Tidying up for Good

(Entry below is an excerpt of a handwritten entry from 2/18/15)

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo which has been really enlightening for me. I got rid of, threw away and donated tons of crap: DVDs, books, VHS tapes I never watched, a bag full of clothes, costume jewelry and shoes, clear plastic sleeves holding magazine pages that I saved in a binder but rarely looked at.

I even went through my Ipod and deleted old songs and albums I no longer listen to, and songs that take me back to the past in a negative way,  bringing up memories that I’d rather forget. I consolidated my storage space as well, by following the author’s tips on how she stores handbags inside other handbags (to help maintain their shape) and how she folds t-shirts. I folded a lot of t-shirts and placed them neatly in a drawer, which freed up a lot of closet space instantly.

While reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I was already considering all the things in my possession that didn’t bring me any joy at all and how much I couldn’t wait to be rid of them. This is a book where you have to stop several times while reading because it’s so convincing that you can’t wait to get started clearing out your old stuff.

I immediately went through my closet and pulled out things for donation that I knew I didn’t love, didn’t wear, and had been meaning to get rid of for so long. I could suddenly recognize them as definite clutter. I could never seem to take the last step berfore, but this book somehow did the trick. The author helps you deal with feelings of guilt for items never used or money wasted or things kept out of a feeling of obligation, like unwanted gifts from others.

The advice is so clear and absorbing that it just ends up making perfect sense. This is one book that truly resonated with me and I am reading it now again for the second time. I also went through and read all the reviews of the book on Amazon.com, just out of curiosity about how others went about their clutter clearing journeys. And how their lives changed as a result.

I think it’s good to clear things out because it creates the space for something new- or a new idea or perspective to come in. I still want to work through my kitchen drawers which tend to collect a good amount of junk. It was a relief to go through my cupboards the other day and throw away a bunch of bottles of vitamins and spices that had expired.

I’m more interested now in the fresh and the new, in what’s to come in the future rather than what has been in the past. If I continue to evolve for the better, so the circumstances and people in my life should follow suit and be better for me than anyone or anything that has come before.  I have so much more space now in my home thanks to Marie Kondo, even though I thought I was already pretty minimalist.



February 20, 2015. Tags: , , , , . books. Leave a comment.

The World Outside is Chaotic

My mother is the type of person who will receive an item of jewelry as a gift, not like it, but still wear it on the next occasion when she will see the gift giver- just to make them happy and let them see she is using the jewelry.

My sister is the same way. When we went on our family cruise a few years ago, she used an uncomfortable beach bag as her carry on for the plane. This was because one of my aunts gave it to her and she wanted my aunt to see her using it.

I just can’t get this type of thinking. Why put on something that is uncomfortable or cumbersome, just to please somebody else? I doubt other people take you into consideration when they get dressed.

And it’s the same thing with gift items for the home. Most of the time these are safe to get rid of. My mother and some aunts have given me way more than I need for my apartment and decorative needs. I have used the stuff I liked and that was useful in my space. But I got rid of the stuff that felt cluttery and not at all with the aesthetic I was going for.

And most of the time no one notices. My mother especially will forget what she has given me, whether it be clothes or jewelry or other knick knacks and stuff, which is good because I’m safe to get rid of it or give it away without ever hurting her feelings.

My apartment is mine, and should only house those things that I love or find useful. There’s no need for excess. Actually, clutter and excess is really stifling. When it comes to my home, I definitely feel that less is more. Less chaos means a quieter, more peaceful space. The world outside is chaotic enough without adding more noise to your own private sanctuary.

I feel like mostly bare walls can make a room feel bigger. And they let your eyes rest. There shouldn’t be an item of decoration in every single corner, otherwise, there are too many things calling on your attention all the time. And that can become draining very fast.

I like the idea in the book, The Joy of Less, of committing to throwing away one thing every day for a year. If you are only deciding on one thing, it’s not overwhelming and feels more doable. And you can lighten your amount of things very effectively this way over time.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. I know I don’t need half the things I own. But just keep them for whatever reason. Time for a good spring clear out!

April 20, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing. 3 comments.

Clean out that Closet!

I’m not sure how it happened. I’m just one girl, but somehow I ended up with 3 closets of clothes in my one bedroom apartment. One is technically a coat closet, and another holds mostly out of season (summer) dresses, but it still feels like things have gotten out of control. Getting dressed every morning shouldn’t be a trial, and it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is a little spring cleaning of your wardrobe and turn a critical, editorial eye to all those garments you’ve acquired. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing it with you. We may just rediscover some hidden gems along the way. Writing this article is my motivation to finally tackle this project and stop procrastinating! I’m a firm believer in paring things down to only the essentials, but you’d never know that by glancing at my closet. Nothing is organized in any kind of logical way. It’s time to do something about it.

Keep what you Love

First, I’m going to remove all the clothes I absolutely love and wear all the time, the ones that make me look and feel fabulous!  That’s the easy part. Now, what’s left in the closet is the stuff that hardly ever gets worn. And if it’s just sitting there being tolerated while it’s ill-fitting, out of style, worn out, stretched out, pilling, or just plain ugly, then it’s time for it to go. I found an old, long purple tunic, a yellow cardigan that’s too small, and a long-sleeved red shirt that’s never been flattering. What did you find?

Be Ruthless!

I know it’s difficult, but be ruthless! If it needs to be cleaned, put it in the laundry immediately or put it in a bag to be dropped off at the dry cleaner the next time you are out. These clothes are blocking your view from the great pieces that are already in your wardrobe. You need to clear the space to see the potential in the things that you have to work with right now.

Try on everything that you are unsure about and not ready to let go of yet. If there’s anything you don’t like about the item or how you look and feel in it, let it go. No girl should own anything that’s itchy, faded, or needs constant re-adjustment. These are the clothes you avoid that get in the way of having a wardrobe you truly love and enjoy. Get rid of them! And then think about new ways to wear some of the old favorites you probably forgot about. Why not experiment with layering? Or repurpose that party dress to wear to the office, dressed down by a blazer or cardigan and some boots? Don’t be afraid to play with a new look and try out new combinations. Here, I also repurposed a scarf as a belt.

Separate all of your accessories.

I’m not big on belts, I’m more of a handbag girl. Neither of those accessories are  easy to store. The best way to hold these is probably by using a clear plastic bin that you can find at places like the container store.  These bins can slip easily onto your closet shelves and hold everything from handbags, belts, scarves, heavy clothes, and shoes. I currently have one holding all my big sweaters and turtlenecks, so they don’t come tumbling down on my head or get stretched out and wrinkled on hangers.

I really love scarves, but have noticed that they’ve been scattering all over my closet lately on top of several different tops. They all need to be contained in one place, so I can remember exactly what I have and wear them! Adding a scarf can change your entire look, and elevate it to something more special and sophisticated.

After you have tried on all that remained, put back only those clothes that you truly love and make you look and feel beautiful, or those that you have found a new way to wear. It will feel so much better to know that all the clothes you have to choose from are right for you and your body now. It’s ok to keep some sentimental favorites. I can’t seem to let go of a certain pair of black skinny jeans and a beautiful (but old) yellow summer dress. But I don’t completely rule out wearing them again someday. You need to watch out for those nostalgia items and keep them under control. It’s a good idea to put these in a box and store them someplace out of the way of your everyday clothing. I have a problem hoarding miniskirts, but they are on a high shelf in my closet and therefore out of the way.

A couple of afterthoughts:

Some people color code their closets, but if you’re like me and not that disciplined, you can simply put like things together- skirts with skirts, tops with tops, separate work from party clothes, etc. This way you can easily see what you have and what you need to shop for.

I never seem to return clothes I order from catalogues that don’t fit me well. There are two solutions to that problem. One: avoid catalogue shopping or any shopping where no fitting rooms are available (hate those stores!). You may need to cool your impulse buying and online shopping habits. Two: donate the item to a thrift store, hand it down to a younger relative or give it away to a friend. They’ll be grateful for the gift and the item will stop taking up space in your closet. You’ll also release the guilt of having spent money on something that you couldn’t use. No reason to keep that item and feel bad every time you see it.

Keep the order in your wardrobe by using these basic rules:

  • Buy something new recently? Get rid of an old equivalent. Get rid of an old t-shirt if you just bought one, or toss out old shoes if just got a pair of new ones, etc.
  • Take a look at how many wear-at-home clothes you have. I realized that I had way too many sets of clothes or pajamas to wear at home and got rid of at least half easily, that frees up the dresser drawers and give your socks and undergarments space as well.
  • Look for opportunities to donate your clothing and update your wardrobe. I recently reduced the clutter in my coat closet by donating a raincoat to Haiti, along with some other household things. Keep an eye out for donation bins in your area as well.  You don’t want your cast-offs hanging around in your home and tempting you to put them back.
  • When you’re deciding whether or not to keep something, ask yourself if you would buy it if you saw it in the store today. The answer should come to you immediately.

Now, instead of gasping when you open your closets, you can breathe a sigh of relief. I hope you have learned some valuable tips when it comes to spring cleaning your wardrobe. I know I had fun, and am looking forward to creating a wardrobe full of clothes I really love!

November 13, 2012. Tags: , . fashion. Leave a comment.