The impact of a beautifully organized custom closet diminishes if the clothes you store in it are stained, have lost their shape or are pilling like crazy. Building a solid wardrobe of quality clothes that you like to wear (and make you feel good!) is a long-term commitment. But high-quality garments are only worth the investment if you take care of them the right way.
Most people like a look of uniformity in their closet—but which style of hanger should you choose? Let’s start with what you shouldn’t choose. We recommend ditching thin wire hangers that you get from the dry cleaner—yes, they’re free, but they won’t support the weight of your clothes. Instead, when you bring dry cleaning home, transfer clothes from a dry-cleaning bag and metal hanger to something sturdier (a valet bar makes this really easy!).
Beyond that bit of advice, there are many options. You might choose plastic tube hangers because they’re inexpensive; however, some silky or delicate fabrics can easily slip off plastic, unless there are notches. Wooden hangers are sturdy and look beautiful in a closet, but they take up a lot of space and can get pricey. Slim line hangers with a velvet or rubberized finish help keep silky clothes in place and save space, but they, too, can be pricey. Whatever you choose, buy enough for all of the clothes in your closet. The space will look great and the hangers will help preserve the quality of your clothes.
How you choose to store your clothes is totally up to you, but there are a few best practices to follow to keep your clothes looking good over the years. Here are our tips.
A few factors, including a garment’s fabric; details like buttons, collars and zippers; and the style of shirt, can help you figure out whether a top is best folded or hung on a hanger.
T-shirts and knits can stretch out and lose their shape when kept on hangers—these items are best folded and stored in drawers or on shelves. Delicate blouses should also be folded or hung on a padded hanger. And off-the-shoulder tops or those made with lace or details around the shoulders are probably best folded neatly and stored on a shelf or cubbie.
Dress shirts can be folded or hung on a hanger, though one word of caution—the ends of your hangers shouldn’t extend past the shoulders of the shirt; hangers that are too wide for your tops will create “shoulder bumps” that may not come out until the garment is washed again.
Yes, folding your tops may add some wrinkles. Get rid of them quickly with a small hand steamer or by spraying your top with a little bit of water and letting it dry—the wrinkles will fall out.
Wool dress pants are best hung from the hem or cuff to prevent creases and wrinkles from forming and dust from building up if they’re folded over a hanger. Jeans can be folded on shelves or hung in your closet—they’re hardy and can withstand a lot.
Choose sturdy hangers for suits, jackets and blazers to help them keep their shape. If you’ve recently had these items cleaned, be sure to remove the dry-cleaning bag, which can trap moisture and wear on your clothes over time.
Dresses should also hang from sturdy hangers—especially longer garments. And don’t ignore those thin straps sewn into many dresses (don’t cut them out!)—they’ll help your dresses keep their shape. Make sure your closet includes a long hanging section for eveningwear and maxi dresses to prevent creases and wrinkles.
Drawers are the best place to keep underwear, socks and bras, as well as swimwear, hosiery and leggings. Fold items and use drawer dividers to organize like items and get the most from your drawer space. Bras should be neatly arranged so the cups maintain their shape. Roll pairs of socks together, rather than tucking one inside the other, to maintain elasticity.
Follow care labels to keep your shirts, pants and dresses looking new. Yes, hand-washing items can be a chore, but it’s the best way to ensure they last a long time. Use a mild detergent, such as Woolite or Ivory liquid soap, and wash items in a sink. Lay them flat on a drying rack.
Avoid over-washing clothes, which can contribute to fading and take some shape out of the piece. But remember to always wash your clothes before storing them at the end of the season—you’ll keep hidden stains and marks from setting in.
When you do wash your clothes, throw delicates and anything small in a mesh laundry bag to keep pairs together and avoid any damage agitation or the spin cycle could cause.
And if you can, avoid the dryer. Dryers speed the drying process, but they also wear out clothes faster. That lint you should clean out of your dryer after each cycle? It’s made from your clothing fibers.
Instead, laying clothes flat on a drying rack will help them retain their shape and wear more slowly. Importantly, some clothes, such as bras and swimsuits, should never be thrown in the dryer.
Laundry is not typically high on the chores list, but it’s a necessary evil to keeping your clothes looking good. When your clothes are done drying in the dryer or on a drying rack, fold or hang them and put them away quickly. You’ll avoid wrinkles this way and prevent any potential for mildew when clothes are left sitting in the dryer. You’ll also make your getting-ready routine a bit easier for everyone in your family if you know your clothes are back in their storage spots.
Following these simple tips will help you save a little bit of money on replacing those worn-out dress pants and a little bit of heartache when you have to say goodbye to a ruined silk shirt.