Monday, February 15, 2021

Trying the KonMari Method - Clothing (A Maker Version)

As the old year* ended, I needed to lighten my load, eliminate the clutter (physically and emotionally), and prepare for bringing light and calm into my life. So, I decided to consult Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I had watched her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo earlier last year and felt inspired to go through my clothes. However, I did not follow her tried and true method as written. I gained a bit of space, yes, but there was no real catharsis or clarity.

Recently, I noticed people mentioning a new Netflix show, Get Organized with The Home Edit. I found it more like a commercial for the Container Store. There was no real thought about why they had all this stuff or if you should keep it. Instead, the emphasis was on the cute products to put it all in for visual aesthetics. Watching it, I felt uninspired by some of their storage solutions, especially when they displayed Reese Witherspoon's movie wardrobe and memorabilia. Working in a museum and being familiar with textiles and restoration, their decisions made me nervous. However, it did make me return to Marie Kondo's wisdom and her KonMari method of decluttering.

Confession time, months ago, I picked up her first book at a thrift store but still had not read it. So I originally started this undertaking only knowing the "Cliff Notes" version. The plan was to catch up on my reading as I went along.

According to her book, Marie believes you should move through your belongings in this order: Clothing, Books, Papers, Miscellaneous, and Sentimental objects. 

Clothing is first because, in her years of practice, she considers it the easiest one. Obviously, she has not worked with many Makers


Initial Observations:

Some of the items in my closet are clothing that my mother or I made DECADES ago!

1. They were made for a high school-size Lisa and will never fit again. 

2. They are no longer my style or in the colors that I wear. I mean, there was an iridescent pink ball gown skirt in there!

3. They were items that I was incredibly proud of and wanted to remember.

When I first started sewing clothes in the 1980s, that's how I spent most of my free time. I was fascinated by clothing construction and frequently attempted ambitious projects such as Issey Miyake and Karl Lagerfeld Vogue designer patterns, lined garments, bound buttonholes, the pad-stitching of a tailored jacket, and working with sheer and silky fabrics. Back then, I didn't know to be scared of doing those things; I was FEARLESS!

For sentimental reasons, those items avoided "the purge" time after time. I would move them from one home to another, and they continued to take up space.

A great point Marie makes in the book that doesn't stand out enough in the media is this:

It's NOT about throwing things out; continually throwing things away to eliminate "clutter" is not  calming, and it will never bring happiness. The goal is choosing what you want to keep in your life (the Does it Spark Joy? concept). It's a way to take a closer look at what you surround yourself with and how it makes you feel.

My personal experience was that I loved most of my clothes, but why wouldn't I? I made them! As a maker/sewist, I could say that about my clothes because they were unique to my tastes and style.

However, I could eliminate some:

  1. Things that were several sizes too small, items stretched beyond repair, pilled knits, and others that I no longer felt good wearing. These would be easy to discard.
  2. The "slightly ill-fitting item but after losing a few pounds I could fit again" items. Who needs that pressure?
  3. Those that may still spark joy, but because of the style, I would not wear them.
  4. Things that my late mother made for me over 30 years ago.
  5. Things that I planned to alter or adapt that I still hadn't done.

The other goal was to remove these from my home in a way that I felt good about, either by donation of the good RTW stuff or fabric recycling because clothing donation sites don't take kindly to handmade items. (There is no easy way for them to label sizes on these, so I get it.)

There was a small fear that if I got rid of everything that doesn't spark joy, would I have any clothes left? The answer was yes, the ones that matter.

Here is everything in this category that left my wardrobe.

Final Observations

  • Outerwear: I gave away five jackets/coats which could not close over my hips. I kept the four that fit; three I bought recently and my handmade Issey Miyake-designed coat.

  • Tops: I found out my wardrobe is 70% tops. I am severely lacking in coordinating skirts and pants.

  • Pants/jeans: I found a well-fitting pair of jeans recently bought (during Covid) that I had lost track of in my closet! I now have four wearable pairs of jeans and two pairs of knit pants.

  • Scarves: I had several but never wore them. ALL GONE.

  • Underwear: Two sad bras are now gone, and I replaced some worn underwear and socks.

  • Purses: I thought I had maybe 6-7, but I had SIXTEEN bags! How did that happen? I now plan on storing the bags that I kept in a way where I will see them and use them more.

  • Shoes: There were so many that I no longer wore. I lost five uncomfortable or worn pairs. The others will be stored so that I can see them and wear them more often.

Here's an example of decluttering I found on the Interwebs from Wild We Roam. It isn't the KonMari method, but I felt this experience was very similar to mine.

Coming up next, more of the KonMari process...

*The year that must not be named.