The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014
Tidying by category works like magic
Treat your socks and stockings with respect
Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learned that it had hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person’s feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks.
I visited the home of a client in her fifties. As always, we started with her clothes. We moved through her wardrobe at a smooth pace, finished the underwear, and were ready to start organizing her socks. But when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle. I was speechless. Dressed in a crisp white apron, my client smiled at me and said, “It’s easy to pick out what I need this way, and it’s quite simple to put them away as well, don’t you think?” Although I frequently run into this attitude during my lessons, it never fails to astonish me. Let me state here and now: Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never, ever ball up your socks.
I pointed to the balled-up socks. “Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?”
That’s right. The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday. They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest. But if they are folded over, balled up, or tied, they are always in a state of tension, their fabric stretched and their elastic pulled. They roll about and bump into each other every time the drawer is opened and closed. Any socks and stockings unfortunate enough to get pushed to the back of the drawer are often forgotten for so long that their elastic stretches beyond recovery. When the owner finally discovers them and puts them on, it will be too late and they will be relegated to the garbage. What treatment could be worse than this?
Let’s begin with how to fold your stockings. If you’ve tied them up, start by undoing the knot! Lay the toes one on top of the other and fold the stocking in half lengthwise. Then fold it into thirds, making sure that the toes are inside, not outside, and that the waistband protrudes slightly at the top. Finally, roll the stocking up toward the waistband. If the waistband is on the outside when you finish, you’ve done it right. Fold knee-high stockings the same way. With thicker material, such as tights, it is easier to roll if you fold them in half rather than in thirds. The point is that the stocking should be firm and stable when you’ve finished, much like a sushi roll.
When you store the stockings in your drawer, arrange them on end so that the swirl is visible. If you are storing them in plastic drawers, I recommend putting them into a cardboard box first, so that they don’t slip and unroll, and putting the box into the drawer. A shoebox is the perfect size for a stocking divider. This method is a win-win solution. It allows you to see how many stockings you have at a single glance, protects your stockings from damage, and keeps them smooth and unwrinkled so that they are easier to put on. And it makes your stockings much happier, too.
Folding socks is even easier. If you’ve folded back the tops, start by unfolding them. Place one sock on top of the other and follow the same principles as those for folding clothing. For low-cut socks that just cover the feet, folding twice is enough; for ankle socks, three times; for knee socks and over-knee socks, four to six times. You can adjust the number of folds to achieve the height that best suits the drawer. It’s easy. Just aim to make a simple rectangle, the key to folding. Store the socks on edge, just as you did for clothing. You’ll be amazed at how little space you need compared to your “potato ball days,” and you’ll notice your socks breathing a sigh of relief at being untied.
When I see high school students wearing high socks that are loose at the top, I long to tell them how to fold their socks properly.