I’m on page 196 now of this book I bought last December. The title is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and it is written by a Japanese lady named Marie Kondo. It’s a small hardbound book–slightly larger than your average-sized greeting card, compact but lightweight. The cover art, a splattering of green watercolor, somehow reminds me of ukiyo e (floating world) paintings–faded and exuding a calming effect.
I’ve been hearing about this book for the past few months or so–a colleague told me about how it tells you to get rid of old photos, and I’ve seen some friends post about it on Facebook. Their posts show neatly rolled socks and declarations of respect for one’s possessions.
It seemed opportune that the thought of buying the book occurred to me during the holidays, the perfect time to do some spring cleaning and de-cluttering at home.
Kondo, the author, begins by talking about her childhood and her fascination for organizing the home. You name a storage method or device, she’s tried it. So fanatical was she with putting order in her house that she would go to the extent of secretly throwing away family members’ unused items.
Later on she would discover her gift for tidying, as well as a life-changing concept that would transcend the physical semblance of orderliness.
For tidying the home, Kondo recommends the following order:
- Komono (miscellany)
I thought I would share what I’ve experienced and learned by going through the first exercise of going through my clothing. Year after year, I’ve always made it a habit to occasionally discard of clothes that I don’t really like or fit into anymore. And no matter how many clothes I actually have, I never seem to be satisfied with what I have left.
But I had never anticipated the revolutionary philosophy that Kondo introduces into her de-cluttering method, the KonMari method–and this applies to any item–to ask yourself whether it sparks joy.
In the case of clothes, first lay all of them on the floor, then hold each item of clothing and ask yourself if it sparks joy in you. All items in the home, essentially (even the house itself), have an energy about them and they all must be treated with respect for the role that they fulfill in your life. In fact, Kondo encourages you to talk to your items–show your appreciation for them, regardless if you are still using them or not.
Once you have sorted the clothes that spark joy, determine if it deserves to be hung or folded in the closet. Think of those that should be hung as those that would seem happy to flutter about in the breeze. I interpreted this as clothes that are easily creased and/or are made of light or sheer fabrics. In terms of arrangement, you can do it from “heavier” to “lighter” items, and ideally from longest to shortest items. This helps create a feel of lightness in the space.
For those that should be folded, fold each item into a rectangular shape and keep folding as such until you can stand it on end. Each item is said to have a “sweet spot”, wherein they can easily stand on end upon a certain level of folding. This was rather unusual to me at first–I had always folded and stacked my clothes just like you would see them in clothing stores, and found it odd to organize them in this way. But Kondo believes this is better than piling, which just adds pressure to the items underneath. Plus, you tend to forget about items that are buried under the pile.
The beauty of this folding method is that once you have all the folded items in a drawer, you have a clear view of just how much you have, and you can easily choose what you want to wear with the top view of the contents.
Kondo has even specific folding instructions for socks and stockings. Don’t ball them up and tuck the ends into each other, which only causes distress for the socks. Items stored in the closet or drawer are meant to “breathe” and rest. Instead, lay one on top of the other and apply the same folding method as with the rest. For stockings, fold them lengthwise and then into thirds, with the toes inside. Roll it up to the waistband and in the end, you should have the waistband on the outside. Instead of tying stockings up which reduces the elasticity of the waistband, you have properly rolled up stockings that can breathe and rest.
I easily disposed of around five paper bags full of discarded clothes, and I cleared up five shelves’ worth of space. My mom thought I was running away when she saw the seemingly emptied closet (LOL).
It is a rather tedious process, but if you set an entire day to do it, it can be done. There’s a lot you can discover about yourself when you start sorting your clothes. For starters, I’m not much of a shopper. I only buy clothes with a passion when an occasion calls for it. I feel like I have to justify a purchase first. I seldom buy clothes on impulse.
Upon looking at my clothes standing on end, I’ve realized just how much more loungewear I have than clothes for work or for going out. This was not an entirely new epiphany. But for some reason, seeing all your tops in one look and assessing that only 10 percent are not so casual, I was driven with the desire to acquire more items I would be happy to see in the closet, that I would feel good to be seen in, that people wouldn’t recognize as one of my usual clothing combinations.
Some items also have memories attached to them, both good and bad. The ones with bad memories surely need to go–but I found I had held on to one of them for several years. Each time I would open the closet and see that familiar pattern, my brain would be zapped by that negative memory. Others I felt I would still be able to wear, but only felt more frustrated seeing through the years because I only gained even more weight.
Confronting your clothes helps you confront issues you have with yourself. When you create the physical space in your closet, you create the emotional space to acknowledge the existence of negative memories and to properly bid goodbye to the physical objects that hold them. For me, it was also the recognition of a desire for a better life, of things that I deserve and can now afford.
I still need to go through the rest of my possessions to feel the full effect of the KonMari method. But having gone through my clothes, I am already starting to experience feelings of greater contentment each time I open my closet.
Please let me know what you thought of this article by leaving a comment below! Have you read or are you currently reading Marie Kondo’s book? What did you think of her method?