Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo? If you haven’t, you really should, it’s quite a game changer in regards to organization and letting go. I had put off reading it for some time. I figured I had enough experience helping clients purge that I didn’t need a book to tell me how to do it. It wasn’t until a client put a copy in my hands that I cracked it open and found out what has been making this book such a sensation.
Despite my ability to keep my wardrobe pretty well culled, or so I thought, after reading this book and applying the simple tip of only keeping what “sparks joy”, I was shocked to find that I had managed to rid myself of three huge hefty bags of clothing donations plus some additional bags of clothes that went directly in the trash. I was left with just about nothing in my wardrobe, and was completely happy about this. I organized my drawers in ways that will ensure they will never get messy again (something I always struggled with) and have been able to keep everything neat. I actually get this odd thrill from carefully putting my clothes away and even folding my thong underwear. Seriously, I had no idea that thongs could be folded!
At times the book gets a bit goofy and I found that some of it didn’t translate from Japanese to English very well, but I am willing to overlook any of the books quirky shortcomings for what I have gotten in return, like socks that no longer look like messy potato balls and clothing that no longer topples over in my dresser! Vertical stacking <face palm>, how obvious!
Yet there is another benefit to reading this book that even the book doesn’t mention, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up can help you find your own personal style. Let me explain how.
The whole premise of the book is to let go of anything that doesn’t spark joy. While the book goes well beyond just the clothing, a lot of time is spent on this topic. With the goal of getting rid of the non-joy-sparker pieces, think about what you are left with after your purge: clothes that make you excited and happy to wear. What could be a better road map for finding your personal style than that?
So if you are looking to discover your style and feel that you don’t know where to begin? I seriously recommend going through the purging process found in this book and then use these additional thoughts to create a style that sparks joy.
How to find a style that sparks joy
#1- Take a breath
Invariably, you’re going to hit the stores at some point after doing a Konmari style purge. Although, I personally recommend waiting a bit before you stock pile your closet again. Let yourself live with what you have, recognize how little you really need and more closely hone in on what is missing. Force yourself live with less clothing for a while. It’s really liberating. I waited at least a month before adding any more clothes and it made a huge difference when I went shopping. As a result I was able to get clearer on what I really needed and shopped based on that.
#2- Take inventory
Now that your closet is down to the minimum, look at the pieces and identify what about them sparks joy. This is likely the first time your closet won’t be cluttered with pieces you’ve kept around simply out of guilt or for some made up reasons that you know are total lies. Look for the messages in all the clothing you have left. Maybe it’s color, maybe it’s a particular style, maybe it sparks joy because it is something that plays a part in your life and you are grateful you have it. Notice the fit of things you have kept, the prints and patterns you are drawn to. These are all cues that you don’t want to ignore. Truly, there is no better way to identify what you love than looking at what you love.
#3- Shop for what you love and need
When shopping for new, just because something sparks joy doesn’t mean you should buy it. Haphazardly buying things that spark joy sort of defeats the purpose of streamlining. In order to avoid duplication or overbuying, if you already have something in your wardrobe that sparks joy and fills a need, there is no point buying more of it. As you have probably learned from your time of living with less, you really don’t need an excessive amount of any one thing, no matter how much joy it sparks. Of course, if you find something sparks more joy than a similar item that you already own, consider taking the new item home and ditching the old.
The goal when shopping is to make your wardrobe more comprehensive and well rounded. Instead of going deeper into these already well covered areas, ask yourself what you can bring in that would make these existing pieces more wearable and versatile in your closet.
#4- Don’t be afraid to fail
The one thing I will say about the success of reading Marie Kondo’s book is I have become a bit of perfectionist. When putting laundry away I will actually pull out my husband’s sock, t-shirt and underwear drawers and refold everything to make sure it is as neat as the first time I did it because he has little to no interest in folding as neatly as I do. Admittedly, I have become a little obsessive.
The other downside is paralysis through perfectionism and fear of failure. Now that you have gotten your wardrobe whittled down, are you afraid that you’ll relapse into chaos again or that you will load your closet with unnecessary buys? This is understandable, yet you have to remember that there is an ebb and flow to an effective wardrobe and that you’re never done, you will fail and you may create some momentary chaos. Yet the good news is you’ll be able to easily figure your way back. Don’t be afraid to explore and play with your wardrobe and to discover yourself through elimination and some failure. What’s the saying? Progress not perfection.
#5- Does everything have to spark joy?
I really laughed when I saw this graphic on Facebook. You have to admit, it does make you wonder if it is possible to be responsible if with your wardrobe if sparking joy is the only requirement. If you’re worried that after purging your wardrobe all you’ll be left with is a tutu a pair of cowboy boots a little black dress and a trendy handbag, I wouldn’t be. What I have learned is that different things spark joy for different reasons.
For example, that pair of black pants that aren’t all that exciting but incredibly useful and fit you well will probably spark joy for a very different reason that funky blazer with the cool lining and buttons does. We all understand to a degree that not all our wardrobe pieces are meant to have the same function and some are supportive players and others are stars. So instead of asking simply if something sparks joy, try to figure out why it does and look for those cues when developing your own personal style further and adding more to your wardrobe.
If the journey to finding your own style has been a difficult one, stop looking and let it present itself to you. After reading Marie Kondo’ book and leaving behind only what sparks joy my guess is that your style will be hanging right there in front of you.
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Bridgette, what a great revelation for you! Your profession demands you live and breath clothing. Yes, you of all people should find joy in every item of a personal nature. A wardrobe revamp must be so liberating and fun for you. You deserve it, hard working girl and generous heart. Please, please, share more tips, tricks and suggestions as you move forward with your new wardrobe which sparks joy in your heart.
Your faithful fan,
I love the idea of a minimalist wardrobe and doing less with more. I am so far away from that reality though. My biggest problem is seeing the outfits. For example today, I have an outfit on I love and feel super confident in. I have had all the pieces for a while but had never worn them together. Alone they are fine but together they are perfect! It is funny as I never thought previously to even try them together.
I purchased a pair of wide leg vertical black/striped palazzo style pants and a pair of solid black ones. I wasn’t sure which pair would be more appropriate. I was told by several people the striped pair looked like prison garb and solid color would be much better on someone my size (2x). I kept the striped pair because one friend told me you light up and laugh when you modeled the striped pair. They make YOU happy so get them. I returned the solid black pair. Since then, I have purchased all my clothes/accessories using that criteria. And everytime I wear those pants I get tons of compliments.
Okay B, time to show us that you were left with and what YOU added 🙂
Yes please let us see what you actually purged or at least describe what you found out about your closet that way! I felt very similarly to what you described in the intro: I don’t own that many clothes and already purge regularly. Still, I’m not sure everything would “spark joy”. I’d be intersted what the method did for you, who is already pretty organized.
And of course: I love your posts, both outfit posts and these more analytical ones! Have been following you for a while and always look forward to seeing you on my RSL feed! Love!
Wow, I wish I can even remember everything I got rid of. Interesting, isn’t it? I kept stuff around that I can’t even recall now. Basically, if I found myself making up an excuse for keeping it or found that when I wore it I didn’t totally love it, even though it was completely acceptable, it went. I was ruthless and gave away so much and now it’s gone and I can’t even recall what it was. As far as what I added, doing this process really gave me a fantastic perspective on what I needed and how much of it I needed. I was left with so little that I was repeating my clothes often, which is fine, but the repetition showed me the areas worthy of adding to. In the summer my life gets REALLY casual because I work with clients less and have a lot more downtime. I wish I had a need for dressier things, but it’s just not my lifestyle. So I wound up adding like 3 new casual tops, two casual cropped pants, just one maxi dress and one nicer top that can be worn with clients and also for casual nice things. It was pretty incredible that this was all I needed. I still feel like I need one more pair of comfortable, casual sandals that aren’t my Birkenstock Gizehs and not as high as my yellow wedges, but I have been super discerning. I walked through DSW recently and couldn’t find anything I liked enough. I’d rather go without than just add more.
I’d be happy to take photos of my drawers. When you see how little is in there you will be shocked. But the drawers really do look pretty.
Luise, your comment about my blog was so nice! Thanks for sticking around!
At your suggestion, I checked out “The life changing magic of tidying up”. I agree! It has completely changed the way I purge. Before when I purged I would just think, “I haven’t worn this in awhile” and it would go, but it’s a totally different perspective to pick it up and ask, “Does this spark joy; do I feel good/confident wearing this?”. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I am a faithful follower of your blog and your advice!!!
BTW, I would also be interested in photos of what you have left in your closet.
It’s somewhat magical, isn’t it? No pun intended. I will see if I can get shots of what I kept. It’s pretty scant yet I never feel without something to wear. My closets and drawers have also remained incredibly neat and organized.
Thanks, as always, for your incredibly kind words about my blog!
I have not read the book yet but I have seen so many blogs mentioning it, covering all different topics, fashion/lifestyle/cooking/organizing/etc… it is everywhere! I will admit there are items in my closet that do not spark joy, but I have been so afraid to get rid of them and end up with nothing to wear! But I’m realizing that I do not wear them anyway. Unless my washer broke and I had nothing else remotely clean, I wouldn’t chose those pieces. I already feel like there is not much in my closet, but now I’m thinking I should go through again and purge a little more.
I have adopted the vertical stacking in my kids dressers, and I should with my own also!
Yea, it was like the IT book for a while. So many clients have told me that I am getting rid of all their clothes when we are purging, even though they have admitted that everything we are ditching they haven’t worn in years. I always say, “I’m not getting rid of your clothes, I’m getting rid of your false sense of security!”