I’ll be honest with you all – I feel buried. We have so. much. stuff. First world problems, I know, but sometimes I feel about one Target trip away from being featured on Hoarders. I need to clean it all out and make some tough decisions.
Luckily, Marie Kondo came out with her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up just about the time I started considering setting the house on fire and starting all over.
Ok, I said I’d be honest, and here goes….I didn’t read the book. BUT, I talked to my sister-in-law, Heather, NY Times best-selling author and all around wonderful person (check out her amazing cooking blog here) and she gave me the low-down for the book. While Kondo mentions a few things you need to do, here’s the main theme that I ran with:
If it doesn’t bring you joy…..TOSS. IT. OUT.
And then my inside voice said, “But, but, but, your clothes DO bring you joy. You wear them, right? And why go through your closet now, you’re pregnant! What a stupid time to throw away clothes!” Wrong, inside voice. It’s the PERFECT time to go through clothes. I can’t be swayed by clothes that fit that don’t bring me joy. GENIUS.
My closet looked like this:
Ew. A mix of clothes hanging up, clothes stuffed on shelves, clothes that have fallen to the floor, and a teeny tiny area for dresses that is so crammed, you can see the hangers are revolting and trying to escape. And even though I’m pregnant and not wearing anything out of this closet currently, it drove me insane just to think of it looking like that in there. So, one weekend, I dumped it all out onto my bed, and picked up each individual piece of clothing and asked that cheesy, yet simple, question, “Does this bring me joy?” And don’t get me wrong, it was hard. And it made me look at my clothes in a new light, different than how I’d organized before. For example, what about this dress:
I got this for $3 at Target. It fits (non-pregnant me), it’s a cute go-to summer dress that can be dressed up or down, and I’ve worn in a few times. Easy choice to go back in the closet. BUT, I just feel “meh” in it. And I don’t ever want to feel “meh” or feel like I have to rework an article of clothing to feel joyful. I want to get invited somewhere and say, “Oh, I get to wear X,Y,Z and I know I’ll feel and look great!” I want to have things around me that make me feel joyful all the time, with little to no work from me. Toss.
But there were things that worked the other way around, too, like this dress:
I can tell you exactly where I bought this genuine Betsey Johnson strapless dress (a consignment shop in Somerville, MA) and who was there with me (Katie Taylor) and what else I bought that day (a vintage travel bag and a pair of dress pants with pink lining). And I’ve never worn it. Except to try it on and prance around my room and then take it off. Every time I put it on, I fall more and more in love with it, but I just haven’t found that perfect place to wear it. It’s a bit flirty for a wedding, not professional enough for one of my nerdy lawyer holiday parties…I might be waiting for a New Years Eve party one year. I don’t know. What I do know is that I am filled by so much joy that I can’t let it go. So I didn’t. Back in the closet with you! I made the decision to change my outlook on clothes. If it’s between something I use and don’t like and something I don’t use and adore, why keep something I don’t really like? Let’s make ourselves happy once in a while, shall we?
With that mentality, I went to town. I kept things like the outfit I wore on the blind date where I met my husband (I’ll never wear it again) but threw away things like the warm poncho shawl he bought me in Peru (warm, but heavy and awkward). Kondo says that before you throw your things away, you should thank them for what they did. While I didn’t go all-out crazy and thank my clothes out loud, I did consider what they were for. That poncho was a lovely gift my husband brought me from a trip he took to Peru when I couldn’t go. I was happy he thought of me, it kept me warm a few nights, and it made me happy. But it did its job. He wouldn’t want me to hang onto something out of guilt, so it was time to let it go. That’s how to think about gifts. They’ve served their purpose (likely making the giver feel good) and it’s ok to let them go.
And speaking of guilt, there was a lot of that. As some of you know, I’m a big user of Stitch Fix, where I get nice, and sometimes pricey, lovely articles of clothes each month to try and keep. Sometimes I get clothes that later I realize are just “meh.” With this closet cleanse, I wouldn’t let guilt at spending money on an article of clothing force me to keep something I didn’t like anymore. I was pretty strong. After I was done, my closet looked much better:
(my dresses start at the tip of the arrow – no runaway hangers!)
I realize I kept a lot of dresses (I just love dressing up for fancy occasions) and ditched a lot of pants and jeans that I keep thinking will fit one day, while my new mom shape is shaking its head, pitying me for my optimism. I’ve been hanging on to these size 5 red shiny pants I used to wear to the dance clubs in Germany. It was time to big then a Danke and an Auf Wiedersehen. Pregnancy definitely worked in my favor. By not being able to try things on, I could just look at something to see what it made me feel, and not get wishy washy about things I just kinda liked but fit. Same thing went for scarves, bags, bathing suits, and lingerie. I didn’t end up arranging them by length, like the book suggests, or even by color, like I normally do, but instead by outerwear, cardigans, long sleeve, short sleeve/sleeveless, and sentimental things (that first date outfit). Now, I can go for things based on the weather, and I’ve already loved knowing I need a cardigan and being able to find all three of mind so easily.
I even made it special by setting up a place for my Stitch Fix cards so I can be further inspired on how to wear my joyful clothes.
I’ll tell you, it felt pretty good. I’m finding a place to donate my discards, and I discovered some lost treasures hiding in my closet I hadn’t seen in a while. Can’t wait to have this baby so I can actually use these joyful clothes, now!
Have you used this system? Do you have your own? How do you decide what to keep and toss? I’d love to know!