It all started with a book. Then a series of workshops. And, in 2019, decluttering guru Marie Kondo even debuted a show on Netflix teaching people the “life-changing art of tidying up.”
It turns out that if you’ve got a cluttered home, it can stress you out, make you less productive and even interfere with your beauty rest. And, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve opened up your wardrobe on multiple occasions to see it filled to the brim, yet you lament that you have absolutely nothing to wear.
Over the years, several methodologies have been shared about how to clean out your closet, but Marie Kondo takes a unique approach that is easier (and more fun) to follow than anything we’ve seen.
Everything Must Come Out First
The first step is to go to your closet and take everything out of it. Pile everything on your bed. This includes your accessories, purses, shoes, and any undergarments. If it’s something that you wear on your body, it comes out.
Most likely you’ll be shocked by how many items you have. Some people get emotional when they see this mountainous pile, thinking of the money they’ve spent on everything, and how much they have when there are people in need. It’s okay to take a moment and be shocked by the sheer number of items in your walk-in closet, but once you’ve come to terms with this, the real fun begins.
You get to shop your own closet and decide what to keep! Don’t be surprised if you find some forgotten treasures buried deep in your belongings!
Evaluate What to Keep
You’ve probably heard different advice about deciding what to keep. Some organisation experts say if you haven’t worn something in 6 months or a year to toss it. The problem with this advice is that it doesn’t take into account sentimental items. If you’re married, you most likely don’t take your wedding dress every few months for a night on the town.
Or, you might have an item you received as a gift that you love, but you don’t often find occasions to wear it. It doesn’t seem right to throw those things out, and that’s where this technique often falls apart. Once you start making exceptions to a rule, it’s easy to end up keeping things that you shouldn’t.
Marie Kondo overcomes the flaw in this process with this foolproof logic: keep only what “sparks joy.”
Keep Only What You Love
As you sift through the contents of your closet, the goal is to keep only the things that you love, or as Marie Kondo says, things that “spark joy.” She also has a simple rule to follow, and she’s adamant that you follow it to the letter.
You have to individually pick up each item and hold it in your hands. Think about if you love it or if you don’t have strong emotions toward it, one way or the other. You might surprise yourself with what sparks joy for you and what you feel ambivalent about. For example, a frayed t-shirt might remind you of the first time you saw your favourite band while a brand-new dress with tags might not evoke you to feel anything.
Try not to get too attached to how much money you spent on an item. If the item doesn’t make you happy when you hold it in your hands the amount of money you paid for it isn’t going to make you feel any better when you wear it.
The goal is that every time you open your closet, you love each and every item that’s in it.
As you go through this process, you’ll end up with a keep and a discard pile. Once you decide that an item doesn’t spark joy for you, make sure you thank it for the service it provided for you and then release it to its new home, whether it’s to a trash bin or to a donation centre. By showing gratitude to the items you get rid of, you’re acknowledging the service they’ve provided you, and it allows you to move on from owning them without feeling regret.
Time to Fold
Folding is an important part of Marie Kondo’s process. The traditional way of folding is to simply stack items on top of each other, but Marie says that this methodology smashes and smothers the clothing, making the fibres break down over time and basically crushes their souls.
Instead, she recommends a folding approach that keeps everything in a uniform line. Instead of stacks upon stacks of folded items like you see in a retail store, everything should be standing upright. To accomplish this seemingly gravity-defying feat, you’ll need to fold everything into the shape of a rectangle.
Here’s what to do:
- Fold each side of the garment toward the center to divide into thirds. This is typically how most people begin folding a shirt or sweater, so it should be familiar to you already.
- If there are sleeves, tuck them into the edges so that you have a uniform rectangle shape.
- Starting with one of the shorter ends of the rectangle, fold it toward the center, about to the halfway mark.
- Fold again in the same direction. You should have a compact square or rectangle shape that can be stood or propped up straight.
When you’re done folding a category of items, they’ll all be lined up in a row instead of a stack. You’ll be able to see every item at a glance.
Keep Some Additional Space for Future Purchases
When you go shopping, do you ever tell yourself, “If I buy this dress, I have to get rid of one (or two)?” Well, now that everything in your closet is something you love, you no longer have to play this game of musical chairs with your wardrobe.
So, once you’ve decluttered your closet, make sure you’ve left some space for new items to come into your home.
As you’re putting your cherished items away and designating a place for everything, you might want to consider whether you have the right number of drawers or shelves to keep your items off the floor or prevent them from crowding each other on a single clothing rack. Adding organisational helpers like drawers, boxes, and especially storage cupboards will ensure that your closet is something you enjoy looking at day after day.
Once you’ve finished the decluttering process, take a moment to stand back and appreciate your handiwork. Seeing all the items from your wardrobe that you love all in one place will likely give you a sense of peace and accomplishment. Instead of feeling stress and anxiety each time you step into your walk-in wardrobe, you’ll feel light and free. And the best part is, once you commit to following Marie Kondo’s method, your closet is likely to stay just as beautiful!