I Marie Kondo-ed My Closet. Then I Did This.

My very American solution for a happy closet and happy me.

I had a clothes problem. My hangers were smushed together so tight, I often employed the Swiss Army knife technique: remove five items to get one out. My drawers required a hip check to get them flush. And this was only my warm weather apparel; the cold weather pieces were in storage. The hassle of getting an outfit pulled together from the chaos, combined with my indecision of what to wear each day, resulted in me rotating through eight or so outfits per season, including my weekend athleisure set. Seriously, ask my coworkers and husband. If a shirt got shoved to the back of the drawer at the season’s beginning, it stayed there until next season’s clothes swap. Only those items at the drawer opening or closet rack end made it into the outfit lineup. This broken system not only prevented me from tapping into the full potential of my closet, it also gave me tinges of guilt, frustration, and anger every morning, date night, and pre-vacation pack-time. Years of those little tinges added up.

At the end of last summer, I made a decision that has since transformed how I get dressed and how I feel when I get dressed. Preparing for the biannual closet change-out, a half-a-day affair of switching clothes from hangers and drawers to storage bins and vice versa, I was overwhelmed by a wave of emotion that had accumulated from over the years. To have this many clothes — and not wear them — when so many others go without felt shameful. To buy this many clothes and waste this much money on things rather than enriching experiences seemed silly.

I employed the Marie Kondo tactic of purging my closet of all items that didn’t bring me joy; those items that made me feel self-conscious, were itchy, pitted, stained, or were for that one perfect sunny and breezy 76.4 degree day with no humidity and zero risk of sweating. (Note: I always sweat. Always.) I tossed skirts from three years ago with price tags still attached and shirts purchased a month before but already knew were back-of-the-drawer dwellers.

Before long, I had just a few items left — those that I felt comfortable and confident in and were versatile enough to wear a few different ways. I donated loads of discarded clothes to a local thrift store, feeling lighter and liberated. But after a few days, I realized that I may have tossed out too many clothes. While they may not have brought me joy, they at least kept me from having to do laundry every few days.

I wondered how could I expand my closet without reverting back to where I was. Self-control would be the easy answer, but I’m a girl who likes to shop. I needed a more intentional way of editing my purchases, motivated by a purpose higher than my need for a neat closet. That’s when I decided I would only by clothes made in the USA. My thought was not only would I be selecting from a limited assortment of goods, I would also be supporting jobs, manufacturing, and the future of America.

Finding clothes that are made in the USA is tough. And finding clothes that fit my aesthetic and price point? It’s like a treasure hunt; when you find that perfect American made shirt, it feels that much more special. It’s a method that has reduced my anxiety and frustration, allowed me to be creative about outfitting the clothes I do have, and frankly, reduced my spending. I’ll admit that my exercise gear and underwear and sock drawers have thus far been excused from this policy, but I’m strongly considering implementing it for them too as I have to hip check them too. Right now, though, I’m actually having fun getting dressed in the morning.