So, I’ve been saying that a lot lately and not to who you would think. It’s been to inanimate objects! You know, the smoothie you start drinking again because you are going to give ‘that diet’ another go. Why do we address people and things this way? A matter of playful affection towards a friend who we’ve known since grade school? Used in jest as we put on our bikini for the first time in the Summer?
As we sort through our things, we go through this playful or sometimes sinister game with these items:
Play the “Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers” game created by organizing guru Judith Kolberg:
Friends come and go and so do the things in our lives. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to say adieu. Keep the items you hold valuable close to you and enjoy!
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Do you ever open your closet and think, “I have nothing to wear!”? Do you ever feel like you have certain “go-tos” and you ignore the rest of your closet? Do you keep things because they might come back into style?
Imagine a different scenario. Imagine a closet filled with only those clothes that ‘spark joy,’ clothes that make you feel confident and amazing, clothes that are comfortable and cared for. In just five hours, it can!
The New York Times bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Japanese de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo, teaches you how. As a member of the first class of KonMari consultant trainees, I love spreading the KonMari idea of #organizetheworld. Please see below my own take on how you can tackle the clothing category using the KonMari method, step by step.
Find a time in your schedule when you can get five hours, distraction free. No kids. No husbands. No phones. This is YOUR time.
Pile every item of clothing on the bed.
Take a ‘before’ picture!
Divide the clothes into broad categories like: Tops, Bottoms, Skirts, Pajamas, etc. Don’t worry about deciding what to keep yet. Focus on sorting, not discarding.
Now this is where the magic really comes in. You are going to take each and every item of clothing in your hand and ask yourself: Does this spark joy? Pay attention to how the garment makes you feel. Does it give you a jolt of happiness? Do you love wearing it? Or do you frown, think about feeling frumpy, or have a bad memory?
A few tips:
Put all of your donations and items to sell right in the car! While you have them sorted, you can even enter the donations into an app like It’s Deductible or onto a printed Goodwill checklist. You can save thousands at tax time with donations!
Put all of the clothing that sparks joy back into the closet and folded in their drawers. To learn how to do Marie Kondo’s special folding method, visit this video. Think about using all that extra space in your closet to display your favorite items. I put my favorite books and my grandmother’s milk glass on the top shelf of my closet, where all of my bulky sweaters used to fall over onto each other. Some people hang artwork inside the doors or display wedding photos.
A few tips:
Now sit back, take that after photo, and enjoy! After just five hours and six steps, you’ve created a closet that gives you joy, easy mornings and a boost of confidence.
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To roll or not to roll…that is the question. There’s a lot of debate about the best way to pack a bag for travel. We’ve used three different methods with our clients. The best method depends on the purpose of the trip, the kind of clothing you are taking, if you prefer hanging your clothes at your destination and wrinkle control.
In the layering or bundling method, layer the clothes in a crisscross fashion in the suitcase and intertwine them into a bundle. This is a great method to reduce wrinkles and we were easily able to pack as many as 25 items of medium sized women’s clothing in one 22” carry-on. The downside is that the entire bundle has to be removed and unwrapped to retrieve your clothing.
Rolling the clothing is another popular method. You can roll each item individually or group like items together and roll as a bundle. We found that grouping like items together does save some extra space and reduce some of the wrinkling that can occur with various fabrics when rolled.
And finally, the folding method. This method does take up more space than layering or rolling. However, for some fabrics, it’s a better way to reduce wrinkling. Folding the clothing with a piece of tissue paper or plastic in the middle will reduce friction and therefore the wrinkles.
In the end, we found that a combination of methods often works best. Rolling items that don’t wrinkle easily and folding others with plastic were the easiest techniques to combine. Once the larger, bulkier items were placed in the suitcase, we filled in all the gaps with smaller items like underwear, tank tops, bathing suits and belts, so that every nook and cranny was filled.
Believe it or not, it has taken me over three years to convince someone very near and dear, to let me help get her closet in order. And, she has recommended me to many of her friends and family. Go figure. Let me elaborate: for the past three years, I have continually heard:
• “I am so frustrated with getting dressed in the morning!”
• “I can’t seem to get out of the house on-time!”
• “I just don’t know what to wear!”
• “I never used to have this issue. Putting outfits together was not a problem, before.”
My response was always, “Why don’t I come over and help you?” Her reply was always, “No, you’ll make me get rid of too many things I really like!”
Nothing could be further from the truth. No worthwhile professional organizer should have an aggressive, ‘It’s my way or the highway attitude.’ Coming into anyone’s home like a steamroller is contrary to the nature of our profession. Working with those who need some organizational strategies is a delicate process. All that’s required is motivation, trust, transparency, an open mind to change, and a friend to help.
Recently, this same person had been invited to a wedding. What she asked of me was the opportunity I was looking for. She wanted me to help her choose an outfit, from her wardrobe for the occasion. Together, we chose the dress, jewels, purse, and shoes. She thanked me graciously and told me she had so many clothes, it was stressful getting dressed each morning. I suggested the both of us go through everything she had on hand and do some ‘Spring Wardrobe Cleaning.’ She was so excited and blurted out, “Can we start now?
First, I asked her to go through her closet and remove any items that have not been worn in the last 6 months to a year. We accumulated a pile of about fifteen pieces, which we put aside for donation. Then I suggested she try on each remaining item, while keeping in mind style, comfort, and flattering fit. Moving on, we removed all items that were not in season. This, in and of itself, freed a lot of space in her closet. Lastly, I coordinated numerous outfits for her which consisted of multiple tops to be worn with her selection of slacks or skirts. I moved the coordinated outfits to one side of her closet and categorized what was left by item and color on the other side.
Her only negative concern was the clothes to be donated. That quickly dissipated as I explained that I would handle dropping them off. She was extremely grateful for the gentle nudge especially after I explained how rewarding it is to donate to those less fortunate. The sense of relief she felt was obvious and palpable. We still have to conquer the bureau drawers and fall closet, but I’m not a bit concerned. With the success of the ‘initial purge,’ from here on it’s just a matter of baby steps.
Whether you follow basketball or not, college ball is an exciting sport and March Madness is the be-all, end-all competition among collegiate teams. I am always inspired by the players’ drive, athleticism, and winning attitude. Borrow this enthusiasm and plan your own decluttering plays for a Spring-ready closet.
March Madness has become an annual springboard for me to declutter. I love the NCAA’s single-elimination process as a framework for purging my wardrobe.
The tournament always starts in March and concludes in April — as we warm up to Spring. I appreciate the build-up to the ultimate winner; each week there are winners (and losers). Borrow this approach and discover the winners and banish the losers in your closet.
• winners – clothes that are versatile, stylish, and flattering
• losers – anything stained, ill-fitting, or in need of repair
If you like following play-lists, here’s some quantifiable advice to help you keep score on your efforts:
• Trim 16 (Sweet Sixteen) bulky sweaters and jackets from your closet to make room for Spring styles. Scarves are typical accessories that you can rotate each season. Footwear is another category that deserves attention: pack up your heavy, weatherproof boots.
• Remove at least 8 items from your hanging space to create room for bolder colors and lighter-weight outfits. What you remove may end up in off-season storage, or may need to find a new home. Can you find an Elite Eight to donate, thrift, or E-bay?
• Final Four Here’s where the tournament makes its biggest splash and reminds me to focus on the basics. Make sure you have what you need to enter Spring, well dressed in the appropriate clothes that suit your life and lifestyle. This may mean creating a short shopping list for your foundation pieces, or a to-do list for the winners before they go on court.
• shine your shoes to clean and preserve their leather
• alter any investment pieces so you continue to enjoy them
• dry-clean items that you have enjoyed all season but are packing away until next year
The hardest lesson March Madness teaches is one-and-done. The Final Four teams play two games over three days to determine a national champion. Culling collections down to a single winner is unrealistic (I couldn’t survive with only one pair of black slacks!) Selecting winners — of a reasonable quantity — based on proven criteria is a good play.
Look around everywhere you turn is clothing
It’s everywhere that you go [look around] You try everything you can to escape
The pain of piles that you know [piles that you know]
When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It’s called The Container Store, and here’s what it’s for, so…
Come on, vogue
Let your body shop to the muzak [shop to the muzak] Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow [go with the flow] You know you can do it!
-By Madonna, and slightly tweaked by me! ☺
So…the holidays are over now. You’ve probably returned some clothes that you received (perhaps an ugly holiday sweater) but still kept some as well. Problem though…your closet is packed and there’s no room for even one more thing!
No worries, let’s take it step by step, so you don’t get overwhelmed! Do one step a day if you need.
Step 1 – Grab a trash bag and skim through the shelves and rods, and look for any items you obviously know that you don’t like to wear anymore, even if they fit fine. Put all the items in the bag(s), which you can take to consign (if you have expensive pieces) or donate. Immediately put the bag(s) in the trunk of your car. If they stay nearby, the level of temptation to put things back will be high. That’s why many Professional Organizers will offer to take your bags for you! Well that, plus we are just nice people who like helping others!
Step 2 – Shelf by shelf and with sections of hanging, bring the clothes out and set them on your bed. You are now going to look for items that are stained or ripped and beyond cleaning or repair. Again, if you have some expensive pieces, try your hand at a dry cleaner and a tailor. Otherwise, break out another trash bag and let those items go. Temptation isn’t nearly as high for this bag, right?!
Step 3 – Aside from the clothes that you like to wear left in the closet, there are bound to be many that you still hold onto for nostalgia’s sake or because you want them for when you can fit into them again. Perhaps you’ve heard the statistic that people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of the time. Don’t worry…I’m not going to be too hard on you here! Purchase some clear bins (perhaps at The Container Store!) that can sit on the top shelves of your closet. Those clothes will be going in there for now. You’ll still be aware that those items are there, but they won’t be taking up your valuable space. Every few months, or at least in another year, pull the bins down to gauge your feelings about the clothing inside.
Step 4 – Now’s the time for some fun! Put those new clothes on and dance around (perhaps doing the Vogue!) as if it is your own small fashion show, and celebrate the fact that you now have room for these new pieces!
Step 5 – After regaining your composure and your breath (ha ha) you can put your clothing on the many empty hangers that you have made available.
Here’s to you and a happy and clutter-free New Year!