Last Summer, my boss from work gave me the (what now seems to be ubiquitous) book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo as a gift. I presume that it was because my desk was always the messiest one in our quad (hides away in shame).
The book sat around in my apartment before I picked it up and read it, admittedly, because the thought of cleaning and letting go was a little scary (and time consuming, and hard, and took time away from you know, lazying).
I finally finished the book at the beginning of the year, and decided on MLK Day that I was going to start my KonMari journey by starting with my closet. The closet was an intimidating place to start: the KonMari method was to collect every single piece of clothing you own (including accessories, socks, underwear) and dump it in one central location. You then pick up each piece, evaluating its place in your closet.
Funny story: My pup, Cooper, was on the bed and in the process of dumping all of the clothes on my bed I inadvertently gave him a warm little nest in which he hid. I panicked when I couldn’t find him and thought “OMG I must be the worst puppy mom in the whole wide world to be the first to lose my dog in a pile of clothes.” -_-
It took me a total of 8 hours, 1 box of velvet hangers from Costco, 3 trips to the local Good Will, to finally pare down my close from its previous state to what I have now.
So here’s how I did it.
I started with a very deliberate and clear “end state” of what I wanted my closet to be – maybe a little over the top, but this worked for me so maybe it will work for you too. I created an excel spreadsheet of my capsule wardrobe. You can read more about the capsule by Googling it or read about it here, but basically it’s a closet full of quality essentials that can be worked into multiple outfits, emphasizing classic, timeless looks over trends. Now that I’m approaching mid-30’s, I find myself to want to own less, or as Cuyana states, “fewer, better things.”
Here’s a screenshot of the excel spreadsheet I made of the items I decided on for my capsule, with items I do not currently own but want highlighted in yellow:
So you see – I’m a little neurotic. You can actually Pinterest this and come up with a bunch of more attractive checklists. In the end, those lists were great as references but I ended up making my own on Excel.
With list in hand, I then began to sort through my clothes in categories: coats, dresses, pants, blouses, sweaters, etc. I sorted into piles:
- Definitely keep
- Definitely not keep
- Don’t make me decide now/I’m not sure yet.
Not to scare you, but here’s what my pile looked like, pre-sort:
After sorting each category, I either hung the “definitely keeps” back into my close or neatly folded the “definitely not keeps” into bags for the donation bin. Going back to the “I’m not sure yet” category I had to seriously think about when was the last time I wore this, would I wear it again, can I give it to someone who might appreciate it more, do I really want the piece to take up precious real estate in my closet?
So, after going through the KonMari method and cleaning out my closet, here are some things I learned and tips that I pass on to you:
- Have a list, and make it yours- As I went through my closet, deciding on what I wanted to keep, I referenced my excel list time and time again. It was helpful to identify what I had way too many of (white blouses) and what I didn’t have (shorts – but this is deliberate because I don’t wear shorts). This method is especially handy if you’ve been thinking about going the “less is more” route with your wardrobe. It’s okay if the lists you see online don’t match up with what you envision. Create your own list! Want a closet full of skirts and dresses? Go for it. KonMari doesn’t wear pants. They don’t spark joy for her anymore. Don’t let others tell you that you need to have dark wash skinny jeans to complete your life. Everyone’s tastes and styles are different. Go with it.
- Buy skinny velvet hangers – If you don’t have these already, I suggest you get some. Costco has 35 of them for under $10. You can also get them at Home Goods, Marshall’s, or online. It doesn’t take up as much space and it’s no-slip so no need to pick up t-shirts and tank tops from off the ground. Plus, Once I used up all 35 hangers, I knew exactly how many pieces of clothing I had in my closet. I had to think extra hard to keep that 36th piece in my closet. For the record, I have 40 tops/jackets in my closet right now, and 10 skirts and pants that use hangers with clips that I got on Amazon. That brings my total pieces to 50.
- Embrace the honeycombs aka drawer organizers- I never would’ve thought my socks and underwear would’ve been folded as neatly as they are now, but it’s amazing to be able to pull open a drawer and see every pair of sock and underwear. I got my honeycomb dividers at Marshall’s for $6, and plastic organizing containers from Amazon. You can get something similar at Daiso for $1.50 as well.
- Take your donations out on the same day This helps you refrain from taking back anything you’ve already decided was going to the donation bin. If getting rid of stuff is difficult for you to begin with (high sentimental value, tendency to hoard, difficulty letting go) then this is imperative. If you have bags of stuff sitting around, you might be tempted to go back and retrieve something you really don’t need.
- Prepare yourself and set aside a full day Mentally preparing yourself and setting a date on the calendar ensures you will have enough time, and one of KonMari’s rules is “No Distractions.” I had music playing in the background to keep me sane, but no TV. Aside from eating lunch and an occasional break, I worked through the day. It was exhausting (and was so tempted to take a nap once I cleared enough space on the bed halfway through), but the result was so worth it.
Here are some “After” photos of my current closet, curated deliberately. I make effort to wear all of my clothes and ironically, don’t find myself wondering “What to wear now?!” or “Why don’t I have anything to wear?!” because every piece I look forward to wearing or wear often. I also shop with purpose now (vs. aimlessly window shopping). Don’t get me wrong – I love to browse but I look at white blouses now and think Nope, don’t need another one. Rather save my money and get a really nice cashmere sweater because that’s a piece I don’t have and want. In the long run, the goal is to save money and own things that you really love. (It also makes gifting for your significant other easier – hint hint!)
This is my main tops section – KonMari suggests organizing your closet in colors that go from dark to light.
Here’s a look at the jackets section of my closet – also very dark. I’m really not a colors girl.
Velvet hangers also come in the clip variety. These pink ones came from Amazon. I use them to hang skirts and pants. They also have grooves which are good for dresses or anything with a think strap. The black ones are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Here are the honeycombs! Aka a peek into my sock drawer.
What do you think? Ready to clean out your closet, too? I’ll be posting about my kitchen and bathroom organization as well. Stay tuned…
Items Used in This Post