Inside Design: Organizing your closet the Marie Kondo way will give you space and joy

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Two years ago, two things happened that transformed my wardrobe. First, I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and it truly lived up to its title. I remember devouring the book in bed in a San Francisco boutique hotel on a getaway trip with my husband and itching to get home and dump out my closet. Romantic, right?

The second transformation happened later that year during a life-changing afternoon with a personal stylist. More on that in a moment.

At that point in my life, I was ready to purge. I was ready to let go of the excuses I was using to hold onto items that weren’t serving me yet were taking up valuable space.

Letting go of stuff is a huge psychological leap for many people. We impart memories (that concert T-shirt) or project ideals (I will fit in those size 2 jeans again someday) onto objects that we then must retain. Or what? Or else our brains won’t be able to recall the name of that band, or we won’t magically be motivated to lose those extra 10 pounds? It doesn’t work that way.

Kondo’s book certainly teaches how to let go of stuff, but it also helped me tremendously to consider what to keep — what “sparks joy.” I looked at each garment and asked myself whether I loved it, or if it was just OK. I stopped judging myself for not being ideal. I made three piles: out the door; still have some emotional ties to cut; what I’d wear three days in a row.

A trick that helped me find my “love” pile was to pretend that I was packing for a long trip and could only take my favorites. That became my core wardrobe. I listened to my self-talk to understand why I made those choices, then looked at what was left and understood why I didn’t select those items. Off to the thrift store!

The process helped me break through my personal clutter and focus on what I really want out of my wardrobe. I don’t know whether I felt particularly “joyful” about what was left, but I certainly felt lighter and enlightened.

A few months later, I dug deeper, letting go of more items I learned didn’t suit me as well as I thought. I also replenished with what I found to be my true style.

How? I booked an appointment at Ladybird Style Lab, 501 Southwest Blvd., where I worked with stylists to figure out what looks and feels best on me. They asked me how I live and how I want to live, how I look and how I want to look.

The stylists also assembled outfits from four “corners”— categories of style people naturally fall into based on personality traits. I tried each corner on and described how it made me feel. The corner they pegged me in purposefully came last, so after nitpicking every outfit change and second-guessing my reasoning, it felt like coming home.

I’m a proud “Two” corner, which means I’m drawn to subdued colors, relaxed lines and comfortable fabrics. Ones are bubbly creatures and have the most fun in bright and flowy clothes. Threes like edgy designs, with textured fabrics and chunky jewelry. Fours want their look precise, with straight lines and geometric patterns.

Using my new skill set, I further thinned my wardrobe at home and added new pieces. Now, there is space between the hangers so I can see what’s in there. Decision-making is a snap.

With every purchase, I ask: Is this the right cut? The right color? The right fabric? If the answer to one of those things is “no,” I put it back on the rack.

Well, almost always. A good sale can be quite a distraction!

What’s in Your Closet?

Do you even know? Have some of your clothes not seen the light of day for a year? It’s time to pull everything out and have a look-see the Marie Kondo way.

For today’s purpose, we are just talking clothes, but you might be inspired to tidy the whole house!

Sort it out

Group your stuff by category rather than location. Gather all your shoes, scarves, coats, dresses, and any other wearables into one room and view them all together. Hmm, five pairs of sneakers and you don’t run? That one will be easy…

Discard completely

Sell what you don’t want on eBay, give it to a friend or donate it. However, for items you’re not 100 percent sure of discarding, you could do as I do: box them up and take them to the basement. If I don’t think of them a month or so later, I’m over them.

Fold it up

There is an entire chapter in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” on how and why to fold. Socks. Underwear. Shirts. Kondo recommends always storing them front to back of the drawer, not on top of one another. Doing so saves space and helps you see exactly what you have. For items that need to be hung, arrange them longest to shortest toward the right for a Zen boost.

Find a place for everything

Only at this point can you run to The Container Store and buy pretty or clear boxes for storing items. However, shoe boxes in your dresser will do just as well.

Appreciate your stuff

Now that your belongings can breathe, enjoy them! And if you don’t, now you can see what you are lacking and go shopping!