A self-proclaimed wardrobe decluttering enthusiast tries the world-famous KonMari method. What lessons will she learn?
Marie Kondo‘s advice on clutter resonates with me: Practice gratitude towards everything in your life, including things. But if something fails to make you happy or constricts you, learn to let it go.
And yet, I never followed her instructions myself simply because I have always been a totally relentless declutterer anyway. I don’t hold onto stuff, I am not sentimental or nostalgic about clothes, and I cannot stand clutter to begin with.
But this week, I thought I’d give the KonMari method a try. Here’s how it worked out for me.
The “KonMari” method at a glance
These are the basic principles of the “KonMari” method:
- First, dump all your clothes onto the floor “to force a decluttering ‘shock.'”
- Then go through them and decide whether each item “sparks joy.”
- “When deciding, it’s important to touch it, and by that, I mean holding it firmly in both hands as if communing with it,” writes Marie Kondo.
- “When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.”
- “When you hold something that doesn’t bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier.”
- Anything that does not “spark joy” gets chucked.
- Furthermore, the KonMari method includes many different ways of folding your belongings for tidy and organized storage.
- The KonMari method also requires no further organizing tools or storage complements.
Forcing a decluttering “shock”
My wardrobe is already small, see here. So when I dump everything onto the floor, it’s not really all that shocking. It still looks manageable.
But normally, when I declutter, I go through my clothes just as they are – hanging or folded. I pull out whatever I don’t feel like keeping any more and dump that on the floor. With the KonMari method, however, the outlook is different.
By emptying your wardrobe onto your floor, you wipe the slate of your wardrobe clean. And instead of asking what needs to go, you are asking what should stay. So basically, you choose your wardrobe all over again. It will reinforce your sense of gratitude because you see face to face with your clothes again. Also, it will give you a good opportunity to re-organize them. But we will come back to that later.
Holding it in both my hands
I keep all my clothes on their hangers when I throw them to the floor. But I realize that isn’t such a good idea. It’s easier for me to do the whole holding-it-firmly-in-both-hands-as-if-communing-with-it thing without them. So I belatedly take the hangers out.
Now, I take each piece of clothing into both my hands and hold them up one after the other. It’s somewhat physically demanding, because I sit on the floor and some of the stuff is very long so I have to stretch my arms up quite a bit. Also, I wonder whether I should close my eyes while holding the clothes, or keep them open… In the end, I find it helps to look at the stuff. See whether I still find it pretty, and whether it has any defects or something.
Also, I don’t actually talk out loud. I don’t actually ask myself “Does this spark joy to you?!” audibly into the empty room. I just sit there on the floor, mum, looking at each piece of clothing intently. But I do wonder if I’m doing it wrong. After all, no communing is taking place exactly. So initially, I am unsure what to expect. What will happen once I ask, “Does it spark joy?” Will my heart vibrate in the affirmative? Or will the skirt suddenly light up before my inner eye for “yes”, dim for “no”?
“Does it spark joy?”
I pick up the first item from my heap, and hold it up.
I turn it this way and that. Neither do I feel a little thrill nor does my body feel any kind of heavy. I decide to set it aside for the time being, a little disappointed.
But with the next few items, things are easier. Before I can even ask any questions, I hear a loud, resounding “YES!” flashing through my head as soon as I’ve picked them up!
Other items provoke a clear reaction, too. They feel like a downer, a bummer. A bit as if I am waiting for a bus. However, the one that is right before me is not the one I need.
But just like in the beginning, there are things I get no reaction to. So with those I close my eyes and think back to a specific time at which I wore it. And those moments finally inspire a reaction. I either hate the look, which is why I chuck it. Or I think I actually looked good in it, so I keep it.
Later on, however, I take the doubtful cases out again, and eventually I chuck those too.
Organizing my wardrobe
Everything I’ve decided to keep, I put on hangers and re-organize. With lots of room freed up, I am now also able to hang everything on hangers. Which I do, except for three pairs of denim bottoms. I am happy because my wardrobe now looks more tidy and it makes putting away clothes more convenient.
So at first, I am reluctant to get into the KonMari folding technique because I don’t think I need it. But a few mornings afterwards, I decide to give it a try. There’s still my underwear after all.
I watch these quick tutorial videos on how to fold socks, tops, trousers and shorts in preparation. Then I start with my socks. I begin folding away, and then try to get the first folded bundle to stand up. It w o r k s ! I fold some more socks.
Soon, I am folding my tights, my Heattech camisoles and tanks, my bustiers, my night T-shirts and my pajama bottoms à la Marie Kondo. And it feels immensely gratifying whenever they stand up. Finally, I string together all my folded, upstanding bundles, and suddenly am left with tons of space in my drawers and everything looks neat. I am excited!
After the decluttering and organizing
Lastly, I collect the things that did not pass the “spark joy” test and divide them into three heaps. One I donate the very same day. One is for my friend who recently started working again, and needs new office clothes. One is for my mom with a pair of trousers she’d admired on me years ago.
When it comes to getting rid of things, I like to move very swiftly. Otherwise it’s like unsolved business, and you still have clutter around.
Here is more that you can do with discarded clothes:
- Sell your stuff on ebay. Set aside an afternoon for this as you will need to take pictures and work out your article descriptions. But you are bound to get back a little cash if the clothes are by well known brands and labels.
- Sell your stuff on websites such as momox-fashion.de if your clothes are only from the highstreet but still in mint condition. It’s easy and very convenient.
- Donate, but only if it’s clothes that are actually practical. Like warm jackets, scarves and knits.
- Give your clothes away to friends. I have yet to meet one who has ever not taken clothes for free.
- Don’t agree to swaps, though! Remember, you want to declutter, not exchange your clutter with that of your friends’.
- And lastly, throw them away if they are old and unwearable.
Tips for using the KonMari method
A commonly repeated anecdote in articles about Marie Kondo is the one in which she obsesses so much about decluttering and organizing that she has a nervous breakdown. I can totally see how it could happen.
Decluttering is exhausting! Decision making is a mental exercise you can only do for limited time before feeling braindead. Now imagine doing that for hours. So although the KonMari method is the most efficient and easiest way to declutter, it’s still tiring.
Divide your decluttering into bite-sized portions, and work yourself through the various sub-categories of your wardrobe: bottoms = trousers + skirts, tops = T-shirts + tank tops + blouses, shirts, tunics, etc.
Importantly, keep an open mind!
In my instance, I had clothes I was originally all ready to get rid of before I had even started decluttering. But when I took them into my hands, the “YES!” I got was surprising but undeniably immediate and clear. Whereas things I was convinced I liked inspired no reaction whatsoever. So what I learnt is that what brings us joy is sometimes unpredictable. Be ready for it.
Have you ever tried the KonMari method, and how did it work out for you? Write me in the comments!