Thing 4: KonMari my closet

I heard about the KonMari Method last summer when a friend posted picture after picture of bulbous trash bags and stunning before and after photos of her living spaces. I brushed it off as new-age, feng shui crap. Then a brand I follow on Instagram mentioned its new “KonMaried” displays. Then Amazon suggested I buy Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I make passing judgements on my friends, but I trust Amazon.

The basic principles of the KonMari method require me to hold every item I own to determine if it sparks joy, focus on deciding what to keep rather than what to discard, and aiming for perfection: a perfectly tidied home will stay tidy. “To summarize,” she says, “the secret of success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and completely as possible, and to start by discarding.”

I read the first 120 pages or so in one sitting, though it was difficult. I fought the urge to just walk in my closet and do it — clean it out, get rid of things I don’t wear or don’t like. But I wanted to do this by the book. I knew if I read about sorting, I would want to do it immediately rather than finish the art of discarding.

As Kondo suggests, I started with tops. I dropped in a pile every top I owned, whether a nicer blouse or a camisole or a workout tank or my Maize Softball 2000 t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.

Y’all, 218. I owned 218 tops. That is absurd. You’re welcome to judge me like I did my friends, or you can go count in your own closets.

Let’s stop here and do some maths. After I sorted my tops, I went through the same process with my bottoms: yoga pants, running shorts, maxi skirts, and denim. 57. So, assuming an outfit is one top and one bottom, I had 12,426 different outfits in my closet. I could wear a different outfit every day and not repeat for 34 years. This ignores the general concept that clothes should match, but the point is that THAT IS TOO MANY CLOTHES.

I followed the KonMari method with every item in my closet. Four hours of work later, I am down to 113 tops and 37 bottoms that all spark joy. I can still go 11 years without repeating an outfit.

I like clothes. I like wearing pretty things. My confidence often comes from what I’m wearing. I stumble into thinking I need to wear something new in order to feel good, but I have held each of my remaining 150 garments and have made the decision that they make me happy.

So with that, I think I am issuing a separate challenge to myself: no new clothes until my project is finished.

I want each of my Things to be something that pushes me out of my comfort zone or scares me. Cleaning out my closet wasn’t scary (although walking into was starting to be). But shutting down the temptation to add a pretty little somethin’ somethin’ to my wardrobe whenever I’m bored or have an event coming up is scary. Learning to feel confident in what is already hanging or folded perfectly in vertical rows in my closet is scary.

Kondo promises that her clients experience life-changing magic after tidying. I’ll keep you posted.

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“By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage.” We’ll see, Marie. We’ll see.
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