Does it spark joy?
Sigh…So I’ve mentioned in pretty strong terms that I didn’t like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It struck me as a dangerously short sighted trend meant to replace a sense of meaning in our lives with some superficial platitudes and an even more concentrated obsession with the things we consume.
But recently I sat down and watched a few episodes of the new Tidying Up with Marie Kondo series on Netflix, and two things stuck out:
Marie Kondo is an absolute delight.
The KonMari method is surprisingly subjective and forgiving.
Because the basis of Kondo’s method is the questions, “does it spark joy?” there’s actually quite a bit of room to keep things that aren’t practical, to remain in your cozy and eccentric home instead of going full on The Minimalists. That is very comforting to me.
That being said, the KonMari method can still be dangerous from a sustainability and even mental health perspective. I worry that this second wave of tidying up will result in essentially the same outcome as the last one: lots of junk in thrift stores and seemingly no reduction in long term consumption of new goods. As a thrift shop manager, I have been carefully tracking the trend and asking customers and donors if they’re watching the show. Many of them are, but the influx at my tiny local shop is nowhere near what’s being reported in elsewhere.
All that to say, this system isn’t perfect but, if you have some clarity of mind and are ready to downsize, it can be an effective way to frame your decisions. After I got back from living out of a backpack for ten days, I felt ready to finally clear out my overstuffed closet. Scroll down for some Before and During the #konmari process photos.
I went through the items in my fall/winter wardrobe by themselves before moving onto spring/summer, partially because it’s harder to judge an out-of-season item by the joy standard when it’s not currently serving a meaningful function in my closet.
Rather than adopt Kondo’s vertical folded storage, I opted to keep my hanging shelves, folding my t-shirts, non-wrinkle prone blouses, and sweaters. This works just as well and makes better use my of space. In addition to clearing out five bags of clothing, I also condensed shoes, bags, and accessories. Using the joy method helped me clear out things that I like but that made me itchy, fit me poorly, or made me feel sad when I wore them. I will be donating things to a local charity shop and also selling niche items on Poshmark.
You can shop my closet on Poshmark here.
What’s in my closet?
My Closet Staples
Affiliate links below
My basic fall/winter wardrobe consists of thermal long sleeve tops, cashmere and wool sweaters (I recommend thrifting these), and mid and high rise denim.
In terms of shoes, I alternate between Po-Zu hiking boots, Po-Zu vegan sneaker boots, and my Modern Vice Jett boots in the winter.
Thrifted Striped Tees
Everlane Cheeky Straight Jeans and Cigarette Jeans
Secondhand LL Bean Cashmere
I also have a few statement pieces in my wardrobe. They don’t get as much wear from day to day, but they keep me feeling excited about my clothes.
My Statement Pieces:
A secondhand nubby blazer
Tonle Zero Waste Crop Top (for layering)
Nicora vegan Silver Flats and RBG oxfords (these will get a lot more wear come springtime)
It’s only been three weeks since my closet clean-out, but I can say that it’s made me more appreciative of the things that are true workhorses in my closet. Whereas before I was keeping things around “just in case” I needed them, now the things in my closet more accurately reflect my lifestyle and my sense of fashion. It’s important for me to constantly remind myself of that and ask the “does it spark joy?” question when considering anything else I add into my closet. Otherwise, the experiment will fail.
Ethical Blogger Closet Tours:
Check out World Threads Traveler’s Closet Tour Here // Check out Honestly Modern’s Closet Tour here
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.