Unpack and de-tag new clothes immediately - Storing your things to make your life shine

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

Unpack and de-tag new clothes immediately
Storing your things to make your life shine

One of the many things that amazes me when I help my clients tidy is the number of items that are still in their packages. Food and sanitary items I can understand, but why do people shove clothes such as socks and underwear in their drawer without removing them from the package? They take up more space that way and are also more likely to be forgotten.

My father liked to stock up on socks. Every time he went to the supermarket, he would buy gray or black socks to wear with his suits and store them in their packages in his drawer. Gray sweaters were another item he liked to keep on hand, and I often came across them in the back of the closet, still wrapped in their plastic packages. I always felt rather sorry for these clothes. I had thought this habit was unique to my father, but when I started visiting my clients’ homes, I realized that there are many people like him. The stock usually consists of something the client regularly wears, the most common being consumables such as socks, underwear, and stockings. The one thing these clients have in common is that they have far more stock than they need. I was astounded to find that they buy more of the same item before they have unpacked those previously purchased. Perhaps the fact that they are in packages dulls the person’s sense of ownership. The record number of stockings I discovered in a client’s house, for example, was eighty-two pairs. Still in their packages, they filled up an entire plastic storage case.

Granted, when you buy something, it is easiest to just throw it into your drawer still packaged. And perhaps there is some pleasure in ripping off the wrapper when you first wear it. But the only difference between packaged goods in your drawer and those in the store is the place where they are kept. People commonly assume that it is cheaper to buy things in bulk when on sale. But I believe the opposite is true. If you consider the cost of storage, it is just as economical to keep these things in the store, not in your home. Moreover, if you buy and use them as you need them, they will be newer and in better condition. This is why I urge you to refrain from stocking up on things. Instead, buy only what you need, remove all items from their packages immediately, and put them away. If you already have a large stock of something, at least remove them from their packages. Being left in the package does clothes nothing but harm.

The most common item to be left in the package is stockings. When you remove them, take out the stiff liner, too. You won’t need that at home. Stockings take up 25 percent less room once they are out of the package and folded up. They are also far more likely to be used this way because they are easier to get at. I think it is only when you have removed something from the package that you can really call it your own.

Similar to clothes in the package are those with the tags still on. I frequently find skirts or cardigans in my clients’ homes with the price tags or brand name still on them. In most cases, the client has forgotten their existence and looks surprised to see them, despite the fact that these items have been hanging in plain sight in their closet. For a long time, I wondered what makes such clothes invisible. Determined to find an explanation, I went to observe the clothing sections in various department stores.

After continuing my research for some time, I realized that there is a noticeable difference between clothes in someone’s closet and those hanging on a rack in a store. The latter have a very different aura from the hardworking clothes we use every day. They exude a crisp primness, and clothes with their price tags still on retain that primness. This is how I see it: clothes in a store are products, whereas clothes in the home are personal possessions. Clothes that still have their price tag on have not yet been made our own and therefore they don’t quite “belong.” Overpowered by the aura of our “legitimate” clothes, they are less noticeable. It is only natural that we overlook and eventually even forget them as we look through our wardrobe.

Some people worry that if they remove the tags their value will drop if they ever take them to a recycle shop, but that is a contradiction. If you are going to buy clothes, choose them with the intention of welcoming them into your home and caring for them. When you buy them, remove the tags immediately. In order for your clothes to make the transition from store products to personal possessions, you need to perform the ritual of cutting the “umbilical cord” that links them to the shop.