One of the inevitable challenges which emerges from a 5-year project is that of storage. Building a Gentleman’s Wardrobe inevitably takes up space. If like me you are married to a woman whose wardrobe space requirements exceed your own then the problem is quadrupled. So what to do?
The obvious solution, of course, is to build a bigger wardrobe to accommodate your growing , er, wardrobe. Alternatively, convert a spare bedroom into a shared walk in closet or move to a bigger house.
For many of us, of course, none of these is an option, and even if it were an option, it would be one which many of us would not consider seriously. So we need to explore storage within existing constraints.
This is an issue which is about more than the efficient use of space. It is also about ease of access as well as how you may wish to display your wardrobe. You may have plenty of loft space or an empty garage which could easily accommodate your wardrobe but neither is likely to be especially accessible.
Or you could minimise the amount in your wardrobe by using storage boxes in various locations about the house. However, unless you have a good cataloguing system, whether written or memorised, remembering where you put the specific shirt you need could be tricky.
And then there is the question of display. The previous occupants of our house made some improvements to the kitchen which included a glass fronted display case among the kitchen cabinet units. We’ve no idea what they used it for but I imagine that, like us, they placed in that cupboard the crockery and glassware that they were happiest to show to the world.
The reality of course is that the world does not often come into your kitchen. (OK in our case it does once a year, or maybe it just feels like that). So the display case is not so much for others but for yourself. The stuff that you like best you store it in a way that is not just space efficient but which also displays it at its best.
Collectors often do this. Stamp collectors find ways of storing their collection which also displays their best items. Car collectors find ways of storing and displaying their pride and joy. Even rock collectors find ways to store and display the objects they spend ages researching and discovering. It should not be surprising, then, if those with a 5-year project are not merely interested in storage solutions but also ones which display their collection positively.
And this is not for the world, primarily; rather it’s for you. So you might think through whether you prefer to have your shirts folded or hung. Folded takes a little more effort but will free up hanging rail space for jackets, etc. John Francomb, Creative Director of T M Lewin, prefer how folded shirts look in his closet. He observes that you rarely see shirts displayed on hangers in shops.
Personally, I get his point but can’t be bothered to fold all my shirts. Hangers are for me preferable for formal shirts and suits but I fold everything else. I do like my hangers to be good quality, though. For those who are true anoraks on this front The Hanger Project might be a place to visit, if you can handle the prices.
For the rest of us simply make sure that your hangers have sufficient strength and are properly shaped to avoid causing your clothes to get out of shape. I confess that I prefer my hangers to be the same, e.g. formal shirts all on the same type and colour of hanger and the same for suits. I confess that I also like my shoes neatly lined up in a row (well, rows…).
If you really get into it you might give some thought to the order in which your wardrobe is arranged. At the moment I arrange my formal shirts in colour palettes by age, i.e. blue scale, oldest to newest, then whites, then pink scale, lilacs, grey scale, etc. Shoes are a little more complicated to explain but there is a logic to how they are placed in my shoe closet.
We struggled when we moved house a few years ago because we moved from a house which had an oversupply of wardrobe space to one which had less. However, we have discovered that if we located storage in different points around the house we managed to find just about as much space as we had previously. It does mean that my suits don’t live on the same floor as my shirts, which don’t live in the same room as my shoes but it kinda works. I think of it as three collections. This arrangement does mean that I have a full height shoe closet which I very much like.
The upside of this near OCD attention to detail is that not only are one’s wardrobe collections displayed more attractively it also means that I never have to look for my blue check Winchester shirt because I know exactly where it will be; within the blue scale section of my shirt collection.
Clearly you should do some pruning as you go along. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that as the wardrobe grows the question of storage solutions will become more sharply focussed. However, with some creative thinking you can find solutions which work for you and which hopefully display your wardrobe at its best.
If you’re going to spend 5 years building the thing, better make sure it is not just a helter-skelter pile of clothes when you’re done.
PS: Apologies for the long silence since the last post. The last week has been rather full.