Full disclosure: I loved the idea of Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” enough that I bought the book, and placed it on my bedside table. And never, not once, opened it up to read.
When my friend told me that she’d become a certified KonMari consultant and started her own company Felt, I told her that story and she said, “That’s probably one of the things you should get rid of, because it’s a guilt-laden reminder of all the things you haven’t done yet.” Know what? She was right. So I brought her over to my house and had her sprinkle a little of that KonMari magic on my abode.
I won’t lie, I had some qualms. Mostly they sounded like this...
- “But we just moved a year ago, I purged pretty recently…”
- “But I’m really pretty good at one-in-one-out, I don’t think there’s much to cull here…”
- “But I just don’t have the time to go that deep…”
If you’ve ever considered taking the KonMari plunge, those might sound familiar to you. You might be afraid someone’s going to make you part with stuff you still want to keep (they won’t), or turn your life upside down (they don’t).
The process does, however, involve everything being placed (nay, dumped) on the floor, a move whose shock value probably helps motivate people to purge. You’ll have a guide who helps gently spur you along as you assess each piece of your wardrobe one by one, but no decisions are made for you, so nothing will be taken from you. It is up to you to step up with honesty and conclude, “I didn’t even know I still owned this.” Buh bye.
There’s a fourth reason I resisted, actually, that I think probably warrants its own column or documentary, and that was my environmental guilt at having these clothes turfed. (Yes, I did take a pile to Goodwill, but recent articles made me realize that donating clothes is often just an emotional band-aid for the affluent to feel like they’re doing something good, when really most of those threads end up in the trash.) When I brought this point up with Cassidy, she made a bold but pragmatic response: “So, what’s the difference if they end up in the landfill later - and them just being garbage in your closet now?” Aha. Touché. Well, then. A slight cringe, a slight self-admonishment ("Why did I even buy this?"), and heave ho.
What I discovered…
Many of the clothes I’m still in love with are from 1998. I’m strangely proud of this. Sticking to what speaks to you (and works for you) regardless of the whims of fashion marketing is a value I hold dear. It’s something I learned from my mother - it seemed she never had new clothes, her closets were never crammed, and she always looked stylish. A few great, timeless pieces on top of practical basics, and zero crap.
My favorite part of the KonMari method involves keeping pieces that spark joy on display, so that the “supermum” notebook gifted to me by my sister, sitting alongside the curls collected from my son's first haircut is something I spy each morning. My mum’s vintage world map clutch peers out at me like a clever relic of her sophisticated closet (pictured, right), and my toddlers' adorable tennis rackets form a happy little “X marks the spot” in our front closet (pictured below). Memory and associations can have a positive power, too, so long as they don’t decline into weighty nostalgia.
Every single piece that I put in the “out of here” pile? I haven’t thought about a single one of them since they went. I couldn’t tell even you what went out the door. Proof that the zing of attachment we feel when we look at the dress that an aunt may have bought you is a ridiculous and transient thing. If you haven’t worn it in a year? You’re not going to. Adios.
That said - there were a few pieces that I looked at but hadn’t worn in a long time, but that made my heart flutter a bit. These, I kept, and were instantly put back into rotation. I just hadn’t even seen them in ages because they were so buried that I couldn’t even have considered wearing them. Re-injecting them into the wardrobe made it feel like a fresh delivery of clothes - perfectly tailored to my size and style - had arrived.
Have I kept it up?
Almost entirely, yes. There were a few things, organizationally, that I changed once our session was done, but once the crap was culled and I could see pieces individually, it made it SO much easier to simply put them back after a day’s wear (instead of lying in a heap of impending wrinkles in the “hang/fold/launder/for the love of god do something with them” pile).
The KonMari process has made it easier for me to stay committed to the good habit I had read about once (but at the time seemed daunting): every night, there are but three things to do with your clothes: hang, fold, or put in the hamper. No piles of “in between” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Because of Cassidy, I can now see exactly where I took said garment out, and it’s so damn easy to just put it back.
That ease is the reward for the full day’s work it is to attack a particular closet or area. No more searching for “that shirt that I think I still have but where?”, and no more loathing the piles that build up, begging me to figure out their fate.
After my Felt session, I applied the same technique to my bathroom medicine cabinet, the laundry room, and the front closet. Expose it all, sort through, cull and replace with precision. A month later, all of these spaces are still pretty satisfying spots to gander at, if you ask me. And if you think it’s weird to get a strange rush of endorphins when you see a clean closet, well, then you probably haven’t read this far anyway, so it won’t strike you as odd that upon finishing the front closet, I hollered to my husband, “IT’S A GODDAMN SYMPHONY IN HERE.”
Lastly - why is the woman who concocts essential oil blends talking about the KonMari method?
Because I think that both are tools that set you up for success. A big part of the reason I use essential oils is because they are part of a routine or ritual that leads me toward a desired outcome. (ie. I apply the same one before meditation to signal to my brain that the resonance of my mindfulness practice is on its way). The KonMari method is a similar kind of hack: when everything is in its right place, you’re more likely to replace it, and you’re more likely to keep up the habit of keeping good order.