The seasons are changing (I’m so happy that spring is finally here, the blossoms are appearing on the trees and we are getting slightly less cold weather, as you all know how much I don’t love the cold!).
The change of seasons had me thinking about my own wardrobe and how I pack up one season and liberate the next season’s attire from hibernation.
On my recent travels to America, I read the book by Marie Kondo (creator of the Kon Marie method of tidying up) which is sweeping the world. As someone who regularly works in people’s wardrobes I thought that I needed to understand her philosophy of only keeping those items that spark joy in us.
It’s definitely got many great points, though I don’t agree with them all. And it probably depends how you define joy. More on that later.
Interestingly, she recommends working through your wardrobe first in your clean sweep of all your possessions as she thinks it’s the least ’emotional’ part of our lives. I would have to disagree, for many, I don’t believe this is true as I have seen many garments that people keep for decades due to their sentimental or emotional meaning. Wearing something on your body creates an intimate feeling with clothing. What we wear surrounds and protects us, enhances our features and expresses our personality (when we get it right). Sometimes those feelings are hard to let go of and we worry that if we get rid of the garment we will lose that feeling.
So what’s this got to do with the change of seasons?
Well I believe that it’s a great time when we are storing away our last season’s clothes to make some tough decisions about whether or not we store them, or that they make it to the next year. It’s the perfect time to decide if they still make the cut and earn their place in our wardrobes.
Now when I think about my winter wardrobe, I’ve got lots of similar tops in different colours, all made of fine merino wool. As I’ve described here, I have to layer in winter as I get really, really cold very easily. Each of these tops does not ‘spark joy’ in me. They are kind of dull, but if they were all hero pieces (the kinds of garments that do spark joy) I wouldn’t be able to layer them and they wouldn’t all work together, the way I need them to. If I got rid of everything, particularly in my winter wardrobe that doesn’t make me feel joyous, I’d seriously have very few pieces of clothing left, and that would not make me feel great either, as not only would I be bored with my small selection (as I’m an options person), but also, because I’d be cold!
So rather than asking the questions “Does this bring me joy” and only keep those pieces that I truly love (and I have a few of those!), I also ask myself, does being warm (essential for me) and how I put the outfit together as a WHOLE (rather than just the individual parts) bring me joy? Because you may need to think more broadly about your garments, look at them as parts of a whole, rather than individuals.
Does the whole outfit bring you joy?
In my experience you have to at least LIKE each garment. If you don’t even like them, well then absolutely let them go. They need to make you feel comfortable and like YOU. They need to enhance you, your body, your colouring, your personality, in some small way to make the grade to stay. But I don’t believe that every single garment individually must spark joy (honestly, do your socks spark joy? I can’t imagine a sock doing that for me, yet I still need them!).
My plethora of fine merino knits in different colours, which are the staple items in my winter wardrobe also don’t make me excited, but I do know that feeling warm does make me happy, and for that reason alone, they get to keep their spot.
For the past few years I’ve had a method of deciding what to weed out of my wardrobe, and I believe it aligns very much with the Kon Marie method, in that if I put on a garment, whether I wear it all day, or just put it on and take if off and it doesn’t feel right or make me feel good, then it goes into the donation bag. If it’s old or tied looking, then it doesn’t make the grade either (as I don’t need my clothes to communicate to the world that I’m old or tired).
So as you make the decisions at this change of season, look at your clothes and see if they are still in great shape (remember my “would I buy it from a charity shop/2nd hand shop?” question before you decide to store it til the next appropriate season. And then ask does the individual garment make you happy and spark joy – or does it, when it’s part of a whole outfit make you feel like you – the best version of you – and then decide whether to keep or let go as we move onto the next season of our lives. Do this for both the clothes you are storing away, and the clothes that you are returning to your active wardrobe.
I am a big dissenter from this method; it just would not work for me! Although I have a lot of costumes as well as a good bit of clothing, I have never done the “seasonal changeover” with my things, preferring to just not wear the things that weren’t suitable for the climate at the time. Now, I live in a permanently warm area and just stick to the same closet arrangement. I just keep to having one coat “in case”. My process to maintain neatness is that when one item comes in, one must leave (unless it is a case of too few to make it through a week. When I started weeding out for space, it was one item in and two items out. Less stressful and “house upending” in my opinion.
I had to laugh at the socks not sparking joy example since I’m a handknitter and have several pairs of handknit socks that I love!
A change that I made somewhat recently is that all of my “emotional” clothes that I don’t or can’t wear are stored outside of my wardrobe. This helps me keep down the clutter and I can vist those clothes whenever I need to.
I haven’t read her book but I like reading about other blogger’s interpretations of how to clean out and organize a wardrobe. I’ll be changing over my wardrobe in another month and I’m looking forward to re-evaluating many of my summer & winter pieces with this in mind.
I think it’s great that you can make socks that you love so much! Storing clothes outside of your wardrobe is a good idea to see how much you really miss them or not.
The whole clothes sparkle joy doesn ‘t make sense to me.I am a minimalist with small functional wardrobe and a uncluttered functional / organized house. I use every piece of clothes I own , and I use every piece of kitchen equipment I have etc . I do closet swap twice a year, because our house is old with small single closets . I get rid of every object that we no longer use. no material object sparks joy to me, my kids do . Objects are objects, we need them to make our like comfortable , but once there is no use I say goodbye .
Maybe Sparking Joy is not the right wordage for you Orsi – but I’m sure you have the feeling that you enjoy wearing some clothes more than others. That you aesthetically appreciate and find beautiful some objects more than others.
I like almost all of my clothes, and I do have favorite pieces. But the whole notion of sparking joy is just seems to be an empty phrase. I have read a couple of closet organizing books , with very useful practical advice and really easy to follow how to method. However this sparking joy thing feels to me like big words without substance.
As someone who is starting to go in the way of minimalism, I have to agree with you. “Sparking joy” can mean so many things to different people. But in the end, couldn’t hoarders say that all of their things spark joy? Where do we draw the line? And is it not sad that we draw so much joy from material things? There are things that I love, but if I get to the point where they bring me so much joy that I can’t bear to lose it, it’s probably time to let it go. We need less emotional attachment to “things”.
I doubt that hoarders feel joy about their possessions, in fact many of them wish they could sort themselves out and clean up. If they felt joy they wouldn’t keep accumulating.
I agree. But when I have watched shows about hoarding, many of them can’t let things go for sentimental reasons. They say their stuff makes them happy. I honestly believe many of those people derive comfort, if not joy, from being surrounded by lots of things. I have a friend who is what I call an organized hoarder. You can walk around her house, but from the floor to ceiling and wall to wall is bookshelves, cabinets, and organizers stuffed with “collections”. She says she wishes she could be like me, but she continues to buy stuff because shopping makes her happy. I’m not judging here. I’m just saying, is there a better way that relying on things to make is happy. We all do it to some extent.
I beg to differ as well. I do have a hard time parting with clothing…as a pinup, clothing is part of my identity for sure. I have in the past did a major clean out and wish I had put it all in a box and waited to truly get rid of it because I miss, like old friends, some that I got rid of…so yes, it is an emotional thing to go through the process.
That all being said I do think it’s worthwhile to do it from time to time, and well it does make room for new friends
Yes – sometimes it’s good to put clothes away and then see if you miss them, rather than get rid of them (unless they are worn out!)
I’ve been going back and fourth with this.
I edit every month, at least 3 pieces from the closet, but the process seems never ending.
However I take a little more than a minute to think a piece through, with the Kondo method, the garment has to make me joyful right a way! which in my case is not possible. I have been reading a lot about many happy bloggers out there who have successfully tried her method.
So what does work for you Lorena?
I love my socks! To me they are a key garment, especially with cropped trousers + flats, e.g. loafers. Finding really pretty ones is quite hard but I snap them up when I do (I really dislike the feel of tights/panty hose under trousers).
Otherwise, agree with every word of your piece. I keep a list, actually a spreadsheet, of favourite outfits, if something appears in that list it stays, ideally it should appear twice or more. Some of my dullest pieces keep appearing, they are just very useful ‘background’ to other more colourful pieces. Had I assessed them on their own they would have been thrown out long ago. The opposite is also true, but if I really like the piece by itself, I keep it anyway and make a note to try to build an outfit from it next season; if that fails it may have to go.
This resonates with me! Joy is one of my favorite words and a feeling I strive for every day! My Garments that elicit this feeling are worn most often, in different combinations.
I usually “weed out” my closet once a year and the change of seasons is often the catalyst.
I have a blouse, a dress, a top and a scarf that spark joy despite the fact that I rarely wear them. I find their colors, patterns, shapes, details beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring. They are a focus for inspiring what I actually wear, which is toned down to suit real life.
Fall is approaching quickly which means winter is around the corner. So basically 6 months of $&#* weather! I also get very cold and suffer from seasonal blues. I have found since doing 7 steps that my outfits must have some zesty colors in the winter,they can’t be all neutral or dark because it darkens my mood. I donated many pieces last year because of the drab colors. I also dislike my winter clothes but because of where we live it is necessary to wear layers and thick sock and boots and bulky coats. Adding pops of color in cardigans and accessories really helps and it’s amazing how many compliments I get because I am a ray of color in the bleak winter. Ugh I must stop writing and go sit in the sun while it’s still warm.
I so am with you – I love adding red and hot pink in winter as not only does it help me feel warmer, but it brightens up the day (everyone here wears black!)
Thank you for the interesting book review. I also always feel cold in winter and layering is a very important part of my outfits with sometimes dull tops underneath. For me, the most important thing is not to wear anything I don’t like.
I recently finished going through my wardrobe using the ‘does it spark joy?” question. I have gotten rid of bags and bags of beautiful clothing that no longer fit my lifestyle or my style anymore and I have no regrets. It has felt great to have it all gone so those purchases no longer make me feel slightly guilty every time I by-pass them when looking for something to wear.
What has been most helpful to me using Marie Kondos methods has been to combine them with things I learned from your blog – your very useful suggestions for defining my own style and working out if items fit with my personal and signature style. So I used the filter of my key style words as I decided if items brought me joy or not. I found that defining joy by “creative, casual and comfortable” worked great for my wardrobe edit. I love what I’m left with but it’s coming time for that spring cull, so I’m really looking forward to moving more stuff out of my closet and only bringing in things that bring me joy – by my own style definition. Thanks for you great style advice.
I agree with you Imogen, I have a selection of merino tops that are my go to items for winter comfort and warmth here in NZ . I try and buy one or two merinos each winter but the quality can be variable. I have built a collection of skirts (mostly from op shops) knitwear , scarves , boots , necklaces etc that add colour and pattern. I get a spark of joy putting together an new outfit each week , to wear to a course I am on .
Thank you for all your inspiring articles and videos articles
Imogen and Vicky,
I live in a very cold climate. Could you say more (and show photos) of “the merino tops” you are mentioning? I am trying to visualize them and realte them tothose we may have in the USA.
The ones I’m wearing in this post – the mushroom and the blue – are both long sleeve merino knits https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2015/09/my-style-white-is-my-new-black.html and in this post here – all the long sleeve fitted knit tops https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2015/08/outfit-inspiration-and-other-weekend-reading.html
Something like this http://bit.ly/1OWNhpP
Starting a new round of comments in 2018, I’m always bemused by the statement: “Each and every item in my wardrobe must give me joy.” I prefer to look at each item in my wardrobe and ask, ” When I wear an item in a complete outfit, do I think ‘Wow, I love the way I look today’ “
Too true – a particular item may not be the thing that brings joy – instead – does it help create outfits that do bring joy!