After I bought so many new items in April, my closet started to feel a bit too full. So I elected to do something I didn’t think I would do… I decided to use the “KonMari Method” with my wardrobe. In today’s post, I will share what I did, what I got rid of and why, and how I felt during the process.
Most of you are probably aware of the “KonMari Method” by now. Even if you haven’t read my two posts on that topic (see here and here), you’ve probably seen other blog posts or magazine articles on the topic. Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for months and you’d almost have to be living under a rock not to have heard of it by now.
An Overview of the “KonMari Method”
There are many books out there on decluttering, downsizing, and minimalism, and I’ve read a lot of them, but there was something about Kondo’s book that struck a chord in me. Perhaps I was just ready for the lesson, or maybe there really is something truly revolutionary about her method. I think part of the beauty of it lies in its simplicity. The essence of the “KonMari Method” lies in one simple question:
Does it spark joy?”
We are directed to handle each item one by one and pose that question to ourselves while holding it. Those items that spark joy get to stay in our homes and everything else should be moved on. Another key to Kondo’s process is to take everything out of its storage area and lay it out on the floor. At first, that seemed like too much work to me and not really necessary. But when I went to declutter my books, I decided to trust the process and do as Kondo directed. And she was right… it was magic. There was something about having everything on the floor that took some of the internal attachment to my possessions away. I was better able to listen to my gut instinct and decide whether or not something sparked joy in my heart.
Kondo’s Process in the Closet
Since the KonMari Method worked so well with my books and compact discs, I knew it would also help me to downsize my closet in a more effortless and streamlined fashion than anything I had done before. I was right… Rather than taking multiple hours or even a full day, it took me probably two and a half hours to go through my entire clothing and jewelry collections. My husband “KonMari’ed” his wardrobe (I had to get him involved, too) in less than half that time and we were both amazed by the ease of his process.
We did deviate from Kondo’s process a bit in that we went through our clothes by category (e.g. all of the pants at one time, all of the shirts at one time, etc.) instead of laying everything out on the floor at once. We also used the bed as our staging area, as there is something a bit unseemly about putting all of our clothes on the floor, however clean it might be. So we took out each garment category, laid all of the pieces out on the bed, and then picked up each individual item and posed the “sparks joy” question. Actually, my husband preferred to use the alternate question suggested by the Minimalists:
Does this add value to my life?”
Either question will work. The important thing is to get in touch with what something means to you and to detach yourself from any guilt you may hold about how much something cost or how little it may have been used. If you go with your first instinct in responding to either of the questions above, you’ll likely know the answer immediately. If you start to hesitate and let your intellect come up with reasons why you should hold on to something, that’s when you’ll get into trouble and basically end up keeping everything. It’s not easy to trust your intuition, but that is where the “magic” of Kondo’s process lies.
My Husband’s KonMari Process
Let’s start with my husband’s numbers… He started out with a smaller wardrobe than mine (you can see his original numbers here, but that was over two years ago and he has downsized quite a bit since that time), but he was still hanging on to a lot of clothes he wore back when he worked in corporate America. I thought he was going to balk at letting go of things, but I was impressed by how effortlessly he threw things onto the donate pile. Here’s what he let go of using the KonMari Method:
- 2 short-sleeved dress shirts
- 1 long-sleeved dress shirt
- 7 collared shirts
- 9 t-shirts
- 4 long-sleeved casual shirts
- 1 pull-over fleece
- 1 jacket
- 5 pairs of shorts
- 2 pairs of slacks
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pajama bottom
- TOTAL: 34 items
Pretty impressive, huh? That was probably at least a quarter, if not a third, of his wardrobe! I thought he was going to be more resistant since he wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to do the KonMari Method in the first place. But once he committed to the process, he really took it on and experienced fast and, dare I say magical, results! Next it was my turn…
My KonMari Process – the Clothes
As I mentioned above, it didn’t take me nearly as long as I thought it would to go through all of my clothing. In most instances, it was very easy for me to decide whether or not a particular garment sparked joy in my heart. Fortunately, a lot of my clothes still do make me feel happy and I enjoy wearing them. There were quite a few definite “no’s” to the sparks joy question, along with several “maybes” that necessitated trying on the garment in question in order to get a good read. In those cases, once I got the item on my body, it was very easy to answer yes or no. I got an immediate visceral sense of whether or not something made me happy or prompted guilt of feelings of obligation.
Here’s a list of the clothing items I got rid of using the KonMari Process (I will cover jewelry and scarves below):
- 3 long-sleeved tops
- 4 short-sleeved tops
- 3 workout tops
- 2 cardigans
- 2 jackets
- 2 coats
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 1 pair of pants
- 2 skirts
- 1 dress
- 1 pair of pajama bottoms
- TOTAL: 23 items
So, not as many items as my husband in the clothing department, but he doesn’t go through his closet as often as I do. Plus, I also culled a lot of jewelry and quite a few scarves, as you’ll see later on in this post. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the clothes I purged last weekend (the pajama bottoms and two of the workout tops are not pictured):
Why I Purged the Items Above
Although I could probably answer the “why” question with just the simple phrase of “they didn’t spark joy,” I’d like to share a bit more detail, both for my benefit and because my reasons may resonate with some of you.
Let’s start with the bottoms (and one dress), pictured below:
- Snakeskin print maxi-dress: This was a hard one, but I had to be honest with myself. The dress didn’t fit me quite right on top, although it’s hard to tell from the photo in this post because of my pose. In addition, I found the back tie annoying and it didn’t look right tied in the front or on the side, as was suggested by several readers. Luckily, I have five other maxi-dresses that do spark joy in me (that’s more than enough!).
- Black and white print skirt: This was a favorite of mine for years, but I’m moving away from the A-line midi skirts that were my mainstay for years. I tried this one on during my KonMari Process and felt it just didn’t “do it” for me anymore.
- Charcoal knit pants: These pants are too baggy, plus I’m moving away from grey as one of my key neutrals.
- Boot-cut jeans: I never felt slim in these jeans, even with my recent weight loss, plus the waistband is too thick and uncomfortable. I have much better options and I was only keeping these jeans around as a sort of “security blanket.”
- Trouser jeans: Too baggy and worn out. I have kept some of my jeans for far too long because it’s so hard for me to find new ones. But I’m becoming more okay with just having a few good pairs that I love and wear often. I was finally ready to let this pair and the ones above go.
- Pinstripe skirt: Too loose, too flared, too formal. Not right for my lifestyle or current sense of style.
Now let’s look at the tops I released from my wardrobe this past weekend:
- Black scoop-neck tee: I have another black tee that I like better and I was “splitting my wears” by having two very similar tees in my closet.
- Black print tee: This one hurt because I only bought this top in January. But I never felt great in it. It was too long and loose at the bottom. Washing and drying it didn’t help with the fit, so out it went.
- Green print long-sleeved tee: There was a similar issue with this tee as the one above and they came from the same store. I think it was a fabric issue, although they were both 100% cotton. Neither tee hung quite right. I liked them in the fitting room, but not so much in real life. I should have moved around more when I tried them on or used reader Terra’s suggestion to wear all new items for 30 minutes at home before cutting off the tags (this is such a great tip – thanks, Terra!).
- Grey workout tee: I loved the blue version of this tee, so I picked up a grey one as well. But I felt the grey washed me out and made me look ill. I definitely need to be more careful with buying “multiples.” They can be good in limited doses, but we need to make sure we love the second version as much as the first.
- Grey long-sleeved tee: Grey just isn’t sparking joy for me like it used to. I now have very little grey left in my closet after this last purge. Like with white, I now prefer grey as part of a print rather than in solid pieces. I still love my prints that include grey, but the solids are pretty much all gone now, with the exception of my grey embellished cardigan and grey coat (both of which I still love and wear – maybe grey toppers are still okay).
- Teal sweater: The neckline was too wide, the sleeves a bit too short, and the sweater too fussy overall. I loved the color and the patterned ribbing, but that wasn’t enough for me to keep it.
- Turquoise print tee: Another 2015 purchase fail. I ordered this tee online and should have returned it. There was an issue with the fabric such that the tee didn’t stay in place. I didn’t want to keep it just because I loved the color.
- Turquoise scoop-neck tee: This tee had pilled quite a bit (and it wasn’t that old!) and one of the sleeves didn’t hang right (maybe from being worn out).
Finally, let’s take a closer look at the toppers that didn’t spark joy for me and are on their way out of my wardrobe:
- Cranberry cardigan: This cardigan was too long to pair with skirts and too short to wear with pants. I loved the color, but the fit wasn’t right, often an issue due to my height.
- Black knit blazer with grey trim: This blazer was slightly too small, plus I’m moving away from wearing knit blazers in my efforts to dress more casually and avoid the “church vibe.”
- Black short coat: This was a consignment fail from early 2014 that I never wore! I bought it because of the brand, but never loved the large lapels and wood buttons. I had contemplated switching the buttons out, but when I tried the jacket on the other day, it was clear to me that it didn’t spark joy.
- Green cardigan: I had the same issue with this cardigan as the cranberry one (they were from the same store). As you can see in this post (third photo down), it didn’t work well with skirts and it was too short to wear with pants.
- Green coat: This shade of green is too warm for my complexion and the wool of the coat was scratchy on my skin. It’s a beautiful coat that I only wore once, so I’m going to see if I can sell it on eBay and possibly recoup some of my losses.
- Orange anorak: I love the style and fit, but the color is too bright and warm and doesn’t mesh with the rest of my wardrobe. I’ve hemmed and hawed about this one for a while, but I was finally ready to let it go.
The KonMari Process – Scarves and Jewelry
In addition to going through all of my clothing using the KonMari Process, I also applied the “sparks joy” question to my scarves and jewelry pieces. Here’s a list of what I let go of from those categories:
- 7 scarves
- 4 necklaces
- 4 bracelets
- 7 pairs of earrings
- 3 single earring studs (for the second piercing in my left ear)
- 4 rings
- 1 watch
- 2 pins
- TOTAL: 32 accessories
I’m not going to spell out one by one why I have opted to pass all of these items on, as I don’t want this post to turn into a veritable book! However, I will show photos and provide a brief overview of why I am letting these pieces go. But before I do, I want to address what may seem to be an omission in this latest closet audit – my shoes.
I actually didn’t apply the KonMari Method to my shoes this time around, for two reasons. One, I feel pretty good about my shoe situation at present. I have already downsized quite a bit and don’t feel that my shoe inventory is too out of line for my life. Second, I feel that I need to wear any questionable shoes out and about in order to make accurate determinations about them. And I do plan to wear all of my shoes within the next few months. That’s all part of my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI), most recently discussed here. So stayed tuned about my shoes in the coming months…
The scarves were either too short, in colors I didn’t love, or too similar to another scarf that I liked more. The burgundy one in the bottom row was a gift from my mom that was too itchy for me to wear (too bad because I liked the scarf otherwise). Since I’m not wearing scarves as often as I used to, I only wanted to hold on to those scarves that I truly loved and would look forward to wearing (in my opinion, this should also be true for those who wear scarves daily).
In regards to the jewelry, here are my main reasons for letting the various pieces go:
- Too big – this was true for two of the long necklaces, two of the bracelets, one of the rings, and one of the pins.
- Too shiny – true for some of the earrings, one of the necklaces, and one of the bracelets.
- Wrong color – true for two pairs of earrings.
- No longer my style – applied to many of the pieces and a good reason for getting rid of things!
Some Final Thoughts
Well, there you have it… the results of my first ever “KonMari Method” with my closet. I’m sure I will be revisiting this process again in the future and I will definitely share my results here if I do. For those of you who would like to downsize your wardrobes, I highly recommend giving Marie Kondo’s process a try. It would be helpful for you to read her book, of course, but you can also just dive in using the brief overview I gave in this post.
Be sure to remove the items from your closet, though, as it really makes a difference. If you are similarly grossed out at the thought of putting everything on the floor, you can use your bed as a staging area like I did. Or you can lay a sheet (or a few) out on the floor to place your items on. Downsizing by wardrobe category worked well for my husband and me, so that’s another slight modification you can try. If you’re going through your jewelry, be sure to remove the pieces from your jewelry box or other storage unit, too. I promise you that it makes a difference and helps to facilitate the decision process.
If you’re at all curious about using the KonMari Method, I encourage you to just give it a try. I believe you’ll be happy that you did. You may have dramatic results or a more modest outcome like mine. Either way, I think you’ll feel proud of yourself for taking the plunge. As for me, I now feel much more peace and calm when I open my closet. I feel like everything that’s in there is ready for me to wear and feel happy putting it on.
Now it’s time for you to offer your input. If you’ve used the KonMari Method for your closet or any other part of your home and would like to share your experience, I welcome your doing so. I’m also open to any questions or comments you have for me. Thank you and have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back next week with my closet inventory and more posts on wardrobe management, shopping, personal style, and more! I also plan to share more of my photos in a future post, as I’ve been taking lots of them. Stay tuned!