Have you ever seen the movie, “This is 40”? Well, I have … too many times. And although it’s supposed to be a reflection on the inevitability of getting older, I find that it captures just as well the quintessence of being young. One of the most poignant of these teenage moments centers on the oldest daughter tearing everything out of her closet, unable to find a single piece to wear for the day. At the top of her lungs she screams, “Mom, Why can’t I get new clothes? … Nothing fits me!” While I hope most of you have grown out of pulling such tantrums, the stress of getting dressed in the morning is still a reality, especially when you can barely see your options in the ever-too-small dorm closets. How are you supposed to manage? With the next school year looming, the issue of closet space needs to be solved. But here are a few tricks to make our miniscule space fit even the most expansive wardrobe.
1. Invest in quality hangers. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, with clothes falling all down or sticking out in random places. It’s important to buy slim hangers that grip well. What’s the point of hanging clothes if they don’t stay in place? Uniformity of hangers will also allow for more space. You’ve been there, scrambling to hang up a shirt before heading to class, grabbing the nearest hanger at your disposal, even if it’s not the type that you typically use. No more. Pick a style, stick with it and stock up on extras. Not only will such a strategy provide you with more room to hang clothing, it will also make it easier to look through your wardrobe when deciding what to wear in the morning.
2. Buy a shoe rack. If you open my closet at the moment, a sea of sneakers, sandals and slip-ons will come pouring out. This situation needs to change. My roommate tried to keep all of her shoes in a box on the floor, while I bought a hanging shoe rack in which to stuff all of my wares. Caution: Do not attempt. If anything, the box idea is better, but both solutions have their fair share of problems. Where do we put our “frat” shoes, the ones that are perpetually dirty and are worn only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights? You don’t want them to touch your nice shoes and potentially ruin them. And how are you to see all of your shoes in the morning, to choose the pair that goes with your outfit of the day? The best bet, I think, is an old-fashioned, on-the-floor shoe rack. Stick it in your common room, off to the side, next to a wall. Not only will it keep nice shoes clean, but it will also allow for full view of options.
3. When in doubt, roll it out. When I went to Israel one summer, I had to stuff a month’s worth of clothing into a suitcase; such a feat seemed almost impossible, until I learned this handy trick. Neatly fold clothing and then, using both hands, roll the fabric evenly until the piece looks like a nicely rolled pastry. This tactic makes it so that a small space can fit much more than usual. Although I have yet to inaugurate such a system into my own set of drawers, I plan to do so next year. No longer will I have to deal with clothes barely fitting into my bureau, falling out the back of an opened drawer and emerging dusty when I finally manage to retrieve it.
4. If you really need extra hanging space, try a rolling clothes rack. The only issue in buying one is the question of where to put it. The common room? Maybe, but then everyone who walks into your suite will have access to your wardrobe. The “single” life may be more conducive; if you have a spacious single, you could easily store it in your room. However, most of us will never see spacious accommodations at Yale. If you want to keep a clothing rack in the common room, try covering it with a nice piece of fabric, to keep your wardrobe neat and contained.
5. You’ve heard this one before: downsize. We all have clothes that we never wear, just sitting in the closet, hoping to see the light of day. I always think that I’ll need them at some point, but I never do. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in at least a month-and-a-half, send it home. Or, if that’s not possible, just remember not to pack it for the fall. Make some mental, or even physical, notes.
Keep these tips in mind as you start packing up your closet for the summer and planning for the next school year!