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.