To Fold or Not To Fold

We had a brief heat wave here in NYC last week, and I found myself perusing my drawer of short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts. It was nice to rediscover some favorites that I hadn’t worn in many months. But it was a little frustrating because I couldn’t see all of them, just the few at top of the pile.

My shirts (left) folded in Marie Kondo Style

So I decided to redo them in Marie Kondo style. For those of you not familiar with Marie Kondo, she is the author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. Ms. Kondo folds all of her clothes and stands them up in drawers. I saw her speak in person last year and she demonstrated her folding technique, turning unusually-shaped items of clothing into manageable rectangles that could stand up by themselves. Compared to those examples, my shirts were easy!

Standing your clothes upright in a drawer has the obvious advantage of being able to see them all. I am very proud of having been quoted in Cosmopolitan Magazine as saying, “If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it.” But when is it appropriate to stand your clothes up, and when isn’t it?

In the same drawer as my shirts, I have my workout clothes: shorts and socks in the front, and t-shirts in the back. When I dress for a workout, I wear whatever is at the top of each pile. After I’ve laundered them, I put them at the bottom of their respective piles. So it wouldn’t make sense for me to stand those items up, since I’m indifferent as to which ones I wear. I just take whatever is next.

I recommend using the Marie Kondo method when you want to see all of the options available, or when you want to easily find a specific item. For example, when I worked in Corporate America, I went through a phase where I enhanced my business outfits with scarves. Back when Ms. Kondo was still a baby, I was standing up my scarves (sorted by predominant color) so that I could find the right scarf for my outfit without having to sort through a pile.

When is it appropriate to hang an item of clothing rather than keep it in a drawer? I think it depends on the fabric. Slippery fabrics like silk and polyester are better off hanging in a closet because they are too slippery to stay neatly folded. (Be sure to use hangers with rounded corners – here is my favorite.) Cotton blouses with buttons up the front are easier to hang than fold. On the flip side, some fabrics will wrinkle if hung. Those are better off folded and kept in a drawer.

Whichever way you store your clothing, be sure to wear ALL your clothes. If your clothes are standing up like my shirts, put the clean ones in the back of the drawer. If they are in piles, put the clean ones on the bottom of the pile. If they are hanging, hang the clean ones in the back. If you find yourself continually bypassing the item at the top or in the front, it’s a signal that you don’t really like that item and it should be purged from your wardrobe.

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