Sunday, August 23, 2015


So, for several years now, I have talked a big game about, "Oh wouldn't it be nice to simplify my life?" "Buy fewer clothes that are higher quality", "It is so socially irresponsible to consume so much more than we need." and on and on and on it went.

It has mostly been talk. Because, let's be honest, buying new things makes you happy in the moment. And for a bit of time afterwards. Recently I was turned onto a book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I bought it and started reading it. And I want my life to be simpler. I don't want to live amongst heaps of dirty/clean laundry, ankle deep in baby toys that you step on in the morning. I don't want to have a kitchen that kinda always needs cleaned, or a desk that you can never see because it is covered in papers. It makes you feel crazy. At least it makes me feel crazy. It contributes to my thought that my life is out of control. That I'm spread too thin. And it makes it difficult to relax at home when you constantly feel like there is stuff you need to be doing.

So, Marie Kondo says that if you follow her plan, you will never need to "tidy" again. She encourages you to make a change on the inside. To let go of all the things that don't really make you happy. To physically touch each item that you own (she has you go by category, not by room) and decide if it sparks joy. If it does, it gets to stay. If it doesn't then it has to go.

She admits that some things you have to keep and do not spark joy. But overall, this is a good principle to live by. Think of how peaceful it would be to be surrounded by only things that bring you joy. And she asserts that if you do the method correctly, you will not re-accumulate things. You will be me conscientious about your purchases. And you will get rid of things that you no longer need, or things that have served their purpose.

The first step is to purge your wardrobe. She states that you have to take everything, EVERYTHING out of your closet. If it is clothing, it needs to be in the pile. Shoes, purses, scarves, socks, underware, winter coats, EVERYTHING. If it is not in the pile and you find it later, you do not get to keep it. It has to go. Then you touch each thing. You keep only things that spark joy. Everything else goes.

This was my pile of clothes

And all the clothes that were donated...
I was horrified at the pile of clothes. It barely fit in the spare room we used to stage things. I had so much crap! Stuff that hadn't fit for years. Out of style, used to like but now I don't, etc... I got rid of 12 garbage bags full of clothes. And I went from having two big storage bins full of clothes that weren't in season in addition to a full closet, to being able to put all my clothes in my drawers and let Charlie use half of my closet for his shirts which used to be in the hall closet.

my side of the closet with all my shoes


Jeans and shorts

socks and scarves


And it has been several weeks. Sometimes I do struggle to find something to wear, but honestly, I don't miss anything that I got rid of. I have not once thought to myself, "I wish I still had _____".

So, serendipitously this past week I ran across an article and then several blogs talking about capsule wardrobes. It is an idea that you limit the clothes you will wear for that season to a certain number. Some say 33, others 37, but almost always less than 40. That includes everything except for workout clothes, PJs, underware, formal wear and accessories. You commit to your number. You are not allowed to buy any clothes in between capsules. If you wish you had more color, different shoes, more sweaters - too bad. Take that lesson and apply it to the next capsule. Each capsule usually lasts 3 months. At the end of 3 months you make a capsule for the next month. You can use some of the same clothes if you want, swap new ones in, buy new ones etc... You are only allowed to buy clothes in the few weeks leading up to a new capsule. Many people also tell you to limit your spending to a certain amount of money.

I'm going to try it. It may be more difficult because I need to include work clothes, and as far as I can tell all these women are just bloggers and don't have to dress up for work everyday. Some people suggest having a work capsule and casual capsule. That seems overboard since 99% of what I wear when I'm not at work can probably be considered workout clothes or PJs.

So I have my first capsule planned out. It will start in September, and since it's my first one, no new clothes. In the future I'm going to limit my purchases to $250 per capsule. Poor D.Diff ;) I've got 5 casual pants (2 could be worn to work on Fridays), 4 dress pants,  2 dresses, 3 casual sweaters, 5 shirts, 6 work tops (mix of tops and sweaters, some of which could also be casual), 6 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of shorts (since September is still often hot) and 3 jackets. That is 37 items.

As far as the tidying goes - the next step was books. We rid of 2 big storage bins full of books. Medical books I didn't need anymore were donated to students in Africa. The other books were sold to the local bookstore or donated to the library. Next up is papers... because we all have that desk covered in papers...

No comments: