Many people think our business is about helping people let go of unwanted or unneeded possessions. That is certainly one way to look at it. We love a good closet purge, and nothing feels as good as reaching into your closet to find the exact item you want to wear.
But if you think about it the way we do, our business isn’t really about telling people what to throw away. It’s about helping people connect to the items that allow them live their best lives. The clothes they feel most confident wearing, which kitchen supplies to use when cooking dinner for their families, or which towels they love stepping into after a hot bath. These are the things we urge you to hang onto, to cherish, and to care for meticulously so they last a lifetime.
The Art of Keeping is being mindful about each step of ownership. We buy carefully, keeping our needs in mind. We launder our things gently, so they last longer. And lastly, we recognize when an item has served it’s purpose. In other words, when something is no longer serving us, we let it go.
How to practice the Art of Keeping
Only Wear Clothes In Good Condition
1. Don’t wear damaged, ripped, or stained clothing. Anything you put on your body should be thoughtfully chosen. If you keep ripped and stained clothing, you will likely pass over them when you go to your closet. They will just clutter your drawers and closet space. Don’t be tempted to donate these items either, they’re not in good enough condition. If you’re a DIYer, you can repurpose old t-shirts, but otherwise give them to an organization that recycles fabric, decreasing the enormous burden of textiles in landfills.
Don’t Live In The Past Or The Future
2. It’s a common mistake to keep clothes that make you feel bad about yourself. It’s normal for weight to fluctuate, especially through the seasons, and a size or two of variation won’t clog up your space too much. But hanging onto clothes four sizes too small or too big is an emotional response. (You can read more about how to deal with size fluctuations in this post.) Live in the present with your wardrobe. When you get dressed, don’t sift through painful reminders of smaller times. Confidently collect the clothes that don’t fit and give them a new home through the vast network of donation services NYC has to offer.
Nostalgia Is Not Your Friend
3. Keep sentimental things in moderation, and only if they’re built to last. Our co-founder, Ann, was talking to her friend and clothing designer, Amanda Wakeley, who remarked, “Holding onto anything that isn’t exquisitely designed is a fool’s game.” And we couldn’t agree more. As Ann says, “it may be fabric infused with meaning and memory but it is fabric nonetheless.” To put it into more blunt terms: if no one is wearing it, it is a memento and you don’t want to fill up half your apartment with memories from another person’s life.
Just Because You Like It, Doesn’t Mean Your Kids Will
4. Be careful about saving items for your children. Ask yourself repeatedly, “Will they want to store this when they are older and are moving from place to place?” Most clothing does not keep well over multiple generations, so you are better off preserving a modest amount of jewelry and photographs for your kids. These are easier to preserve or display, and the recipient is more likely to use and care for it.
The Joyful Vs. The Necessary
As Marie Kondo wrote in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Does it spark joy?”. In our experience, certain items bring us joy while others may not spark joy, but are necessary. For example, the sense of comforting functionality that your trusty pair of rain boots bring you on a cold and rainy day. While we may choose to keep an item because it’s joyful, it’s more difficult to strategize how much to keep of the necessary items. For example, how much cold medicine should you keep in your cabinets, when is it time to replace the mattress pad, or are your gym shirts too ratty? Both the pleasures and necessities of life have to be carefully evaluated.
Although these decisions seem light, they are endless and can stack up quickly. Avoiding the feeling that you’re drowning in the logistics of life is possible only if you tease out a strategy before decisions start building.
So start now, from the beginning. Buy intelligently. Keep less. Live better.