How to Tidy the KonMari Way: Clothing

Marie Kondo, a highly-esteemed organizing consultant in Japan, has inspired decluttering around the world with her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Her self-created method of tidying is known as the KonMari method, a combination of her first and last names. She just released a second book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, and she even has a KonMari App that will be available this spring.

 

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Whether you’re a KonMari devotee, completely against it, or somewhere in between, it certainly sparks a conversation.

The KonMari Method is based on the joy that your possessions elicit – but more on that later. Another way to describe it is to change the way you think about tidying and decluttering.

 

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I have been hearing about Marie Kondo’s magical, transformational book all over the Internet. Could it be true? Could it really be as life-changing as everyone claimed? What was all the fuss about?

I was intrigued.

Between attending an out of state college, family, and new jobs, I have moved quite a bit over the last 5 years. During college, moving was frustrating for me because I had clothes, books, decor, etc. that I didn’t really need (or want, if I’m honest), but I continued to drag everything from home to the dorm to the apartment and back home again. Later on, while moving from a one bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house with David, I was shocked at how many things two adults could accumulate. On our second move, to another three bedroom house, it seemed like we had gained even more “things.” How can we have this much? What are we using it for? Do we really need all of it?

 

Marie Kondo has a lot to say about this accumulation of material possessions. Whether it’s emotional attachment, guilt, or that you’ve just forgotten that you have x y and z, you have probably kept a lot of things that you never use. More importantly, you probably have kept a lot of things that are no longer making you happy.

 

Remember when I mentioned my book journal in my reading list post last week? Well, I got a lot of use out of it while reading Marie Kondo’s book. So far, I have only accomplished the clothing category. The KonMari method actually allows 6 months to completely finish the process, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well so far.

 

Let me summarize my KonMari experience…

 

1) Visualize Your Destination

Before setting out to declutter, tidy, and organize your house, Marie insists that you take the time to visualize your destination. What is your goal? Go deeper… why is that your goal? Okay, and why? But why?

 

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Think about what prompted you to try to declutter, and what you hope to get out of it. When I paused my reading to consider, I thought about how mess, clutter, and overcrowding in my house makes me feel stressed and immobilized. It’s hard to be productive when you have a mile-long to do list, wouldn’t you agree?

My destination was to have an inviting, stress-free sanctuary that sparks my creativity, motivates me, and gives me the space to spend time with those I love.

 

2) Think category, not location

How many places do you store pens? Clothes? Books? Technology?

The KonMari method also places an emphasis on efficiency there’s no reason to do the same thing over and over.

Typically when you clean, you do it by room, right? Or by area. With Marie’s way, you tidy by category. This means taking every single item of a category and sorting through it at one time, in one place. She writes that when working with her clients, she gives them one chance to collect all of the items, so that they realize the importance of focusing. So when starting the clothing category, I checked not only my room, but the laundry room, coat closet, and the guest room.

Not only is there a categorical system in place to follow, but those categories are also broken down into sub-categories. With clothing, for instance, you have the sub-categories: tops, bottoms, hanging/dresses, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for seasonal or specific events (swim suits, ski gear, dance uniform, etc.) and shoes. You are expected to follow that order, too. So I did.

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With each sub-category, you have 1 chance to collect every piece in your house, and put it in the same place. Marie Kondo encourages you to use your floor. Well… the floor is the last place I want to put my clean clothing since I have three hairy dogs, so I settled for the bed instead.

 

Now that you have a mountain of clothing to rake through, you need to take each piece of clothing individually. To help you get started, try the off-season items first. If it’s the middle of winter, for example, start with your summer tank tops. This way, you won’t get distracted by thinking “oh I wore this yesterday, I kind of like this top…” Pick it up, turn it over in your hands, and think,

3) Does it spark joy? 

The premise of Marie Kondo’s system is the emotional response that your possessions elicit. Forget how many times you’ve worn it, what events you have coming up, or who gave it to you. Does it spark joy? Does it bring you joy? Or has it already served its purpose?

 

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More than several times, I found myself drifting back to my traditional way of sorting – Do I wear this often? Would I wear this? Oh this would be great if I ever…

Some of Marie’s instructions seem silly and superfluous, like talking to your possessions. Let me just tell you… she knows what she’s talking about. Speaking out loud put me back on track. When I started drifting, wondering if the black skirt was a “staple” piece that I needed, I would literally ask myself out loud – Does this spark joy? 

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I chose to get two big tubs, one for clothes I was keeping and one for clothes to be donated. After deciding whether or not the piece of clothing sparked join, it would go into one of the two tubs. Try to eliminate all excess before storing anything. I ended up having to find extra tubs for donations… and ultimately ended up with 3 tubs of clothing, shoes, accessories and purses to donate.

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Now that you’ve sorted through your clothing, how do you store it?

Don’t worry, the KonMari method addresses storage and organization as passionately as the sorting and discarding. The short answer?

4) Designate a spot for every item, and fold as much as possible.

The KonMari Method of folding is basically to fold each item into a tiny rectangle that can stand on its own. Find its “sweet spot.” You then should stand the clothing up on its side in the drawers, so that you can quickly take an inventory of your whole wardrobe. Shoeboxes, plastic bins, or any similar items are great to help organization in drawers.

For hanging items in your closet, try arranging the clothes in a way that it rises to the right. This creates a lightness to help your closet.

Here’s a great YouTube video by lifestyle vlogger Lavendair to help you become a folding master:

 

So what was the result? 

For me, the KonMari way was a relief. I discovered that I had been holding on to a lot of things because I couldn’t make myself discard them – maybe it was a gift, maybe I used to wear it all the time, maybe it reminded me of a specific time. As crazy as it might sound, acknowledging that a piece of clothing had served its purpose but no longer brought me joy was a huge help when placing it into the discard tub.

 

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A week later, and I think I’ve got the hang of it! My closet is lighter and more organized, it’s easier to find things in my drawers, and surprisingly it’s easier to pick out clothes in the mornings.

 

 

Did I follow everything exactly as the KonMari Method dictates? 

No. And although I plan on implementing a few more aspects of the KonMari Method as time goes on, there are some things that just maybe aren’t for me.

For example, socks. I sorted through my socks, but haven’t adopted the folding method yet. Marie Kondo is pretty insistent that you do a great disservice to your socks by balling them up and letting them roll around in your drawer. While I will agree that it’s probably not good for their elasticity, keeping like pairs of socks together by balling them up will be a hard habit to break.

Another example? My purse. According to the book, your purse needs a resting place – a place where you can hang, place, or store your bag each day when you come home. This makes sense, and I agree. Mine usually takes up the kitchen table, or kitchen counter, or somewhere else where it becomes an eye sore. However, Marie also wants you to empty your bag… everyday. She suggests having a basket or two near the bag’s resting place in order to store your wallet, sunglasses, lipstick, gum, etc.

That’s a great idea in theory. With my forgetfulness, however, I will probably forget to put my glasses back in my purse one day… which would be a big problem if it started raining, or if it got dark (I’m really supposed to wear them any time I drive).

So for right now, I’ll stick to having a resting place for my purse, and making a point to take out any trash or nonessentials each day.

 

Moving forward, I will be more conscious of assessing joy before I purchase clothing. With my Stitch Fix and Trunk Club boxes, it’s easy to get excited by all of the pretty clothes. Following the KonMari method, I will be sure to only choose items that bring me joy.

 

What did you think of the KonMari way?

Is this something you think you could benefit from? Still on the fence? Keep an eye out for my upcoming KonMari posts as I apply this method to the other categories of my home!

 

 

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  • Vicki Kechekian

    I could benefit from KonMari, although it sounds a bit OCD. I cannot turn my nose up at that, because for sure I have OCD elements in other areas or behaviors. Your before & after closet pics have great selling power for this approach. I might need a shoe storage unit like you show. Per Stitch Fix advice, I closet-cleansed in January, and did another follow-up mini-cleanse, and now have my “real” clothes hanging in the closet. My other clothes–workout wear, haus frau togs, or sport-specific clothes–got drawer space. U-wear & socks retained their own drawers, of course. So far, it’s working–I come up with more intentional, less haphazard, faster, and more appealing outfits. I’m liking what I’m wearing more.

    • That’s great to hear, Vicki! Being able to get rid of excess clothing has really helped me with picking out outfits, too. I’m also more intentional about what I purchase now that I’ve shed so many items, because I don’t want to get back to that place with my closet again! I definitely agree that Marie’s approach is a bit OCD. I haven’t adopted all of her “guidelines,” but rather have adopted the larger ones and the small ones that make sense for my lifestyle. The shoe storage unit has been great. In the past, I’ve used it for sweaters and shirts, but shoes fit so much better haha. I’ve found similar ones at Kohl’s, Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx – they’re everywhere! Best of luck in your cleansing endeavors 🙂

      • Vicki Kechekian

        Thank you. Will get one of those hanging shoe units this weekend. If you don’t mind, of the 2 KonMari books, is one a must-read over the other? I’m the type who reads the first book and overlooks the 2nd (ex: Eat Pray Love).

        • I’d suggest “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up” over “Spark Joy.” The first provides the framework for Marie’s method and the steps you should take, while “Spark Joy” goes into further detail and provides sketches and illustrations. I’m a visual person, but I found her first book to be plenty in terms of guidelines and instructions. YouTube has a lot of great video tutorials for folding and related things if you want a more visual approach.