A couple of months ago I proposed in Minimalism Part 1 that I was going to attempt to bring new life to my home by discarding and organising everything that I own.
Me and the Mrs have now read the Marie Kondo book;
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying . So we feel that we’re ready to tackle the first category… Clothes!
Back in November I split my Minimalism journey into 8 categories to better manage the heft of it all. After reading Marie Kondo’s book I’ve learned a few new things, one of them is to do clothing all at once, mainly so that you can pile all of the clothing you own into a big heap and admire it (or think what the hell happened?)
This enlightenment means I’ll be combining 3 of the 8 categories into 1: Light clothing, warm clothing, and shoes, making one mega category of all the wearable items in the house.
Before getting into the actual discarding part of each of the categories, we need to do some analysis and research. Doing this allows us to understand what our perfect situation would be, so we know what to prioritise buying in the future. We can then create an MVP [note]MVP is an anachronism for Minimal Viable Product[/note], so we can get to a good solution without having to spend any money. Then we can analyse how we got to the problem in the first place, so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again!
What’s the goal?
My dream is to be able to easily see all of my items of clothing in one place so I can easily see how many are in the wash. I’d like everything to fit me and be something that I’d wear outside of the house (not including my PJs!)
I want all of my clothes to be of very good quality. This means; not shrinking in the wash, being comfortable, and durable.
I’d also like fewer clothes so that I can confidently replace something with a more expensive (but higher value) item when it gets worn out. Fewer clothes would also allow me to clearly see everything that I already own, ensuring that I don’t buy the same thing again not knowing that it’s hiding away somewhere.
We do the washing once per week, this means that the minimum amount of every day clothes like T-Shirts and under garments that we’ll need is 7. A little more than the minimum would also probably be smart just in case something happened (you never know!). So, between 7 and 14 days worth of clothes would probably be the perfect number.
Fleece is awesome
The perfect type of apparel would be items that you can wear all year round. To achieve this I think that layers are the way to go. Using layers you can add another as many as you like the colder it gets and vice versa for when it gets warmer.
I have found that clothes made out of fleece are very good for layering up and insulation. I have a couple of fleeces from Mountain Warehouse (below) which I got years ago for the Three Peaks Challenge, I’m in love with them! They’re comfortable, very warm, and still look brand new. I don’t think I’d mind just having these as a second layer, they’re definitely better than some of the ‘fashionable’ jumpers that I’ve bought.
Really, you could survive on one of these fleeces, but two is probably a ‘safer’ number. You’d also want one that’s a bit thicker such as this , you’d wear this one if it’s colder, or both the fleeces if it’s super cold. The great thing about these is their unisex, so if you and your partner wear the same sizes (or one of you doesn’t mind having a bigger fleece), you can easily interchange them to save storage space.
Plain old Tee’s
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with T-Shirts through-out my life. I normally go for the plain ones so it’s not that hard to find new ones. I used to do a lot of shopping in Primark, but even though the T-Shirts there are cheap, I’m forever worried about putting them in the wash as they usually shrink. They’re also not really warm or comfortable, it’s more like a painted second skin.
Up until recently, I thought that this was just normal behaviour for T-Shirts, I then got a Costco card. Costco quickly became my all-time favorite shop, they sell premium products for really good prices. Best of all, they have the Kirkland Signature label which is the best label I’ve ever come across. Everything that I buy from Costco that is marked with ‘Kirkland Signature’ has been a very good quality item for a good price. We quickly switched to many Kirkland Signature products but one gem I found was Kirkland Signature T-Shirts .
These shirts are absolutely incredible. You can tell that they’re a quality item as soon as you pick one up and feel the thickness of the material. They’re comfortable, stylish, and most importantly - they never shrink in the wash! I have owned 3 of them for quite a while now and they still look like they’re brand new. I even got one for my Dad a year ago and it quickly became his favourite T-Shirt. I had no idea good quality material like this existed!
If I could re-start my wardrobe, I’d buy just these shirts for my ‘base-layer’ along with some exercise/sweat-wicking ones.
I have a crap ton of trousers. I have multiple jeans, some that have huge holes in that I’m keeping for ‘If you need old clothes’ (ha!), thermal trousers from when I went to Lapland in -42 degrees weather (6 years ago), smart trousers, cords, shorts, about 12 PJ bottoms. It’s ridiculous.
From my research, it seems like if you want some trousers that are going to last you a long time, your best bet is to look in the hiking section. If you buy some good quality hiking trousers, they’re going to be breathable, comfortable and very durable! You just need to find a pair that looks nice so that you can wear them at work and in normal social situations.
Something like these may be an option:
Although they’re a whopping £128.20. If it means I won’t have to buy any other trousers for the next 10 years, sign me up!
If you get plain, dark trekking trousers, they also give the impression that they’re smart as they’re not jeans. You could probably get into most fancy restaurants with these bad boys on!
It will probably take me a while to get out of wearing jeans, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for some good quality trekking trousers that can rule them all. Maybe I’ll buy some before I go to Yosemite in August.
I have a ton of coats that I’ve accumulated over the years. But there’s one coat that has stood out, this one:
I got this originally for Snowboarding but I soon found out that it’s the best coat for anything! It’s stylish, breathable and keeps me warm. I’ve never quite experienced a coat that keeps me the same temperature whether I’m up a mountain in -30 degrees or in England on a mild day. This thing is also extremely waterproof with double seamed zips. I actually wear it for cycling into work in the colder months, it’s that breathable!
I know without any doubt that I could just own this one coat. It’s still going to be pretty hard to get rid of all of my other coats, but I must persevere!
The best socks that I’ve ever purchased were these socks made out of merino wool.
I purchased them a while ago, again for the Three Peaks Challenge. Before I set off on my challenge, I got worried that I didn’t have good enough socks as these ‘only’ cost £5.99, so I bought one pair of very expensive (I think about £20) branded hiking socks.
On the first mountain I used the very expensive socks, they rubbed and I had blisters forming almost instantly. After switching to the merino wool £5.99 pair, I never got another blister. I’ve used them multiple times on huge hikes since and they’ve still been the best socks I’ve ever owned. They don’t smell very easily, they’re long lasting, and you never get blisters! There must be something special about Merino’s.
So, what’s the summary of all of this research before we get stuck into the discarding?
- 10 - 14 Kirkland Signature Costco T-Shirts
- 1 dress shirt
- 2 lightweight fleeces
- 1 heavy fleece
- 2 high-quality trekking trousers
- 2 high-quality shorts
- 1 jeans
- 1 suit
- 10 - 14 pairs of underwear
- 10 pairs of high-quality generic socks
- 2 pairs of trainer socks
- 2 pairs of Merino Wool hiking socks
- 1 pair of high-quality hiking boots that can pass as nice boots for general use
- 1 pair of trainers
- 1 pair of smart shoes
- 1 high-quality, multi-purpose Snowboarding coat
- 1 set of waterproof shell pants and coat for hiking
- 1 high-quality hiking backpack that can be used as luggage when traveling
- 1 fold up day-pack
Have I missed anything? I don’t think so. I’ll soon find out :]
The good thing about this list is that a lot of it, I already own. I’ve got a good pair of hiking boots, the backpacks, suit, fleeces, and I think 4 Costco T-Shirts. It wouldn’t be that expensive to complete this list. Still, it’s going to be very hard to discard things that are still of use due to my frugal nature.
I guess the MVP for this category would be keeping my 4 Costco T-Shirts and 6 - 10 of my best alternative T-Shirts. I can then only buy Costco T-Shirts going forward and eventually replace all of my shitty ones.
I could hold off on the trekking trousers and live with a couple of pairs of jeans for a while, although, I will be going hiking on my honeymoon this summer, so I may as well buy some decent trekking trousers for that!
Lets get stuck in!
I wrote everything above this paragraph a while ago, before I started actually trying to discard everything. I’m now writing this after spending the whole weekend throwing every piece of clothing me and the Mrs owned into a big pile in the middle of the living room and getting rid of everything that didn’t ‘spark joy’ as Marie would put it.
Oh boy, we didn’t think we had a problem until we actually did this. Just look at this pile!
We were swimming in clothes and shoes, some of which we had completely forgotten about. As the pile got bigger and bigger we were slowly starting to think, “What the fuck have we done?!”
If you ever do this yourself, there’s a point where you start to realise that you can’t actually stop once you’ve started, you can’t just think “Nope, I’ve changed my mind” and shove everything upstairs again, there really is no going back!
It took us about 6 hours to sort through this mess, discard the ‘definitely needs to go’ items and sort the remaining stuff into sub-categories.
The sheer volume of what you own when you pile everything into one place made us more ruthless when it came to actually discarding, so it was surprisingly easy to get rid of a lot of stuff which we had hung onto for years.
We ended the first day physically exhausted, partly due to the hefting of clothes up and down stairs, but also partly due to the two bottles of booze that we’d successfully drank. MarieKondo says that tidying is a special event, so we needed to celebrate…Right?
Day 2 - Whittling down and organising
After coming downstairs on the Sunday the real work had to begin. We still had a shit ton of clothes, now all piled up into sub-categories, sitting in the middle of our living room. So we drank some coffee and got going.
There were times where it was hard to get rid of an item, most of the time this wasn’t sentimental items or precious gifts. The items that were still perfectly OK to use (in some cases with the tag still attached) were the hardest to get rid of. These were items that we bought for a holiday or bought thinking we’d like and wear them but never did for whatever reasons.
I think a lot of it also comes down to the guilt of buying something when you know you shouldn’t have, you naturally don’t want to admit that you’ve done that, so you think - “I’ll use it, let’s keep it!” But you’re just hiding from the truth, which is - you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.
We did get over that hurdle eventually though and I’m quite proud of both me and my partner, we really were brutal when it came to keeping only what we need and love.
We eventually saw that the items that we didn’t like much were only taking the shine away from those that we did. There were some items that we found that we were over the moon about finding, we’d completely forgotten about them because they were buried under a fabric mountain somewhere.
The KonMarie method did make things a little easier when we were saying goodbye to the clothes that we’d had for more than a decade, or clothes that we remembered from special events. Clothes hold so much more sentimental value than people think, but changing your way of thinking to “It’s served it’s purpose, had a good life and made us happy.” makes it a lot easier to discard items such as these. Which is probably why we got rid of so much!
So, how much did we actually discard??
You’ll never guess… Drum roll please…!
20 FULL BIN BAGS!
Yes, I feel absolutely disgraceful when saying it, but we discarded 20 full, heavy-duty bin bags of clothes, shoes, and bags. How bloody ridiculous? We had no idea we actually had a problem until seeing how much shit we had actually accumulated. But oh boy did it feel good to see those bin bags go! It felt kinda like lifting a giant weight off our shoulders.
With all of the bin bags out of the house and ready to be collected by a charity the next morning (the neighbours must have thought there was a death in the family), we set off back inside with a spring in our step ready for the fun part: organising!
Every item needs a home
We started off our organising by adopting Marie Kondos ‘standing up’ technique to our underwear and socks drawers. We were flabbergasted when we had finished as we realized that we had gone down from 6 drawers and 1 basket to just 4 drawers! We were seeing space gains already!
Sticking things upright makes it easy to see everything that you own. It means that you can easily see how many items you have left before you need to do a wash and it also ensures that nothing gets buried and forgotten about.
I’ve used these drawers for a bit now and I can honestly say that I prefer them like this. I can quickly see how many trainer socks, walking socks or regular socks I have left at a glance and I can pull a pair out with ease.
The drawers also close a lot easier! Sure it takes a bit longer to put everything away but it’s totally worth it.
We then moved onto our walk-in-wardrobe. Even though we live in a modest house, the old owners converted the loft into an extra bedroom and instead of building a second bathroom they decided to make it into a walk-in-wardrobe.
We didn’t utilise this space to it’s fullest potential previously, it was more of a dumping ground for our clothes. We couldn’t find anything, nothing was easy to get, it was an absolute mess.
Just look at it!
That shoe rack that we put underneath the shelves was a nightmare to use. Every time we tried to get something off it, shoes would tumble down everywhere like an avalanche. Getting shoes from the back of it was just unthinkable.
Now, the walk-in-wardrobe has been transformed into a joyous place to store our belongings -what it was truly meant to be used for! Feast your eyes on this sexiness!
This wardrobe now contains all of our clothes (other than our underwear). Previously we had clothes stored in the loft, the second bedroom in a huge set of drawers and in the living room in another set of drawers. Now everything is here, and it’s a thing of beauty.
We’ve placed our favorite t-shirts in plain view so that we always smile when we walk in (An Orangutan for the missus and a Portal top for me!). There’s also nothing laying about on the floor blocking access to shelves (Whoop!).
The eagle eyed amongst you will also notice that we’ve also added two new shelves to allow our baskets to sit above one another without layering them. A quick trip to B&Q and some time with the saw was all that we needed!
We had this awesome bespoke shoe storage that we, for some stupid reason, never utilised previously. Each of these slots stores 3 pairs of shoes one after another! There’s also a perfect gap for bigger boots on the top. No more horrendous shoe rack.
My favorite new addition to our wardrobe has got to be this built under laundry basket! This thing was usually wonkily strewn in the back of the wardrobe where it was in plain sight and constantly got in the way. Now it’s hidden and we can easily put clothes into it.
Each of our sections now has everything neatly standing up-right, making it incredibly easy to see everything that we own and pick out anything that we want. We’ve now got much less but have never before worn so much variety (because we can actually see everything that we have!)
Was it worth it?
So, all in all, we’re absolutely delighted! Yes it was hard work and we were bloody knackered through-out the whole weekend but we got there in the end.
We now have this amazing storage space which holds most things in the house.
We know where everything is and can easily store things away. When you’ve done something so thoroughly like this, keeping it tidy is really easy. You even find time to fold everything because you want to keep everything just the way it is! Once you KonMari, you don’t wanna go back!
The ‘dream’ state of my clothes hasn’t been achieved yet, but I will be keeping that list in mind whenever I buy something new (I need to stock up on Costco T-Shirts!) For now, I’m really happy with the way things have turned out and will be a lot more liberal when discarding in the future.
I can’t wait to start the next category; papers. This first category removed the need for two huge sets of drawers in two different rooms in the house, so when we get through the other categories there will be lots more space to play with. We’re already talking about what we want to store and where.
I’d thoroughly recommend this strategy of decluttering to anyone, it really is worth it.
See ya for the next one!