Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Of Closets and Clothes

The very first step in the  KonMarie method of decluttering your home is to tackle clothes. Considering I have clothes in my closet that I wore in high school, I was very much in need of a good clean-out in this department.

I realized I'm a bit of a clothing hoarder (I might just be a bit of hoarder in general, which is why this whole decluttering binge has been so cathartic for me). You see, I really like having lots of options, being able to mix and match, and always having just the right outfit for the occasion. So what if I never wear those heavy black work boots, someday I might end up on a construction site and really need them, right?

Obviously, I have a problem.

(Although, not as big of a problem as my husband, who refuses to throw out his Hawaiin shirts that would fit a large Tongan football player nicely, even though he is considerably smaller than that).

Here are the tips I followed, and the difference they made:

Does It Spark Joy?
You are not supposed to keep clothes based on function, or whether you wear it frequently, or haven't worn it in the last year, or any other paradigm like that. Instead Kondo recommends only keeping clothing that spark joy. I have two observations about this.

First, this meant that while I got to throw out A LOT of clothes (like those nasty light-wash frayed denim boot cut jeans from high school that didn't fit then and still don't fit now, but have remained buried at the bottom of my jeans drawer for over a decade), it also meant I got to keep some clothes that have a few unfortunate stains or other problems because I absolutely LOVE those clothes. I was even inspired to pull out the super glue and fix up two pairs of shoes with loose soles because they are favorites that bring me joy. And it made me happy to know that I didn't have to feel guilty about keeping these well-worn items because even if they have their issues, I still feel incredibly happy every time I wear them.

Second, I realized that sometimes I needed a work-around cheat method on this one. Because do those over-sized T-shirts you pick up from family reunions and the summer corporate barbecue actually spark joy? Individually, no. But do I still want a couple of those T-shirts in my closet to serve as comfy pj's? Absolutely. I just drastically pared down my collection.

You know how most people store their out of season clothes away? Kondo recommends having all your clothes out, hanging up, and visible at all times, no matter what season they are for. When you keep clothes stored away, it's easy to forget about them. This one didn't seem too difficult to me as I've drastically pared down on my winter items since moving to Houston (where it's summer for nine months of the year, and only slightly cooler for the other three months).

But I decided to make this applicable for other types of clothes that I usually keep stored away, like my maternity clothes. Following the "sparking joy" criteria, I actually threw out most of my maternity clothes because they made me terribly depressed. Now all the maternity clothes I kept are hanging in my closet along with all my other clothes, and surprisingly I find myself reaching for some of those shirts regularly even though I'm far smaller than my pregnant self (maternity shirts generally work great for nursing, I've discovered).

Kondo also recommends hanging clothes in an order that ascends to the right; that is, you hang longer items with heavier fabrics (coats, dresses) on the left, and gradually ascend to the right where you have shorter blouses, lighter fabrics, brighter colors. I thought this would be a tip I would mostly ignore, until I realized that my closet was already accidentally organized that way, so I must have intuited this one on my own.

Fold Your Clothes Right
Kondo has a thing against hanging too many clothes up. She definitely favors keeping most items folded in drawers, because this utilizes closet space more efficiently. I totally get this, but here's the thing. We have huge walk-in closets with lots of bar space for hangers, and only one dresser with smallish drawers, so I actually have waaaay more hanger space than drawer space. Thus, I used to keep everything on hangers in the closet, including jeans and pants.

However, after my clothing purge I had a lot more space in my drawers and decided to move all my pants into one drawer. I reorganized all my drawers to follow Kondo's folding method. I had a hard time visualizing this folding method just from her description in the book, but after watching a couple of YouTube videos (this one and this one were helpful) I totally caught the vision. Now my drawers look like this:

I was wearing pants when I took this picture, that's the empty space. And the items on the right are actually my moby wraps. I had empty space after arranging my pants so I folded them up and threw them in there too.

Doesn't it look so pretty? It makes me so happy whenever I open my drawer to see this. I organized my other drawers this way as well, but no, I am not posting pictures of my underwear drawer or other intimates on the world wide web thankyouverymuch.

It might seem like it takes longer to fold clothes this way, but I've found it takes me no longer than it did to hang them all up. I love this method too because even when I take out an item of clothing, everything else stays in place because the way they are folded allows them to stand up themselves. As long as I don't try to fit too many items in a drawer, the system works beautifully for me.

I still keep all my shirts (including T-shirts) on hangers just because that's where I have more space, but if/when we move to a place with smaller closets, I will invest in a closet drawer system because honestly? This folding system is awesome. No more stuffing piles in my drawers! No more drawers that won't close because they are too full! No more forgetting about those clothes at the bottom of the pile because I never see them!

It makes me so happy every morning when I get dressed, and all of my favorite clothes are just there, neatly folded or hanging in a row, ready to be picked. My closets and my clothes all make me so happy now. I haven't yet tackled the kids clothes yet (I don't have a lot of drawer space for their clothes either, so I'm not sure what to do yet, but it really is a problem I need to tackle), and I did not force my husband to participate (I make him fold his own clothes and put them away, does that make me a terrible wife?), but he seemed to catch the bug a bit and asked for help in doing his own closet purge. We haven't gotten around to that yet, but I'm itching to toss those Hawaiin shirts. We'll see.

For now, I'm loving my new joy-only closet.


  1. I put that book you recommended on hold and I'm like #543 on the waitlist:) I organized my drawers like that because of a relief society activity and it has changed my life! I already went through a big down-sizing but need to do another round. Your excitement may motivate me to finally do it.

  2. I'm so happy to see how similarly we applied her advice. It makes me think that I'm on the right page. :-) Except that . . . I realized I didn't even touch my maternity clothes! I don't know why I didn't think I needed to go through them since a lot of them definitely do NOT bring me joy. :-)