Life&Style Writer Imi Turner praises the Marie Kondo method for a spring clean

Written by Imi Turner
Images by Free-Photos

Following a swift and unexpected return home from uni, with just a quickly thrown-together suitcase of quarantine essentials: pyjamas, fluffy socks and leggings, it seemed the time had finally arrived to wade through the long-neglected carnage of my wardrobe. As many students can perhaps relate to, the clothes we choose to take to uni tend to be our favourites, our best fitting jeans, comfiest oversized sweatshirts and most flattering going-out tops. The home wardrobe we leave behind on the other hand, comprises of itchy Christmas jumpers, jeans that haven’t fit since year 8 and awkwardly formal dresses purchased for family events. Given the rash return home, with only the clothes able to be lugged on a train, it was time to confront the unorganised chaos that is this mismatched collection of questionable garments- and assess if any are worth keeping.

I started with the best of intentions, with the peering eyes of my obsessively tidy sister watching on, determined to Marie-Kondo this wardrobe within an inch of its life. Kondo’s well-loved method was top of my agenda- does any of this actually spark any joy? After pulling out ragged M&S pyjama tops with bizarre Minnie Mouse appliques (Minnie Mouse appears to have been some sort of obsession), a Brandy Melville plaid skirt which leaves little to the imagination and an awkward-knee-length black dress passed on from my mum for ‘when you have a nice thing to go to’- the resounding answer was NO. These were the remanences of an awkward growth into the sorts of clothes I actually like- not comfy or easy to wear- but strange reminders of the path my style had taken. However, I was starting to feel accomplished, with one charity bag already full- I was beginning to feel like the organisation QUEEN I have always longed to be.

Would you actually walk into a shop and spend your precious pounds on it? Have you worn it in the last year?

After getting past the obvious candidates for removal from the cavernous depths of hell my wardrobe was beginning to feel like, it was time to turn to the more difficult decisions. The items that weren’t inherently awful, and still fit well but were not something I would look at now and want to spend my money on. Random purchases that had been welcomed into the wardrobe with the best of intentions- a vibrant orange blouse, something I could wear for a nice meal out – but it turns out I’m a student who doesn’t go for ‘nice meals out’, (just wing Wednesday, where the attire is strictly casual). These types of clothes, that you don’t necessarily regret buying for their aesthetic value, but don’t fit into the types of outfits you regularly wear- are an important opportunity to get rid of clutter. Would you actually walk into a shop and spend your precious pounds on it? Have you worn it in the last year? Do you get excited by the prospect of wearing it? The decisive answer on the orange blouse front was a no.

As I sat cross-legged on the floor surrounded by strange assortments of clothes from throughout my late adolescence, I began to feel a level of guilt. I realised that most of these things I was throwing away had never really been given a chance – it is fair to say that we all know in the fitting room of a shop, or more likely these days, during the initial try-on of an online order in the best lit mirror you have at home, whether we truly love an item or not. We know rather quickly if the fit, style, colour, material and overall look is something that we will want to reach for regularly. But most of these items certainly didn’t turn out to be one of those truly loved pieces of clothing- or they may have been before a growth spurt, but most were just something to buy; something new to carry home in a shopping bag.

It is worth also taking the time to assess if it should have gotten so cluttered to begin with

It appears perhaps an easier option than clearing out a wardrobe is to not allow it to be filled with stuff you don’t love in the first place, and to find pieces like those perfect jeans, and flattering tops that we would never want to be apart from. I would certainly recommend clearing out your wardrobe too, for the trip down memory lane at the very least, but it is worth also taking the time to assess if it should have gotten so cluttered to begin with. My new mantra is: If I would happily leave it here, in this neglected, sad wardrobe when I return to Birmingham, is it really worth buying?