The Romance of a Beautiful Sweater
Like a great love affair, I remember the first one. I had just graduated from college and started a part-time job ghostwriting letters for a wealthy Park Avenue dowager and her husband. She presented me with a box from the elegant department store Bergdorf Goodman. Inside was a glorious light grey, long sleeve, mock turtleneck cashmere sweater. It was a thing of beauty. I took care of that sweater as if it were a piece of gold descended from the Heavens. A decade later when I passed it on to a friend it still looked like new. I was hooked.
Now I live in California and my winter uniform consists of a pair of jeans and – you guessed it – a cashmere sweater. Caring for all of your sweaters whether cashmere, wool, alpaca or cotton will preserve their life and luster. Of course, I can’t guarantee a decade!
Here are some of my favorite sweater storing/preserving tips to help you through the long winter weeks still ahead of us.
Sweater Storage 101
1. Never hang sweaters because they will stretch and lose their shape. Folded is the best choice. If you have to hang them do invest in those thick, padded hangers to preserve the shape of the shoulder. You don’t ever want to hang a sweater on a wire hanger from the dry cleaners. Of course, as a professional organizer, I’d advise you to never hang anything on those hangers. Your dry cleaner gave you the wire hangers to help you transport your garments home. Recycle them and transfer the clothes to your own hangers when you get home.
2. If you only have a few sweaters, try storing them in a dresser drawer. Do order organize them by color no matter where you decide to store your collection. I use: white/off white or cream; beige/brown; blue/purple; pink/red; green/yellow and grey/black. You can use any order or combination you like. Just be sure to repeat it in every category you create. You don’t want your sweaters, slacks and shoes following different color patterns. Instead of a restful visual that looks like an Impressionist painting, you’ll create a visual kaleidoscope that will jar you every time you need to fetch a garment. This isn’t exactly the Zen experience I try and help you create throughout your home!
3. If you like to see your sweaters and want them handy, keep them in stacks on a closet shelf divided by a shelf divider. This prevents stacks from imploding. In this image (right) from an organization store, you see the shelf dividers separating the handbags. There are several styles and they aren’t expensive. You can use them all over the house including the linen closet and the pantry.
4. If you have a walk-in closet you might use a stack of clear storage drawers on the floor or keep a few on a shelf side by side. These drawers add protection for your sweaters from dust. If you have a lot, keep them separated by type as well: v-neck, button down, turtle neck etc. Your height may be a factor here so be sure and have a two-step step stool handy. I have one in my kitchen and one in my closet and I’m 5’9” tall! They make very narrow ones that can slip into the smallest of spaces. Why not use one of those discount coupons you have been saving from Bed, Bath & Beyond and pick one up this week? Here’s my favorite mini stool. And here’s another tip: Bed Bath & Beyond accepts their coupons even after the expiration date is past.
5. If your shelf is too high for you to reach your sweaters try this container on a shelf.
6. When your sweaters are in containers they are automatically ready for off-season storage. Do you see a big space between your existing shelf and the ceiling? Pop in an extra shelf! You’ll need brackets and a piece of wood. You can leave it plain or paint it.
7. Many of my clients prefer to use sweater bags . And never discount Space Bags as a way to store sweaters in the off-season especially if you live in an apartment and are pressed for closet shelf space.
Whatever choices you embrace do protect your woolens with cedar chips or one of the other natural choices. I avoid mothballs because of the terrible odor that, of course, ultimately coats your sweaters. One of my clients turned me on to using canned tobacco. You make your own pouches with cheesecloth. No, your clothes won’t smell like cigarettes! You’d have to light up and puff away to achieve that distinction. How did she discover this clever tidbit? She asked some high-end rug merchants how the ancients transported wool carpets without incurring moth damage. Give it a try!
The Best for Last
My clients always ask me how they can learn to fold sweaters the way the pros do. The Container Store has come to your rescue with a product called The Flip FOLD. After using it for a while you’ll be able to fold perfectly without it! And here’s a final trick from my organizing arsenal: find a piece of cardboard with smooth edges. Let’s say roughly 8.5 x 11. When you want to grab a sweater from the bottom of a stack, slide the cardboard underneath the sweater just above the one you want to wear. Lift up and remove your chosen sweater. Carefully slide out the cardboard and voila! Your stack is preserved.
Happy Sweater Storage!
Professional organizer since 1988
Author of 8 books including New York Times best seller “One Year to an Organized Life.”
Named ‘Best Organizer in L.A.’ by Los Angeles Magazine
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