People who see my side of the closet tend to say things like “where did all your clothes go?” or “how does your husband have all the clothes?”. Back when The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up first came out, I was excited to “get tidy” once and for all. Naturally, I started with clothes.
If you haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic, you don’t even have to read the book anymore to get familiar with the KonMari Method of getting tidy. I was SO EXCITED when I discovered the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix on January 2nd this year. In the show, Marie gives tips on her process of going through personal items and how to get to your house to the point where you are surrounded only by things that are useful or that bring joy. You always start with clothes.
I started KonMari-ing my clothes back when the first book came out. Before Marie Kondo, I was a Julie Morgenstern junkie. Her books on organizing are where I first started believing that letting go of stuff in our physical environment releases energy in other areas of our lives. I was no stranger to the Goodwill donation line.
I got the looks about how weirdly bare my side of the closet was even before I first got pregnant, but now that my body has gone through two pregnancies over the last few years and I’m still not back to any pre-pregnancy size, my wardrobe is more sparse than ever. I have started letting go of some of my more worn maternity pieces and am left with a mix of some maternity clothes, some non-maternity clothes that actually fit, and a few loved pieces from my pre-pregnancy days that I’m hopeful will one day fit again (including two pairs of jeans that I don’t dare try on).
My Process for Tidying My Closet
It’s been so long, I can’t remember what I used to do before Marie Kondo when I wanted to clean out my closet. I gravitated towards her method of creating a large, shock-inducing pile of the clothes category.
First, you lay every piece of clothing you own out on the bed and/or floor and then go through and decide on each piece one-by-one. Getting tidy is a lot of work! It takes so much time, and there are some hard decisions to make.
According to the KonMari Method, as you pick up each item from your pile, you ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” This can be unnerving because what if a pair of athletic socks don’t bring you joy, but they are perfectly practical to own?
I had some serious struggles with this concept until I read her second book, Spark Joy. This book admits that you can keep items that don’t necessarily spark joy but that have a practical use in your lifestyle and household. For example, the hammer in the garage may not bring you joy, but you take joy in knowing you have this tool on hand when you need to use it. What a relief to not have to seek out a tool set that actually does spark joy!
With clothes, most of us have way too many. So you just have to be honest with yourself about whether or not something is truly practical. When it comes time to let something go, you have a mini-ceremony to celebrate the item before parting ways. This is one of my favorite things about the KonMari Method. It’s just so cute. How could you not love it?
Let’s say you’re holding a shirt that you know 100% for sure you’re ready to let go of. You hold it, and (I do this silently), tell the item thank you for your service, thank you for serving me, thank you for all that you did for me, etc. You are honoring the item before you part ways. This actually makes it easier for me to let go of stuff!
Even if all it did for you was serve as a gift, there was that moment where you might have felt excited to receive something, or at least the person giving it might have felt joy in giving the item. That might have been it’s purpose in your life and that is perfectly fine!
How Do You Know if it Sparks Joy?
You know that feeling when you get when your favorite pajama pants are washed, folded and ready to wear? That’s joy! Or a dress that you know you feel and look good in and are looking forward to wearing it? Joy!
A shirt that was given to you but never really fit right but you feel guilty that the person went through the trouble to get it for you? I’m not feeling the joy. Or a shirt that you paid full price for and then once you got it home realized you just didn’t like it for whatever reason?
The process of Does it Spark Joy? is very personal. You get to decide if an old t-shirt that is super soft but maybe has a small hole in it is something you love or not. It does get easier as you go, and you start to build your confidence in your ability to determine what brings joy to you. It can actually be fun and empowering to start making these types of decisions.
How to Organize The Clothes You Keep
After you have decided on what to keep, now it’s time to put everything away. I like to organize my clothes by color and size. Loosely, I arrange clothes by type and then from lightest to darkest. For hanging items (mostly dresses), I also try to keep them arranged from shortest to longest. I’m not super crazy about this (or am I?), but I like having an idea in my mind about what order things go in when I’m putting away the laundry.
I do this for our baby girls’ clothes too. My husband’s wardrobe currently needs a major overhaul. I kind of gave up on arranging his clothes by color ever since we moved into our new house. I’m just doing good to get the dry cleaning out of the bags and hung up in the right place on his side of the closet.
I have a bin on a shelf on my side where I keep underwear, socks, etc., and a separate one for bras. In her first book, Marie Kondo made a big deal about the importance of giving your bras their own dedicated space. I’m not one to mess with the master, so my bras have their own separate bin. I like to think that if I were shopping in Victoria’s Secret, this is how the bras would be stored.
I also remember reading in her books that when things are arranged properly, when you open a drawer it’s like opening a box a beautifully wrapped candies in all different colors. That’s the feeling I’m going for when I arrange a drawer. I have two shelves in an armoire in our room for pants and shirts/sweaters that I don’t hang. And then I use the drawers for my swim suits, winter accessories, and a few other small things.
I really like having less. It feels freeing. I like when it comes time to let something go because it got a hole in it or a stain or something. I feel like I’m creating the space for something new. And that something new may not even be clothes!
When I let go of things, I firmly believe that I’m shaking up the energy of my life and preparing for other things to enter into my life. And this could simply be the time or mental clarity to get something done that I’ve been putting off.
As crazy as this process might sound, I absolutely believe in it. I still haven’t gotten all areas of my life this tidy. Far from it! But I still aspire to one day have more clarity in my life, and having a tidy side of the closet is a good start. Once we get my husband’s side tidy, I will definitely share! It’s possible that it could go something like this:
Have you tried the KonMari Method for your closet? What did you think?