A little over a year ago, I used the “KonMari Method” to pare down my wardrobe. At the time, I was able to purge 23 garments and 32 accessories from my closet. Since then, I have continued to do some culling here and there, including my recent jewelry box downsizing back in April. It’s good to periodically let pieces go when we find they aren’t working for us, but sometimes a more formal closet audit is in order, especially when we notice that the our wardrobe size is gradually increasing. So I decided to use Marie Kondo’s decluttering process once again this past weekend.
I went about things a little differently this time. Before I ventured into my closet, I took some time to write about why I was opting to tackle some “tidying” in order to set the stage for what I was about to do. Here are the reasons I gave:
- My closet is started to feel too crowded again. The hangers are too close together and it’s harder to look through my clothes than it was previously. When I open my closet, I feel a bit of a “heavy” feeling rather than the peaceful feeling I had at the beginning of the year. Since I’ve been bringing more in, it’s time to pare down so that my wardrobe doesn’t get out of hand like it was in the past.
- I have gained some weight recently. I’m not sure exactly how much (I almost never weigh myself) or why – and I know some of it is water retention, but I don’t feel as good in some of my clothes as I used to. I want everything in my closet to be things I can wear and feel good in now. If I still love some clothes that don’t fit all that great at the moment, I’ll store them elsewhere and revisit them in a few months.
- I want to better understand what I have, what I like to wear, and what my current style preferences are. Going through everything one by one will help me to do that, plus it will allow me to get rid of things that no longer work for me.
- I have some pieces that I’ve been holding onto for far too long without wearing them. I want to force myself to make decisions about these items. I want to stop feeling guilty for not wearing certain pieces and if I get them out of my closet, that will help.
- I’d like others to be able to use the items I’m not using regularly. Also, there’s no use having things take up space in my closet if I’m not using them!
- I am feeling stuck in life and nervous about turning 50. I hope that clearing away clutter in my home will help me to feel lighter and to gain some clarity on next steps.
It took me just fifteen minutes to come up with the reasons above and it was time well spent. Getting clear before I began the KonMari process helped to increase my motivation and increased my stamina for the project ahead.
A Review of the Process
For those of you who aren’t familiar with KonMari and the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” here’s a brief overview of the process. What’s really revolutionary about Marie Kondo’s methodology is that it focuses far more on what we want to keep rather than on those things we should pass on. This infuses the process with more positive energy and reduces the feelings of “heaviness” that tend to accompany decluttering.
Kondo recommends that all like items be gathered from all around the house and placed in a central location, usually the floor. Once that has been done, we’re instructed to pick up each piece and ask ourselves, “Does this spark joy?” If this particular question doesn’t resonate with you personally, you can modify it to better suit you. An alternate question could be the one “The Minimalists” use, “Does this add value to my life?” Or you may simply expand Kondo’s question to also include “…or serve a useful purpose for me?” However you do it, it’s important to stick to the guideline of handling items individually and going with your initial gut response after posing the question.
Like last time, I modified the process somewhat in that I went through my closet by category rather than piling its entire contents onto my floor or bed. That worked well for me previously, so I opted to go with it again. I started with my skirts and dresses, then went on to toppers, tops by sleeve length, pants, shoes, and purses. Each time, I pulled all of the appropriate pieces out of my closet, placed them on my bed, and went through them one by one.
It took me at least twice as long to KonMari my closet last weekend as it did back in May 2015. The reason for this is that I needed to try on a lot more clothes this time around. In some instances, a particular garment “sparked joy” on the hanger, but I wasn’t sure if I would feel the same once I had it on my body. I haven’t gained a huge amount of weight, but even small weight shifts can affect how well things fit and how we feel about them.
I went through each category fairly rapidly, asking myself the following question about every piece, “Does this spark joy or serve a useful purpose in my life?” If the answer was yes but I wasn’t sure if the item in question fit me, I set it aside to try on. After I evaluated all of the pieces in a category, I tried on the ones I had placed off to the side and made my final decision. I ended up with some items being “on the fence” because I still really liked them but didn’t like how they fit or felt at the moment. Those items (11 in total) are now being stored in another closet and will be revisited in a few months.
When it was all said and done, I opted to purge 35 items:
- 4 dresses
- 3 skirts
- 5 jackets/coats
- 1 cardigan
- 1 pair of pants
- 16 tops
- 1 vest
- 1 pair of shoes
- 2 scarves
- 1 purse
Most of the items I purged are shown below (I don’t have photos of one dress, one scarf, and five tops):
Why I Opted to Purge These Items
In most instances, my reason for purging the pieces above was one of the following:
- Bad color
- Fit issues
- The “fussiness” factor
For this reason, I’m not going to go through everything one by one. However, I do want to highlight some of the items and share the lessons they have taught me. Much like the old saying that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, the same can be true of our clothes. Marie Kondo suggests that we encapsulate the lessons our clothes have taught us, thank them for being our “teachers,” and let them go with love. This is easier to do so in some cases than others, but I hope that by writing about my lessons learned, I’ll feel a sense of relief and potentially give some of you an “aha moment” or two about your own wardrobes.
Here are the eight items that I will delve into more detail about:
- Black and white mixed print top: I love the look of this top, but it was so fussy to wear. The lesson I learned from this sartorial teacher is that it’s critically important that my clothes feel as good as they look. I don’t live my life in a photograph, so I need to be able to freely move around in my clothes and basically forget about them once they are on. I need to be as diligent as possible when trying clothes on to make sure they stay in place well when I move and don’t require a lot of adjustments throughout the day.
- Black/white/yellow tunic: The lesson from this tunic is to never settle on fit or be enticed by a sale price. I was so enamored with the fun print, new style for me, and discounted price tag that I ignored the fact that the sleeves were too short (more like two-thirds than three-quarters). This bothered me every time I wore the tunic, which wasn’t very many times. In addition, the synthetic fabric was highly prone to static cling, so I also need to be mindful of this critical factor when I shop. So basically, this beautiful top taught me not to settle on either fit or fabric just for the sake of a lovely style or a low price.
- Green and grey striped tee: This tee is super comfortable, but the color washed me out, especially now that I am growing out my gray hair (an update on that soon). Every time I looked at myself in the mirror when wearing this top, I got a sinking feeling. But since I love stripes and didn’t have many short-sleeved tops that worked well for me, I hung onto it and wore it. The lesson this tee taught me is that color is just as important as print, fit, and comfort level.
- Grey coat: I happily wore this coat for years, but recently came to feel that the medium gray tone was not very flattering to my skin tone. Maybe it never was or perhaps my skin tone has changed with age. For a while after making this observation, I kept the coat and paired it with bright colors, but then I realized that I have enough coats (I do live in San Diego after all!) and others that I like far more. This coat taught me that when a “love affair” with an item is over, it’s okay to let go.
- Multi-color print maxi-dress: I bought this dress last year at a consignment store. I was dazzled by the label and the fun print, even though the color palette was too warm for me and the elastic waist wasn’t very comfortable. The lesson I learned from this dress is that brand names don’t matter when all of the other key boxes aren’t checked. I should have left this dress in the store, but now it’s back there ready for a warm-toned woman with a slimmer waist to wear.
- Striped maxi-dress: Although it goes without saying that I love the colors and stripes on this dress, the waistline never quite hit me at the right place. I also bought it when my weight was unnaturally low as a result of health issues. What I learned from this dress is that I shouldn’t expect my weight to always stay within a very narrow range and that it’s far better to purchase pieces that are a little more forgiving of size fluctuations. Also, a half inch to an inch makes a big difference when it comes to waist placement on dresses.
- Teal print dress: This one is actually not gone yet and it’s the hardest item for me to get rid of, as it was expensive and a gift from my husband for my last birthday. He loved it on me, but I should have pushed back and left it in the store. Again, it was purchased when my weight was lower than it had been in years and the waistline was a bit too high on me. It didn’t fit ideally then and it doesn’t fit well at all now. It also isn’t really “me” in terms of the style, although I love the color and print. There are several lessons from this dress. As with some of the other items above, I need to be more of a stickler on fit and more mindful of the need for some leeway in case of weight shifts. Additionally, a woman who spends most of her time at home and rarely goes anywhere dressy doesn’t need a dress that’s most suitable for an office, garden party, wedding, or nice lunch or dinner. This one really stings, but hopefully that will make the lessons last longer for me. Thank you, dress, for the lessons you’ve taught me. Now I just need to forgive myself…
- Turquoise tank top: I wrote about this top in my last purchase update. It’s too tight on me and could only be worn under perfect conditions (flat stomach, no bloating). I love the color, but it just wasn’t comfortable to wear, even last summer when I first got it. I wore very fitted tanks for years, but it’s just not me anymore. What this tank top taught me is that I need to accept that my body is changing and both my chest and waist are a little larger than they used to be. If I can accept this fact and dress accordingly, I’ll be much happier. I have three similar tanks that are almost as tight and they may be on their way out soon as well. The black version is still in my closet (it still works okay) and the cobalt and purple ones are in the “holding zone” for now.
It was helpful for me to consider and write about what my KonMari cast-offs have taught me. Having done so, I can now send them on their way with love (some are already gone). Of course, I wish I could turn back the clock and never have purchased at least some of these items, but beating myself up for it now won’t help anything. It will just have me feeling worse and could lead me to shop to salve my wounds (see “Why Do You Overshop?”). That would only add insult to injury, so I’ll aim for internalizing the lessons and forgiving my flawed self instead.
I’m glad I took the time to “KonMari” my closet last weekend. The summer season only recently started in my neck of the woods and I now feel much better prepared to dress for it. Everything in my closet fits me well and either sparks joy or serves a valuable purpose in my wardrobe (or both!). Now my task is to shop my closet, wear and enjoy what I have, and only add new pieces strategically when needed to fulfill actual wardrobe needs. I hope not to need to use the KonMari Method in my closet again for a long time, if ever. Ideally, I’ll only need to cull a few pieces here or there as a result of their becoming worn out or because my style preferences have moved on.
It’s now less than a month until my 50th birthday (see my three month and two month updates HERE and HERE). I will be writing about that soon and giving you an update on how I’m doing with my goals for the year, both in terms of my wardrobe and shopping and my life at large. Many readers have assured me that the view from the other side of 50 is just fine. Before long, I’ll be able to see that for myself and I’ll probably wonder what I was fussing and worrying about so much. Until then, I’ll just keep taking life day by day and trying to make the most of the last few weeks of my forties. Stay tuned for another photography interlude post coming up soon as well. I wish you all a wonderful weekend!