On Monday I mentioned my fondness for books about decluttering, and how they’re only helpful if you take action after you read. Many of the books I read were decent enough, but I’d put them on the shelf and forget about them. I suppose shelving a book and not tossing it on a pile is a small victory for the clutter-prone, but it doesn’t lead to real progress.
Books were taking over my house, so I try to use the library instead. But I decided to make an exception to my no-purchase rule after I stumbled across The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The reviews were positive and the book seemed to feature a unique approach, so I added it to my Christmas list.
Kondo lays out a very clear approach to decluttering. She advises her readers to start with clothing because most of our clothes hold little sentimental value. Even though clothing’s not my biggest challenge, I decided to adhere strictly to her method. Plus, I knew I was keeping things I hadn’t worn in a long time. My clothing needs changed significantly when I left my job in 2012, and I’d been keeping a lot of my dressier clothes for no good reason.
The first step required gathering all clothes in one place.
And so I crawled into the attic and dragged out two large totes full of clothes.
Then I emptied my closet.
And the dresser drawers.
Finally, I greeted the little crew of dust bunnies living under my bed, and pulled out two large under-bed boxes.
The next part of Kondo’s approach required sorting clothes by type and focusing on one category at a time. This meant I had to touch every single piece of clothing while sorting. I’d never done this before. In the past I’d rifle through my closet and drawers, passing by lots of clothes without thinking about giving them away. But handling each item made me really think about whether or not I needed it. I surprised myself by giving away a lot of things I still liked, but no longer worked for me. Once I was holding something in my hand, it was easier to be realistic, to own up to the fact that something was taking up space in my closet but not doing anything for my life.
At the moment, basic jeans are my clothing staple. Some of the tops I wore to school are still appropriate, so I kept them. I enjoy clothes and still try to look nice but there’s been a definite shift towards comfort above all else. Scarves are my weakness. I have a lot but I wear one almost daily, and was able to make space for them.
When I finished sorting, I’d emptied two totes and one under-bed box and had four large bags to donate. All my clothes now fit in my dresser and closet, with my off-season things in the remaining under-bed box. I was pretty ruthless, keeping only things I felt I needed. The only unresolved items are three pairs of Dockers, which I kept even though I haven’t worn them lately. I based my decision to keep them because of my career-related uncertainty. At the moment my work-at-home arrangement is good for us. But I also find myself feeling antsy from time to time, wanting to be out in the world again and wearing a nice denim-free outfit. If I do find myself in need of business-casual clothing, I’ve saved myself a little money. I also saved a couple interview-appropriate dresses and cardigans.
I invested the better part of a day, but it was worth it. Though realizing I needed to fold and put away the clothes I was keeping felt a little daunting. Fortunately my trusty little book came to my rescue. On Friday I’ll share some nifty folding magic and some ‘after’ photos.