A more emotional approach to decluttering comes from the school of Marie Kondo, the author, Netflix star and container manufacturer: Does the item you’re touching spark joy?
“You get a thrill, your energy rises, you feel it in your heart as opposed to your head,” said Ms. Thompson, a “KonMari” consultant in training, describing what you’re supposed to be feeling when the response to joy is “yes.”
The KonMari method generally starts with clothes, then moves on to books and papers before ending with sentimental keepsakes — the idea being that clothing is the easiest to discard and personal souvenirs are the hardest. Except that’s not always true; clothes can carry as much baggage as mementos.
When Rebekah Love found a pair of Levi’s jeans that fit perfectly, she wore them for years, until they eventually tore in the crotch. Even then she didn’t want to let them go. She realized they represented a rare kind of “understanding,” she said. “I found a brand that understands my body.”
Now, as a professional organizer, she encourages people who cling to unworn clothing to figure out why — to identify what those pieces really represent for them. She takes a holistic approach to organization, comparing mediocre outfits to unsatisfying relationships: “If you were around somebody who didn’t make you feel good about yourself, would you continue to hang out with them?”
Don’t Just Discard. Donate.
The pandemic has inflated a classic closet problem: holding onto things that no longer fit. A survey of more than 3,000 people by the American Psychological Association found that 42 percent of them gained more weight than they intended in the pandemic. Within this group, the average weight gain was 29 pounds, with a median gain of 15 pounds. The prevailing advice is to let go of these aspirational clothes.
“You reach for a pair of jeans that don’t fit, and that just ruins your whole day,” Ms. Bornstein said. “If they’re not an option to wear at this moment, just get them out of there.”