A Guide to Storing Menswear
When you invest in quality menswear pieces, you want to make sure you’re taking good care of them.
Storing your items properly will extend their lifespan and keep them in readily wearable condition.
A good wardrobe also needs a good display. You should be able to easily see all of your options, and know where specific items are stored. A garment isn’t helping your style if you can’t find it, or forgot about it sitting in the back of a dusty closet.
Here are some tips from my years of experience storing menswear.
DIY CLOSET SOLUTIONS
Firstly, If you’ve priced out any custom closet solutions, you know they’re not cheap. I already spend enough on clothes, I don’t like to spend a lot on storing them, too. I also move a lot (six apartments in the past six years) so it doesn’t make sense to invest in fancy closet fixtures made of mahogany, or whatever. For the time being, I just need an affordable solution that I can custom build to store my wardrobe properly.
What I did in my Los Angeles apartment is turn the second bedroom into a walk-in closet (and the third into a design studio with a pattern table and industrial sewing machine). The first thing I needed in the closet was a lot of hanging space, so I lined the walls of the room with a two-story rack using 3/4″ threaded plumbimg pipe from Home Depot. They cut and thread the pipe in the store for free, based on whatever measurements you need. Then it’s just a matter of screwing the pipes together using threaded T-joints and securing the rack to the floors/ceilings with end flanges.
As an alternative, in my college dormroom and my first apartment in Harlem I used "slatwall" from a store fixtures retailer in Chinatown.
The next thing I needed was space for 100+ pairs of shoes. The most economical solution I found was a rack of wire shelves, also from Home Depot. The six foot shelf holds six pairs of shoes and only costs $8.70. The best part is, with the ClosetMaid system, you only have to secure two tracks to the wall (rather them hanging individual shelves) and you can adjust the spacing of shelves as tightly as you need , based on the height of your shoe styles (low-tops, high-tops, boots, etc).
The last thing I picked up from Home Depot was a cheap adjustable curtain rod that I use as a tie hanging area along the wall. It’s a $5 solution to store and display a whole collection of ties.
The remainder of what you see in the photo above (the cubed shelving unit with the cloth bins) was purchased at Ikea, which is full of great affordable solutions.
A good suit deserves a good hanger. This means one with a full shoulder, that is properly fit to the point-to-point of your jacket (not too long or too short). As far as the pant bar goes, I prefer a simple sling-over bar (velvet-wrapped for grip) than a “squeeze bar” which often leaves a wrinkle halfway down the leg. As with all hanging garments, give them enough space on the rack to breathe. If you squish too many garments on a small rack, they’re all going to get wrinkled and you’ll have to break-out the steamer every time you change outfits.
If you’re storing off-season pieces long-term, I suggest keeping them in garment bags or in dry cleaner’s plastic to preserve them from moisture and moths. I often put some cedar chips in the bag too, to preserve the freshness.
I try to use wooden hangers as much as possible, but with shirts you can save on hanger costs. The wire hangers from the dry-cleaners will work just fine. I almost always keep those hangers, as well as the plastic coverings. When you put a shirt on a hanger, make sure the top button is fastened to preserve the shape of the collar and keep the shoulders from sliding around on the hanger. Ideally you should button the entire shirt, to keep the front panels from folding over and getting wrinkled.
Sweaters should always be folded, never hung. Hanging knitwear will cause it to stretch out, loose its shape, and get deformed at the shoulders. I prefer folding and stacking mine in storage bins, rather than dealing with loose stacks that topple over.
Lace ’em up with cedar shoe trees, always. If you wear them very rarely, consider dust bags as well.
A traditionalist would keep his felt and straw fedoras in their own dedicated hat boxes…but those boxes are huge. You need some serious real estate to be a hat collector who keeps the boxes. I keep my hats stacked on top of each other. It saves space and they all keep in each other in shape.
Some people say that rolling ties in a drawer is the best way to store them, because it keeps their “fluff” or “dimension”. But who has time to roll up a tie and set it neatly in a drawer? I keep mine hanging, slung over a cheap curtain rod, where I can see them all and quickly pull one down.
STORING SMALL ACCESSORIES
Cufflinks, tie bars, tie pins, collar pins, watch bands, etc. Find yourself a nice masculine looking jewelry box with different compartments, and keep all of these small accessories in one centralized location.
I wear an automatic watch (Montblanc Timewalker) most days. Problem is, when I stop wearing it for a day or two, it stops telling time, which is the gift and the curse of an automatic movement (it works off the motion of your wrist). For this style of timepiece, you need a self-winding case, which rotates the watch in order to keep it from stopping. Unless you want to wind it manually every time you wear it – which is relatively easy to set the time, but a real pain in the ass to set the date.
Remember, keeping your closet clean and neat is one of the easiest things you can do to start dressing better.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Yours in style,