T-shirtsThe first day of September brings with it the promise that fall is just around the corner (Wednesday, September 22, to be specific). Depending on where you live, you may have been sporting favorite autumn sweaters for awhile or tank tops may be the attire of choice for several more weeks. Regardless of the temperatures in your neck of the woods, today we’re going to take a look at our summer wardrobes to consider what should stay, what won’t make the cut, and what we can do with all those shorts and flip flops whenever the leaves change color. A little advance planning goes a long way – so let’s get started!

Whenever it’s time to bid our summer wear adieu in the coming days or weeks, wash everything first. Then, like the fabulous sorter that you are, have three bags at the ready for “Keep,” “Share,” and “Toss” items.

What to Keep…
Anything that’s in good condition, fits well, and can easily be worn or used again when summer next appears.

What to Share…
Anything that’s in good condition and will meet someone else’s need. When considering whether to keep or share something, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have I used this in the past six months? (Or, in this case: Did I use this item during summer 2010?)

2. Do I have other items just like this one – or very similar to it?

3. Am I only holding onto this item because it holds sentimental value? Do I actually use this item?

Although it’s great to donate gently used clothing items to local social services agencies, you also may want to consider who among your friends or family would appreciate an addition to their wardrobe. Clothing swaps – or just sharing your clothing – is a great way to help spice up someone else’s wardrobe.

What to Toss…
Anything that’s ripped or stained beyond repair, stretched out, or otherwise too ratty to give away. But before you toss those ripped tee-shirts, take a few moments to think resourcefully. Could those tee-shirts be cut into rags that are perfect for dusting or cleaning? Would they be helpful to a local animal shelter for lining or cleaning cages? And might your favorite second grader enjoy sewing the back pocket of her old shorts onto a canvas bag – to be enhanced by her favorite puffy paints and glitter?

Storing Items for the Long Winter…
Once you’ve identified your “keep,” “share,” and “toss” items, then you get to identify the best way to store your “keep” items for the long winter ahead. As is the case when storing winter gear, your summer gear will need to be kept in drawers, cabinets,  closets, or bins – whichever are easily available to you.

If you need to store items somewhere other than in your family’s closets and bureaus, provide each member of your household with storage bags in which to place like items (i.e. short-sleeve tops or swimsuits and cover-ups). Labeling each family member’s storage bags with their name will make handing out the warm weather gear super simple come summer 2011. Summer gear should be stored with an eye toward an easy wardrobe transition next year.

Everyone has their own storing preferences and considerations. I choose to never store flip-flops in storage bags or bins because they can be smelly at times, and they can be worn indoors even in the winter. A friend of mine prefers to not store swimsuits in an enclosed bag or container because the smell of sunscreen and chlorine never seem to leave those items, regardless of how many times they’re washed. She prefers to hang them on a hook in a closet and let them “air out” all winter long. You’ll identify the storage ideas that work well for you and your version of organizational bliss.

Hopefully one, some, or all of these tips will be helpful to you when it’s time to store your summer gear. Until then, here’s to a joyous September!

* Photo by kovacs laszlo

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