KonMari method: clothes
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Here’s why you should use the KonMari method to declutter your clothing. Marie Kondo’s decluttering method isn’t just a method; it’s an entire philosophy.
According to Kondo herself:
The approach is rooted in a single question: Does this item spark joy? Identifying what sparks joy leads to a tidy home filled only with items you cherish. It’s also a path to self-discovery, mindful living and fulfillment.
That’s what makes the KonMari method so special. Whereas most other minimalist philosophies focus on the getting rid of part, the KonMari Method is all about mindfully choosing to keep things that spark joy.
By focusing on what to keep rather than on what to discard, the process becomes positive and empowering. You might even experience grand moments of self-discovery while tidying up!
(Indeed, it’s not called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for nothing; it has literally changed my life and helped me move on after decades of grief. If you are interested in this method, there really is not substitute for reading the book yourself…definitely check it out!)
The KonMari method is perfect for decluttering clothing, shoes, and other wearable items; in fact, clothing is the very FIRST category that you tackle with the KonMari method.
Here are 10 tips that will help you joyfully decluttering your clothing with the KonMari method.
1: Remove all items and place on the bed
The first step of decluttering clothing with the KonMari method is to remove all clothing items from their positions and place on the bed, floor or other work surface. Bed is prefereable but if you run out of space or like to sit whiile working the floor is fine too!
Leave no drawer unturned, no hanger unexplored! Every single item in the clothing category should be removed for examination.
I already own much less clothing than many people to begin with, so I found this relatively easy! I took all my clothing and accessories out and placed them on the floor or the bed.
(If you have more clothing, make sure you have enough space so that you can both sort through AND have a place to set aside discarded items for donation, recycling, selling, etc. It helps if you get trash bags beforehand and pre-label them for donation, recycling, and selling — more on that below!)
2: Don’t forget anything
Besides clothing, shoes and accessories are also included in the KonMari “clothing” category. Don’t forget your off-season clothing that may be hiding elsewhere in the house, like coats and scarves!
By the way, jewelry and hats count too! They are worn, just like clothing! 🙂 Take all of those items out and lay them on the floor.
Even unworn clothing and accessories are not exempt from this decluttering effort!
In fact, Kondo says that unused items have a special message for us: despite the fact that items were purchased with the intention of using them, if we haven’t by now, for whatever reason that items purpose was to teach us that we didn’t need it!
(Psst! Make sure you don’t forget anything while decluttering with this FREE five-page KonMari Checklist!)
3: Start with off-season clothing
As we haven’t been using our off-season clothing (in my case, summer clothing at the time of this writing) they are less “charged” accounting to Kondo and are easier to sort.
That makes it easier to identify if they spark joy and to get rid of them if they don’t.
4: Hold each piece and ask if it sparks joy
You need to pick up every single item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”. Items that are loved, no matter their condition, can be kept. Items which do not spark joy should be placed in the “discard” pile.
Below is a snapshot of favorite items I kept that spark joy:
- My very first thrift shop purchase, a vintage kimono found in Chicago
- A gorgeous floral skirt in aqua and orange that I bought in Berlin, Germany
- A cozy sweater in an adorable fox print
- A daring tropical romper-dress I wear to the beach
- A pair of well-loved oxford heels and Steve Madden booties
- Two of my favorite statement necklaces, including my “mermaid” necklace
5: Know what your “joy” feels like
When people talk about the KonMari method, this key distinguishing factor often makes people nervous.
You might be asking yourself, “What if I can’t tell what brings me joy? What does “sparking joy” actually feel like?”
To put your mind at ease, the answer is, yes I was able to identify items that sparked joy and items that didn’t, and the process got even easier as I progressed.
(For me the “joy” felt like a tickle somewhere between my chest and my throat…I get the same feeling when riding a Ferris wheel or reading a moving scene in a book. You may feel joy in a different way, but I am confident you WILL feel it.)
6: Downgrading to loungewear is taboo
This rule gave me some trouble.
I love loungewear! I am definitely a yoga-pants-sweatpants-no-pants kind of girl at home, so getting rid of prime lounging candidates (like comfy shirts with holes in them) was tough for me…but I feel better about it in the end.
Now, if you have a shirt with holes it in that truly brings you joy, who am I to say no? Keep that sucker until it falls apart!
7: Fold > Hang
According to Kondo, folding is preferable over hanging when possible, as it is more space-efficient and tidy. She prefers to hang only coats, jackets, and suits.
I still like to hang up my nicer clothing for easier access and breathability, but I was AMAZED by how much more space we had in our drawers with Kondo’s vertical folding method!
8: Fold correctly
There is a certain way to fold your clothing to maximize space efficiency and keep wrinkles at bay. The KonMari folding method basically involves folding clothing into smaller and smaller rectangles, until you are left with a small rectangle of cloth that can even stand up on its own!
You can find videos of Kondo herself explaining this on YouTube (here is one of her folding shirts). There are different, albeit similar tricks for each type of clothing, so search for each one if you need to fold.
9: To the left, to the left
As Beyoncé says, to the left to the left!
According to Kondo, you should place weightier items (longer, heavier, darker) to the left and lighter items (shorter, lighter, brighter) to the right.
If you drew an imaginary arrow you would see it move from your lower left and rise as to the right like the image pictured below.
10: Store Simply
No need to buy expensive and fancy storage containers! The best storage items are the ones you have on hand…old shoeboxes and Apple boxes are some of Kondo’s (and my) favorite.
We actually had too much space in our drawers after decluttering and had to fold some clothing normally. May need to revisit them in the future to reorganize.
Here is a picture of my youngest son’s drawer after KonMari.
Special note: what to do with clothing after decluttering
Obviously, you are going to have a lot of stuff you are going to need to get rid of after decluttering. If you want to find out all the eco-friendly places that will take your old junk (torn clothing, old toothbrushes, worn shoes, EVERYTHING) check out this post that lists 49 ec0-friendly ways to discard items after decluttering.
Also, because we all know that shoeboxes can’t solve all of our storage issues, get this list of the most popular organization tools that will have your home in sparking joy shape ASAP!
No trashing allowed! Your clothes, shoes, and jewelry are nearly 100% reusable, even shirts and pants with holes in the knees and worn shoes!
I had five huge bags to get rid of and I didn’t even have that much clothing to begin with!
* Update: read all my other posts about the KonMari method:
- FREE Printable Comprehensive KonMari Checklist
- 15 Essential KonMari Method Do’s and Don’ts to Tidy Your Entire Life
- KonMari Folding: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide on How to Fold Literally ANYTHING!
- KonMari Books
- KonMari Paper
- KonMari Kitchen
- KonMari Toys
How’s it going?
Thinking of using the KonMari method to declutter your clothing? Already started or finished? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!