Read the remainder of this blog entry to share in my experiences in helping another person to organize her clothes, and to see how I organize my own small hosiery collection.
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Is your hosiery not quite as organized as you would like? Are you feeling a little bit frustrated? Organizing your hosiery is a little like running a library. You will be much happier, if you organize your hosiery according to how you will use them, as opposed to physical attributes. The physical attributes, such as length and colour, are important, but that comes later.
For now, let us look at a slightly unrelated example, of how I helped a woman to organize her clothes. About 1.5 years ago, I volunteered to help a lady trim down her wardrobe, and to help her organize her clothes. Because of a medical problem, she struggled with keeping a consistent weight. If I recall correctly, she would go down several pant sizes in just a few months, and then back up again, without even changing her diet, and without exercising. If she found a pair of pants that she liked, then she would buy several different sizes of it. She also liked to collect clothing with wolves on it, so she literally had about 5-10 shirts, of the same size, of the style, of the same colour.
Regarding her pants, my first simple advice to her was to store all of her pants according to size. The idea is that she would not need all of her pants at the same time, and the first major deciding factor would be the size of the pants. Once she figured out her size, she could then search through available options to begin creating her outfit. It seems pretty obvious, when you think about it, but the problem is that we do not think about the process that we go through, and therefore, it is hard to find an organization system to suit us.
Hosiery is similar. There are some pairs that you will never need in certain circumstances. There are pairs that we want to wear often. There are pairs that we want to wear, but we do not care about them. On top that, we need to think in terms of making our hosiery easy to find. A good feature of a desirable system, is an option to keep product information, so that we could replace the hosiery with the exact same pair.
A Few Comments About Containers
The kinds containers that you choose to store your hosiery are really up to you. You could use cardboard boxes, if you do not care about the appearance. The good thing about them is that they tend to not snag the hosiery. Plastic is good too, sometimes. Getting a new set of wooden drawers is also an option, if you have the floor space for it. Ultimately, you want to take an old pair that you will not wear anymore, and rub it over all the surfaces that the hosiery could touch, so that you could see if there are any rough surfaces that will snag your good hosiery. I use plastic drawers and shelves, but it is a little bit of an eyesore.
The amount containers and drawers that you need will depend on the amount of hosiery that you want to buy. Even though my hosiery is spread out in different places, it is safe to say that it could fit into 2 drawers, if need be. Down below, I write about storing them according to the seasons, so maybe 1 or 2 containers [or drawers], per season, for you addicts.
The Groups, The Subgroups, The Bunches
I will encourage you to definitely divide them up into groups, and then optionally divide them again into subgroups, and then definitely divide them again into bunches. Let us get started already.
This group is for your hosiery that you will rarely wear, if ever. For example, I have 4 pairs of Wolford hosiery. I will never want to wear them as casual wear, but I do want to wear them on special occasions, so they get stacked at the very bottom of the special occasion pile. For another example, several of you might have a family heirloom, that you would never consider wearing.
Stop reading here, and go and separate all of the hosiery that you will rarely wear, if ever. Start with any family heirlooms, precious pairs, and pairs that you have an emotional attachment to. Do not worry about where to put them, for now. Just ensure that they are not mixed in with the other pairs.
That should have been relatively easy. Later on, you can add pairs or remove them, so there is no need to stress yourself out.
Damaged Pairs Group
This group is for all of your damaged pairs, that you will never wear again. These technical terms sure are a bit confusing, aren't they? Put them into a fabric sack, to make a nice hosiery pillow. People who make breast cancer pillows prefer hosiery, because the hosiery tends to hold its shape better than cotton. Another benefit of stuffing it into a sack is that you do not have to worry about folding it, nor putting it in the right place. Another benefit of stuffing it into a sack is that it is a good place to store it for future craft projects: rug made from hosiery; weird macramé projects; making a unique skirt. The most important benefit probably is the chance to have second thoughts: if you suddenly realize that you can make good use of a certain pair, then you only have to fish it out of the sack, and then do what you need to do.
Stop reading here, and go and remove all of your damaged pairs, that you will never wear again. You probably do not have a cloth sack handy, so use a plastic bag, or a spare box, or whatever suits you best.
That should have been relatively easy. Later on, you can add pairs or remove them, so there is no need to stress yourself out.
At Home Group
This group is for hosiery that is only good enough to be worn at home. Typically, you would want to wear hosiery in good condition, but you could still get some use out those laddered pairs, by combining them with others.
Specific Dress Group
This group is for hosiery that is to be matched with an outfit that is not really good for mixing and matching. I advise you to take the pair that you want to wear with the main item, then put it in a small shopping bag, and then hang that bag, on the hanger of the item, behind the item. If you have more than 1 pair for that specific item, then put it in that same bag. The idea is that once you have chosen your item, then you do not have to sift through 100s of pairs of hosiery. A good thing is that if you do not want to wear any of the pairs from that bag, then you could obviously still steal a pair from other bags, or from your main hosiery drawers.
For an example, perhaps you women have a LBD, that must be worn with only 1 pair of shoes. If so, then perhaps you have only 1 pair of hosiery that you will match with that dress.
For another example, you might have a suit. Gals, your suit probably has a skirt. Guys, try wearing a suit that has a pair of shorts, instead of a pair of pants. Both of those suits could use a standard pair of hosiery. Also, if your suit is in a suit bag, that has a sealed bottom, then you do not need the little shopping bag. Just throw it in the suit bag.
For another example, perhaps you have a costume. You could store a specific pair of hosiery with that costume, so that you will not have to go searching for the hosiery, when you put the costume on.
For another example, I have a specific pair of red opaque tights, that I intend to save for Valentine's Day [no wonder gals lose interest in me!], Canada Day [not the right shade of red, but most people will not care], and Christmas. So, it makes sense to store that pair with things that will only come out on those special occasions. If I ever want to break from the norm, then I can pull out the pair and wear it anyways, but I need to put it back after washing.
Everything Else Group
There are so many different climates out there. Therefore, here is a good option to consider, before proceeding.
Most people will probably prefer to wear opaque tights in winter, and sheer pantyhose or sheer stockings in spring, summer, and fall. If you do not want to divide them into seasonal subgroups, then skip down a few paragraphs to start dividing them into bunches.
If you need to organize for the weather, then you could split this Everything Else Group into subgroups to match your seasons. When choosing pairs for your outfit, you could always select pairs from a different subgroup, but it does help to sort them according to when you are most likely to wear them. For example, if you only wear sweater tights in winter, then place them in the winter subsection.
If you might wear them in more than 1 season, then put them in the season subsection that is closest to where we are now. For another example, if you only wear opaques in fall and winter, and if it were spring right now, then place those opaques in the fall subsection, and then as you wear the hosiery into the winter season, you would store them in the winter subsection. At the end of winter, you would put the hosiery back into the fall subsection. If that means that there will be nothing in the winter subsection, then change the fall subsection into a fall-winter subsection. The same goes for hosiery that you might wear only during winter and spring, or fall, winter, and spring.
You might be able to separate them into sheers and opaques, instead of seasons, but what happens if it is in between day sheer and opaque?
Each of the seasonal subgroups that you have created would be divided even further, into the following bunches.
Classic Collection Bunch
This bunch is a bunch that you can go to, when you do not want any fuss, and you want the guarantee that something will be there to match your outfit. It only has a few styles of hosiery, with all of the colours that the styles offer. You have already tried the styles, and know that the styles fit well, and could be worn with every single outfit, if you really needed to. They might not be the best hosiery, but they are good quality, and they would not draw attention if they do not match the outfit perfectly. They should be easy to replace [i.e. the most used pairs are consistently available at a convenient store, at a reasonable non-sale price], so that as soon as you get a run, you can buy another pair to replace them, at any time of the year. In my Classic Collection Bunch, I have chosen The Bay's full support hosiery. They are slightly opaque. The length is great. They are warm on cool days. They would not be the pair of choice in -10 C weather, but they would not attract a lot of attention on a day like that, compared to a pair of day sheers, or ultra sheers. There are a wide range of colours [i.e. black, off-black, white, dark blue, several skin colours, etc.], but nothing funky, trendy, or funny. They are not too warm. They are consistently available at The Bay. I actually have another brand, Energizer, in the Classic Collection Bunch, but I tend to not wear them as much. I will try wearing them more, in this upcoming year, and then decide if I want to keep them there. The goal is to have 1 of everything in this subsection, and to keep it all affordable. You can be somewhat flexible. If you find a special colour for a special occasion, in 1 of those styles, then you can definitely add it to your Classic Collection Bunch, because you are expanding your bunch, without changing the rules.
Daily Wear Bunch
This bunch is for all of your hosiery that you want to wear at least once per week. This type of hosiery would go with most casual outfits. Of all the bunches, subgroups, and groups, this bunch's storage location is the most accessible. Whenever you feel like wearing something, but do not want to spend time choosing something, then go to this bunch, and just pick whatever suits your fancy. You could only wear so many pairs each week, so this section should not be too big. You would put your trendy hosiery in here [e.g. colourful hosiery, patterned hosiery], because you do not necessarily want keep trendy clothing for a long time, and also because you want to enjoy it while it is still hot. Perhaps a pair is generic, but you want to wear it out completely, before moving on to another pair. You would put it into this bunch. It would contain a few staple pairs, as well.
For the remainder of the pairs, I recommend that you sort them according to length: anklets; knee highs; stockings; footless; bike shorts lengths; full lengths, etc.
After that, I recommend that you sort them according to opacity: ultra sheers; sheers; day sheers; semi-opaques; opaques.
For example, in my hosiery drawer, my knee-highs are in 1 pile, and my stockings are in another. I have so few knee highs, and so few footless hosiery, and I wear both so rarely, that I piled the knee highs on top of the footless hosiery. If I want to create a full length pair, then I can pull out a pair of knee highs and a pair of footless hosiery, and then combine them. I would probably only do that at home. I wear the bike shorts lengths as an extra layer for warmth, and I do not wear the stockings, so I piled the bike shorts lengths on the stockings. I can also pull out a bike shorts lengths and a pair of stockings, and then combine them to make a full length.
1 thing that I want to caution against is organizing according to colour early in the organizing process. Colour is really the last detail that I would look for. I truly believe that if you sort them according to colour, then you might have a difficult time finding them. I suppose that you could sort them according to colour, and then sort each colour into smaller groups. I just think that it would be harder to remember what you have available.
1 idea that you might like is putting the hosiery back into the package. The plastic will help to protect the materials from breaking down, due to the oxygen, and will keep the dust out, and the package labelling will help you to keep track of what you are wearing. It is especially good for when you want to replenish your stock with the exact same pair. After all, if you have a perfect fit, colour, and style, then why forget about it?
Another interesting idea comes from Steve Katz, of Comfilon. After washing, he puts them back into the package, if I recall correctly, and then puts them in a filing cabinet. You would have to be really interested in organization for that, but there is value in it. People, like him, are running a hosiery company, and they even look at hosiery with a microscope. They really need to keep organized, so that they can make technical comparisons. His technique is useful for mere mortals, like us, in that keeping your hosiery bagged and labeled will help you know what you are wearing, and where to find it. You could set up an online catalog, and use the Dewey Decimal system. You could have yourself a party, or not.
To keep your library organized, you will have to think about your wearing habits often. Also, you might want to take few moments, 2 to 3 times per year, to actually go through every single section to see exactly what you have. I thought that I knew exactly what I had. When I took a look, I found a pair of mostly opaque grey full length hosiery. Just a day or 2 before that, I was planning on going out, to buy a pair just like that.
It really is a learning process too. I tried to give you a good structure that would fit with human nature, so that this would be as effortless as possible. That being said, you might have needs that I have not addressed, or even learned about. So, as you try out new ways, keep track of how well it works for you, and then be prepared to make trade offs.
I have been working on this for over 12 hours, and still have lots to do. I gotta run.