Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 1)

Spotlight 11-1: Where To Put It All?

This is not even close to the extent of my shoes or wigs, but it’s the most aesthetic arrangement! 😀

Welcome to Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! This is part one of a two-part spotlight – I’ll be focusing on storage today, and in the second part I’ll be talking about curation! It’s all well and good to have a wardrobe of unusual or antique clothing, but you can’t just shove an 1800s gown in your closet with your blazers and expect everything to be fine! 😀

Pictured: non-1800s dresses shoved in a closet and perfectly fine.

Let’s start with my lolita wardrobe! Above is one half of my closet – the other half is also filled with dresses – that half is my jewel-toned and black dresses. 🙂 Satin hangars protect the straps, and hooked to each hangar through a hole punched in the top is a Ziploc bag to hold matching accessories to keep them with their dress. I organize my dresses by color (mint –> sax blue –> lavender –> pink –> ivory –> white, from left to right on the pastel side of the wardrobe that you see here), but in the past I’ve also organized by brand, theme, and age! Right now color seems to work best for me as I tend to feel like wearing a particular color and then I can go to that section and pick out a dress. More wigs live in the closet above the dresses, all on stands to keep them aired out and in their proper shape.

Yes, there’s another drawer for jewel-toned/black socks, too. 🙂

Accessories and shoes live in organizers! As you saw in the top image, many of my shoes are housed in that Costco caddy, and I have two sets of plastic drawers to hold socks (rolled up in approved Marie Kondo style) as well as headdresses that don’t specifically match a dress. My husband made the necklace hangar that’s installed above my shoe rack – thank goodness for his woodworking hobby! ❤ The ultimate goal is that everything is easy to put to hand. Personally, I won’t wear something if it’s difficult to find or extract from its storage place. I can grab a dress, matching socks, shoes, headdress, and wig in no time at all, which means I’ll actually wear my lolita clothes instead of staring at bins full of things I wish I wore! 😀

Yes, that’s an Egyptian-themed obi on the right. It’s a weirdly popular obi motif, and I don’t know why?

My kimono collection is a little fussier. Silk breathes, meaning it will absorb and release moisture from the air – and the air can be quite moist in the Pacific Northwest! When you consider how to store your clothes, you really need to consider your local climate because what works in one may be a total disaster in another. My house is climate controlled – we have a heat pump and it dehumidifies the air here quite a bit. So I can get away with plastic bins for my obi (they’re in a mixture of traditional washi paper wrappers and more modern zippered fabric tatoushi), but I do put incense packets to repel insects as well as silica gel packets to absorb excess moisture into each bin.

I do have some pants and t-shirts and stuff… Some.

I may use plastic bins for my obi, but with the kimono and haori I won’t risk it. My haori are all in paper tatoushi, and they live piled in a wooden drawer in seasonal order (so it’s easier to get out the next set for the upcoming season). This ensures good airflow – traditionally kimono/haori are kept in paulownia wood tansu that protects the silk from moisture and even oxidation. I don’t have anything that fancy, but my chest of drawers is real wood (rather than fiberboard) so it does help. I still put silica gel and incense packets in with the haori though! (In-between the layers, not actually inside the wrappers – to avoid any possibility of stains.)

Every wardrobe should be guarded by a Totoro!

The kimono are in similar paper wrappers, but in cardboard archival boxes. These are acid-free and lignin-free, and are nice and sturdy to boot! One archival box holds approximately 10 kimono in their tatoushi – which conveniently is about what I own!

They each have a little window in them so I can easily pick out which one I’m looking for.

My kimono are stacked in rough order of formality, since I currently find that easier to sort by compared to other statuses like color or season. This is mostly because I have a small kimono collection, and it’s more sensible to have the very formal kimono I’ll hardly ever wear like my kurotomesode on the bottom, and the more informal ones such as my scarlet cotton iromuji on top. Accessories such as zori and obiage are in plastic bins hiding below my lolita dresses, and my dressing aids such as padding and ties are in another bin that stays out in the open all the time so I don’t have to go digging for it. Sensing a theme? 🙂 The easier it is to find what I’m looking for, the more likely I am to go to the bother of dressing up!

The exception. 🙂

My antique clothes, however, are the one exception to this rule. As I don’t wear my historical garments nearly as much as my kimono or lolita clothing, they need to be out of the way, and as protected as possible. They need to be climate-controlled, so absolutely no garage storage (as our garage isn’t insulated or heated/cooled), so I’ve mostly gone for archival boxes living on top of bookshelves. 😀

Even a small antique garment collection takes up a lot of space.

You can see here why I don’t own a ton of antique clothes. Antique textiles are fragile, even if they don’t look like it, and fabric will tend to weaken where it’s folded. Therefore you don’t really want to fold antique garments – instead, they’re gently stuffed with acid-free paper to round them out, and they’re curved around the stuffing instead of creasing them. It makes each garment take up far most space than you would expect! This is the secret price of responsibly caring for these historical pieces though. I was given this advice by an acquaintance who used to be a conservator of antique garments at a major museum, and her strategies haven’t failed me yet – my pieces are still in as good (or better) shape as when I acquired them. I can’t stop the passage of time, but I can slow its effects at least!

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek into how and why I store my different clothing collections! The second part of this spotlight will focus on curation — with just a little touch of Marie Kondo’s wisdom. 🙂 I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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