Are we all Marie Kondo-ed out yet? Yes? No? Kind of? Okay, here’s the deal. Several years ago, we overhauled our master bedroom. (It’s hard to believe it ever looked like this!) Some of you might remember that it used to be a kitchen when our home was still divided into multiple apartments! As a part of that renovation, we swapped a door in exchange for a wall of windows, installed plumbing for a nearby laundry room (best decision!) and created a big, empty drywall box that could accommodate two IKEA PAX units.
Right before all of that, I had finished reading everyone’s favorite organizing book, made only more popular recently due to Marie’s adorable Netflix series. As cliche as it sounds, following her advice did change our lives! It was magic! We hauled so much junk out of our home, and we were so much happier for it. After the big master bedroom renovation, we were careful to only fold away sweaters that sparked joy and vintage tees that we loved. For years, we’ve done a pretty good job at sticking to it, and we’ve never been big on shopping for clothes anyway. Even still, I have started to feel my sense of style change, and I realized I was holding on to blouses, dresses and cardigans that Old Kim would wear. Old Kim liked bright colored everything and a boxier cut. New Kim craved simplicity and comfort, a great fitting pair of jeans and a neutral pair of boots. (Fun side story: As I waited in line to donate a bag of clothes, the guy next to me – also hauling his own bag – said, dude, I just Marie Kondo-ed the s*** out of my house. You, too?)
So when New Kim’s friend Meghan the Stylist offers to help clear out her closet once and for all, she accepts. (Aaand – third person, end.) I stripped down to a bathing suit, and I tried on anything that wasn’t a clear yes or no. The two of us were brutally honest about each and every item in that closet, and I have greeted each day with a much better mood ever since! I’m no longer thinking too hard about what to wear, because I love each and every item. It took just two hours to set myself up for success, and I’m-a share the process with you so that we can all open our closets with a smile, once and for all.
1| Empty the entire closet. Yes, the whole thing.
I used to fling open my closet doors and pull out only the few items I didn’t like and fold them into a bag for donation. I’d do this twice a year – summer and winter – and I’d abide by the rule that if I hadn’t worn it the previous season, out it went. But it wasn’t until I read about Marie Kondo’s method that it clicked; I should have been doing it in reverse all along! By emptying the entire closet on the bed, you can give everything a more critical eye and try things on – plus, this is your chance to give the interior of your closet a much needed dusting while you’re at it. Give yourself a blank canvas.
2| Put back only what you love, no exceptions.
This one is self explanatory, but seriously. I was brutally honest with myself in this go-round, and it helped to have a friend with me. When in doubt, I tried it on. If I didn’t feel like a million bucks or Meghan took too long to give me a thumbs up (it happened more than a few times, ha!), it went to the donate pile. I even went so far as to toss every last pair of socks and undies that had been buried under my go-to picks, relieving that overstuffed drawer of excess weight.
3| And while you’re at it, swap your mismatched hangers for the same style.
When things look nice, you’re more likely to keep it that way. If your closet is full of mismatched hangers, take this time to choose one variety. I personally love these flocked hangers (also in gray and beige!) because they take up minimal space and my clothes stay put; no more wasted time battling those slipping shoulders.
4| Know when to hang them; know when to fold them.
How often do you find yourself avoiding an item of clothing because it’s perpetually wrinkled? This is your opportunity to make a plan on what goes where – and stick to it. I like to hang blouses and button-ups (i.e., anything that’s not a T-shirt), dresses and jackets. I fold tees, anything knit, pants, pajamas and workout clothes. For my fresh start, I folded everything Konmari style (well, just short of communicating my appreciation to each garment). I have to confess that I always thought folding things in half and thirds was a bit of a time suck, but I was blown away by how much space it saved. I’m a fan.
5| Keep like items together.
This seems obvious, doesn’t it? Pants go with pants and shirts go with shirts. Even still, it’s too easy to slip into the habit of hanging clothing or stuffing items into drawers where ever they’ll fit. I went so far as to fold my V-necks with V-necks, concert tees with concert tees and stripes with stripes.
6| Make shelf adjustments.
If your closet has shelving or adjustable drawers, assess what’s been working for you and what hasn’t. Now that your pile of clothes is likely a lot smaller (Scott and I filled two IKEA bags to the brim), take a moment to move shelves up or down – or create a new configuration completely!
7| Allow the empty space to breathe.
The combination of lightening up my wardrobe and folding Konmari-style left an excess of empty space in my drawers, and it has been amazing. Push aside the urge to keep a few extra on-the-fence items when you see this empty space; allow that empty space to breathe. In the meantime, make a list of clothing that you actually need, and purchase it when it’s just right (not on a whim).
8| Change out the hardware for something awesome.
We’re big believers in investing in hardware that makes your heart sing! For an item that you touch every. single. day, it’s worth spending a little more on something that makes you truly happy. Treat yourself. Consider swapping out the old hardware on your closet doors and dresser drawers for something that’ll make you excited to shop from your ‘new’ wardrobe in the morning! We have these in unlacquered brass (although it looks like they’re no longer available in the 18″).
Now that you’ve gone through every last item with a fine tooth comb, resist the urge to fill up all that empty space (see #7 above!). Instead, consider investing in well made, quality clothes for the long haul. Saying ‘no’ to fast fashion is a much larger topic that I’m interested in learning more about + practicing, and for now, I’m taking small steps. A change like this can take years. (I’m late to the game, but I am so in love with Everlane and their mission!)
Stay true to what works for you, not what works for everyone else. The New Kim, to be quite honest, has a somewhat boring wardrobe. Aside from a few checked shirts and floral blouses, I’m all about black, gray and cream – and I’m okay with that, because I love every piece! Hone in your ‘uniform’, and relieve yourself of that stressor every morning.
Of course, you’ll still find items to donate from time to time. If after all of this you still find yourself digging past that sweater that makes your arms look funny, donate it. Donate it right now. We keep a rotating donation bag in the workshop and add to it all the time (home items, too), and once it’s full, we drop it off while we’re out running other errands.
My ultimate goal is to get to a place where a big purge is no longer necessary. I think we’re kind of there, but I know we can get better. (In fact, that flash sale I asked you all about is happening in a few months. Can’t wait to share more with you soon!)
Friends, what else would you add to this list? I’d also love to know your favorite ethical clothing brands! Feel free to share them in the comments below so we can all learn from one another, and/or I can put together a resource post with your feedback if you’re interested?