life in a tiny apartment.

October 24, 2012

Tip #36: Winter clothes.

{Part II in a two part series about winter clothes and tiny apartments. Part I here.}.

Put ’em away, take ’em back out again.

Maybe you’ve always put away your winter clothes. Maybe you go through the ritual each season– swapping out linens for woollens, summer for fall. But maybe not. And if that’s the case, here’s my entreaty.

Though I’m not in the business of taking polls on the subject, I am fairly certain that my wardrobe is fairly modest, comparatively speaking. Number of sweaters? Five. Long-sleeved tees? Four. Pants (jeans included)? Five. And still. These numbers add up. I constantly feel like I’m battling to keep my clothes folded neatly and tucked squarely into my drawers. In a tiny apartment, or in a ginormous house, dressers are only so big. And so, enter the seasonal musical chairs. I was a slow adopter of this rigmarole. As someone who doesn’t consider herself to have very many clothes in the first place, and with almost no storage space to speak of, swapping out one half of my wardrobe never seemed like a useful option. Where would I put that other half? But I’ve managed to make a compromise and it’s made all the difference.

We have a large canvas tote with a zipper and twice a year I fill it with what fits: in late spring I stuff it with my bulkiest sweaters and courdouroy pants (along with some of these, just to be safe). As soon as it gets chilly again, in goes my sundresses and bathing suits. Once packed, the canvas tote gets shoved into our hall closet until the seasons roll around again. It’s not a wholesale swap, but it’s enough to free up some space and keep things neat.  What about you? Are you a seasonal swapper?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Kimberly October 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Similarly, I've become a seasonal swapper via living in tiny spaces. It all started while I lived in a tiny studio apartment- it felt so much simpler and oganized to have half my wardrobe away for half the year. Now I love swapping out seasons, most of all when it comes time to pack up the sweaters. Sundresses just take so much less space than wool and turtlenecks.

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      v. true. definitely not an equal exchange;)

  • Reply Carolyn, Simply Organized Life October 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Here in the Midwest most of my clients have closets that are big enough (or modest wardrobes) to keep all four seasons of clothes. That being said, I do swap out my children's clothes to eliminate inappropriate choices (i.e. shorts in January).

  • Reply J+H @ Beyond The Stoop October 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    our apartment is bigger (400 SF), but we barely have kitchen cabinets and only have 2 tiny not-deep-enough-for-hangers closets. 1 is in the kitchen and is filled to the brim with food, food-related objects, and cleaning supplies. the other is filled to the brim with winter coats, my boyfriends clothes and shoes, and extra pillows and blankets for when we host guests (recently we had 5 extra sleeping over!)

    that leaves a dresser and the space above our barely-lofted bed for my clothes. there's NO space for putting anything away, unfortunately 🙁 maybe i could put some in a bin in my "closet" beneath the bed, but what's the difference if it's in a bin or hanging up? might as well keep it hanging!

    jealous of your "extra" closet space in your tinier-than-mine apartment 🙂

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      the grass is always greener, isn't it?

  • Reply Julia (Color Me Green) October 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    i was never a swapper before, but last spring when i was living in a tiny apartment, i finally understood that it can be worth it to pay another $80 or so for a storage unit for winter clothes and blankets rather than paying a ton more for a bigger apartment.

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      i need to do storage unit researcher. i'm curious to know how many people in this city go that route.

  • Reply Anonymous October 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I am definitely a seasonal swapper. My out of season stuff resides under my bed in bins, and like you, in a canvas bag that sits stylishly (it's a cute bag) under a night table in my bedroom. My closet is SMALL. I do have a basement and the rest go on hangers in garment bags, a real luxury I know. With cedar discs! I'm grateful for the basement only at clothes swapping time, but since I work in an office and need to have both business and casual attire, I really need those garment bags. But no way could things EVER fit in my tiny closet for all the seasons!

  • Reply Jamie October 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I am not a seasonal swapper but I'm starting to think that I should be. I just moved out of my parents house and into a much smaller apartment with a roommate. My closet is so full that it's hard to rifle through the clothes. My issue is the same as yours though. I'm just not sure WHERE I would be put my out of season apparel…

  • Reply sara kristen October 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I remember my mom having my sister and I go through our clothes each season, putting our summer clothes away in exchange for our fall & winter wares, and vice versa. I never continued the seasonal tradition until this year, when faced with the storage and organizational challenges that come with living in a small space with my husband and our three animals, I was forced to revive it. We have this nifty cubby space behind a secret door inside our tiny front closet, which we cleaned out last month and filled with seasonal clothes and other stored goods that we don't need regular access to, so everything is neatly tucked away. I have also been storing off-season footwear, which makes a huge difference given that fall and winter boots (especially the kind you need to get through Canadian winters!) take up so much space.

    It honestly felt SO good, I don't know why I haven't been doing the seasonal swap every year, regardless of what kind of space I live in. It's not only cleansing, but it also creates the excitement of re-discovering cherished clothes you had forgotten about when you take them out again each season.

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      hmm. i have some vague memories that we might have done this as kids, too. but i think that had more to do with growing like weeds, so winter clothes didn't fit year to year.

  • Reply Norma October 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Originally from CALIF and there's really only one season there…SUMMER most of the year so not much swapping going on there. But now that I live in Oregon, I do swap out seasonal clothes. Our house has small closets so its the only way to not go crazy.

  • Reply Leilo October 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I've never done it before but I'm considering the idea. Living in a tiiiny student appartment, I have really few drawers. Now the only problem is, where would I put the box? =p

  • Reply Daniella Ciotti October 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I find I haven't done this since my Winter items often end up in Summer wardrobe anyway. The air conditioning at the office is so freaking cold in the Summer, i'm usually wearing jeans and winter cardigans over cute Summer shirts, it's insane. Dresses and skirts only made it out on weekends! Sad, right?

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      so sad! air conditioning is the worst.

  • Reply Anonymous October 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    My parents live just 3 hours away, so I seasonally swap by leaving a ton at my childhood home. I have no idea what I'll do if my parents decide to move and downsize!

    • Reply Erin October 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      parents' homes do make for good storage units. agreed.

  • Reply Julia October 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    i am totally a seasonal swapper. my husband has very little clothing, so he hasn't succumbed yet. it's mostly the pants, sweaters, and dresses/skirts. we keep one or two of those big rubbermaid tubs in the basement for this.

  • Reply Abby October 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I've been a seasonal swapper since childhood. Currently I have a few plastic boxes that I store under the bed, so they're out of the way and out of sight.

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic October 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I recently gave away several bags of clothes to the Salvation Army, partly because I moved to a smaller apartment and didn't have as much closet space. Most of the clothes I gave away were winter clothes that didn't fit anymore or that I rarely wore. I only kept the clothes that I knew I would keep wearing, and it left a lot more space for both my winter clothes and my summer clothes. On the other hand, since I live in Chicago, I don't really have a lot of summer clothes, since summer only lasts for about five seconds here. 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca D. Martin October 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I started seasonally swapping in the last couple years. Our last house had tiny bedroom closets, but a large attic storage space, so it made sense. I found it also helped me weed out the clothes I wasn't wearing anymore, and reminded me of items I liked that had gotten hidden amongst everything.

  • Reply Aja October 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Yes I definitely seasonally swap. I have an antique dresser and about every two months I even clean out my clothes and donate a few items. I put my sundresses & bathing suits in storage and anything else to get more room but its hard! summer clothes take up much less space than winter and also they are great for layering. I am thinking I need another shelf for sweaters & winter items, not to mention coats! coat storage is a whole other story

  • Reply Calamity Jane Doe October 25, 2012 at 1:02 am

    I'd love to see pictures of your wardrobe! I'm moving in that direction, but I still have more pieces than I'd like. I'm always inspired seeing others' assortments!

  • Reply aestheticianblog October 25, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Hi Erin –

    I've never commented, but I've been following your blog for about six months. I just moved with my husband to a teeeny apartment in west new york (downsizing from a two bedroom with lots of space in chicago) and I seriously cannot tell you how instrumental your two-fifty series was in helping me believe that we could make it work! We love our tiny baby space now, and necessity is indeed the mother of invention 🙂 So thank you, for writing about all your experiences. I appreciate it.

    As far as seasonally swapping – we do a minor one: we built our own bed frame and made it a bit higher than most to store our clothes underneath. (Our bedroom has no closets.) We each have a zippered bag that we put our out of season clothes in and then stuff it as far down underneath the bed as we can! A little bit of a funny plan – but so far its working 🙂

    Thanks again!

  • Reply Terry Aske Art Quilts October 25, 2012 at 3:33 am

    I live in a very moderate climate (Vancouver BC Canada) so many of my clothes transition 2-3 seasons. It is always difficult to know when to put away the shorts and sandels and bring out the sweatrs, gloves and scarves! If you swAp the clothes too early, the weather fools you, and you have to get it all out again.

    I have the luxery of living in a large condo with lots of closet space, but I'm always intrigued with stories of living in tiny spaces.

  • Reply Meghan October 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    My mother has a cedar chest that she purloined back in the 60s from one of my uncle's ex-girlfriends, so my family always stored out-of-season clothes in that monstrosity. (My sister and I also took turns trying to lock the other up in it when my mom wasn't looking) Now that my sister and I are grown, my parents have bought each of us our own cedar trunk. Mine is, alas, living in my parents' basement until I have a larger space to put it, but I still tuck bits of cedar in my under-bed tubs full of sweaters and t-shirts (depending on season). There's just something about opening up the container, pulling out forgotten articles of clothing, and smelling that sharp smell that gets me all excited for the new season.

  • Reply So Yeah So October 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I was much more of a seasonal swapper when I lived in Arkansas, but now that I'm in Wisconsin, I only put away the coats and the bulkiest of sweaters when the warm weather finally hits.

  • Reply CK November 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Seasonal swapping is such a great way to herald in the new season and get out old favorites! Growing up in central new york this was a must for winter clothes, all those heavy sweaters. Living in Auckland, NZ I miss that, and the magic of welcoming snow or flowers, depending on the time of year.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.