The 11 Rules Every Man Should Heed To Tidy Up His Closet
None of them involve deciding whether your clothes "spark joy."
Much has been made of Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo and her tidying techniques in recent months. While her books have collectively sold millions of copies over the last several years, it was the January debut of her Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, that catapulted her to household-name status, had her helping Stephen Colbert straighten up his Late Night desk and, according to the Washington Post, sparked a massive uptick in Goodwill donations.
For those unfamiliar, Kondo promotes the “KonMari method” of organization: long story short (i.e., grossly oversimplified), you gather up all your shit, decide which items “spark joy” and get rid of the ones that don’t.
And your correspondent can get behind that — by and large, I do agree that a neat and organized life is a happy one. However, I’m also acutely cognizant of the fact that while there are items in my closet that haven’t sparked a lick of joy in recent memory, they often come back ‘round for a second, third or fourth round of joy-sparking if given a little time. Clothes are like that.
And thus I must continually thread the organizational needle, caught between my love for the items in my wardrobe and the desire to keep them in check lest they rise up and overtake my existence.
Here are some pieces of advice I have developed as a result:
1. Cull and Donate
I know I just advocated for holding onto your clothes, but there are some truths that are just irrefutable in terms of what can go. Some questions to ask yourself:
Does this color look good on me? You should know enough to be able to tell, and also know that it ain’t gonna change. Ask your significant other or Tan France if you aren’t sure.
Does this item fit me? We’re talking hard and fast, non-tailorable elements here — i.e., shoulders of a jacket, waist you will never achieve again, etc. Much like that car you were loathe to admit was a lemon, you will never be able to fix these things and should cut ‘em loose.
Could my tailor fix this item? We get it, some stuff collects dust because of a little fit issue or bit of damage you haven’t gotten around to taking care of. But force yourself to make the call: either it’s worth taking to the tailor immediately, or it’s dead weight.
Could this item do some real good for someone in need? If you’ve got a spare coat that you don’t really wear all that often, think about the person out there freezing. This is actually a good exercise for anything you’re on the fence about. Relax, they don’t need your old Rush tour shirt.
Do these jeans have elaborate embroidery on the back pockets? Dead that shit. Immediately.
2. Organize Your Shirts According to Type
Think plaid, denim, flannel, short sleeve, dress, etc — no need to get crazy specific, you’re just looking to create rough groups on the rack. It makes shirts easy to find, and, more importantly, easy to put back so the rack stays organized.
3. Stop Trying to Fold Cardigans
It’s frustrating and futile and pointless — a while back I dedicated a drawer to cardigans (and zippered hoodies) and I just kind of drape them all in there horizontally and it works great. I guess alternatively you could wear fewer cardigans, but why would you do that? Mr. Rogers wore nothing but cardigans and look how much the world loved him. Oh, and if you’re worried about wrinkles…
4. Get a Steamer
This isn’t really an organizational technique as much as it is a technique for being able to wear what you want when you want to without having to pull out a f*cking ironing board. Game changer.
5. Embrace Small Containers
I have several smallish (appx 15″ x 10″) plastic containers within my drawers — one’s full of belts, another pocket squares, a third those no-show socks that are forever trying to separate and journey to opposite corners of the sock drawer, etc. Bottom line, drawers don’t come with enough subdividers and thus you must create them yourself.
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