I tried the ‘KonMari’ method

I was at home all day, on account of #APEC and no urgent work deadlines. We’re moving to the new house (!) by the end of this month, so I thought I should get started on clearing my clutter and making the load lighter – literally! Yesterday I attacked my shoes, today I took on the big task of my messy wardrobe. I fulfilled the task using the KonMari Method.

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Marie demonstrating how to fold socks so they ‘stand up.’ Image from Business Insider

The KonMari (sometimes Kondo) is a tidying method popularized by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizational consultant. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizingbecame a cult hit this year for its charming yet demanding missives on the art of cleaning. I got the digital version, and between the pages, practical tips such as “clean by category” and “consider tidying up as a special event” intersperse with instructions to thank clothes for doing their service and folding socks like sushi rolls to give them the rest they need. 

I used to keep a blog called Sentimental Style, which basically describes in one go my outfit and wardrobe scenario. I keep way too many old and cheap things for their nostalgic value, and I’ve always enjoyed this approach in deciding what I like vs. being caught up in trends or some contrived style.

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One of my earliest posts, donning my aunt’s cheesecloth blouse, tights over leggings, and jelly shoes. In 2008, this was ‘overdressed’ in laid-back UPLB!

Sadly, I have not touched that blog in over a year, and even then I was just test-posting. I’ve actually stopped doing #OOTDs since 2013. Partly because I’ve become less into thrift shopping (I guess my style has evolved), and with age, I’ve managed to already have a wardrobe with pieces that I don’t mind wearing over and over again (i.e. rendering me out of things to post). I’m still bad with my money, but I find that these days I’m spending it on more adult things, so yeah.

Anyway, back to my current closet: although Marie recommends to do a top-to-bottom tidying in one go, or at least one category, I appropriated by only choosing one category now. At least I started with her prescribed first one: clothes. Here’s how I did it:

1. Put everything you own in one spot 

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I was so excited to start yet another purge that I forgot to take a shot of the “before” look. But here’s most of my wardrobe in one place – i.e. the floor, and then my bed. This still didn’t include three drawers’ worth of more shirts and random stuff.

2. Get rid of things that don’t spark joy

The next step was to determine which ones had to go. The main principle, according to the KonMari method, is not about size, or price, or when you last wore it, and NOT EVEN “Do I see myself wearing this next year?” (which are always questions I asked myself). It’s simply one question: If I touch this, does it spark joy? Even if I used it yesterday, even if I’ve called it my favorite shirt, even if it was the white shirt Ranie that told me “made me look pretty” for the first time ever – if I touched it now, in the middle of day, did it give me joy?

I thought that for all the “stories” behind everything I basically own (thrift hunting, hand me downs, special occasions), I’d be overwhelmed with sparks in everything. But there was something different, I guess, about seeing that huge, ugly pile, the time of the day, and the way I set my mind on today’s goal. I went slowly at first, actually feeling pangs and wanting to try on every other dress just to see one last time if it looked good, but I held back because I know from past purges how much of a timesucker that became. The main pile grew smaller and smaller, while my “goodbye” pile grew thigh-deep.

So goodbye, favorite royal blue college smock. You were in all my first ever Facebook photos, and I always looked good in you in college, but you’ve become ratty. And I haven’t worn you since 2011. Thank you for your service.

Goodbye, white shirt that Ranie called “pretty on me” for the first time, ever. I really don’t fit into you anymore.

Goodbye, too many org and event shirts that I never end up sleeping in anyway.

Goodbye, too much Cotton On and Mango.

Etc, etc, etc.

Surprisingly, “sparks” of joy were there in both new and old stuff. My leather shorts, obviously. The long, printed, beautiful dresses, which I never wear on a daily basis, but which really feel like they should stay with me forever (and they still fit well!). My Lola’s old dress. The Rilakumma hoodie I bought in Korea. A red blazer which never looks appropriate in a business meeting, but which just makes me feel so power-woman. A few coats. My old KFC uniform! And so on and so forth. I was sad to see how much I’m about to put into boxes, but it was more gratifying to see that for all my hoarding and ukay tendencies, I do have pieces which I’m proud of. Which have both a story and a lasting purpose.

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The “goodbye” pile took up two 2x2ft balikbayan boxes. Some will be given away since they’re in very good condition. Others will be donated. Ate Bheck has already gotten dibs on a few dresses (hanging on staircase).

3. Fold, store, and hang properly what’s left

This was the entire “joy” pile after the whole purge:

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I spend the next hour tidying this pile in the KonMari way: small rectangles with the last fold facing outwards. Fold as many possible, hang only the pieces that will “be happier” if placed on a hanger. Make socks stand up. And so on and so forth.

And so this is how, a few weeks before we move out of this rental, I finally have an organized closet that I will empty out soon enough hahahahaha:

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And this is REALLY EVERYTHING. Clothes, winter stuff, scarves, socks, swimwear, towels. Sorry for the ugly magazines liners!

The funny thing is that the closet in the new room will be about 3x the size of this one, with drawers and racks and shelves and everything. So what am I gonna do with all that space now?

Well, as the KonMari method advises, a wardrobe can be used to store so much more than clothes. I can use all that new storage space to keep my floor and desk pretty much clutter free. And I’d still have lots of hanging room for potential new purchases – this time, guided by the question of “Will it spark joy?”

At least, until I move out in about two years from now haha. That’s for another story though.

I do feel lighter and better, and somehow 25% more ready to make the big move. Next to tidy up, if I still follow the KonMari way, should be books. And that’s where I’m actually in trouble. Same principle applies: keep only those that spark joy when you touch them. No browsing allowed. Agh! I think that will be much, much, much harder to do.

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