Let’s clear out some clutter

Firstly dear reader, let me apologise for the lack of posts in recent weeks.  Since I have returned from Paris, I have been wondering which direction this blog should take and then I thought, just go with it and see where IT takes YOU.  So here we are, the next thrilling instalment in the life of Madame Ferré – I hope that you enjoy it.

Are you familiar with the saying “we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time?”.  This is something that was reinforced during my six weeks’ in Paris where I only wore the contents of my 2 small suitcases (and of course my chef’s whites during classes).  Mornings were a breeze as I would open up the wardrobe and find 4 items hanging up.  It would be a similar story when I opened up the drawers and saw one pair of jeans and two pairs of trousers (one black, one beige) and a handful of tops.  It was so easy to get dressed in the morning as I had what I consider to be a real “capsule wardrobe”.

Now I’m back in the UK and living my normal life and I realise that when I open my wardrobe to get dressed in the morning, I feel a little overwhelmed with all the ‘stuff’ in there, most of which I haven’t worn in years.  You know the story, “I’ll slim back into that one day”, well that day hasn’t come yet and quite frankly I’m not sure it ever will, and if it does, the clothes that I have been holding onto all these years will certainly not be the height of fashion.

The 'before' shot - my wardrobe bursting at the seams!

The ‘before’ shot – my wardrobe bursting at the seams!

I’m a great believer in the planets aligning and I have been reading a variety of blogs and articles about a movement called Minimalism and the power of living with less and I think that there is really something in this.  Part of this reading has led me to one book in particular, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo (or KonMari as she calls her method).  My close friends know that the only reason I invite people over is because I do more tidying in the 30 minutes before they arrive than I do all year!  I am an inherent slob and always have piles of c*** littering up the place.  What have I got to lose?  Maybe this book will indeed change my life?  Hubby was downstairs watching the football, so I knew I wouldn’t be hearing a peep from him for a while, so “no time like the present” I thought, I just didn’t realise quite how much time I would need.

So, I got myself ready.  KonMari recommends not having music playing as this can be a distraction (“in for a penny, in for a pound” I say), so I decide to light a lavender candle to fill the room with a relaxing fragrance.  If I was at work right now, I’d say that I was “creating the environment for success”, oh dear, let’s get on with it.

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My guiding light

I then get two boxes ready; one is for the charity shop and the other for a charity called Dress for Success.  They help women transition back into paid employment by firstly giving them a professional outfit, the thought of the suits that don’t fit me making a difference to someone else’s life will keep me going if nothing else –  I’m all set.

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Boxes at the ready

KonMari recommends that you take all of your clothes out of every possible storage place and place them on the floor (or on the bed in my case due to a lack of floor space).   I’m only half-way through the process and already the bed is full.  I then remember there is a bag of winter coats up in the loft, so then I have to get the ladder out – I’m really beginning to regret this now.

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Half way through emptying, is it too late to stop?

Finally, I have removed all the clothes from the wardrobe and I wonder what on earth I have started.

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That’s all the clothes gone, just the shoes remaining

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Some of my shoe collection, these have to go on the floor as there is no more room on the bed

There is something quite scary about seeing all of your clothes piled up on the bed and I finally get it.  All those articles I have been reading, they talk about the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ that we all keep – or should that be hoard?  I think to myself, when was the last time that I wore any of these?  and moreover, do I really need all of these clothes?  I’m sure that you can guess what the answer to both those questions is.

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That’s everything – no going back now.

One thing I hadn’t realised is just how dusty my wardrobe would be.  I was keen to get to the sorting out bit but first reached for the vacuum cleaner followed by some hot, soapy water and a lot of elbow grease.  It would be sacrilege to return my carefully chosen items to a dirty place and after all, I wasn’t planning on doing this again any time soon.

When you read KonMari’s book, she suggests that tackle categories of stuff rather than going from room to room (exactly why I headed up to the loft to get down the additional clothes!).  Start with clothes as these are relatively easy to get rid of, then move onto books, papers and Komono (miscellaneous items) before you tackle the really sentimental items like photos and mementos.

The process itself is a very simple one, once you have everything out of it’s hiding place, pick up every item indiviudally and ask yourself the question “does this spark joy?”.  If the answer is no, thank the item for it’s service and/or for being part of your life and put it in an appropriate pile, if the answer is yes, then keep it.

I began with the easy bit, my shoes, and managed to give 6 pairs to Dress for Success and 3 to the charity shop.  I was feeling good, and felt that I had made a great start, I also managed to clear a bit of floor space and put back only those shoes that I truly love.  As an aside, since writing this post, I have worn a few forgotten pairs to work that have given me a whole new wardrobe.

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Shoes for Dress for Success

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Shoes back in and feeling good

I now move onto the clothes and I find myself  building up quite a head of steam, I’m not even asking myself if something sparks joy, I’m now just picking up items to just respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  KonMari is right, you do find that items actually provoke a reaction in you, listen to this sign, this in itself will tell you whether or not you should keep this item.

I start to see a collection of hangers and it all looks a bit scary, I wonder if I am getting a bit carried away.  I wonder if this is all proving to be a very expensive mistake as I am scared that I will have nothing left to wear.  Am I getting carried away?

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Starting to see the duvet again (and lots of hangers!)

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Donations are going well, the Dress for Success box is full and I have to move onto a bin bag

That’s all the hanging items sorted and I now move onto the folding items.  I think it was my student job in Gap, that gave me the OCD to keep all my tops neatly folded (crammed in, as you can see from the ‘before’ photo, but neatly folded nonetheless).  If KonMari has changed my life in one way, it is the way that I now fold my tops, underwear, socks, tights etc etc etc.  It would take way too long to explain how to do it, so why don’t you check out this handy video and learn from the master herself?  They key here is that things should be folded and stored on its edge so that you can see everything.  Just as you can see in the photos below:

Gym kit, shorts and swimwear drawer

Gym kit, shorts and swimwear drawer (an odd combination but it works for me)

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My PJ and summer dress drawer (another odd combination, I know)

If you are getting rid of some shoes, keep hold of the boxes, they make great storage containers – I’ve filled one with swimwear,  one with scarves and the other with my shoe and garment bags.

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Why is nearly all my swimwear blue?

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All my scarves – never again will a scarf get lost at the bottom of a pile

I even manage to organise all of my shoe and garment bags

I even manage to organise all of my shoe and garment bags in one easily accessible place

So here is the final ‘after’ photo.  You will notice that there is now a whole shelf more or less free, the tops are all stored vertically (apart from the t-shirts, there wasn’t enough of them to keep upright!) and things are not jammed in on hangers.  I’m particularly pleased that all of my trousers are now stored on their own hanger as in the before there were 4 or 5 folded over on each hanger.

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The ‘after’ shot. I never thought I would ever be able to see every single thing in my wardrobe all at the same time. Unbelievable.

In the photo below, you can see all the hangers that I threw away – I just don’t know how I managed to get all of them on the hanging rail!

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All that’s left of my efforts

Did this book really change my life?  Tune in to my next blog post to find out what I learned in the process.

About jane

Born in Manchester more years ago than I care to remember and now living not far from that there London. By day I work in HR, by night I am Masterchef. From mid-June, I will be travelling to Paris where I will spend 6 weeks' learning all the basics of French pâtisserie, I'm preparing to take on some pounds!

One Response to Let’s clear out some clutter

  1. Dominique Ferre says:

    Very good! Reminds me of the Kaisen 5S methodology. A must …in our wardrobes! Bravo.

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