My client, Dahlia lives with her husband and two young children in a home in one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods. Like many older homes, the closet space is less than desirable. She has small two closets in her bedroom filled with clothes and shoes; her husband keeps his clothes in one of their children’s rooms. Dahlia works from home and often wears the “mom-of-young-kids” uniform – workout attire and sneakers. She contacted me because she wanted help weeding out clothes she doesn’t wear anymore and taming the crazy closet situation.
Dahlia gave me a tour of all the closets in her house, and they were, indeed, overflowing! This is what her bedroom closets looked like before:
She told me about some of the challenges she faces regarding clothing: she didn’t have a lot of money for clothes growing up, so she tended to buy inexpensive clothing and hold onto it for-ev-er. She still had clothes she wore in college (she’s in her mid-thirties now!) She wanted a streamlined closet and help putting together an everyday wardrobe, updating her mommy uniform with a casual but professional look.
One of the first things I noticed was that although her wardrobe was small and fit into the two closets nicely, the clothes weren’t organized effectively. Her tops were in four different places, and she had separated her work from her casual clothes, which actually made it hard to put together outfits, as some of the pieces were appropriate for both casual and work.
We started, as I always do, by taking everything out of her closets.
Using Marie Kondo’s KonMari method, I coached Dahlia to pick up each top, skirt, dress, pair of pants, and pair of shoes and decide whether or not it sparked joy. I explain KonMari like this: if something sparks joy, you will feel a thrill when you pick it up and think, “I love this dress! I love the color and they way it looks on me. I always get compliments when I wear it.” That’s a keeper for sure! You will also know when something doesn’t spark joy – it doesn’t fit; you’ve worn it so often, it’s threadbare; you like the style but hate the color. Those are definitely discards. Other items might not be as clear cut, and you need to think about whether or not to keep them.
Marie Kondo says there are two reasons you might have a hard time letting something go. One is that you have an attachment to the past. You bought something for a special occasion – a date with your partner, a trip, a wedding – and you cherish the memory associated with it; or someone gave you the garment, and although you don’t wear it, you feel guilty giving it away. The other is that you are anxious about the future. What if you want to wear that top/pair of pants/jacket someday, even though you haven’t worn it in years? The thing is, memories are part of the past. Getting rid of a special dress doesn’t make the memory go away. The delight a gift giver experiences when you open his/her present is the gift! It’s okay if you don’t keep the sweater your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas. And let’s face it: you’re probably never going to wear those pre-pregnancy jeans again. It’s time to let them go!
Like many women, you probably have clothes in your closet with tags still on them, and you regret spending money on items you don’t wear. Marie Kondo says it’s okay to let go of brand-new clothes because they’ve already fulfilled their purpose – they brought you joy when you bought them, and then they taught you what doesn’t suit you. Thank them for the lessons; they can spark joy for someone else!
Dahlia was game for trying the “spark joy” method, but it took a few rounds for her to get used to the idea of getting rid of clothes she didn’t wear. This was a psychological and emotional process. She had to let go of the memories, the guilt, and the anxiety in order to build a wardrobe she absolutely loves and will wear, which it the whole point of buying clothes, in my opinion!
After we had gone through the piles, we put everything back. Marie Kondo lays out a method of organizing clothes that I really like: she recommends hanging items from long to short and dark/heavy to light in a rising line. I combined Dahlia’s tops and hung them by sleeve length, material, and color on the top bar in the left side of the sliding door closet. I hung pants and skirts on the bottom. I put all her shoes in the right side. Ideally, Dahlia would hang her dresses with her other clothes, but since there wasn’t room, I hung them back up in the other closet.
As we went through the clothes, Dahlia and I talked about the styles and colors she liked, I showed her how to create outfits with pieces she already had, and she made a list of items to buy. We also talked about quality vs. quantity. Spending money on a few good pieces you can wear season after season is better than buying a lot of cheap clothes you might wear a couple of times before they start to look worn.
I went back to Dahlia’s house another day to declutter her dresser drawers and teach her Marie Kondo’s folding method. I didn’t take any pictures, but it felt great to complete the entire project in just two sessions!
If you live in the Houston area and would like me to help you declutter your wardrobe, organize your closet, and put outfits together, click this link to find out about my closet organizing services. I’d love to help make getting dressed every day a pleasure instead of a chore!