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Stacy London's Six Steps to Seasonal Clothing Care

(ARA) - Doesn't it seem like we were just hauling summer clothes out of storage and burrowing for our bathing suits? What happened? Summer faded faster than a fashion fad. Now with winter setting in, it's time to switch Capri's for cardigans and prepare our wardrobes for winter. But before you simply dump your best summer clothes in storage boxes and break out your winter wardrobe, plan ahead. An extra 30 minutes now could protect your clothes year round.

There are six basic steps to winterizing your wardrobe and getting organized:

Weed Your Wardrobe

Before you drag everything you own off their hangers and switch them for winter, isn't this the perfect time to weed your wardrobe? Cast aside items that didn't make the grade all summer -- no point in storing unwise impulse buys and fashion faux pas; 12 months in the basement or garage will only make them look worse next summer.

Some people will tell you to donate any winter item you didn't wear last year, but you can be ruthless without being rash. Cover the classics: every winter wardrobe needs a good woolen overcoat and a quality turtleneck, and a versatile pair of wool pants can be a lifesaver. If you're going to update anything with a few new buys, focus on footwear: fashion moves fast where feet are concerned, and an outdated boot cut or heel can date a look in an instant.

Clean and Freshen

Make sure your clothes are clean before they're packed or racked. You've been working hard in them all summer: planting flowers, running errands, grilling in the backyard. Even with regular cleaning, odors and oils that you just can't see can get trapped in fibers. Make sure, before you even think of storing them, that they're thoroughly cleaned. Products that are fragrance-based will make your clothes smell good for a quick fix but won't get them clean. A trip to the drycleaner seems like the only answer, but what most people don't realize is that you can sidestep dry-cleaning. Check a label: if it says "Dry Clean" instead of "Dry Clean Only," you can use a mild soap and warm water to hand-wash the garment. It's faster and less expensive.

There also are a ton of new home gadgets on the market that can help you clean better, faster and less expensively, not just when you're packing or unpacking seasonal clothes but year-round too. The Maytag Neptune Drying Center -- a multi-functional dryer -- can refresh delicate woolens, suits and other difficult-to-clean clothes. It combines a large capacity dryer big enough for any bulky bedspreads and heavy clothing loads with a clever upper drying cabinet where you can hang- or flat-dry sweaters and other delicates in a fraction of the time it takes to air-dry around your house. The upper drying cabinet uses steam to clean and refresh clothes, minimizes shrinkage and also gets rid of wrinkles.

As the weather becomes cooler and you pull your winter wardrobe out of hiding, it's also great for refreshing your sweaters, jackets and wool pants that have been cooped up for the last six months, making them ready for the first crisp day of the season.

Store Smart

A box isn't just a box. What you store your clothes in can affect their shape and quality, and how long they last. Even new cardboard boxes will degrade over seasons in a dark attic or humid basement and attract bugs that will go to work on the fabric of your clothes. An old suitcase, properly vacuumed and wiped clean, makes the best storage option. Line the case with acid-free tissue -- or an old pillow case -- and store them in a cool, dark and, most important, dry place. Mildew and moths thrive in humid or damp environments.

Hang and Stack

You'll save space if you pack correctly. Sweaters and other knit items should never be hung in the back of a closet or in a basement storage area. Long-term hanging can damage fibers and leave your favorite sweater misshapen. Whatever you hang, you should use the garment's extra hanging loops to protect the shape. Fold knit items carefully and stack them, heavy to light and top to bottom, in a cool, dry place.

Give Your Clothes a Breath of Fresh Air

Don't bundle delicate seasonal clothes in bags. Plastic doesn't allow a fabric to breathe and can even cause lighter garments to discolor over long periods. Wrap your clothes in a breathable fabric or invest in cotton garment bags. Sheets and pillowcases work well and will protect your clothes from dust and bugs.

It's also a good idea to take your clothes out of storage and air them a little before putting them back into service when the appropriate time comes.


I'm a big believer in labeling. Divide, conquer and label. Store clothes by family member or in logical groups -- skirts and dresses, pants and suits -- and label what you have. Seems obvious, but it's so easy to store your clothes in a hurry and worry about them when the heat is on next summer. Take time now and you'll be glad you did.

Seasonal clothing care isn't a joy, but it shouldn't be a chore either. Follow these simple steps and both you and your best outfits will breeze through winter.

Article courtesy of ARA Content.


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