Are you a fan of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Or her recent reality show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo?
I read the organization guru’s first book early on. My husband and I live in a 1907 house that has 698 square feet. We really don’t have much extra space to get sloppy in, and so organization fascinates me. Am I organized? In a sense, I think so. I always know where things are, even if they are stacked or cluttered. Could I do better? Oh yes.
One of the central tenants of Kondo’s KonMarie method is that the items you keep must “spark joy” for you. According to her, you must hold each of your items in your hands and see if you register that feeling of joy. If you don’t feel it, you must let the item go, after properly thanking it for doing its best for you.
Spark joy. Hmmm. I can honestly say that is the best way for me to choose what to purchase in the first place, especially clothing. If I don’t love something viscerally—immediately and terribly—it isn’t going to serve me very well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pair of black socks or a sequined green dress—it has to be exactly what I want. Once I have a loved item, it doesn’t usually fall out of favor for me. I might not fit in it properly forever, but I still love it.
Another important aspect of Kondo’s technique is the spiritual connections she makes. She explains that she is informed by her background in Shintoism, the traditional Japanese religion that emphasizes ritual and the spiritual essence of everything. The connectedness that she teaches making with a home, and with each item in it, gives each thing a value that maintains it as not readily disposable, but also not readily bought. I think this is the soul of her method. How many of us who would take the time to really connect to an item would buy the wrong thing? At the time (eventually) that we let the item go, we would offer it thanks, and it would feel very real.
I love that. Everything that we own is a piece of the world; its creation uses the world’s resources, and it should not have been made in vain or for one use and immediate disposal. I don’t know if that is Marie Kondo’s message, but her thinking slows you down and makes you contemplate each item in your possession. It makes you see everything.
How does vintage clothing fit into this? I think it fits very handsomely.
A vintage item has not just been made, so it is part of a history of passing something along. It most likely has been used, appreciated, and thoughtfully let go of already in its life. You can be part of its continuing story.
A vintage item is usually not a quick and easy purchase; it demands some thoughtfulness.
A vintage item is not usually briefly and faddishly fashionable the way readily available fast fashion is. It stands to reason that if it is not the newest style, it isn’t going to be only temporarily the hottest thing.
A vintage item is most often better made, with better materials and workmanship than the majority of modern-made clothing. It is meant to be preserved through care, and not ruined after several wearings.
A vintage item has undeniable karma, the sort that gives it a presence that transcends a brief existence. Think long simmering stew vs. instant noodles.
A vintage item slows you down in all good ways: It takes more patience to find, it gives you more time to think about how much it sparks joy for you, it doesn’t fan the flames of instant gratification, it doesn’t break down if cared for properly, it demands a certain respect and sustenance. It will care for you if you care for it, and then be glad to go on to its next home.
What do you think…am I missing something? How does Marie Kondo’s method work for you and your vintage? Have you taken the KonMari technique to your clothing yet?