Breaking News: Waxed Cotton Jackets are Waxy
I recently ruined a brand new leather jacket, which taught me a thing or two about storage and cleaning. First, waxed cotton jackets are apparently waxy – waxy enough that you don’t want to store them uncovered and pressed up against other garments. If you do, the waxes and oils can stain other clothes. Like the sleeves above, which are connected to a lambskin leather jacket I just bought last winter, and then stupidly stored next to my Barbour Bedale. After finding the damage, I sent the jacket to RAVE FabriCARE – the best dry cleaner I know of – and asked what could be done. I learned a few things.
First, leather jackets are hard to clean. Much harder than wool sport coats. So when you’re choosing a leather jacket, think about the overall design. Something with a rugged sensibility, such as jackets from RRL or Schott, might still look fine (if not better) with a stain or two. Something from Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, or any of the high-end Italian brands, on the other hand, will not.
Similarly, think about the color and material. Suede is harder to clean than regular leather, and light colored materials will be harder to upkeep than anything dark. Black, of course, is the easiest to maintain.
Second, leather can react to dry cleaning in unpredictable ways. Sometimes the color can fade or bleed; sometimes the leather can lose its suppleness; sometimes the garment can shrink. Always bring your jacket to a specialist who knows what they’re doing (not someone who will just dump your jacket off at a local plant), and before dry cleaning, see if the company you’re working with can apply a topical treatment first to remove the stain. Maybe you can avoid the dry cleaning process altogether. 
Lastly, garment bags aren’t just for suits or sport coats. Waxed cotton jackets should also be bagged, particularly if you’re storing them next to other clothes. Breathable ones made from natural materials will be best – not just because waxed cotton can get a bit musty, but also because cheap synthetic materials can degrade and let off a gas that can damage clothes. RAVE FabriCARE sells some for a reasonable price of $9/ piece.
As for my jacket, RAVE applied a topical cleaner, which reduced the visibility of the staining by about 50%. We decided to save the dry cleaning for later. Meanwhile, all my waxed cotton and oilcloth jackets from now on will be bagged.   

Breaking News: Waxed Cotton Jackets are Waxy

I recently ruined a brand new leather jacket, which taught me a thing or two about storage and cleaning. First, waxed cotton jackets are apparently waxy – waxy enough that you don’t want to store them uncovered and pressed up against other garments. If you do, the waxes and oils can stain other clothes. Like the sleeves above, which are connected to a lambskin leather jacket I just bought last winter, and then stupidly stored next to my Barbour Bedale. After finding the damage, I sent the jacket to RAVE FabriCARE – the best dry cleaner I know of – and asked what could be done. I learned a few things.

First, leather jackets are hard to clean. Much harder than wool sport coats. So when you’re choosing a leather jacket, think about the overall design. Something with a rugged sensibility, such as jackets from RRL or Schott, might still look fine (if not better) with a stain or two. Something from Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, or any of the high-end Italian brands, on the other hand, will not.

Similarly, think about the color and material. Suede is harder to clean than regular leather, and light colored materials will be harder to upkeep than anything dark. Black, of course, is the easiest to maintain.

Second, leather can react to dry cleaning in unpredictable ways. Sometimes the color can fade or bleed; sometimes the leather can lose its suppleness; sometimes the garment can shrink. Always bring your jacket to a specialist who knows what they’re doing (not someone who will just dump your jacket off at a local plant), and before dry cleaning, see if the company you’re working with can apply a topical treatment first to remove the stain. Maybe you can avoid the dry cleaning process altogether. 

Lastly, garment bags aren’t just for suits or sport coats. Waxed cotton jackets should also be bagged, particularly if you’re storing them next to other clothes. Breathable ones made from natural materials will be best – not just because waxed cotton can get a bit musty, but also because cheap synthetic materials can degrade and let off a gas that can damage clothes. RAVE FabriCARE sells some for a reasonable price of $9/ piece.

As for my jacket, RAVE applied a topical cleaner, which reduced the visibility of the staining by about 50%. We decided to save the dry cleaning for later. Meanwhile, all my waxed cotton and oilcloth jackets from now on will be bagged.   

The Most Important Step in Storage
Every time we transition into fall or spring, I pack away the clothes I know I won’t be wearing for a while. Sweaters go into plastic bins; out-of-season shoes are moved to the back of the closet; and last season’s sport coats and outerwear are placed into garment bags and hung in a hallway closet. This not only makes room in my main closets, but it also helps protect things that won’t be worn for six months.
This only works, however, if the clothes are cleaned beforehand. The reason why we use things such as plastic bins and garment bags, of course, is because we want to protect our wools and cashmeres from moths. However, it’s not actually moths that eat our clothes; it’s their larvae. An adult moth can lay up to 200 eggs per cycle, and have a few cycles in its short lifespan. Thus, if you have a moth problem, you most likely have eggs embedded into the fibers of your clothes. If you store these clothes away with eggs in them, you might find them six months later with holes.
So, before you store anything away, I recommend doing a few things:
Dry clean anything that’s made with animal hair (wool, cashmere, camelhair, angora, etc). This is especially important if you own anything that was bought second hand. We have a useful guide on how to find a good dry cleaner, in case you don’t already have someone you rely on.
Wash any cottons or synthetic materials. Moths usually ignore these fibers, but if you’re storing stuff away, you don’t know what might have eggs.
 Vacuum the floor and shelves. This will remove any eggs and larvae that might be living in your closet. Pay particular attention to the nooks, crannies, and corners where things might be hiding.
Once you’re done cleaning and packing, you can throw a few cedar balls or satchels in with your clothes. Some argue these aren’t much of a deterrent, but they’re better than nothing. Dried lavender is also sometimes used as an alternative, but there’s not much evidence that it’s as effective as cedar. 
All of this can take a bit of time and money. I spend about a full day packing things away, and admittedly, pay a lot in dry cleaning. However, since you have to clean things anyway, you might as well do it when it counts the most. Imagine how you’d feel if you open up that garment bag six months from now and see a hole in your favorite sport coat. 
(Photo via My Messings)

The Most Important Step in Storage

Every time we transition into fall or spring, I pack away the clothes I know I won’t be wearing for a while. Sweaters go into plastic bins; out-of-season shoes are moved to the back of the closet; and last season’s sport coats and outerwear are placed into garment bags and hung in a hallway closet. This not only makes room in my main closets, but it also helps protect things that won’t be worn for six months.

This only works, however, if the clothes are cleaned beforehand. The reason why we use things such as plastic bins and garment bags, of course, is because we want to protect our wools and cashmeres from moths. However, it’s not actually moths that eat our clothes; it’s their larvae. An adult moth can lay up to 200 eggs per cycle, and have a few cycles in its short lifespan. Thus, if you have a moth problem, you most likely have eggs embedded into the fibers of your clothes. If you store these clothes away with eggs in them, you might find them six months later with holes.

So, before you store anything away, I recommend doing a few things:

  • Dry clean anything that’s made with animal hair (wool, cashmere, camelhair, angora, etc). This is especially important if you own anything that was bought second hand. We have a useful guide on how to find a good dry cleaner, in case you don’t already have someone you rely on.
  • Wash any cottons or synthetic materials. Moths usually ignore these fibers, but if you’re storing stuff away, you don’t know what might have eggs.
  •  Vacuum the floor and shelves. This will remove any eggs and larvae that might be living in your closet. Pay particular attention to the nooks, crannies, and corners where things might be hiding.
  • Once you’re done cleaning and packing, you can throw a few cedar balls or satchels in with your clothes. Some argue these aren’t much of a deterrent, but they’re better than nothing. Dried lavender is also sometimes used as an alternative, but there’s not much evidence that it’s as effective as cedar. 

All of this can take a bit of time and money. I spend about a full day packing things away, and admittedly, pay a lot in dry cleaning. However, since you have to clean things anyway, you might as well do it when it counts the most. Imagine how you’d feel if you open up that garment bag six months from now and see a hole in your favorite sport coat. 

(Photo via My Messings)

Storing Heavy Leather Jackets

In the past year or so, I’ve come to appreciate the value of good hangers. Suit jackets and sport coats have complex constructions, and improper hangers can warp and shift some of the material that goes into the shoulders (thus ruining not only your jacket’s silhouette, but also how it fits). I say that not because our advertiser The Hanger Project sells fancy hangers, but because a well-respected English tailor confirmed this for me two years ago, and Jeffery at Tutto Fatto a Mano said the same thing (Jeffery’s a tailor, a professional pattern maker for a large suit manufacturer, and one of the more fair-minded guys I know when it comes to clothing). 

How you store leather jackets is just as important. As I’ve mentioned, most leather jackets are made from lambskin, goatskin, horsehide, or cowhide. Generally speaking, the first two will be lighter in weight than the second two. Of course, you can thin any leather down to whatever thickness you wish, so it’s possible to have a lightweight horsehide jacket, but it’s rare. Most cowhide and horsehide jackets are quite heavy.

If you have such a jacket, storing it on a thin hanger can also ruin the shoulders. The weight of the leather will pull the garment down, and over the course of years, can stretch out and crack the shoulder line. Thus, some leather jacket enthusiasts recommend using hangers with wide moulded shoulders. I really like The Hanger Project’s, again not because they’re our advertiser, but simply because their hangers are nicely made and come in a width that perfectly fits my jackets. In fact, I’m buying a dozen more from them next month. The only downside is that they’re expensive and a bit wide at 2.5”. The extra width gives more support, but it also takes up more room in your closet. You can get slightly more affordable hangers through Wooden Hangers USA, and slightly thinner hangers at Butler Luxury

Better yet, the other solution is to not hang your jacket up at all. If you have the room, you can lay your jacket down and just store it somewhere. This will ensure that nothing will get stretched out. 

For vintage shoppers, it’s good to pay attention to the shoulders when buying heavy leather jackets. Some of these have been sitting on the racks for years, jam-packed into tight spaces. If the shoulder is damaged and cracked, it can be difficult to repair, and thus might be wise to pass on. 

(Photos via Mr. Moo)

The Switch
Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:
Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.
I’d add a few more things:
Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.
-Pete

The Switch

Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:

  • Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
  • Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
  • Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
  • For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
  • Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
  • Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
  • If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.

I’d add a few more things:

  • Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
  • Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
  • If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
  • If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.

-Pete

Get Garment Bags
I’m in the process of moving across the country and while packing I discovered a moth hole in a pair of trousers that I hadn’t worn in a long time as it sat on its hangar in the back of my closet. 
What made this even more frustrating was that I’d invested quite heavily in garment bags after a similar incident several years ago that put a series of holes on the lapel of a flannel blazer. I vowed to never let this happen again. 
It’s good practice to use a suit brush after you wear your garment and give it a good shake before placing it on a hangar. I then immediately place my wool suits and jackets into garment bags (and now, apparently, I must be diligent about trousers, too). 
You can buy them cheaply. Walmart has a three pack for $12. I bought mine at Target, which had them on discount and bought every one on the shelf. 
I recommend buying bags with a clear front and canvas or synthetic mesh in the back. This way you can see what’s in the bag and it’ll allow the garments to breath inside. For a couple bucks, I think it’s a wise investment that’ll save you the fury of newly discovered moth holes. 
-Kiyoshi

Get Garment Bags

I’m in the process of moving across the country and while packing I discovered a moth hole in a pair of trousers that I hadn’t worn in a long time as it sat on its hangar in the back of my closet.

What made this even more frustrating was that I’d invested quite heavily in garment bags after a similar incident several years ago that put a series of holes on the lapel of a flannel blazer. I vowed to never let this happen again.

It’s good practice to use a suit brush after you wear your garment and give it a good shake before placing it on a hangar. I then immediately place my wool suits and jackets into garment bags (and now, apparently, I must be diligent about trousers, too).

You can buy them cheaply. Walmart has a three pack for $12. I bought mine at Target, which had them on discount and bought every one on the shelf.

I recommend buying bags with a clear front and canvas or synthetic mesh in the back. This way you can see what’s in the bag and it’ll allow the garments to breath inside. For a couple bucks, I think it’s a wise investment that’ll save you the fury of newly discovered moth holes.

-Kiyoshi

Seasonal Transitions
Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.
Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.
For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.
Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

Seasonal Transitions

Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.

Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.

For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.

Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

Q and Answer: How Can I Get the Most Out of My Closet?
Jacques asks: I have a really small closet. Would you offer any suggestions or tips on how to improve closet space or how to improve closet organization in general? Thanks!
I struggle with the same problem. My closet is probably not even suitable for someone with a regular sized wardrobe, let alone someone who has an interest in men’s clothing. I dream of one day having a walk-in closet, though I suppose every closet is a walk-in if you try hard enough. 
This subject is probably too much to cover in one post, and what’s possible or optimal will depend a lot on your living space. If I could give some general advice, however, they’d be the following:
Dump and store: First, get rid of things you don’t need. If you haven’t worn something in a long time, you probably never will, so consider donating it to charity or selling it on eBay. If you’re too lazy to list stuff, you can give them an eBay consigner, such as Luxe Swap, who will sell them for you. For the remainder, store away anything that’s out-of-season. This will make room for things you’ll actually wear and protect your other clothes for the next six months, when they’ll be out of use. You can read an article I wrote about seasonal storage here.
Maximize your closet space: How you should do this will depend on the particulars of you closet. One good solution, however, is installing a second rod; this should double the amount you can hang across your closet. If installing a full second rod isn’t practical for you, try a hanging one. After that, you can add an over-head shelf to store your out-of-season clothes, and put some cubbies or adjustable shelves on the floor to hold things that you’ll only occasionally use. On the side of your closet, if you have room, you can build shelves and put in shelf dividers or baskets. I recommend woven baskets over plastic ones, because clothes are best kept in breathable storage units. You can also hang vertical shelves to hold sweaters and shoes. Remember the point with all these things to maximize the vertical space in your closet as much as possible, but keep the prime real estate for things that you’ll use on a daily basis.  
Use the back of doors: On the back of your closet door, you can install hooks to hang things such as belts or the day’s dry cleaning, or throw an over-the-door shoe organizer (but only the kind that will allow you to still use shoe trees). The only thing I wouldn’t recommend putting in there are shoes that have been bulled, but otherwise, they should hold shoes just fine. 
Put things under your bed: Here is where you can put out-of-season clothes, or things such as socks, underwear, and undershirts. This will free up your dresser drawers for things such as sweaters and knits. (If you haven’t yet, read Jesse’s guide on how to store clothes. No matter what solutions you come up with, I recommend you not deviate from his guide). Canvas containers will allow your clothes to breathe but plastic can be good if you have a lot of dust bunnies. There are also under-the-bed storage solutions for shoes.
Consider other speciality products: There are a ton of other products you can consider. Cascading hangers, for example, will let you hang more dress shirts in a vertical space. I’m less of a fan of those since I think button-up shirts hold their shape better when they’re held on wooden hangers and not smashed against each other. There are also hangers to hold multiple pairs of pants (like this, this, or this). I’ve found those to be of limited use since hanging four or five pairs of pants on the same hanger still takes about the same horizontal space as they would if you hung them separately. The one by The Great American Hanger Company also has small plastic teeth on each bar. Useful for making sure your pants don’t slip down, but potentially damaging for wool trousers. I use one just for chinos and keep it on the end of my closet. Additionally, there’s the Hanger Hamper, which can be a nice way to free up space in your closet as more hangers become empty throughout the week. 
Buy a new closet: At some point, there’s only so much you can do, and you may have to buy a new closet. I think this one and this one look particularly promising because of the double decker rod system. 
That’s just the start. I recommend checking Closet Maid, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond for other solutions. As I said, much of this will depend on your needs and room’s particular layout. 
(Photo by Darwin Bell)

Q and Answer: How Can I Get the Most Out of My Closet?

Jacques asks: I have a really small closet. Would you offer any suggestions or tips on how to improve closet space or how to improve closet organization in general? Thanks!

I struggle with the same problem. My closet is probably not even suitable for someone with a regular sized wardrobe, let alone someone who has an interest in men’s clothing. I dream of one day having a walk-in closet, though I suppose every closet is a walk-in if you try hard enough.

This subject is probably too much to cover in one post, and what’s possible or optimal will depend a lot on your living space. If I could give some general advice, however, they’d be the following:

Dump and store: First, get rid of things you don’t need. If you haven’t worn something in a long time, you probably never will, so consider donating it to charity or selling it on eBay. If you’re too lazy to list stuff, you can give them an eBay consigner, such as Luxe Swap, who will sell them for you. For the remainder, store away anything that’s out-of-season. This will make room for things you’ll actually wear and protect your other clothes for the next six months, when they’ll be out of use. You can read an article I wrote about seasonal storage here.

Maximize your closet space: How you should do this will depend on the particulars of you closet. One good solution, however, is installing a second rod; this should double the amount you can hang across your closet. If installing a full second rod isn’t practical for you, try a hanging one. After that, you can add an over-head shelf to store your out-of-season clothes, and put some cubbies or adjustable shelves on the floor to hold things that you’ll only occasionally use. On the side of your closet, if you have room, you can build shelves and put in shelf dividers or baskets. I recommend woven baskets over plastic ones, because clothes are best kept in breathable storage units. You can also hang vertical shelves to hold sweaters and shoes. Remember the point with all these things to maximize the vertical space in your closet as much as possible, but keep the prime real estate for things that you’ll use on a daily basis.  

Use the back of doors: On the back of your closet door, you can install hooks to hang things such as belts or the day’s dry cleaning, or throw an over-the-door shoe organizer (but only the kind that will allow you to still use shoe trees). The only thing I wouldn’t recommend putting in there are shoes that have been bulled, but otherwise, they should hold shoes just fine.

Put things under your bed: Here is where you can put out-of-season clothes, or things such as socks, underwear, and undershirts. This will free up your dresser drawers for things such as sweaters and knits. (If you haven’t yet, read Jesse’s guide on how to store clothes. No matter what solutions you come up with, I recommend you not deviate from his guide). Canvas containers will allow your clothes to breathe but plastic can be good if you have a lot of dust bunnies. There are also under-the-bed storage solutions for shoes.

Consider other speciality products: There are a ton of other products you can consider. Cascading hangers, for example, will let you hang more dress shirts in a vertical space. I’m less of a fan of those since I think button-up shirts hold their shape better when they’re held on wooden hangers and not smashed against each other. There are also hangers to hold multiple pairs of pants (like this, this, or this). I’ve found those to be of limited use since hanging four or five pairs of pants on the same hanger still takes about the same horizontal space as they would if you hung them separately. The one by The Great American Hanger Company also has small plastic teeth on each bar. Useful for making sure your pants don’t slip down, but potentially damaging for wool trousers. I use one just for chinos and keep it on the end of my closet. Additionally, there’s the Hanger Hamper, which can be a nice way to free up space in your closet as more hangers become empty throughout the week.

Buy a new closet: At some point, there’s only so much you can do, and you may have to buy a new closet. I think this one and this one look particularly promising because of the double decker rod system.

That’s just the start. I recommend checking Closet Maid, The Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond for other solutions. As I said, much of this will depend on your needs and room’s particular layout. 

(Photo by Darwin Bell)

Men’s Clothes: How to Store Them
Men often email me to ask how to store their clothes, so I thought I’d offer a few simple best practices for most of the clothes in your closet. If you’re looking for information on seasonal clothing storage - like putting away winter coats in summer, read the great article Derek wrote a few months ago.
Remember that animal fibers (especially wool) can attract moths. Wherever you store your clothes should have some ventilation and be dry. Keep your wool clothing clean (moths like moisture and especially food stains). Some strong smells, like cedar, will discourage moths from setting up shop, though only mothballs will kill them.
Shoes: With shoe trees, preferably wooden. “Lasted” trees (trees in the exact form of the shoe) are best, but not necessary. Try buying trees for about $12 at your local Nordstrom Rack, or keep an eye out for pairs for about $3 at your local thrift stores. Shoe bags (usually made of cotton flannel) recommended when traveling, or for shoes that are likely to get dusty, like velvet slippers.
Socks & Underwear: In a drawer. Cedar smells nice. I actually store mine in an old aluminum cooler that has a few lavender sachets in it.
Shirts: Folded or hung from a hanger. Button the collar to maintain its shape and another button further down the shirt front to keep them from flapping around. A slimline hanger is fine for shirts, but don’t use wire. You’re not an animal.
T-Shirts & Polo Shirts: The thin cotton of polos can stretch if hung. Fold and stack them.
Suits & Sportcoats: Suits and sportcoats should be hung. At the least you should hang them from a hanger with some shape (a traditional suit hanger which bends forward slightly, rather than the straight plastic five-for-three-dollars hangers from the dime store). It’s even better to hang them from hangers with some width in the shoulder. You want something that supports the full shoulder pad, shaped not unlike your own shoulder. This keeps the shoulder of the coat from deforming. Wood is more attractive, but plastic will also work fine here (and is lighter weight). These usually only come with very high-end suits, but they can be purchased new, and most of mine came from estate sales. Decent suit hangers were apparently much more common thirty or forty years ago.
Trousers: I like felted clamp hangers, clamped onto the hem of the trousers, if you have the room. This helps wrinkles fall out. Hanging them on traditional trouser bars is perfectly fine, though. Look for bars with felt (best) or rubber (OK) coverings to prevent slippage.
Casual Pants: I fold my pants which don’t take a crease - blue jeans and chinos, primarily. Some denim enthusiasts hang their jeans from a hook rather than fold them to protect their wear patterns, but that’s further than I’m willing to go.
Belts: Rolled or hung from their buckles.
Ties: Rolled or hung, untied. If you’re lucky enough to have a fancy closet, you may have shallow drawers with dividers appropriate for rolled ties. If so: God bless. I’ve hung my ties for many, many years and they’ve suffered no apparent ill effects. Mine hang from a rack that was once designed to be used with clips to hang baseball caps. It’s a series of horizontal bars. You could get the same effect with a freezer rack hung on a wall. There are also plenty of tie hangers in the shape of coat hangers.
Handkerchiefs & Pocket Squares: These can be hung from clips on a rotating rack if you’re really fancy, but I just fold mine. A cedar box is nice, but you can also use clear plastic shoe boxes so you can easily spot your favorite.
Sweaters & Knits: Never, ever hang sweaters on coat hangers. Fold them. Hanging them will mess them up, especially over time (but even in a few hours for heavier pieces). Even if you think of that cardigan as “coat-like,” it should still be folded, not hung.
Hats: Hook ‘em! Or put them in hat boxes. And remember they can be a moth target, too.
Sweatpants: I recommend storing these in the garage, in a box marked “Salvation Army.”

Men’s Clothes: How to Store Them

Men often email me to ask how to store their clothes, so I thought I’d offer a few simple best practices for most of the clothes in your closet. If you’re looking for information on seasonal clothing storage - like putting away winter coats in summer, read the great article Derek wrote a few months ago.

Remember that animal fibers (especially wool) can attract moths. Wherever you store your clothes should have some ventilation and be dry. Keep your wool clothing clean (moths like moisture and especially food stains). Some strong smells, like cedar, will discourage moths from setting up shop, though only mothballs will kill them.

Shoes: With shoe trees, preferably wooden. “Lasted” trees (trees in the exact form of the shoe) are best, but not necessary. Try buying trees for about $12 at your local Nordstrom Rack, or keep an eye out for pairs for about $3 at your local thrift stores. Shoe bags (usually made of cotton flannel) recommended when traveling, or for shoes that are likely to get dusty, like velvet slippers.

Socks & Underwear: In a drawer. Cedar smells nice. I actually store mine in an old aluminum cooler that has a few lavender sachets in it.

Shirts: Folded or hung from a hanger. Button the collar to maintain its shape and another button further down the shirt front to keep them from flapping around. A slimline hanger is fine for shirts, but don’t use wire. You’re not an animal.

T-Shirts & Polo Shirts: The thin cotton of polos can stretch if hung. Fold and stack them.

Suits & Sportcoats: Suits and sportcoats should be hung. At the least you should hang them from a hanger with some shape (a traditional suit hanger which bends forward slightly, rather than the straight plastic five-for-three-dollars hangers from the dime store). It’s even better to hang them from hangers with some width in the shoulder. You want something that supports the full shoulder pad, shaped not unlike your own shoulder. This keeps the shoulder of the coat from deforming. Wood is more attractive, but plastic will also work fine here (and is lighter weight). These usually only come with very high-end suits, but they can be purchased new, and most of mine came from estate sales. Decent suit hangers were apparently much more common thirty or forty years ago.

Trousers: I like felted clamp hangers, clamped onto the hem of the trousers, if you have the room. This helps wrinkles fall out. Hanging them on traditional trouser bars is perfectly fine, though. Look for bars with felt (best) or rubber (OK) coverings to prevent slippage.

Casual Pants: I fold my pants which don’t take a crease - blue jeans and chinos, primarily. Some denim enthusiasts hang their jeans from a hook rather than fold them to protect their wear patterns, but that’s further than I’m willing to go.

Belts: Rolled or hung from their buckles.

Ties: Rolled or hung, untied. If you’re lucky enough to have a fancy closet, you may have shallow drawers with dividers appropriate for rolled ties. If so: God bless. I’ve hung my ties for many, many years and they’ve suffered no apparent ill effects. Mine hang from a rack that was once designed to be used with clips to hang baseball caps. It’s a series of horizontal bars. You could get the same effect with a freezer rack hung on a wall. There are also plenty of tie hangers in the shape of coat hangers.

Handkerchiefs & Pocket Squares: These can be hung from clips on a rotating rack if you’re really fancy, but I just fold mine. A cedar box is nice, but you can also use clear plastic shoe boxes so you can easily spot your favorite.

Sweaters & Knits: Never, ever hang sweaters on coat hangers. Fold them. Hanging them will mess them up, especially over time (but even in a few hours for heavier pieces). Even if you think of that cardigan as “coat-like,” it should still be folded, not hung.

Hats: Hook ‘em! Or put them in hat boxes. And remember they can be a moth target, too.

Sweatpants: I recommend storing these in the garage, in a box marked “Salvation Army.”

Q and Answer: How Should I Hang Up My Pants?

Josh from Austin asks: How the heck should I hang up my pants? There’s tons of different options (folded over a regular hanger, those hangers that clamp on to the bottom, the ones with two clips, etc.). Do you find any one way particularly superior?

There are a variety of ways to hang pants, and the difference between them, functionally, is modest.

Given unlimited space, my preference is the clamp style hanger. This wooden hanger clamps onto your cuff (the clamp is lined in felt), and the pants hang waist-down from the rack. The great advantage of this option is that creases will fall out of your pants. For this reason, I usually hang my pants from the cuff in hotel rooms for overnight stays, to help ensure sharp pants in the morning.

You can also hang pants from the cuff using a clip hanger, which is generally used for skirts. It will have the same benefit, but you may get some clip marks or unequal pulling, since all the weight of the pants is hanging from just two spots. Still, if you have the vertical space, it’ll be fine.

A traditional bar hanger is perfectly fine as well. You’re best off using something with a felted bar (the one pictured above is covered in rubber, which helps, though not quite as much as felt). This will help keep your trousers from slipping off the hanger. You can also try this very cool hanging technique, which will keep those trousers secure even in the jostliest of closets.

Here’s where I admit how I hang my trousers: on those space-saver multi-hangers. It works fine, I almost never lose them, and it does indeed save space in my closet. I’ve got cubbies below my closet bar, so there’s no room for a full-length hanging trouser, and horizontal space is at a premium, so the modest amount of saved left-to-right area is appreciated. I’ve got multi-hangers by color - gray, blue, khaki and brown.