Monday, June 6, 2011

Cleaning Out Our Closets

Boat living means no massive walk-in closets, which is fine with me. Although large closets are nice, I don’t need to be physically surrounded by my clothes in order to select a matching outfit. However, Eric and I do need to hang many of our clothes, and having enough closet space on a boat for that purpose is a huge concern. Since boats do not usually serve as primary residences, they often aren’t designed to accommodate entire wardrobes. Rather, they are generally equipped to hold only the number of clothes you’d take with you on vacation or a short journey.

Thankfully, we’ll be living in a climate without much variation in seasons, which means a good chunk of our clothes will not make the move to Miami (goodbye lined wool pants, bulky sweaters, and puffy coats). Once in Miami, our wardrobe will be slightly smaller, but certainly large enough to warrant adequate closet space.

Neither Eric nor I have a ridiculous amount of clothes. We are very conscious about keeping our wardrobe a consistent size. If we buy something new, then something old has to go. This is a good rule to have if you are someone who buys too much. I love all of my clothes, so when I see something new that I want, I have to weigh my desire for the new item against my willingness to let something else go. Most of the time, this prevents me from buying things I really don’t need. We also routinely go through our closets and remove anything we haven’t worn in over 6 months. In addition to these two techniques, I also don’t buy items on sale that I wouldn’t have gladly purchased at full price. This keeps me from buying items for the sake of “getting a deal.”

However, while the volume of our clothing collection isn’t getting any larger, it certainly isn’t getting any smaller. As we make our transition to a boat, our clothes will need to fit into a much smaller closet than the ones we have now. Fortunately, we happened to stumble upon a product that, so far, is helping us solve our clothing problem: Slimline Hangers! They are much thinner (about ¼-inch) than traditional hangers and are completely flat, so they hang much closer together. While I don’t have a “before” picture of my shirts and blouses, I can promise you that they took up the entire left side of my closet. With the new hangers, they only take up a small portion of the same space:

My skirts and pants took up a huge amount of space as well. Here are my skirts and pants before switching hangers:

Here are my skirts and pants now:

The pants hang on a multi-tiered Slimline hanger, while the skirts are clipped to Slimline hangers and then hung from a cascading extension to further reduce bulk:

My gowns and dresses didn’t even fit in my closet with our old hangers. I stored them in our guest bedroom's closet. With the reduction in volume, I was able to move them into my bedroom closet. Here they are before:

And here they are after:

Full disclosure - I have two complaints with the hangers. Both are minor and in no way outweigh their benefits. Problem #1: They are wider than most hangers, and since my shirts are fairly small, the wide hanger can’t fit through both the head and arm hole of some of my shirts, so some of my shirts can't be hung. Problem #2: They are wrapped in velvet. This is actually a good thing because it keeps clothes from slipping, and under most circumstance, I would never complain about something being wrapped in velvet (I anxiously await the day this plush fabric returns as an option for car seats); however, in this case, the velvety grip makes putting some clothes on the hanger difficult. It is a little too grippy, but again, minor.

Also, I’m not completely sold on the cascading accessory the skirts are hanging from. We had planned to use these with our shirts, as well as my skirts, but I’m not impressed by their quality and am not confident I will not wake to find all of my clothes on the floor. Additionally, I like to organize my closet very precisely by hue. Let's say I get a new lemon yellow shirt. This shirt will need to go in between two of my already existing yellow shirts (my butter yellow sweater and my pastel yellow sequin tank). If all of the hangers are on the cascading device, I'll need to move tons of shirts around just to fit in one new shirt. Also, with the cascading extension, not everything is at eye level, which makes finding what I'm looking for difficult.

Before our new hangers, my entire hanging wardrobe took up 1.5 closets! Now, my wardrobe (everything - shirts, blouses, skirts, pants, gowns, and suits) takes up just a small portion of a traditional size closet:

Working on this blog post has also helped me to reduce my wardrobe. I spent a significant amount of time with all of my clothes today and found over a dozen items to donate to Goodwill, as well as one gown I need to return to one of my sisters:

So, our wardrobes aren’t growing, but they still take up a significant amount of room. Finding a boat with sufficient closet space will be a challenge, but with space-savers like these hangers, at least the space required to house our clothes is much less than before.

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