How I store my clothes

Friday, April 3rd 2020
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Being at home more has given me time to write about something readers frequently ask about: how I store my clothes.

The short answer is, with difficulty, particularly given how much I care about looking after them.

Tailoring cannot be too cramped, lest it cause wrinkles; knitwear cannot be stuffed onto shelves, as it exacerbates pilling; the only trousers that can be folded are jeans or heavy chinos.

And I’m fortunate to have a lot of clothes, so there is always a fight between wanting to be able to see as much as possible, and giving everything enough room.

My basic solution is that I have the double-height wardrobe shown in our bedroom, which houses tailoring, shirts, trousers and most knitwear. Then a second, small wardrobe in our study for coats. Everything else is stored in the attic.

Up there I have two hanging rails, with tailoring sitting in garment bags (below). Some of this is seasonal storage, such as linen suits that won’t be needed until Summer. When the seasons change, this will be brought downstairs. (Although only gradually: unlike New York, seasons here change slowly, and inconsistently.)

However, some of those in the attic are Autumn/Winter pieces too. So every couple of weeks I take some from the wardrobe up to the attic, and bring down new ones. There is a gradual rotation.

Those racks in the attic are my limit in terms of the total size of the wardrobe.

Obviously Permanent Style is now a business with requirements of its own, such as keeping examples of tailoring that can be featured in the future. But at the same time, I dislike having clothes that aren't being worn – particularly when someone else could be enjoying them.

So I’ve got better at giving away or selling pieces I don’t wear. My brother and brother-in-law get a fair few, and I’ve been regularly selling things through Marrkt.

Hearing from PS readers how much they’ve enjoyed pieces they've bought has been lovely.

Getting back to the wardrobe, shirts are all folded up on shelves. This isn’t ideal, as they will crease, no matter how carefully they're folded.

But as I’ve always cycled into my office (in my old job, almost every day – now running Permanent Style, probably two days a week), they have to be folded for transport anyway.

And I’ve never been that fussed about a few wrinkles in shirts – most shirts look wrinkled in the body after half an hour or so. Plus I wear more casual, denim and oxford shirts these days, which wrinkle less.

In an ideal world all the shirts would be hanging up, if only for easier access. And the same goes for trousers.

My odd trousers (not part of a suit) are all hidden away on the hangers of the jackets in the wardrobe, which means I can’t see them or get to them easily. I need to flick through the various jackets to find the charcoal flannels. (I do try to keep the same trousers with the same jacket, but that always falls down at some point.)

At one point I did have the lower of those two rails dedicated to trousers. But the desire to have more tailoring on view eventually outweighed the inconvenience of having the trousers hidden.

The knitwear is a little more organised, with roughly one shelf per style. So one shelf is crewnecks, another V-necks. There is a shelf of vests and cardigans (above, top) and another for roll necks (below that).

This helps particularly when – as with much menswear – colours like navy and grey pre-dominate. But even then it's not perfect, as I find I have four navy crewnecks (one cotton, one lambswool, one fine and one chunky cashmere).

And of course, the number of pieces in each category never fits perfectly into each shelf. So a few stray bits end up elsewhere.

At one point I tried to categorise shirts in the same way: patterns, oxfords, denims, poplin. But their numbers never worked out as easily - and they vary more than knitwear, so they're easier to find at a glance.

One place where categorisation works well is in the attic.

Here, the tailoring is all kept in garment bags, as an extra protection against moths (though I haven’t had any problems since I started fumigating).

This means I can’t see where everything is. The small plastic windows on some bags are not much help, given the lack of good lighting.

So instead I keep the two racks in order: the left is mostly Spring/Summer, the right mostly Autumn/Winter. And then on each, suits are hung at one end (the one closest to the entrance) and jackets at the other.

This means that even if I don’t know where my tobacco-linen suit is, at least I only have to look through one half of one rack.

Back in the bedroom wardrobe, the two lower shelves are kept for denim and, above that, chinos. The latter are heavier pieces, like the Armoury or Blackhorse Lane chinos, which would gain little from hanging.

It makes sense to have these at the bottom of the wardrobe too, because of their weight. They’d be trickier to get in and out if they were above head height.

And then the ties: as you can see, they're all hung on rails screwed into the wardrobe doors. Four rails of them seems like a lot, but even that has been reduced recently.

There are many other areas (of clothing, and of the house) we could go into, including shoes, socks and bags.

That would include the lovely Turms modular shoe system above, which has two old Lodger drawers on top, and wooden bespoke boxes on top of that. (My daughters were responsible for the labelling.)

But I think it was the tailoring readers were most interested in, given how much it dominates everything else. Do let me know if I’m wrong.

Overall, I think this perhaps shows that I'm not as fussy as some might expect about storage. I want to avoid the big things: crushing, pilling, scratched leather. But I don't obsessively label everything, or keep it all in zip-lock bags.

There's a good middle ground to be found between leaving your coat on the floor, and panicking when your perfect patina gets scuffed. Clothes should be cared for, but also lived in.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson or (the amateurish ones), me

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Triskel

Hi Simon

A great article, as ever. Can I add my penny-worth?

1. (though this is obvious) never put anything away unless it is completely dry. Mould, or even mould smells, spread easily.
2. (this is obvious too) always check and brush your clothes before putting them away – that way you don’t find (always when you’re in a rush and usually when you have decided that you want or need to wear a particular outfit) that you can’t wear what you planned because it’s dirty or needs mending.
3. (a hassle I know, and not really necessary if you do 2) consider covering unworn suits/jackets with an old shirt – any dirt or grease doesn’t then risk rubbing off on adjacent clothes.

Graham

Very similar in approach to me.

I have hangers with tailoring on, together with a variety of shelves and drawers too.

I have separate piles for knitwear; organised by style, eg V neck, crew etc. My shirts are hung based on colour, texture etc. I split my sock drawer into casual on the left and business on the right. Ties hang on a Heath Robinson style product.

My shoes tend to be grouped in colors, but I am thinking about this currently and may change it. Outdoor coats are kept separately and closer to the front door.

Great article.

Luca

Hey Simon,
this is a very interesting piece but…shirts definitely on hangers;-)
I also keep each knitwear in a kind of plastic bag to save them from dust.
It would be nice to do also on other people’s wardrobes. I know this is something has been already done before but not from your point of view?
Stay safe!
L.

Will

Maybe we could get a hastag going on Instagram?

Robin

Other people’s wardrobe ?
I Definitely second that ,Simon .

Martins

For those of us with much less space, I was wondering, is there something wrong with hanging shirts and trousers under the jacket?
And to avoid crushing the lapel roll, is there a downside to storing jacket with collar up and lapels closed?

Peter

Dear Simon,
I believe your post is very nice especially as it shows that not everything has to be perfect in order to work. You have more clothes than perhaps most of the readers for quite understandable reasons, but face storing challenges like most of us (without absurd 300sq.m. wardrobes etc.). I personally am a little more OCD than you with my suits and jackets in bags at all times expect when airing, but I believe that’s partially because I have more storage and much much less clothes. And to anyone reading the blog and looking at Simon’s wardrobe, you really don’t need that many clothes. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but I firmly believe in buying less but buying the best.
Keep well
Peter

Colin

Hi Simon,
I guess it’s down to the ‘on display’ point but in my previous property I had wide drawers included when installing a new closet which gave me some comfort around keeping off dust and moths from lesser worn items, plus it looked more organised; so essentially 1 large drawer for knitwear, 1 for t-shirts, 1 for undergarments/socks and all shirts, 1 for sportswear and trousers, jackets, coats hung separately on rails, but granted I have a smaller clothes collection! Have yet to do the same on our new property, so knitwear is now folded on shelves, similar to yours. Very interesting article and concur with Luca’s point, would be great to see other people’s solutions!!

Ricky

Simon,
Thanks for the article, I will for sure be using some of the methods in my own collection.

I somehow stumbled upon a green PS crew neck on Marrkt maybe a month ago, in my size at over 50% discount brand new. After wanting to try a piece over the past year I snapped it up immediately.

I must say I’ve never handled a sweater like it, it’s levels above smedley in material and make. Gave it a first hand wash over the weekend and it hasn’t softened further.

Scott

What manufacturer would you recommend that offers similar quality to the now defunct PS worlds finest knitwear ?

Adam Jones

Any reason you decided not to keep doing the knitwear. I love my green one and regret not picking up the navy when I could..

A relevant point for this article is you can fold it up so small (or even leave it scrunched up like I did by accident once) and because it is so fine it’s back to wrinkle free and new instantly

Giovan Battista

Hi Simon, could you (and anyone reading) please suggest the best kind/brands of garment bags (for jackets, suits, overcoat)? Should they be 100% cotton, or are the synthetic ones good and safe enough on the long time?
Thank you (sorry if I missed the already-existing answer somewhere in the comments)
GB

GiovanBattista

Thank you Simon, I guess I’ll start using my Lanieri and Suitsupply bags (that’s my level in the tailoring game, so far) and then buy some more with a comparable quality.
GB

Anonymous

Dear Simon,
thank you very much for an article many of us were waiting for!
The next question, however, is: What do you do with worn-but not yet dirty cloth?
Suits get a brush (and I only put them back in the wardrobe after another day outside it, even if not sure why), shirts etc. go into washing. But cords, chinos, jeans; above all knitwear certainly should not be washed after one day of (normal!) use. What do you do with these? I find sometimes an empty chair covered with three or four trousers and different knitwear which are all used „in rotation“ for one or two weeks – surely a kind of „messy solution“ but what other options I am missing besides washing too often or putting „clean-but-worn“ clothing back in a densely packed wardrobe?
Many thanks again! Michael

Jan

Very good point. I have this bamboo ladder contraption in the bedroom for all the casual stuff in rotation and in between clean and dirty. Tailoring and knitwear go back into the wardrobe but t-shirts, shorts, jeans, OCBDs etc are in this purgatory (sometimes for weeks)

Anonymous

My wife and I have separated dressing rooms.

My storage consists of four hanging bays; business suits, casual suits, odd jackets and odd trousers. I then have a double height bay for shirts; formal on the upper level and casual below.

Open shelving designed as a grid, ten bays each two foot square; this is for knitwear which I have ranged by style, polo shirts etc. Items less frequently worn are stored in cotton bags. Various drawers are used for underwear, socks etc, with one with individual compartments for keeping my ties, which are always rolled.

Shoes are on purpose built racks along one wall. And I have a rather handsome chair on which I sit to put my shoes on and remove them. Finally, a chevalier mirror.

Paul Boileau

I had clothing storage problems until the children (eventually) moved out. My wife is quite the clothes horse as well. This opened up a further two bedrooms as well as the study and attic which also had clothing of one form or other in them prior to this. Marie Kondo it aint….

MatthewV

At least!

APM

Hi Simon,

Curious to see you use rather narrow hangers for most of your tailoring, rather than bulbous/broad ones. Is this due to necessity (limited space)? And do you find there is little difference between narrow hangers and the bulbous ones?

Karol

Ouch. Simon, how much of the shoulder extended past the hanger is a problem? I believe some of my sportcoat hangers are just a centimeter too short. And I doubt I could get bigger hangers for cheap

Z S

Hi Simon, great to learn your own experience on the topic, a good example for future reference.
Panasonic has a revolving closet system which I’m planning to get one once I can manage to have my own place back home in Shanghai. I think it will be a great alternative for your hanging rails in the attic in terms of capacity and accessibility (Although my plan is to build an actual wardrobe based on its size, it can easily handle dozens of shirts). I don’t think they sell it here in the UK but they do in the US and Canada, but if you really like it and want one I guess it won’t be too much trouble to buy one there and ship it here.
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAtKEE9xVIU

Jasper

Great to see how you handle storing your clothing. I think it’s very healthy not to be to fussy about it. It could be way more over the top than what you are doing. So, we’ll done if you ask me. However if I would own that much high end tailoring Im sure I would pay way to much attention to keeping it all in place. For me personally I changes everything after reading the book of Marie Kondo. You might know her. The technique she uses is not just for your clothing but for the kichen as well for example. Most useful I think is after folding keeping things not on top of each other but keeping them in a drawing horizontal. That way they don’t get pressed down because of the weight and you can always see what you have. Saves a lot of space too.

Stephen Dolmsn

Now that I’m home for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d ad my 2peneth.
I’m pleased that I’m not the only one that likes the middle ground ie not obsessive about anything. I love some of my old suits and ties (some between 20-40yrs old. The only thing I always do is roll my ties, never hang them.

Bolaji

Hmmmmm … those luscious scarves.

Jonathan

Great piece. Glad to see i’m not the only one fighting the eternal storage battle.

Paul Gelon

The Photos reminds me like storing a beautiful Ferrari under a tent…but once dressed it looks superb…

Gary Buck

I Have started to put luggage tags on the hangers of my suits when in their bags when hung up with a description of each on the label for easy identification due to lac of visibility of the item.
I find this works very well as I can quickly look at the label to discern the item inside.

Hugh

New permanently style shop idea…

Dave

No photo of your clothes valet, Si?

Jasper Drakes

Funny article on Put This On a few weeks ago about there being a direct correlation between wardrobe space and the scope a chap actually has to be able to wear some nice clothes in the street without being ridiculed. Point being you can wear what you like in cities like New York and London but nobody can afford the wardrobe space! Certainly true for me in Crystal Palace!

Hugh

Ha! PS and PTO are two of my go to’s

Jan

Dear Simon, based (solely) on this website and the different collaborations / PS products I have witnessed / experienced, I think you are entitled to allow yourself a little bit more space and materials to build the perfect wardrobe system. One small apartment, office space or industrial/mixed use room sort of next door would do, wouldn’t it? Since you turned fulltime prof, why would you keep all your things af home?

Keep up the strong work!

Thomas

Great article! question about the bit about cycling to work and transporting your shirts folded: how do / how did you transport your tailored clothing while cycling to work? I’ve been interested in trying this out but have come up short with reasonable solutions. Any input would be wonderful. Thanks!

Thomas Jung

Amazing. Thanks for the reply!

Justin

What do you recommend for storing leather jackets ?

ANM

Simon,

So good to see you use garment bags…Some clothing advice I have read has gone all in on the hermetically sealed mothball, etc. route…I have in a pinch used the plastic wrap from the cleaners (actually does a great job of minimizing creases when travelling – just pack everything separately in them…And that works for shirts, just hang them separately, fold in your suitcase/bag, and they are usually good to go, with barely a touch up with the iron…)

Question for you – if you are trying to maximize your space, have you considered off – season storage using those vacuum seal systems? They look to reduce volume considerably, and have the bonus of making your items semi – hard, (the bags themselves are made from a heavy duty grade of plastic) which means you don’t have to be so gentle with them…

Keith

Great insight into your wardrobe Simon. I’ve my clothes on hangers in this order: shirts,knitwear,polo shirts, sweatshirts,t-shirts,trousers,waistcoats,hoodies,blazers,denim jacket, light rain jacket and bomber jacket. I store Jean’s in drawer with scarf and gloves. Ideally would love a walk in closet. Shoes/boots around the walls.

Zubair

Simon: What has really helped me is replacing part of the wardrobe ( or closet here in the US) doors with a glass insert. This allows perusal of the clothes without opening the door and prevents or at least minimizes the danger of moths from sneaking in and attacking my cashmere sweaters that they seem to enjoy feasting on.

Matt H

Good to see this topic covered. The nosey Parker in me has always been curious.
I’m surprised to see the ties hung on the doors in that way. Not that it’s doing them any harm, it’s just that I saw you as someone who would store them rolled up in some sort of rack or shelf. The type with little pigeon holes. Perhaps you just have too many.

Thomas

Do you hang knit ties as well?

John

Hi Simon,
Have you succeeded in working out a fail-safe organizing principle for storing your ties?
I must confess that this issue has utterly dified my imagination. To me, even applying the broad devide between Autumn-Winter and Spring-Summer ties doesn’t seem to work well as I intend it to be, even though I don’t have a huge collection like yours of this item.
Thanks for your input.
John

Pellefant

I own two heavy cardigans. Can they be hung or do they need to be folded and stored on a shelf?

Ian A

When I’ve seen you mention storage in other posts Simon i always assumed you just moved each seasons clothing to an off site commercial storage facility.

A post on all your shoes and the stories and craft behind them, and how you utilise them day to day would satisfy us shoe nerds! I feel quite guilty as i have over 50 odd pairs of Northampton high end shoes but i find they bring the most value. I store them in Ikea Cabinets in the manufacturers dust bags.

John

Hereafter is an aside question about ties, Simon.
I assume the stored ties we see above are those you wear in Spring Summer. Ok, they are muted enough to be bearable to me. Mind you, I’m not that radical as Jake Grantham and Alex Pirounis at Anglo-Italian seem to be! No, my point is that I personally find a great deal of ties made specifically for that time frame too bright and even really flashy in some cases to my taste.
So I just want to know whether the tendency to wear such ties is moored to a specific rule or rather just a matter of aesthetics related to how the natural environment is taken into account when it comes to composing an outfit. And since a tie usually is not the first item a man picks up when doing so, we don’t expect that it would then be given the power – so to speak – to unduly dictate the choice of the remnant items (notably, jacket and shirt) one is to make when framing an outfit.
Therefore, to my eyes at least, a lot of mismatch between ties and the rest we very often see in Spring-Summer outfits. Thus, the ties seem to have been foisted upon the rest, as if anything goes were the motto since … the Sun is shining.
John

Clifton

Great article, Simon. Reading it, one thing I realised was, that I have too many clothes. And shoes. And ties. And kerchiefs, and cuff links and jumpers and……..

Richard

A useful piece which many have been eagerly anticipating.

I am surprised at the relatively modest space. Thoughtful organisation does compensate. At a guess (unless you have a precise inventory) how many articles of clothing including hats and ties do you have on the one hand and shoes, on the other hand, do you currently possess?

Corey Cavalieri

Great article Simon, nice to get a glimpse into how to store a large wardrobe. Im something of a minimalist but its nice to have ideas on how to condense items for storage like odd trousers on same hangers as jackets. Would you ever reccomend more than one pair of say chinos on the same hanger?

Anonymous

What is surprising about the photos of your jackets is how the sleeve lengths vary relative to the length of the jackets themselves.

Some jackets appear shorter with shorter sleeves, others longer with shorter sleeves, others shorter with longer sleeves.

It’s as if they were not made for the same person.

Surely bespoke it supposed to fit an individual? Do your dimensions change so much over time that your arms get shorter whilst your torso gets longer?

Justin

Great review, Simon. What is the price or price range for beaver hats by Cody? Secondly, would you consider using a maker like Cody for a Panama hat? Here in LA that could perhaps get even more wear. Thanks.

Joseph

Neat, and except for the few nitpicks you described pretty much efficient. It really comes across that the clothes are both loved and enjoyed.

By the way, where do your casual outerwear pieces go?

JB

If anything, this post really made me think on how much I can reduce my wardrobe. I wear the same 10% on rotation, the rest barely gets used. I guess I should disregard nostalgia and original cost and make sure the clothes gets worn somewere else. My wife would be happier for sure as I’m ashamed to say she can barely fit her stuff due to my excess…

May I sugges btw Simon, take a photo of each trousers (or indeed a hand written note) and put on the hanger much like a coat check badge would hang. That way you can easily find which trouser go under which jacket.

zo

I usually hang more than one blazer over one hanger, because the coat hangers are so voluminous. is that a bad idea?

stephen

Interesting and useful article and reassuring that you and I have similar storage challenges. I’m using some of my at home time to have a good sort out across the board, so this article was very timely as I am about to start on clothing storage, and my seasonal swap around between current wear and storage.
A quick question, in regards to folding vs hanging shirts: is it purely a space issue? I hang mine however they are pretty crammed in, so they come out wrinkled. Have you tried both methods of shirt storage.
Thanks again.

Jason

Hi Simon, hope you’re well. A quick question about those lovely Turms shoe boxes: Are they worth the price? And do they come in different sizes just like shoes? Or for those that can’t afford the price tag what would you recommend for storing shoes that can be stacked like those, and that are fully enclosed like those? Finally, what are the main considerations in regard to storing shoes? I presume no direct sunlight, anything else? Many thanks!

Nanni

…. my opinion is that you have too many things, and someone tells you that he has too many things; in my opinion you should do as i did, give some to your son or some friend, because from what i see you have a lot of mess in the house, then do what you think is better, hello
 

Jason

Thanks Simon. Be well.

Ola Solanke

Hi Simon.

A very interesting article as we are now in the season of rotating Autumn/Winter clothing to spring/summer.

As I have a very large wardrobe it is always a mammoth task to do my seasonal rotation. But I always start with suits which I check for dust and unfortunately for moths which is always a natural hazard for fine wools, pieces of cashmere, Jackets, and suits. I, therefore, ensure before storing away in suit bags clean and spray lavender or cedarwood and or cedar wood blocks. I repeat this with my knitwear and coats. May I also suggest that when changing your seasonal wardrobe you remove all items from your wardrobe and spray some lavender in the wardrobe itself to ensure no nasty moths or their larvae are lurking in the crevices.

Shoes, I ensure I clean them and store them in individual shoe bags with shoe trees before storing them in my loft. This preparation ensures there are no nasty surprises come autumn/winter 2020 going into 2021.

I have been doing this for many years and am very lucky I have adequate space to do this. But I would suggest to all lovers of beautiful clothing to invest this time and preparation to enjoy wearing choice pieces of your personal collection from season to season.

Once again a nice article and a very important article too

Cheers
Ola Solanke

Anonymous

How do you store suits with two trousers? Both trousers on the hanger of the jacket?

Michelle

Hello Simon, I have been following the blog for a couple of months and I must say that I am a neophyte, and that apparently I have not found my own style. Could you give me some guidelines to find my own style at 37. Greetings to all!

Michelle

I really appreciate that you answered me. I will surely have more questions. Thanks again!

Jai Kharbanda

Hi Simon, is there a reason you suggest wooden hangers over plastic, even when they have a good shoulder width?

Karol

Quick question – how important is having hangers for jackets that are exactly long enough? I’ve noticed that some of mine are one size too short. Will this damage sport coats in the long run?

Karol

It’s hard to say if it is visibly hanging. But if I put my hand up the sleeves, I can feel the shoudlerpads sticking a bit outside the hanger and folding down. Is that alright?

Stephan

Hi Simon,
Great article!
I want to connect it to the question of how one can afford the clothes you feature. Many people spend too much money in a big house or car, only to then to complain that they don’t have the money to buy good clothes.

In that respect, it is refreshing to see that you deliberately spend less money on space and transportation, to be able to “afford” high quality clothes. Much of what been said here about affordability is really about setting priorities, at least for the average PS reader.

Lindsay McKee

Is it perfectly OK to store my suit or jacket in it’s suit/jacket cover in the wardrobe at all times? I’m thinking about the clothes moth here. I’m also aware that garments need to be aired as well

Jai

Hi Simon,

What’s your view on using the attic for long term storage of clothes?

Mike

Hi Simon,
I’m moving into a new apartment and the closet is incredibly small. I’ve cultivated some nice items, including a few nice suits and a suede jacket from Stoffa and I am concerned about how I can store these things. Do you have any recommendations?

Mike

Do you think a suede jacket could be laid flat and stored in a garment bag?

I know there are some portable closet (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honey-Can-Do-63-in-H-x-60-in-W-x-18-in-D-Gray-Steel-Portable-Closet-with-Double-Doors-and-Cover-WRD-09198/317314193#overlay)

Do you think that would be effective enough to minimize damage that would be done by the sun?

Kristoffer

Good morning Simon! Would be fun to do another article on clothing storage, how people store their clothes. Everything from racks to furnitures. Or maybe link some inspiration from finer mens clothing stores.