I’m a month into following Marie Kondo’s KonMarie method, outlined in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. In a previous post, I discussed the process of sifting through my closet and dresser to decide what should stay and what should go. Now that all is pretty much said and done and I’ve cleared out a lot of things, not just from my wardrobe, but from my bookshelves, kitchen, and other areas, I have to say that I feel much lighter.
When it comes to clothing, there’s the stuff you wear, the stuff you don’t really like or wear, the stuff that doesn’t fit you, and the stuff that you still like but know you won’t wear because it’s not your style any more. Kondo’s right: all that needs to go. I knew it deep down, but it wasn’t until I read her book and started her method that I could accept it in practice.
Take that Marc by Marc Jacobs skirt that I mentioned in my last post, for example. I got it a year or so ago on final sale and wore it a few times. I liked the skirt, it was cute, but here’s the thing: it was really short and a bit tight, so I always felt really self conscious in it, even when wearing opaque tights. It also did that weird thing that skirts do when they’re too loose in the waist but tight in the hips and kept turning around. I’d leave the house with my skirt facing the right direction and get to my destination with my skirt on backwards.
But, still I kept it and I kept trying to make it work. For such a small skirt, it was taking up a lot of space in my brain. “Maybe I’ll wear that Marc Jacobs skirt today,” I’d think. I’d put it on and decide to wear something else. When it came time to do the purge, I picked up the skirt and realized it didn’t spark joy. It did the opposite; it was causing me a lot of stress.
In the book, Kondo notes that she’ll often go back over a few items with her clients, asking them if those items really spark joy. The clients usually admit that no, those items don’t spark joy, and into the discard pile they go. While I didn’t have the help of a professional organizer, I did end up going back into my closet to re-examine some pieces that I was admittedly “meh” about – mostly a few dresses that still fit but that I just wasn’t excited about wearing or that weren’t as flattering on as they could be. Like the skirt, those few dresses were causing a bit of stress, as I knew I should wear them, but just didn’t want to.
So, what are the big lessons learned here? What do I now know that will help me keep my closet from spiraling out of control again?
1. Stop buying things on final sale, especially online purchases. I got the Marc by Marc Jacobs skirt, and a lot of other things, on final sale, online. Buying online is always risky, since you don’t get to touch the item before purchase. The fabric could be very much not what you were expecting (a knit when you thought a woven, a blend when you were thinking the real deal, unlined, and so on), the color could be weird, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, the thing might not fit you. I’ve gotten skirts that were much too big, and a touch too small on final sale, and I was just stuck. So no more of that. If I’m getting it online and I can’t try it on or touch it first, I’m on going to take the risk.
2. I hate pants. I actually knew this already, but now that I have just two pairs of jeans and no trousers, it’s confirmed.
3. Stop buying crappy clothing. I’m actually pretty good about this already, but for awhile there, I was buying stuff at J.Crew Factory, which makes cheaper versions of the stuff at standard J.Crew. One of them was an unlined, cotton pencil skirt that looked really cute until static electricity made it bunch up and cling to my legs in a really really unflattering way, every time I wore it.
4. Return anything you can if you don’t really like it. I’ve gotten pretty good about returning things when I felt they were just “meh,” or didn’t fit properly (as long as they weren’t final sale), but for a while there, I wasn’t so great about it. Case in point: this Banana Republic Megan Draper dress. (picture on the top left). Yeah, it looks totally amazing on that model. On me, not so much. But I kept it, until the day I threw it in the wash and it shrunk in a really strange way.
5. No one’s opinion matters but my own. Seriously, the worst thing I can do is ask someone else what they think. They might give something I’m pretty sure I don’t like the thumbs up or they might hate something I love. The reason I kept that BR Megan Draper dress was because people told me it looked good on or that they liked it. Or, their argument might be that something doesn’t take up much space, so might as well keep it, which defeats the entire project.
In sum, I’ve probably wasted a lot of money on clothing that I ended up either just being lukewarm about or that I disliked. Going forward, I’m going to be a bit more careful about what I buy, so that I don’t have to waste brain space worrying about my clothing and so that I’m a lot less wasteful.
And, in case you were wondering what happened to the clothing I no longer want: most of it is being donated. A good portion of I’m going to try to sell to an online consignment shop called Twice. I’ll let you all know how that goes.