clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Try the Tidying Tips In-The-Know Girls are Raving About

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Lately we've been in the mood to start simplifying everything from our beauty routines to our interior decor, so obviously when we started hearing about the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up from practically everyone we know, we took one look at our exploding closet—about 4 cats shy of a Hoarders episode—and decided to give it a shot. After all, Marie Kondo's extreme method of organizing (dubbed KonMari, a mashup of the author's own name) has been the topic of cool girls' conversation since the book was released earlier this year and readers swear that following her tips to the tee has forever stopped their endless cycle of fruitless attempts to keep things in order.

High on the hopes of creating a Zen-like living space, we picked up the text and a gaggle of storage bins and boxes (Rookie mistake! Kondo believes that more storage units just equals more stuff) and prepared to have our minds totally blown. The author recommends sorting by category, not by location so we zeroed in on clothing—a fashion lover's area of both joy and total anxiety. Since we know you likely share our passion for compiling clothes, we're sharing a few wardrobe-sorting techniques compiled from the book, as well as how putting them to practice went IRL.

1. Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore. Yes ladies, this means your path to organizational nirvana should only take one day, to be done in one fell swoop as opposed to small spurts of tossing things out and half-assed sorting. With no distractions (as recommended) we commenced the process on a Thursday with plenty of water and a little prayer for patience.

2. Gather everything first. If you're like us, you might have clothing and accessories stashed in multiple areas of the house. Kondo insists that you bring it all out into a pile on the floor, then begin discarding in the following order: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, special event garments, shoes. Our search left us drenched in sweat and with a pile of stuff that rivaled the San Gabriel mountains.  This already sounds like so much work—and it is—but we found that most of the magic starts here. Count how many times you say, "What the hell is this?" or "I still have this?" As we pulled moth-eaten sweaters, hand-me-downs we knew we'd never wear, and broken heels we'd never bothered to fix from the depths of our closets, it was already pretty clear what needed to go.

konmari-piles

3. Keep only what "sparks joy." Kondo's method for discarding is as simple as that. She believes each piece must be handled to determine this. Though at this point in the process, our vision of a more open, tranquil space so overwhelmed any other feeling, we didn't find ourselves having nearly as emotional an attachment to things as we thought. Our old skinny jeans? Seeing them doesn't make us feel joyous—it makes us feel fat. So into the donation box they went. And so on. We suggest using your favorite garment as a barometer. At the end we had four trash bags or garbage, four more of things to be donated, and twice that amount to be sold at consignment shops. We estimate it was a purge of about 65%. Success!

4. Store things vertically. When—and only when—you're done discarding it's time to put things away. Save your hangers for items that must be hung, everything else should be folded into a narrow rectangle and placed standing on its end in a drawer, so they can be easily seen. We're not normally renowned for our folding skills so this was a challenge but having all our garments (including undies!) visible in neat rows made us feel accomplished and surprisingly calm (surely reducing the number of "WHERE THE HELL IS MY...nevermind here it is" moments). Seeing all your stuff not only helps you find it, it helps you know what you have. And since we'd already decided these items "sparked joy," opening a drawer or closet just felt good.

5. Stop the sock murder! If, like us, you've been storing your socks in what Kondo calls "potato balls," you're causing stress on a garment that already gets abused all day. Instead, lay one on top of the other and make a "sushi roll" or for shorter socks simply fold in half and store on their end like everything else. We had no idea we had been so cruel.

konmari-sock-fold

6. Make your closet a happy place. Kondo suggest hiding posters, pictures, and images of inspiration inside so you feel happy, not traumatized upon entering the space.  We kind of have to admit, transforming our closet into a less cluttered place unarguably lessened our getting-ready stress level. Seeing all those garments "breathing" seems like we're finally treating our things with respect. Uh oh, are we already speaking KonMari language?!

Our final word: while Kondo's rules are harsh, there's a method to her madness. Purging in that particular way lightened a mental load we didn't even know we were carrying, and we can assess future accumulation of things better now. Though it seems silly, determining things' value by weather or not they make you joyous is really quite powerful. Getting dressed is easier and frankly, we're pretty proud of ourselves for taking on such an epic task. That said, excuse us while we cue up our Handy app and splurge on a cleaning lad/lady for the scrubbing and polishing. We've already done enough work for one day.