Clothes Versus Closet: Does Your Home Dictate the Size of Your Wardrobe?

updated Mar 11, 2020
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

In other words, does the size of your closet determine how many clothes you keep/buy/give away? Does a studio apartment mean having an ultra-efficient capsule wardrobe, or do you just store your sweaters in the oven?

I lived in a studio apartment for years and years, and had a reasonable/small closet to work with. I stored my clothes, jackets, and shoes in the closet and my socks, underthings, and workout gear in bins on an overhead shelf. There was a shelf in my closet I could have used, but it was much easier to store less-used items in there and have my undercrackers close at hand. Even at the height of my San Francisco thrift store shopping days, I never exceeded the limits of my closet. Any items that no longer fit or functioned were immediately donated to Community Thrift. My mom is wonderful about giving me wardrobe staples (tights, socks, tank tops, leggings, sweaters) but always made it very clear that if I didn’t like something she’d given me, I should get rid of it. This gave me the freedom to donate a couple of pieces I simply didn’t wear, leaving plenty of room for all of my favorites.

Now that I’ve moved back to Illinois, I’m no longer able to keep my wardrobe corralled in my closet. My dresses, pants, sweaters, shoes, and accessories fit in my mini-closet, my tank tops, t-shirts, socks, and underthings are in a dresser I share with my partner, and my coats, winter gear, major sweaters, and off-season dresses are tucked away in the back of the 8-year-old’s huge closet. Living somewhere with serious seasons means needing such a larger range of clothes. The “coats” and “sweaters” I wore in San Francisco are hilarious on a -50F degree day, and the dresses I wore year-round there are insanely hot when it’s over 100F.

Someday I’d love to have all of my stuff in just one, reasonably-sized closet once again, but now that I’ve broken the seal, will that ever be possible? We’ve got outbuildings now- I can fill a barn with sweaters!

Does your storage situation dictate your wardrobe, or vice versa?