Kissing Konmari Goodbye

Have you ever uttered the words, “Does it spark joy?”  If so, then chances are you have heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, a book that took the nation – well, North America – by storm a couple years ago and is still going strong.  Kondo, a Japanese minimalist and organizational expert, offered a new way to think about home and closet organization:: sort through belongings by category rather than by room, focusing on the joy each object offers and discarding anything that doesn’t stir your soul. Kondo assured readers that one thorough Konmari sweep would be enough to last forever more.  

Like so many moms annoyed and overwhelmed by the clutter that comes with having more than just you in any space at any time family life, I read the book with highlighter in hand and then I ‘Konmari’d’ my home from top to bottom over a period of months.  My kids did their rooms, my husband did the garage… I sent trucks-full to be donated or to the dump.  It was glorious!  It was life changing!  And it was a godsend when, about a year later, it came time to make a big international move with far less stuff than we otherwise would have had.  However, it was not the forever clutter solution I had hoped for.  Going through the Konmari process did give me perspective and helped me come up with my own approach to closet organization that works for me and might just work for you too.  Instead of that one question, I suggest three questions to ask yourself when editing your closet.

Does it fit my budget?

Many of us land in the clutter wasteland due to excessive consumerism.  We buy too much of what we don’t need for ourselves, our families and our homes, and often, we can’t really afford it.  There are a lot of reasons why we do it {I’m assuming I’m not alone here  – anyone?? anyone read the Shopaholic books and relate??!}.  I get it, Sister! I still love me some retail therapy, but I get mine at the thrift store instead of the mall so when I ask this question, I can always answer yes.  If your purchases exceed your budget, chances are your clothing will exceed your closet.  And conversely, when you bring your purchases in line with your budget, you’ll feel the relief in your closet too.  A little breathing room goes a long way!

A recent thrift haul with a dress, blouse, sleeveless top and blazer – each was $2 or less!

Does it fit my closet?

One of the things about Marie Kondo that I could never relate to was her reference point – a tiny Japanese lady living in a tiny Japanese apartment.  When I did the Konmari process, I lived in a large Canadian home and my husband and I along with our kids shall never be described as tiny!!  Then we moved to Texas and well, everything IS bigger in Texas!!  Our home is bigger and my closet is bigger {and, er, so are we but I blame that on the margaritas and queso}.  The “average” Texas closet is like an antidote to Konmari!  If your closet can handle your wardrobe, there is less pressure to edit pieces out.  I endorse a well organized closet but if you have room for 60 dresses and love them all, keep them all!  {just me??}    

I have tried the one-in-one-out method of keeping closet clutter under control {every time you add a piece to your closet, you take one out and donate it}.  I have done the turn-the-hangers-around trick {and if you haven’t worn the item in a year, donate it}.  I have even done the 10-item capsule wardrobe {wear 10 core items for a month or season}.  I have imposed buying limits and wearing challenges.  All of these were good exercises but they did not spark joy for me! Ultimately, so long as my closet can handle my clothes, I am content.  I collect vintage and thrifted pieces, many of which are one-of-a-kind and/or irreplaceable.  For example, I have one pair of thrifted Prada shoes – I am never getting rid of them no matter how much Kondo dislikes collections!  I am not working right now so there’s a whole section of my closet that has gone untouched for a year, but I’m not quite ready to throw in the blazer, which is fine because there is room.  However, I find that there is a “critical mass” for my closet, an idea articulated by a friend of mine.  Once it gets to that point, I start itching to sift through my hangers and donate or swap some pieces, and so, every November, I complete a month-long closet edit called the Closet Minimalism Game which helps me to keep answering YES to this question!   

Just a thrifter and her dresses!

Does it fit my body and my style?

A functional wardrobe is one where you know everything fits your body RIGHT NOW, and where you have a few easy go-to outfit formulas that work for your life.  Sure, as moms we might keep a bin with pieces in different sizes as we transition in and out of pregnancy, but, keeping ill-fitting or uncomfortable clothing that doesn’t fit your personal style leads to closet clutter.  This is where I think Konmari misses the mark though:: our bodies change and our styles change.  By our very nature, we keep adding to our closets and so organizing and editing our wardrobes is a dynamic process that we have to revisit regularly.    

If and when I need to wear blazers again, I’ll reevaluate whether these still fit me and my style! And FYI, every last one of these was thrifted! 

I am glad I read Marie Kondo’s book and glad I tried the process, but I’m ready to kiss Konmari goodbye and embrace a gentler approach that I can keep up over time, even if not once and for all.  Y’all.  (!) 

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  1. Great article, Nicole. With retirement and weight loss, my closet needed weeding (a librarian term.) My hangers now have room to slide! Probably more will go to bless someone else, but for now I have lots of nice slacks that I used to wear to work. You are inspiring me.

    • Thank you Jan!! Love that weeding is a library term, closet term, gardening term! So appropriate for all these places we need to tend! You inspire me too!! Thanks for reading and commenting!


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