Day after day, I was bricking my ’fits. No one was straight-up telling me my looks were trash, but deep down, I knew. Friends and family used to compliment my style, but late last year, I noticed those effusive ’fit-checks had stopped altogether.
My style had gone stale. I’d wear the same black O.N.S cargo pants, Travis Scott tees, and soccer jerseys every week, using only a fraction of the clothes I had in my wardrobe. It wasn’t down to laziness or lack of inspiration, but sheer disorganization and a lifetime of hoarding clothes.
That was until my surprise sartorial savior came along. Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of bestselling how-to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, arrived on January 1 as the star of hit Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.
If you haven’t seen the show — unlikely given the number of memes in my timeline — in each episode, Kondo visits a different family to show them how to tidy their overpacked homes and live happy clutter-free lives. The premise of her “KonMari” method is that only those items that “spark joy” should be retained.
After bingeing every episode, my thoughts turned to the items in my home that don’t spark joy. I scoured Kondo’s books to find out how I could use her newly famed method to sort out my increasingly wayward wardrobe. Here’s how I got on.
Tops and bottoms
The biggest challenge when using Kondo’s method is figuring out what exactly is meant by “sparks joy.” In the book and show, Kondo tells us you should hold each item in your hands and observe how your body responds.
Kondo writes that when holding a joy-sparking item, a person’s decision is “usually instantaneous, their touch is gentle, and their eyes shine.” Conversely, “When faced with something that doesn’t bring them joy, their hands pause, and they cock their head and frown.”
Now, experiencing the latter doesn’t necessarily mean an item is entirely joyless, but rather it gives you pause and contemplation. You’re deliberating whether to keep it, not automatically feeling joy. In these instances, it can be tricky to part with an item, but Kondo instructs you to thank it (yes, thank it) for having served its purpose, whether for one wear, more than 50 wears, or none at all, and let it go.
Once I’d filtered out all of the unwanted tops and bottoms — Kondo’s clients usually have at least 160 items to start with, and then cut the number to about a third or quarter of that — it was time to fold the keepers using Kondo’s special technique.
She argues against rolling up clothes and stacking them into piles, pointing out that this causes unnecessarily wrinkles, meaning you’re less likely to wear the items left at the bottom. Instead, Kondo emphasizes vertical storage so all items are viewable and accessible.
For a top, fold each lengthwise side toward the center, tuck in the sleeves to make a long rectangle, fold in half, and then into thirds (or halves again, depending on the thickness of the piece). Pants are similar: fold in half, and then into thirds. If done correctly, the garment should stand on its own when stacked side by side from edge to edge of the drawer.
In episode seven of Kondo’s Netflix series, she advises an expecting couple that includes a sneakerhead with more than 150 pairs of shoes. After 25 years of collecting, sneakerhead dad-to-be’s habit had resulted in $10,000 in credit card debt and he doesn’t even wear 95 percent of what he owns (sound familiar?), keeping the deadstock kicks on ice to preserve their value — or so he thought.
Naturally, sneakerhead dad struggles with what to keep and what to bin, but toward the end of the episode, his partner notices that he’s throwing away all the sneakers he usually wears. His response? “I intend to wear the ones I love now.”
The process of sorting your sneakers mirrors the tops and bottoms: put everything on the floor to see it all in its entirety and then get purging. Once completed, Kondo suggests organizing the remaining pairs by color, shape, brand, and year. Using a shoe rack, she places the heaviest pairs at the bottom and the lightest on top, achieving what she calls an “aesthetic balance.”
Aesthetic balance comes into play once more when organizing your closet space full of outerwear items and any collared or tailored shirts that need to be hung. In her book, Kondo claims that lines sloping up to the right make people feel more comfortable (which I totally see now) and applies that idea to closet organization, hanging heavy items to the left and progressively lighter items as you move to the right.
So, by category, coats would be placed on the far left, followed by jackets and shirts, creating the illusion that your clothes are sloping up to the right. Trust me, it’s blissful.
Komono (miscellaneous items)
One of the key tenets of KonMari is designating a spot for every single thing. By using one dedicated space to items of the same type, you lessen the chance of rebounding into clutter and chaos. This can feel like an impossible task given how things naturally get moved around an apartment as you use them, but Kondo has a convenient idea for keeping order.
To keep the same items in a single spot, Kondo suggests using what you already have, such as sneaker boxes and electronics packaging. In one episode, Kondo uses sneaker boxes to store socks, gloves, hats, and other small clothing items, using their shallow lids as trays and shelf liners. An iPhone box is perfect for jewelry, but can also be used as a space divider for drawers to keep socks, underwear, and ties separate.
And while we’re on socks, Kondo strongly urges against balling up your socks or pushing them to the back of a drawer. Doing so stretches the elastic and will ruin a pair even before first wear. Instead, place one sock on top of the other, fold them in half, and then into thirds or halves again depending on their thickness. They should be stored as rectangles, standing vertically in the drawer from edge to edge.
Does it work?
My big KonMari decluttering process took all night, but after filling four trash bags with shirts, pants, sneakers, and jackets, and re-folding and reorganizing the pieces that, yes, sparked joy, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
For the first time since move-in day, I could clearly see all of my clothes in an organized, easily accessible array. It was also the first time I realized tidying and folding is a skill, not a chore. I felt connected with my clothes in a way I never had before.
The purge, however, was hard. I paid good money for that mountain of streetwear, sneakers, and designer pieces I had just decided to get rid of. Flicking back through Kondo’s book helped me brush off at least some of the guilt. “The exhilaration you felt when you bought them is what counts,” she writes. “Just because you dispose of something does not mean you give up past experiences or your identity.”
I tossed the stained and worn-out items into the trash and donated or sold anything lightly used (eBay, Grailed, Depop, StockX, or a local charity are all good options if you’re looking to do the same). Now, what’s done is done. The garbage bags are gone, my remaining clothes and sneakers fit comfortably into the limited space I have, and I can, for the first time in months, take advantage of my entire wardrobe.
I’m not bricking ’fits anymore, and I have Marie Kondo to thank for that.