My First Time: A New Year Closet Clean-Out

  • Written By:Anjali Kumar
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In her column for Just Bobbi, author, advisor and attorney Anjali Kumar is willing to try anything in the name of beauty and wellness (at least once).

It all started with a message from the Universe, neatly packaged in a monthly horoscope from my online oracle of choice, the AstroTwins (yes they are twin sisters who are also astrologers). Buried among other spiritual (and not so spiritual tips, including a suggestion to eat healthier — I didn’t need a horoscope to remind me of that) was the following directive:

"Against the backdrop of the Sun in Cancer and your sixth house of health, fitness and organization...a total solar (new moon) eclipse lands in Cancer, jolting you into action. Is it time to go full KonMari on your clutter?"

Not one to ignore orders from the cosmos, I decided the new year was the perfect time to start clearing out. The stars were aligned.

Along with the rest of the planet, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when it first came out — and the steady stream of friends’ and strangers’ Instagram photos of neatly organized t-shirt and sock drawers are a compelling sight. But the idea of only keeping things that “sparked joy” never resonated. The ethos around the book made me feel ashamed of my possessions — a lifetime of things collected, some of which may not spark deep joy when I pick them up, but I like them just fine and often they serve a purpose (I’m talking to you five pairs of slightly different black pants and a wok I’ve used three times in ten years).

So I’d be forgiven, I think, for never fully embracing the KonMari method. But given this cosmic order, maybe it was time to at least tidy up a bit and clear out some of the stuff that no longer served me. I decided to find out and enlisted some friends to help.

Not one to ignore orders from the cosmos, I decided the new year was the perfect time to start clearing out. The stars were aligned.

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First call: Tidy Tova.

Tova Weinstock is a professional organizer whose philosophy of “real life tidy” appeals to me. In her own words “It’s my rebellion against the current culture of perfection where people want everything to line up, match, and look a certain way. I’m trying to retrain people’s brains to know that for something to be organized, it doesn’t have to look beautiful—it just has to be functional.” Sounded good to me.

Looking around my place, I figured things weren’t so bad. I like to tell people that I’m not messy, I just prefer more of a “lived in look." But the truth was that instead of a charmingly cluttered home, our apartment was becoming, well, not so charmingly cluttered. And if I am really being honest, 90% of this was due to my own tendency to collect little piles of stuff to “put away later, I swear” that eventually just shift around our loft and never actually get put away (sorry Atul).

So one morning, Tova arrived at 9 am sharp ready to work. Not one for a ton of small talk when on duty, she suggested we focus on the three main areas of clutter in my home during our two hour session — the front entryway, dining table, and desk.

Tova approached each clutter zone in a nonjudgmental way, efficiently organizing whatever was there as I followed along. As she came across “questionable” items, I would take a quick look and more often than not say “just chuck it.” The time bound session ensured we worked fast and I didn’t overthink every item. With each object, I either needed a place for it (which was the reason clutter amassed in piles), needed to get in the habit of putting it away right away, or simply didn’t need it anymore.

Two hours later, we had three large bags of garbage, a small box of things to give away to specific individuals (Tova says no one else really wants your crap either — don’t “save” things for friends when you are clearing out unless you are really sure they want/need it, otherwise you are just giving them the task of getting rid of it for you), a list of to dos before our next session (including ordering a few recycling bins, some storage solutions for Zia’s stuff, etc.). I collapsed on the couch happily clutter free and motivated to tackle the next challenge: my closet.

Unlike decluttering the apartment, my closet promised to be a bit more challenging for the following reason: although I have given away most of the clothes that no longer suit me and have (I believe) honed in on my true style (largely consisting of jumpsuits and jeans), I own a bizarre amount of sequins and somewhat impractical “pieces” that I have collected over the years and developed a bit of an emotional attachment to, regardless of how often I actually wear them. The result is the classic “a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear” where I just keep reaching for the same few things over and over again.

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Beckie and Martina

The three of us have been friends for years and they lovingly call me their “magpie,” which basically means, I have a lot of random things in my closet that I love, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else.

Beckie + Martina to the rescue.

Beckie and Martina are two former fashion models who joined forces to become a go styling team for celebrities and private clients which include people from tech, finance, politics and entertainment.

The three of us have been friends for years and they lovingly call me their “magpie,” which basically means, I have a lot of random things in my closet that I love, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else. The ladies came by my apartment for a three hour session to assess and clean out my closet. The game plan they suggest for anyone looking to tackle their wardrobe?

• Make sure you have a full length mirror • Invite a friend over, ask them to be brutally honest (Beckie and Martina served as these friends for me!) • Take it all out — ALL! • Ask yourself: do you love it, do you wear it, does it fit, does it have a job, is it past its prime, why are you holding onto it if you haven't worn in a long time

We went through the basic items pretty quickly — jeans, trousers, basic sweaters and shirts. And unless there was a real style or fit issue with a piece, it was quickly folded and put back (neatly) into my closet. We then moved on to my “magpie” pieces — the things I loved but weren’t sure still worked for me, the things I wasn’t sure how to wear, the investment pieces I felt guilty getting rid of.

After an honest conversation piece by piece (honestly, we should have live-streamed the whole thing because it was pretty funny — the ladies are brutally honest but also hilarious and make the whole process fun), we ended up with five piles:

  1. Pieces to hold on to with at least one idea of how to wear it
  2. Designer items in great condition to be consigned (check out The RealReal — the easiest way to consign in my experience)
  3. Pieces deemed worth saving for Zia (including an amazing shirt from early Phoebe Philo for Chloe days and a CHANEL jacket I have worn exactly once)
  4. Things to give to specific friends (similar to Tova’s philosophy, I had to have a specific person in mind for the piece, not just a pile of stuff to transfer to unsuspecting friends)
  5. Donations

The result? A closet full of clothes I actually wear but with space to see everything and know what is in there! Plus a little unexpected cash in my account from consignment fees from the RealReal to take my husband to dinner in my rediscovered sequins.

The verdict: You don’t have to full on KonMari your home in order to clear out the clutter and breathe better. (And it is ok to hold on to things that simply serve a function or that you like just because.)

Tidy Tova, for an appointment or more information, call 201.446.7422 or email hi@tidytova.com

Beckie + Martina, for an appointment or more information, call 917 969 2362 or 917 862 5540, or email B.BECKIEMARTINA@GMAIL.COM or M.BECKIEMARTINA@GMAIL.COM

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