Clothing - Tidying by category works like magic

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Tidying by category works like magic

Place every item of clothing in the house on the floor

The first step is to check every closet and dresser in the house and gather all your clothes in one spot. Don’t leave a single wardrobe or dresser drawer unopened. Make sure you have gathered every last piece of clothing. When my clients think they have finished, I always ask them this question. “Are you sure there’s not a single piece of clothing left in the house?” Then I add, “You can forget about any clothes you find after this. They’ll automatically go in the discard pile.” I let them know I’m quite serious. I have no intention of letting them keep anything found after the sorting is done. The response is usually, “Oh, wait. I think there might be something in my husband’s closet,” or “Ah! I might have hung something in the hallway,” followed by one last dash around the house and a few extra items added to the pile.

This ultimatum sounds a bit like the automatic withdrawal system for paying bills at the bank, but when my clients know there’s a firm deadline, they search their memories one more time because they don’t want to lose clothes without being given a chance to decide. Although I rarely have to follow through on my threat, if someone doesn’t remember an item at this point, it obviously doesn’t inspire a thrill of joy, and therefore I am quite ruthless. The only exception is clothes that happen to be in the laundry.

When all the clothes have been gathered together, the pile of tops alone is usually knee-deep. The term “tops” includes clothes for every season, from T-shirts and camisoles to knitted sweaters. The average number of items in this initial pile is around 160. Confronted by their first obstacle in the tidying process, most people are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what they actually own. At this point, I usually say, “Let’s start with off-season clothes.” I have a good reason for choosing off-season clothing for their first foray into this tidying gala. It’s the easiest category for tuning in to one’s intuition concerning what feels good.

If they start with clothes they are currently using, clients are more likely to think, “It doesn’t spark joy, but I just wore it yesterday,” or “If I don’t have any clothes left to wear, what am I going to do?” This makes it harder for them to make an objective decision. Because off-season clothes are not imminently necessary, it is much easier to apply the simple criterion of whether or not they bring you joy. There’s one question I recommend asking when you select off-season clothes. “Do I want to see this outfit again next time it’s in season?” Or, to rephrase it, “Would I want to wear this right away if the temperature suddenly changed?”

“Do I want to see it again? Well, not necessarily.…” If that’s how you feel, throw it in the discard or donate pile. And if you got a lot of wear out of it last season, don’t forget to express your appreciation. You might fear that you’ll have no clothes left if you use this standard. But don’t worry. It may seem as if you have discarded an awful lot, but as long as you are choosing clothes that give you pleasure, you’ll be left with the amount you need.

Once you have gotten the knack of choosing what you love, you can move on to each subcategory of in-season clothing. The most important points to remember are these: Make sure you gather every piece of clothing in the house and be sure to handle each one.