I don't know about you, but I get into a real cleaning mode during January. Something about the new year, a fresh start, etc. Or maybe it starts with putting away all the Christmas decorations, cleaning up after company leaves, and putting away all the pots and pans and serving dishes that we only use once a year.
Then the urge carries through to closets. January is a good time to organize the wardrobe. It's definitely winter, and we don't have to worry about needing those linen Capri pants for a sudden weather change. It should be safe to put summer clothes in the back of the closet or into the spare room closet until spring.
Before you store your lightweight wardrobe, there are a few things you should check for. Make sure they are clean first. You don't want bugs or mold or mildew attacking them during storage and you also don't want stains to set. So inspect them carefully, wash them or get them cleaned. This is also a good time to check for rips or tears, missing buttons and broken zippers. Just remember to clean them before you take them to an alterationist for repairs.
Next, make sure everything fits well. Have you gained or lost weight? Were you happy with the fit in the first place? Sometimes we try on a garment in a dressing room or order from a catalog or on-line and we don't notice the fullness of the pant legs or a sagging skirt hem.
Let's start with pants. Is the waist comfortable for sitting and standing? Does it gape in the back of the waist? Are the hips the correct fullness or do the pants look like jodhpurs? Is the length correct for the shoes you wear with them? You can use the same criteria to judge the fit of a skirt.
For jackets and blouses, check the shoulders first. If the shoulders don't fit correctly, it can spoil the entire look of the garment. Make sure they are not sagging, unless it's a kimono or off-the-shoulder design. Women really need to check the bust line: is there gaping at the opening? Sometimes a hook and eye at the bust line can help. Next look at the sleeve length. Is it where you like to wear your sleeves? Or do you prefer a ¾-length sleeve? If it is a cuffed blouse, is there enough length on the sleeve so that it doesn't pull at the elbow? Or is there too much fullness, so that the blouse looks like a clown sleeve?
All these problems can be addressed by a competent tailor or dressmaker. January is usually a good time to get an appointment, before wedding and prom seasons hit.
You may want to check the overall look of your wardrobe. Do you have enough pants and skirts for work and play? Do you have enough tops for each of them? Do you need a new lightweight jacket or sweater? Are they still in style or are you ready for a fresh look? It can be difficult to think about summer clothes when it's raining and cold outside but it can also be a good time to get some deals. At the least, you can peruse the magazines and runways to see what is coming up, get some ideas and maybe make a wish list.
January is a good time to think about what custom clothes you may want throughout the year. Maybe you have always wanted a linen bomber jacket. Maybe you sew very well but have trouble getting pants to fit and have always wanted a custom pattern. Or do you have a summer wedding to attend and need something special to wear? Contact your dressmaker or tailor at least six months ahead to get an appointment for a consultation.
Regardless of what the weather is doing, working inside and taking care of your wardrobe can really help reduce stress and save time in the long run!
Editor's note: This is a best-of column that first appeared on anewscafe.com in 2008, back when this site had about 2,000 unique monthly visitors. We now have nearly 60,000 a month, so we are publishing this column for the thousands who missed it the first time, and or those who read it the first time, who'd like to see it again.
Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or [email protected]