Tidying up the Closet + Book Review | On the Daily EXPRESS


Tidying up the Closet + Book Review

In the last few months I've had many people in real life and on social media recommend the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. I've had the itch to streamline my wardrobe lately but wasn't finding the motivation, so I decided to read this book to see if it could give me the push I needed. Even though there were a lot of points I disagreed with or just didn't want to adapt, I still learned a lot from it and wanted to review and share my highlights and lowlights.

I'm not so sure about that...

Order of Operations
One of the strategies Marie recommends is to sort your belongings in order of easiest to hardest, therefore you should sort your clothes first because that is the easiest category to decide what to keep and discard. Uhhh...what?? The entire reason I was reading the book is that clothes are hard for me to discard. It wasn't looking promising that this book was going to help me.

Time Constraints
When sorting clothes, the author insists that you MUST remove every last item from your closet(s), dressers, etc. and handle them one by one in order to decide whether to put them back in your closet or toss them. This is intended to make the process about what you want to KEEP, rather than scanning your closet and deciding what you want to DISCARD. She emphasizes that there is really no point in sorting your things at all if you don't do this step. She also requires you to do everything in one fell swoop to make the change dramatic and permanent.

I almost stopped reading the book as these points came up because I know that unless I am moving houses, those things are not happening. I don't have an entire day or two free to sort through my closet in that manner. I can do 1-2 hours here and there, but that's about it.  Paired with the fact that she didn't understand my general point of view on clothes I was really feeling skeptical . But I decided to keep reading anyway in case there were any helpful tips and so I could have a valid opinion on the book since it's discussed so frequently.  I like having opinions!

(Source and thanks to Kristen for introducing me to this gif)

You may have a point there...

Ultimately I did come away with several new-to-me thought processes for deciding which items to keep vs. donate. My standard keep vs. toss criteria in the past were these four questions:
  1. Do I still love it?
  2. Do I still wear it? 
  3. If I love it but don't wear it, will I be able to wear it soon-ish?
  4. Would I want to buy it if I saw it in the store today?
This book gave me a few new questions to ask myself when making a decision about any specific item. These new criteria were the highlight of the book for me and will be a part of sorting criteria going forward:

Does it bring you joy?
The basic principle of Marie's book is that everything we own should bring us joy. There were several things I got rid of on this question alone. I was simply no longer excited to put them on, and I knew when I wore them I didn't feel that great either because I was over the color or style, or the item itself was kind of worn out. And I'd rather dress in clothes that make me feel great every day since I do have other pieces that I could easily say fit that requirement. I was talking to my girlfriend about this whole closet clean out subject the other day and she said, "Maybe I should text you some pictures of pieces I'm not sure about to see what you think." And with the book fresh on my mind I told her, "I think that probably answers the question for you. If you are not sure, then it probably doesn't bring you joy. That's not the same feeling you get as when you put on an outfit you really know you love." Of course, it's easier to apply that principle to other people than to let go of things myself, but it's helpful to think about anyway.

Did it already serve its purpose?
Sometimes it's so hard to let go of something that you like that's still in good condition or cost a lot of money when you bought it, even if you don't reach for it very often for whatever reason. One of the things Marie suggests asking yourself for these pieces is "Did it already serve its purpose?" Sometimes you already got your money's worth out of the item just because of the thrill you got on the day you bought it. Or it may have served its purpose when you wore it the first time got three compliments that day or it was the perfect thing for that one random event. It was easier for me to let go of a few things I was on the fence about by accepting that they already served their purpose in one of those ways and I "got my money's worth" from those happy moments even if I didn't completely wear out the item.

Did it teach me a lesson?
This is a tangent to the previous point, and another one of my favorite new sorting criteria from the book. Sometimes we have to accept that the purpose an item served was to teach us a lesson and that's where we already got the value from what we spent on the item. Maybe the lesson was about what does or doesn't work for us in terms of color or style, or maybe the lesson was not to buy an item on impulse just because it's on clearance. For example I accepted the (not-so-cheap) lesson that I shouldn't wear anything khaki colored near my face. I got rid of a couple of khaki jackets that were very cute and I loved them on the hanger or on others, but when it came to wearing them myself I always knew they weren't the most flattering. I'm better off wearing other neutrals like black or grey or olive. And since I already have those color options, there's no sense in having a less flattering option, no matter how good the condition or cute the jacket.

I also accepted the lesson that I should never buy a special occasion dress (even on clearance at the end of the season!) if I don't have a specific special occasion for it on the calendar. I had a cocktail dress in my closet for over three years with tags attached thinking I would for sure have a Holiday Party or some reason to wear it soon...but I just never did so I finally let it go. If I do end up getting invited to another event I'm sure I'll enjoy shopping for something new and fun to wear. In the meantime, I don't want to use my closet as a storage unit for "just in case" items.

Live in the moment 
In the book, the author advises you to "let go of attachment to the past and fear of the future" when sorting your things. So many things I was holding onto fell into one of these categories. I feared letting go of some things because of what could happen in the future, e.g. the item will come back in style or maybe I'll have a dinner party or wedding to attend where that will be just the right thing to wear. Attachment to the past was just as much a problem for me. I had a lot of clothes and shoes from living in a different city with a different lifestyle where dressing up and nights on the town were a much bigger part of my life than they are now. As much as I loved all those fun clothes and statement shoes, it's just not practical for me to store things for a life I don't lead anymore. It's a little sad to let go but I have plenty other things to be happy about now, so I just have to focus on those.

Reduce until something clicks
To quote from the book, "The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our...foolish choices we made in the past." Sorting my own closet this time has absolutely shown me I have made some foolish shopping choices in the past, and I really want to improve. The author advises you to keep sorting and reducing your possessions until something clicks within you, and that point will be different for everyone. I am at that "clicking point" with some sections of my closet (not all) and it inspired a new Shopping Restriction Plan that I'm attempting. (Details in this post.)

There were many other interesting points in this book that I wanted to discuss (folding vs. hanging clothes, when to remove clothing tags from the store, use of storage containers, never downgrading clothing to lounge wear and so on), but it's probably not necessary to cover all of them here. I covered the points that had the biggest impact on me, and  it's safe to say that even though I didn't agree with all of the recommendations in the book, I still learned a lot from it. I also got exactly what I needed from it, which was motivation to sort out my closet! So if you are looking to simplify your closet or your entire house, it's a good, easy read and even if it's not "life-changing" for you, it will probably be "life helping" like it was for me.

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  1. I've been curious about this book so I'm so glad you reviewed it. I disagree with the first two points as well! Sorting clothes is so hard! That's why I haven't done it yet. And if I pull out all my clothes from my closet, I will be sleeping on a sea of clothing for weeks. Thanks for sharing this, Gina. I really really need to clean out my closet and I think this took me a step a closer to actually doing it ;)

  2. So interesting to read your thoughts on this! I've heard a lot of good things about the book too. I know my closet is overflowing again as it stresses me out trying to find things to wear. I was feeling so good after a recent wardrobe detox session, but with the permanent switch over to winter weather I went and pulled all my winter clothes out of storage and suddenly it's bursting at the seams again. I really need to downsize!
    I like the idea of accepting that something has served it's purpose and just letting it go. After the session with the stylist though, where outfits I loved were graded as just 'okay' or 'terrible' and things I wasn't sure about graded as 'great' and I got a lot of ideas for how to wear them, I've been a little unsure in my clearing out as I don't want to get rid of something with lots of future options just because I might be blind to its charms!

    Thank you for the link up!

    Away From The Blue

  3. It is never an easy task to decide what stays and what goes especially when it comes to clothes. I recently took half a day to try all my clothes and see which fits and which errr.. shrunk and ditch the shrunken ones. It was hard but it had to be done. Interesting book

  4. I always have to ask myself multiple questions in clothing refreshes. To be completely honest too, it usually happens in waves as well. I might clean out my closet 4x in a month because I need to give it a second, third, or fourth look to actually part ways.

    Eleventh & Sixteenth

  5. I'm with you on taking everything out to sort again. Is she crazy, that would take ALL day. But I do have a few pieces that I need to let go like my old distressed abercrombie jeans and a few special occasion dresses as well.


  6. I should have read this book before we moved! So many things should have been discarded and now they are cluttering up our new home. I have a hard time getting rid of things and I agree, sorting clothes is probably the most difficult! Thanks for sharing your review!

    Doused In Pink

  7. One of my friends just read this book, and she came away with many of your same disagreements. She also shared many similar takeaways. I like the idea of whether or not something brings you joy and whether is has already served its purpose. Those questions really help when making a decision to let something go. I agree that I often save something (or boy something) thinking, "I'll use this one day" and that day never comes. I am trying to get better about that. Looking forward to your post Wednesday!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  8. Thanks for the review! The book is mentioned all over the internet and some people seem to have actually become minimalists in the process of implementing its rules. While I'll never be or want to be a minimalist, I could do with a little down-sizing. Pulling all the clothes from my massive wardrobe and tackling everything at once is not an option though -- it would take me days! I'm bad at holding onto things that I wish I wore but don't really suit my lifestyle, are currently too small and downgrading things to loungewear. Just being aware that these are pitfalls will probably help me get better at getting rid of things, though, so thanks for listing the most useful tips!

    Anett | Tall Girl's Fashion

  9. I'm so curious about this book now. It's great to see what other people think about their closet organization. I believe that we all have our own personal way to organize our closets according to our habits, but there is always a way to improve at it. The book sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing this great review!

  10. I have not heard of this book before! However if I am doing a major closet clean out I will take everything out... Just so I can get in there and dust and vacuum hahah!

  11. ahhhh i love this post. I definitely need to read the book.
    clothes are both easy and hard for me to get rid of. i can go through my closet and get 10 things out to get rid of, but there will be 10 things that i never wear that get passed up every single time because i'm still attached to them even though i never wear them, you know? so i'm good at it, but i'm bad at getting rid of the things i need to get rid of.
    i don't have kids (obviously) and i'm an all or nothing person, so my favourite way to do it is all in one go. i put some music on, close the door and purge away. my closet, that is. usually by the end, i'm so tuckered out that i have no energy to clean out the rest of the house, so we have junk that builds up in every room that i always say i'm going to clear out but i don't. and when i'm in the mood to clean out stuff, i go to my closet first, so it's a never ending cycle.
    anyway. i love all the points you agreed with - especially the lesson and the served its purpose one. seriously, i have dresses that i can't get rid of (i will now though) because i paid so much and i can't sell them because they are australian brands / sizes and people won't pay a fraction of what i spent. i'll literally never wear them again because i bought them when i was 21, so you know they aren't modest dresses lol. anyway. longest comment ever!!
    yay gifs! i'm so proud ;)

  12. Wow! Great post, and some really good points. I especially like the one "Does it Bring you joy?".

  13. Thanks so much for posting this! I've been wanting to read it. The closet clean out to me, is fairly easy and I like her points. My thing is decluttering the rest of the house when I have 3 kids! I mean--where to start! OMG! LOL! Have a great week, girl! XO

  14. This is a great post Gina! I will NEVER pull out all of my closet contents to clean out my closet, that is just too daunting of a task and like you, don't have the time for. Sounds like it was a good read to get closet cleaned and future purchases in perspective and that's a great thing!


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion linkup.

  15. I can't say that I've heard about this book but taking everything out all at once frightens me lol! I do a closet/draw sweep every few months and have found that a lot easier on me with keeping things organized as well as a time saver.

    Enjoyed reading this post!

    xo, Erica
    Casually Styled

  16. Very thorough review! Like you I wouldn't be able to empty out my closet completely to purge. However, I do find myself purging my closet about once every 8 months to a year. Whatever I might have felt sentimental about the first time around usually gets tossed by the second round if I have not worn it. I separate things that are viable for Ebay from those I want to donate and then toss. The Ebay sales always make my day because I feel like it's okay to get rid of something if I can then turn around and replace it with something better LOL.


  17. Wow! This book is like therapy! I love the concept of only keeping things that bring you joy. Another blogger I follow has also read this book and she is adapting it to all areas of her life, not just her closet. If it doesn't spark joy, she is trying to change it. I really love that, and am also reevaluating many areas of my life as well. Great review :)

  18. Great review! I try to go through my closet at least once a season just to re-evaluate things that I have and see what I'm actually wearing. I definitely don't take every single thing I own out, every time though. I did that at the end of last year and got rid of so much stuff tho! I usually do 3 piles as I go: Keep, Donate, Toss. It seems to work

  19. Those gifs to start are hilarious!! This is a great review. The criteria in this book are very interesting and great questions to ask. I had the same normal filters that you used. I really like the question of whether or not this brings you joy and if it has served its purpose. it's about time to clean out my closet also!

    Nicole to the Nines

  20. I highly applaud your use of gifs and memes! It had me so captivated! This book sounds like my life with my closet. I try to set aside an hour or two here or there but really I need a day or two. It always boils down to will I ever wear this. I always end up buying some pieces and never wearing them! Then I go through my closet and I am like, I will wear this at some point and it just sits there! Loved this review and your thoughts.

    Denise | Fashion Love Letters

  21. Interesting review. I've been cleaning out my closet in pieces and I am intrigued by the idea of taking everything out at once. I don't know when I would do it though.

  22. She made some good points but yeah ain't nobody got time for removing every single item from my closet. NEVER. But I agree it is difficult to confront past bad purchases. Sometimes I even try to make excuses for my purchases and keep them because I don't want to confront that bad purchase.

  23. Looks like a good read! Great tips! Staying organized can be tough, but it's so worth it! I love that 'aint nobody got time for that' YouTube video. Hilarious!

    The Closet by Christie

  24. I hadn't heard of this book but am definitely intrigued... Thanks for the review, Gina! Hope you had a great Monday.
    - Alyssa with an A

  25. Very interesting post Gina, I had never heard of this book before so thanks for the review! It sounds helpful and I really love the points about if a piece brings you joy and if it has already served its purpose. I seriously need to work on my attachment issues though, haha. I can't seem to get rid of so many items just because they hold memories for me or I wore them to a special event so I need to work on that. Have a great night:)

  26. Loved reading your take on this...and I can't wait to read through the comment section once I've finished my comment - it's like having a virtual book club :-)

    I find the "gather everything in one place" step hard as well...I can see the point of having all similar items together - but it seems nearly impossible.

    The part that really helped me is the "sparks joy" part...like you, I was hanging on to so many items because they were still so new and had lots of wear in them...but if they're hanging in my closet, they're blocking my view of items I really do love - so now I'm getting rid of them guilt-free...because I see them now as a cost (i.e. taking away my enjoyment of items I DO love, and blocking up hanging space in my closet and making it unnecessarily crowded).

    I also agree a LOT with the never down-grading clothes to lounge wear...I want to feel good all the time - so I should wear cute clothes when lounging - not sad, distorted old clothes LOL!

    MY BLOG: ♥♥♥ Ella Pretty ♥♥♥

    1. Yes, after reading the book I did get rid of some "downgraded" loungewear too. I'm guilty of that and want to do some improving there! I also liked the part about sorting out of season clothes first and that did help me. I think I'll be able to get rid of a few more things mid-late summer after I see what I'm really using or not this year.

    2. P.S. I think I was mostly surprised in the comments how many hadn't even heard of the book! I feel like it's everywhere!

  27. Um, ain't nobody got time for that is how I feel 99% of the time when trying to tidy up! Haha - this is a great post!

  28. OMG this is such a very timely post Gina. Like it or not we just got to do it - thanks for the inspo!


  29. Girl, we are the same person- there is NO WAY I would take over every clothing item, piece by piece. Nope, no way. I'd be stuck doing that for DAYS!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  30. The part that resonated with me the most was asking yourself if you would buy it again if it were available in stores now. I think for the most part, I do use the other filters, but that's a great one to add to my list. Also, it seems pretty silly for me to even talk about simplicity when I have a whole bedroom worth of stuff... but yeah. I certainly still need to get motivated to purge and purge often, and then SELL what I can, even if I can't relate to having to simplify my wardrobe to just basics. So, thanks for the push!
    Carylee | More Pieces of Me

  31. This is so interesting! I've heard about the book but mostly the joy aspect. Even though we haven't been in our new house even a year, I already need to go through our stuff. Why do we have so much stuff??


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