BY PAMELA HAMMONDS
Organizing professionals have long dispensed advice on how to control a chaotic closet. If you don’t wear it for a season, get rid of it. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. Turn all your hangers backward until you wear an item; after a season, get rid of any remaining backward hanging items.
The main drawback to such counsel is it doesn’t change how you feel about your belongings. Enter Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant whose life mission is to teach us to tidy once and for all, starting with our clothes closet—or closets. In her first book, the number one New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo teaches her Zen approach (the KonMari Method) to helping you keep only items that “spark joy.” Once you discard or donate those items which don’t, your closet and your life is suddenly transformed.
Seem crazy-simple? Amy and Ashleigh have both implemented the KonMari Method with surprising results.
“The most important step was taking everything out of my closet,”
says Ashleigh Kirk, 32, a step Kondo says is essential, as you must hold each item to determine if it sparks joy. Ashleigh’s closet-purge resulted in four garbage bags full of clothes and shoes to donate or consign.
“Now when I get dressed in the morning, it’s so much easier because I like everything in my closet. And I can see everything I own!”
Marie also suggests thanking your items for their service before letting them go. “It seems silly at first, but we do tend to attach feelings to inanimate objects,” Ashleigh says. “So, if you can thank a coat or sweater for keeping you warm before sending it off, it helps to let it go.”
Amy Radachi, 46, found joy in allowing her unwanted clothes to find new lives of their own. After culling six garbage bags full of items, she passed an entire bag to a friend in need. “She was thrilled,” Amy says, “and what she didn’t take, I donated to a charity thrift store. In the end, I kept only things I loved and didn’t let the cost of the clothes play into my decisions. It’s so much easier getting dressed now because only the weather dictates my choices. I like everything in the closet.”
Two added benefits to tidying that both Amy and Ashleigh realized are how easy it is to neatly put away items and how differently they now shop. “I kept one black sweater that I didn’t love because it served a purpose,” Ashleigh says, “but I’m taking my time to replace it because it will have to ‘spark joy’ before I buy it.”
Amy isn’t in a hurry to replace any item she got rid of, saying, “I’m acutely aware of the volume of clothes I owned—some that spilled over into other closets I’d forgotten I even had. If I go clothes shopping, I will have to stop and ask myself why.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, became an international phenomenon. Her follow-up title, Spark Joy: An illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up, better illustrates her unique storage and Japanese folding techniques. For more information on Kondo and her story and strategies, go to TidyingUp.com.