Updated on 04.01.12

Rotate Clothes Seasonally (92/365)

Trent Hamm

Rotating clothes seasonally? This is something many of us already do anyway. After all, heavy winter shirts don’t fly in the summer, and I’d freeze to death in some of my thinner warm weather shirts if I wore them in the heart of winter.

If you’re doing this already, congratulations. This is a very good money saving tactic because it manages to make it appear as though you have a completely fresh wardrobe a few times a year without ever buying anything new, plus it spreads out the wear and tear on your clothes so that you can use things like end-of-season sales to refresh your wardrobe instead of having to pay full price for clothes.

If you’re not, this is a bandwagon well worth getting on.

Rotate Clothes Seasonally (92/365)

Here’s how I rotate clothes seasonally and how it saves me money.

For starters, I have a large clothes tub that’s labeled “Out of Season.” Each member of my family has one of these tubs, too.

Whenever the weather gets warm enough on a consistent basis (or cool enough) that I’m not interested in wearing most of the items in my closet or drawers, I pull out that box and swap the contents of it for everything currently in my drawers. This usually happens in late March/early April and again in late September/early October here in Iowa.

I do usually save three or so outfits of out-of-season clothing just so I have something appropriate to wear on unseasonably warm and cool days.

I then leave that box out for about a month, for two reasons. One, I usually need to catch up on a bit of laundry, so I’ll keep adding freshly-washed items to it. This is because I want everything that comes out of that box to be clean and wearable.

The second reason is a bit more clever. If I happen to see one of those handy “end of season” sales where out-of-season clothes are heavily discounted and I know that my clothes count is relatively low, that’s when I’ll buy a few items. Those items go directly into the “out of season” box.

When I’m satisfied that the box is ready for storage, I close it up and store it for five months or so, usually in the garage rafters.

For me, at least, I found this particularly powerful when I was transitioning toward buying fewer new clothes. I found that the simple rotation of the wardrobe would often provide me with a lot of “new” clothes (both in the sense that they were actually new items from end-of-season sales and that they were clothes I hadn’t seen in half a year so that they seemed new). This was incredibly effective at cutting down my desire to buy new clothes because I already had the sense that I had piles of “new” clothes, thus keeping money in my pocket.

Many people already use this tactic, but if you’re not on board yet with a good wardrobe rotation, give it a shot. It makes you feel like you have a fresh new wardrobe every six months without the expense of actually buying a lot of clothes.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Jackson says:

    Not quite as bad “take a shower,” but still very elementary. Maybe this series needs to be retitled “Living for Dummies.”

  2. kc says:

    Gotta be tough to come up with 365 ways to cut costs.

  3. kc says:

    Now I’m getting “Duplicate comment…” when I try to comment.

  4. Greg says:

    I do this, but I also use the large ziploc bags and vacuum out the air. The ziploc bags will eventually let in air, but if you put them in totes, there won’t be anywhere for the clothes to expand.

  5. jim says:

    Doesn’t everyone who lives in an area where there are significant seasonal climatic changes do this already – out of necessity??

  6. Nancy says:

    I do this but have found that if I use a plastic storage tub, after a few months of storage the clothing comes out smelling strongly of plastic. Storing in a cardboard storage box would let the clothing breathe and results in less mustiness, in my experience. Of course, it depends on what the environmental conditions are in your storage room and whether you need to protect the contents from moisture or not.

  7. Steven says:

    I don’t jump on bandwagons.

    And unless you live in a climate that stays relatively constant throughout the year, doesn’t climate pretty well dictate your wardrobe? You’re not likely to see me wearing shorts and a t-shirt in December, or a heavy coat in July.

  8. Gretchen says:

    I’m really having trouble accessing the site, which I see isn’t really worth getting into anymore.

  9. BirdDog says:

    I can only get to the site on Safari, through my iPad. It won’t open in IE.

  10. Johanna says:

    I find it particularly powerful and incredibly effective to keep all my clothes in my closet year round – and not buy more new clothes than fit in my closet.

  11. Kate says:

    Agree with you Johanna and I have a very small closet. After all, how many clothes does one person need?

  12. Leslie says:

    I have never really understood the point of rotating clothes. I don’t have a terribly large closet and I share it with my husband. I keep all my cloths, all seasons, in the closet at all times. Rotating them seems like making a lot of work for no real gain. I still get that “new wardrobe” feeling when the season changes and I get to wear clothes that I haven’t worn in 6 months but I don’t have to do the work of rotating everything.

  13. Karen says:

    I agree with #10, 11 and 12. But I live in Texas so not much of a winter to change/rotate clothes. All mine are in my closet and I dress according to the weather that day.

  14. edenz says:

    I think this is a useful tip for those with lots of clothes or those who don’t work in an office. I do work in an office and wear almost the same clothes year round because they keep the office the same temperature. (Personally I find this annoying – going from a 65 degree office to a 100 degree parking lot is nausea inducing.)

    I do have seasonal outerwear, but not enough that it all doesn’t fit the closet next to the door.

  15. Kai says:

    I did this as a child, but have moved to a much smaller wardrobe. In the winter, I mostly wear summer t-shirts and such, but add a sweater over top. So I now have just one slot in my dresser where sweaters go in the winter, and shorts go in the summer. The other pile goes in a small stack in the closet, and the rest of the clothing stays the same.

  16. Donald says:

    This article is sheer brilliance.

  17. Rachel says:

    I’m not getting how this saves money…

  18. prufock says:

    It seems to me that if you have to rotate clothes based on the season, you probably already have more clothes than you need. Much like Kai (#15), I live in an area where the climate changes throughout the year, but while my wardrobe does change, I just leave the clothes I’m not wearing at the moment in the drawer/on the hanger. My closet and dresser provide plenty of space for all my clothes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *