Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tidying Up my Shoe Collection

As I mentioned last week, I found Marie Kondo's book on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up inspiring. Now that I am back in NYC for my last semester at graduate school, I have been applying Kondo's suggestions to my closet and the rest of my worldly possessions. I will say, at the outset, that there are some limitations on my ability to follow her process to the letter. Kondo's main suggestion is that one keep only the items that inspire joy (with specific exceptions for necessities, the main example of which is important papers). That principle has helped me let go of many things that I was keeping because "it might be useful someday," but I am still constrained by a need to keep certain things in my wardrobe for work and interviews. 

Before: 20 pairs (flip flops and slippers not included)
One thing that I found while decluttering was that it is likely fair to say that I simply didn't have that much stuff even before the process. Because I went to college far away from home, moved across the world for work shortly after, and then made another cross-country move for graduate school, I had to significantly edit down my possessions each time. In that time, I moved from dorm room to studio to modestly-sized NYC apartment and there were definite physical constraints on how much stuff I could accumulate and take with me each time. 

Of course, small spaces are no absolute deterrent to accumulating dramatically large quantities of stuff. Between all the things I discarded or plan to donate, give away, or sell, I have personally removed 10 large garbage bags full of things from my life.

Looking over the shoes I decided to keep versus part with, I wonder if I could have been more aggressive with my decluttering. The heeled sandals in the back near my boots, for instance, are not especially functional for me because I have a strong preference for wearing only flats or very low heels. Yet I wonder if I could still need them for more formal summertime occasions. I do not particularly enjoy the gray low-heeled wedges, but I need more shoes to mix things up with my work outfits. 

After: 16 pairs 

Still, applying Kondo's principles (and finally being honest with myself about what shoes I will never wear no matter how long I keep them) has helped me remove quite a few pairs that have traveled with me on multiple major moves despite their lack of utility and the lack of joy involved. I'm throwing out that pair of Zara leopard loafers that are so stiff that my feet practically shriek in pain whenever I put them on. I'm selling the unworn black Nine West pumps that I bought for interviews and never wore because the heel is both too high and they don't actually really fit (oops). Same thing goes for the gray Plenty by Tracy Reese booties that simply don't have a place in my actual, flats and low heel or wedge heel-wearing life. 

Even if my progress looks like nothing much, I feel that it has been a highly educational process. It allows me to confront some of my less wise shopping decisions and why they happened. It helps me come to terms with the fact that I shouldn't always keep something I bought and barely wore because of a fear of wasting money. (Kondo's suggestion is that one sees such items as having already served their purpose of bringing joy to the buyer at the time of purchase.) Finally, it also helps me to better understand what is functional for my lifestyle. 

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