Tidying up Using the KonMari Method | Pt. 1: Closet Clean Out
I knew this moment would arrive one day. What moment is that you ask? Two words: the purge.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am a lover of “stuff” and have been my whole life. While I’ve eased up my shopping habits in recent years, starting a product- and project-based business, having a blog, and getting married all equate to their own influxes of objects, something I’ve referred to numerous times here on TNTP and my Instagram. There’s finite space in our tiny #casadegloob (not to mention the four families in NJ who are housing the rest of our stuff for the time being — yep, you read that right, FOUR) and if we want to remain in our cozy little corner of Chelsea without going totally insane, something has got to give. (If you remember, tidying is one of my “New Year’s” resolutions!)
I also knew that when this day arrived I would turn to Marie Kondo, famed Japanese master of streamlining and organizing, for help. My best friend Becky happened to have a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I promptly cracked open and began taking notes. If you’re considering clearing your home of excess stuff, I absolutely encourage you to read this short yet incredibly helpful book. After a lifetime of testing every tidying method under the sun (seriously, she used to tidy for fun as a kid!), Kondo breaks down each category one by one, giving you strict instructions on the best and most efficient way to sort through everything in your home.
(Note: Initially when brainstorming this post I had planned on reiterating the main takeaways from the book, however there’s so much good stuff in there and Kondo has a way of putting an impactful perspective on it, so I guarantee you’ll get the best results if you just read this quick & easy book!)
As you can imagine, tidying your entire home is a major undertaking so I highly encourage going into it with that mindset but knowing the outcome is going to be so worth it. Kondo recommends that instead of tidying little by little, make it a once-in-a-lifetime “special event” while your “spirits are uplifted” so that you never have to do it again. The idea is that not only are your purging your home of unnecessary stuff, but you are also finding a home for each remaining item, enabling you to quickly and easily return each item to its correct spot every time you’re done using it. The result should be more time in your life to enjoy quiet bliss in your tidy space. Sounds great, right?
Currently, we are about 1/4 done tidying (Sam’s helping too!). According to her method, Kondo recommends starting with clothes, shoes and handbags, which is what we’ve tidied so far. We went category by category, hanging onto only those items that “spark joy” and making a large pile of the rest. During the process I wrote down a number of tips that helped getting through my clothes a breeze.
- Eat a filling, energizing meal before you sort and have a tall glass of water on hand while you do. This will help prevent distractions.
- While sorting through each category, I encourage doing so while not wearing that item so that you are able to try on what you’re unsure of. For example, I went through all of my tops in my favorite jeans and a nude bra so that I could try on those shirts I hadn’t worn in a while, plus get an accurate idea of whether I’d actually wear it.
- Repair your clothes right after you finish sorting. You’re inevitably going to find items that you still love but you hesitate to wear because they have holes along a seam or missing buttons. Put those items in a separate pile and mend them or send them out to be fixed as soon as you’re done sorting. You don’t want a pile lingering around after all that hard work, plus the whole point of this exercise is to put everything back in its home!
- Bust out your scissors! I came across so many oversized band tees that I love but hadn’t worn in years simply because they weren’t flattering. Instead of getting rid of them and being sad about it, I cropped them and cut the sleeves off, modeling them after my favorite muscle tee. The result was an entirely new tshirt wardrobe! The same can be done with jeans that fit in the tush but whose hems are out of style. An ankle crop on bootlegs, skinny jeans and even flares are super stylish at the moment!
While the purging portion of the program is a large undertaking in and of itself, figuring out what to do with the stuff you’re getting rid of is the other half of the battle. For me, it’s super important to sell those items that have value and to donate everything else responsibly. I am not one of those people that can throw everything into trash bags and drop them off at Goodwill with nothing but a sigh of relief. That scene gives me anxiety just thinking about it! Rather, my method is as follows:
- Divide the items you’re getting rid of into four categories: luxury, gently-worn stylish clothes, torn/stained items, and everything else.*
- Then, start by bringing your luxury goods to an upscale consignment store (like INA or Tokio 7 in NYC) or send them to The RealReal. Whatever gets rejected, add to your “gently-worn stylish clothes” pile.
- Next, take your gently-worn stylish clothes to trendy resale shops and sell whatever you can. If you recall my Instagram story last week, I walked around Chelsea rolling a large suitcase and stopped at Beacon’s Closet > Crossroads Trading Co. > Buffalo Exchange. In my experience, Buffalo Exchange takes the most but gives you the least, so I usually save it for last.
- Whatever is in great shape but wouldn’t sell (perhaps it’s out of season or a tough style for the store), I set aside for my good friend Rachel aka Petite Rachelle’s semi-annual clothing swap! Lucky for me, it’s coming up soon so I don’t have to hang onto the goods for too long. (If you’re in NYC and interested in attending Rachel’s swap, tickets & info will be posted in the coming days! Follow @petiterachelle to stay up-to-date & check out this recap from the last one!) If you don’t have a clothing swap to go to, consider hosting your own! Whatever is left over, you can follow the steps above and maybe even make some additional profit off of it, since most people don’t care to schlep their stuff to these places themselves.
- For items that have been heavily used and aren’t particularly stylish (plus whatever still remains post-swap) can be donated responsibly to one of the following organizations. These programs put the items to good use and ensure that they don’t harm the economy of developing countries or end up in landfills. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you watch The True Cost on Netflix or at least read this open letter from Woven.org.)
- Last, anything that has holes, major stains, or is generally “scrap” fabric can be donated to Goodwill, as they accept everything regardless of condition. I read that much of these items are donated to programs like S.M.A.R.T. that recycle fabric scraps however I’m hesitant to recommend this to you without it being a truly responsible donation method. As such, I’ve put in a call to Goodwill’s local headquarters and am waiting on a call-back. I’ll be sure to update this note once I have more info!
*There are also a number of organizations that collect items of a particular category to be donated for a particular use, such as workwear via Dress for Success and prom dresses via Cinderella Project and Operation Prom. If you have items that fall under any of these categories, I encourage you to send them there. You can find a comprehensive list of organizations that accept specific categories of goods here on makespace.com.
With the clothing and shoes portion of the tidying process checked off the list, we can already feel the difference in our home! Next up: books, craft supplies, beauty products, kitchen goods, and tchotchkes. I’ll be writing about that process as well and letting you know where we sent everything category by category.
If you’ve made it this far in my post, I truly hope that you find this information about applying Marie Kondo’s KonMari method motivating and my list of responsible places to donate helpful. It’s a big undertaking but it can absolutely be done in a game-changing way for both you and the environment!
Peace, love & neon,