in a dresser. If you’re short on drawer space and there’s additional room on the floor in your closet due to the relocation of hanging clothes or formal shoes, it may be worth investing in a portable drawer unit to accommodate hard-to-fold exercise shirts, shorts, leggings and undergarments. Rolling these items and using bins or boxes inside the drawers to separate similar pieces will help keep them neat.

Business attire

Even if you’re getting dressed in business attire for Zoom calls, chances are you’re not wearing dresses, pantsuits, ties or suit coats. What do you do with all of the clothing you previously put on to go to the office or important meetings? I don’t recommend getting rid of it all, or even moving it very far, but if there are pieces you were barely wearing or that didn’t fit before March, consider donating or selling them. The remaining items, especially pieces more appropriate for spring and summer, can be shifted to the back of your closet to make room up front for the clothing you’re wearing most frequently.

General housekeeping

Have you noticed that there is more dust in all of our homes since we’re all spending so much time at home? You will feel better about your closet if you clean the floor and other surfaces at least every quarter. Also, take a few minutes to turn all of your clothing so it’s facing the same direction. Having the same hangers throughout your space will make it feel less visually cluttered, and it will be easier to find what you’re looking for. This is especially true for “Zoom shirts,” or the dressier shirts that are appropriate for business calls.

I know there’s a long list of serious issues we are contending with right now and that organizing your closet may not be at the top of your list. But with so much out of our control, getting organized can bring us at least a small sense of order and a little peace of mind—and make it easier to get dressed each day.

Nicole Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik.

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