Posts Categorized: organize

Is it Useful? Does it Bring You Joy?


Back in October, HM forwarded this article to me. It describes author and expert organizer Marie Kondo’s philosophy of closet cleaning and organization: Discard everything that fails to “spark joy.” At first I resisted this idea, mostly because I have experienced the antithesis of buyer’s remorse: Donator’s remorse. I know what it’s like to get rid of something in a whirl of organizational frenzy, only to find myself longing for it months afterward. I also believe that the maxim of, “If you haven’t worn it in six months/one year, get rid of it,” can be a little too harsh in some situations. Some items have limited use, but should still stick around for those infrequent but important occasions.

And yet, as the weeks rolled by and I continued on my own style journey, I found that phrase echoing in my brain. Spark joy, spark joy … it sounded extreme initially, but since I was now actively on the road to minimizing and honing my wardrobe, it began to resonate. I love style and dressing and consider it to be a creative outlet, so why shouldn’t everything in my wardrobe spark joy? There followed some merciless purging. Lots of it.

And I never missed any of the items I donated or sold, or regretted jettisoning them. Eventually, though, I hit a wall. I have several solid-colored tee shirts that don’t actively spark joy, some really simple black flats that don’t excite me in the least, charcoal gray tights that I’ve worn frequently but don’t adore. Did these things need to get chucked out with the rest of the non-joy-sparking stuff? They were layering pieces, practical and comfortable items. And I couldn’t envision replacing them with more elegant or exciting versions that actually would spark joy.

So I focused on another pillar of wardrobe curation: Utility. I may not love those black flats, and it’s possible that I may find a more exciting, special pair some day to replace them, but for now they are useful to me. The ultimate goal may be to only own clothing, shoes, and accessories that spark joy – from socks and underwear to snowboots and pajamas – but in the meantime, keeping some pieces that are more useful than exciting will make dressing on a daily basis a whole lot easier. (I will admit that I haven’t yet read Kondo’s book, so perhaps she makes some allowances for utility. But the articles I’ve read about her methods make me think the joy-spark is supposed to apply universally.)

Anyone else been pondering the joy-sparking method of organization and curation? Do you feel like you could enforce it wardrobe-wide, or would you rather make room for practical if unexciting pieces?

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Clothing Care Tips

clothing care tips
Let’s share some unusual and useful clothing and accessory care tips! Here are mine:

When my white socks get super dingy or start to wear thin, I set them aside for leather polishing. Less mess than an actual rag since you can slip your hand inside the sock before applying your cleaner, conditioner, or polish.

I’ve had bags meant for delicates shred my delicates, so I wash them inside tied-shut pillowcases on the delicate cycle. Both items get clean, and the pillowcase is a softer shield for the delicate item.

If you prefer to hang your leather skirts and pants and don’t want to leave indentations from pant hanger clips, use a dry cleaner pant hanger with cardboard tubing across the bottom. BUT! Be sure to cover it with a paper towel or scrap of cloth first, as those tubes generally have a little adhesive and you don’t want that getting on your leather.

Keep old toothbrushes. Use them to gently scrub dirt off your shoes, polish jewelry, spot-treat stains or odors … you can even use them to exfoliate your lips!

Palmolive dish liquid – the traditional green stuff – is still my go-to for stain removal. So long as you’re not dealing with something dry-cleanable or super delicate, dab the stain with cold water then cover with Palmolive. Let it sit overnight if possible, then wash. I think it’s failed me twice in the past 15 years.

Deodorant mark on your clothes? Rub with a clean piece of the same garment to remove.

Some garments that are supposed to be machine washed and dried flat come out with ridiculous wrinkles. If you’re willing to gamble a little, popping these items in the dryer for five minutes generally gets the worst wrinkles out without causing shrinkage. Dry flat after that.

If you buy a handbag that comes with a dust bag, save it even if you don’t store the bag inside. Pack a pair of shoes inside it before popping into your suitcase. Protects the shoes from getting banged up, and means you can nestle them right in the middle of your clothes without worrying about dirty soles soiling them.

Now you! Got any clothing care tips to share?

Image courtesy Nordstrom

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Proper Care of Wool Garments

get rid of moths

Sue sent me this request by e-mail:

This morning I dropped off a blazer at the dry cleaners. The blazer is a lovely purple and it’s a thrift find. The shop owner commented that it could have been attacked by moths, there are some tell-tale tiny holes. I’m now on the fence about whether to keep it or toss it. Anyway this experience made me realize how little I do know about wool, and seeing as the cold months are coming up, I was wondering if you might do a post on this on the site. Some of the things I wonder about are:

What to do if you think a garment could have a moth issue? In my case I would not want to have my other woolens ruined. How do you prevent moths in the first place? And in between trips to the dry cleaners, how do you “freshen” up those garments? Finally, can you get away with cleaning certain woolens or woolen blends in water? There is so much conflicting advice on the web.

So this is gonna be one of those posts where I tell you what I know from my own experience and research, and then ask you to contribute your own knowledge. Sue is right: I’ve read more conflicting advice on this topic than any other. (Except how to fit a bra, perhaps.) Which is frustrating, right? Because most of us have a woolen garment or two and we’d prefer to keep them moth-hole-free. So although I can’t offer definitive answers, I’m hoping to start a constructive conversation. Here we go:

If you’ve found moth holes in a garment …

… that means you’ve got moths. It’s similar to if you see a single mouse scampering around: That mouse is probably not flying solo, but instead a representative of the group of mice now living in your house. Same with moths: One moth = many moths. So that sucks. Best practice, sadly, is to wash or dry clean anything in your closet that might become a target: Woolens, cashmere, fur, angora, alpaca, and any other fabrics made from animal hair. Also sadly, it’s best to discard the damaged item(s) since it/they may still harbor moth larvae. (Or carpet beetle larvae, which can stick around for a year. GROSS. Also ANNOYING.) And if you’re bringing a used/vintage item into your closet that could be a carrier, wash or dry clean it before storing. If a certain closet or storage area has been attacked, vacuum it out before replacing your newly laundered clothes – including floor, shelves, drawers, everything.

In terms of storage and prevention, everyone has a favorite method: Pheremone traps, cedar storage, lavender, mothballs, airtight containers. During our last infestation I tried to stick to lavender and cedar, but they did virtually nothing to protect my clothes. So now I seal my super heavy wool garments in airtight bags with mothballs, at least during the summer. The airtightness is key, since it keeps adult moths from getting inside where they can lay eggs.

How do you prevent moths in the first place?

Well, you can certainly keep your clothes dry and well-aired, for starters. Moth larvae feed on fiber that’s moist with something – mostly sweat, but also beverage or food spills – so the drier your clothes, the safer they are. Moth and beetle larvae also hate bright light, so anything that’s worn frequently is slightly safer. These guys are most likely to turn up in clothes that have been packed away somewhere dark. However, since these insects can also infest carpet and furniture, your best efforts with your closet’s contents may not keep them at bay. This is, of course, not your fault but infuriating nonetheless.

Are there ways to freshen garments between dry cleanings?

Yes, though some are more moth-safe than others. I have found that clothing refresher sprays like Febreze are effective on all but the most stink-tastic garments. I turn my garments inside out, spray the armpits heavily, and mist a little over the rest. Then I leave the item to dry for 24 hours or more. You MUST do this in order for the spray to be effective, and if you don’t, you are storing a wet and dirty garment, which we’ve established is essentially moth bait. If you don’t dig the chemicals, I’ve been told that a vodka-water mist can help, though it never has for me. Airing garments outside in the sunshine, has worked for me and since this goes toward the clean/dry goal can also help keep the larvae away.

Can you wash wool in water?

Generally, yes. Natural fibers – including linen, silk, wool, cashmere, and cotton – can generally be hand-washed in cold water, even if care instructions insist on dry cleaning. Same goes for sturdy polyesters and nylon blends. BUT. If you’re dealing with a particularly thin or delicate fabric, a garment with loads of sewn-on embellishment, suiting, or just about anything lined, you’re safer going the dry cleaning route. If you’re unsure how a garment will fare when washed instead of dry cleaned, do a patch test. Wet a small, non-prominent area with cold water and blot with a dry, white paper towel. If the fabric puckers, shrinks, or bleeds color, take it to the cleaners.

Use your judgement and make calls on a garment to garment basis. But when in doubt? Do what the tag tells you to.

And that’s what I know. Please share your own experiences and advice in the comments! How do you moth-proof your clothes? How do you deal when you find those telltale holes? And other clothing-freshening advice? Let us know.

Image courtesy J.Crew

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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