How to cull your wardrobe if you are messy and love lists – The KCC

I have a new system for culling and de-cluttering my wardrobe which incorporates my quirks, Mari Kondo’s concept of “does [each and every item inspected one by one] spark joy”, a clipboard, A4 paper and two coloured pens and a Bullet Journal page.  Perhaps I shall name it The Kathodic Clothing Cull, The KCC if you’re in the know, the “Ka” from my name, Karina, and the “thodic” a rather, dare I say it, genius mash-up of “cathartic” and “method”.

With too much to say on the matter, I’ll limit myself to numbered points in an attempt to apply ruthlessness to my word count as well as my wardrobe.  To see if The KCC is for you, you probably need most or all of the following points, in no particular order, to resonate with you:

  1. Previous attempts to cull your wardrobe have resulted in limited satisfaction, maybe even despondency or the dreaded comfort shopping.
  2. A sense of achievement and enjoyment is heightened by the making and ticking off of lists.
  3. Being in charge of a clipboard and coloured pens gives you a feeling of order and childish glee.
  4. You are a-bit-to-very cash poor but feel a need to donate more to charity (ie donating clothes to charity shops instead of selling).
  5. You are never going to be minimalist or fully de-cluttered, probably because that isn’t you.
  6. You have a lot of items of clothing and do not want to feel pressurised into downsizing drastically to a capsule wardrobe.
  7. There is something you want out of a cull, eg to justify buying new clothes, to clear space, to get ready for a home move, to embrace and love your new fuller figure or to celebrate the loss of weight, to prevent your wardrobe/drawers/rails causing you stress with their chaos.

The essentials prior to starting The KCC:

  1. You have one or more chunks of a few hours to spare with no time constraints.  (I did this over two days, 1.5 hours and 2.25 hours.  NB I am a faffer and not known for speed and efficiency)
  2. You are in a good frame of mind to tidy and are poised to do this because you want to, not because you begrudgingly ought to be doing it at this moment.
  3. A ready supply of drinks (this does not include alcohol, alcohol is not your friend during the culling process) and rewards/incentives.  Water is also good, this is going to be tiring but unexpectedly fun work.
  4. Ideally, no distractions (phone, bad.  TV, bad.  Other people in the house, bad.  Cute and inquisitive pets, bad).
  5. A strong bag for rubbish (not transparent, you don’t need opportunities for second thoughts evoked by seeing “that was my favourite t shirt” crumpled in a bag – eliminate potential for waiver, for in this scenario waiver = weakness).
  6. A clipboard and paper (or A4 notepad, or spiral reporters’ pad or a notepad that makes you feel important and official).
  7. Two coloured biros/pens (you can find ways to incorporate more if pen colours are to you what boxes are to cats, ie simple, delightful sources of happiness and wonder)
  8. Bags suitable for transporting donated clothes to a charity shop.
  9. Radio or preferred music source playing (or maybe silence is more of a luxury).
  10. A mirror, ideally mid way between completely unflattering and deep-down-you-know-that’s-not-quite-how-good-you-look.
  11. Wearing clothes that are easy to remove/change.
  12. A completely clear work surface, ideally a bed.
  13. A cup of tea and some biscuits (or equivalent) strikes me as an integral part to the next stage of the process (this masala chai with Rich Tea biscuits did the job for me). This gives you time to enjoy the quiet before the storm, while your entire “old” wardrobe is still intact behind closed doors and your operating table (bed) is empty, ready.  A moment of reflection, if you will.

As everyone has a different system of clothing storage, this relates to my experience of a mix of rail, shelves, drawers and boxes and a massive amount of clothing catering for a far wider range of activities than is reflective of my lifestyle.

The KCC Rules:

  1. Think of your clothes in zones, either by drawer/rail/shelf or by type (socks, shirts, jeans, etc).
  2. Either draw or list the individual types of garment, in, say, a black pen.  For example, smart work trousers, work/casual crossover trousers, shirts, long-sleeved smart tops, short-sleeved smart tops, smart sleeveless tops and so on.  I had a lot more categories than I would have expected, having never previously thought about my self-imposed “rules” for what can be worn for what activity.  My Bullet Journal page, top left, reduces the number of categories significantly but I feel I got something out of the extra breakdown in my notes.
  3. As I started with my wardrobe rail (supposedly my work clothes), I took everything off hangers and piled clothes into type, as written above, though I ended up adding quite a few extra categories.
  4. Write the number of items of clothing you have against each category.  There are varying pen colour opportunities from this point onwards.
  5. This provided me my first opportunity to reflect on the amount of pieces I wear repeatedly and that, eg, when packing for work I usually take three pairs of trousers, lament not having more choice but now realise that I don’t like most of the 11 pairs I could alternate between.
  6. It was at this point I also realised what ugly and largely inappropriate coat hangers I have (mostly basic, mis-shapen hangers I’ve retrieved from my partner’s dry cleaning). (I later went out and bought a few replacement coat hangers)
  7. Pile by pile, red (for example) pen in hand, throw/place aside items of clothing that it’s obvious you no longer like/fit/need.
  8. Now try on any items you’re not sure about or haven’t tried on in ages. Do they really look good?  Do they fit properly?  Do you like them?  Do they bring you joy and happiness?  Discard as appropriate.
  9. Pile by pile, write a minus figure for however many pieces you’ve discarded.
  10. Once all piles have been gone through, or one by one, put the discarded clothing in a charity or bin bag.
  11. Think of a suitable order for returning your clothes, eg those used most frequently at the easiest place to reach, whether to fold, hang, roll or shove; whatever works for your sense of order or chaos.
  12. Completely finish each zone before gauging whether you’re still enjoying the process, need another cuppa, want to start on another area, want to give up for the day or just pause.
  13. Don’t forget the clothes you’re wearing, clothes in the laundry and clothes piled up on a chair in the corner.
  14. If you are a Bullet Journaler, summarise the pre and post cull categories (or whatever method works for you).  I did black for before, yellow if nothing got rid of and red for a reduction in numbers.  Sadly, I can’t draw very well, but I know what it all means and where that indicates my clothes are.  Roughly.

My before and after photos do not look as dramatic as you might have hoped or expected, but to me this is a big difference.  This is also the fifth, and by far most successful, cull I have done in the past year or so.  The listing and counting method, The KCC, is new and comes after a lot of half-hearted, badly planned, tedious attempts to reduce and organise my clothes.  I didn’t particularly enjoy summarising the figures onto my Bullet Journal page but I honestly enjoyed the process overall and feel a lot better for having found a method that works for me and for having reduced my wardrobe by two full bin (charity) bags.

When it comes to underwear and small or delicate items, I have adopted Mari Kondo’s box/zone technique, with drawers full of shoe boxes, shoe box lids, a plastic washing tab box, etc.  I have also spread my selection of hotel and gift soaps, some cedar wood coasters from a holiday in Morocco, a few hankies with lavender oil drops and some scented liner paper around drawers and wardrobe as a moth deterrent (which to date has been effective).

As for the Bullet Journal reference, I have made a page to record how many items of clothing I have, intended to be updated with pluses and minuses to keep a one in/one out system in place.  Be warned, if you don’t know what a bullet journal is and decide to Google it, you could end up losing a good hour of your life to discovering the enormity and brilliance of what is essentially “just” an old fashioned pen and paper means of keeping records … of things you never knew you wanted to keep records of.