Momover Lady’s Library: The Tidy Closet by Marie-Anne Lecoeur (I know, I know…the endlessly smug French)

Couldn't find a "real" pic, so voila.
Couldn’t find an official book pic, so voila, a low-tech one.

There was a piece in the New York Times recently – which I thought I’d stashed in my subscribers “Save” folder, but of course now can’t find – that boldly posited that the French might be losing a soupçon of their “we’re better than you at just about everything, so go crawl up into a little ball somewhere and get over it” smugness.

I pinkie-swear that such a piece exists. And if and when I finally find it, I’ll link to it right here on this little ol’ blog.

Until then, let’s take an in-depth gander at this helpful number, subtitled: “Tips From A French Woman: EASY STEPS AND MOTIVATION TO DECLUTTER YOUR CLOSET AND ORGANISE YOUR WARDROBE.” (Please forgive the all caps; I’m just typing it as I see it…)

Faithful Momoverettes know that I recently had my new FLA closet professionally tricked-out, and that, despite the tricking, I’m still having a devil of a time trying to fit (read: cram) all my cherished belongings within.

So I’m hoping this author, who also has a blog – howtobechicandelegant – can help me. And by extension, you. The entire raison d’etre of Momover’s Lady Library is to extract excellent intel from my crazy-huge book collection. If there’s nothing good for all of us – this mama, that mama, the mama over there – off it goes to Salvation Army, never to be heard from again here.

On y va. Allez-y. Off we go…

Helpful Intel From Every Chapitre 

1. The gist of Chapitre Un: You’re probably a clutterer, not a bonafide hoarder. Perhaps you weren’t worried about this, but I most definitely was. Lecoeur says only 1 percent of the population jumps the fence from pack mouse to pack rat. Still, I didn’t know that being a “clutterer” was an actual thing. She says it is, and that about 30 percent of us are in this camp. (Don’t you love how I say “us”? We clutterers like company.) Best Takeaway Tip: Change your shopping habits and go for quality over quantity. You knew she would say that, right? That’s classic French thinking. But just because it’s classic French thinking doesn’t mean it isn’t 100 percent – not 1 percent or 30 percent – spot on.

2. The gist of Chapitre Deux: You probably only wear 20 percent of your wardrobe. No doubt you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, aka the 80-20 rule. A business example of the Pareto Principle is “80 percent of a company’s profits come from 20 percent of its customers.” Here, Lecoeur applies it to our closets. Hmmm….I might wear a bit more than 20 percent of my wardrobe, but that’s only because I’m much less of a clothing “clutterer” as I am a purse and jewelry clutterer. Best Takeaway Tip: Don’t buy anything that won’t integrate seamlessly into your wardrobe. If you’re weeding out all the dead wood in your closet – i.e., that 80 percent that never sees the light of day – the remainder needs to work together.

3. The gist of Chapitre Trois: Feeling bummed every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. Okay, maybe this chapter wasn’t so useful. It’s titled “The Disadvantages of Clutter” and is kind of a downer. We get it; tidy is better. Best Takeaway Tip: Until you have a full set of kick-ass classics, steer clear of trendier pieces.

4. The gist of Chapitre Quatre: Feeling Zen every time you open your closet door spills over into your entire life. At about this point, I began to think to myself: Is this book, by any chance, self-published? And lo and behold it is. Listen, I’m sure there are many fantastic self-published books out there. But I’ve been buying a lot of them electronically lately, and many of them could use a good editor, someone to help the author see that you don’t need two chapters to do the work of one. Again: we get that tidy is better. But how do we “do” tidy? That’s what I want to know. Best Takeaway Tip: This is super-crunchy, but I think it’s important – a smart little gem in a not terribly insightful chapter. I like it so much that I’m quoting Lecoeur verbatim:

“Unused or unloved objects have a stale energy. Once you declutter, your home, your relationships, even you will feel so much better because positive energy is allowed to circulate.”

5. The gist of Chapitre Cinq: Buck up and just get on with it already. Doing things right the first time – like putting everything back where it belongs right after we use it – saves us tons of time and energy later, when, say, we’ve overslept and are rush, rush, rushing out the door for school drop-off and / or work. Best Takeaway Tip: Clean as you go. Which basically what I just said, but a little more succinct. That mindset works when you’re cooking dinner, too. Btw and FYI…

6. The gist of Chapitre Six: When cleaning your closet, empty it COMPLETELY and put everything on your bed. I kind of freaked-out when I read this – so extreme! –  but it makes a lot sense. If you do it this way, you won’t get tempted to quit and sneak off to the den to watch “Ladies of London” or some other Bravo TV bullshit. (Um, that’s actually my problem, not yours…) Why? Because unless you want to check into a hotel, you’ll need to sleep in that very bed later. Best Takeaway Tip: Move quickly. The longer you “dither” on an item, deciding its fate, the more likely you are to keep it rather than get rid of it.

7. The gist of Chapitre Sept: Your closet is a key place to express your design sense. Which doesn’t mean spending gobs of cash. Unless you want to, of course. Right now, in my new FLA walk-in, I’m honing in on gray – gray round hat boxes and smaller gray square boxes that I’m using for clunky, chunky cuffs and bangles. Best Takeaway Tip: If you’re painting your closet before you move your newly pared-down wardrobe back into it, opt for a pale neutral hue. This will help your clothes and accessories pop.

8. The gist of Chapitre Huit: Arrange clothing by type AND color. Maybe you love Momover Lady Pink. And because you love Momover Lady Pink, you have dresses, sweaters, shirts and pashmina-y things in Momover Lady Pink. Do you group them together in some gigantic Momover Lady Pink section of your closet? No, because it would take you 10 hours to get dressed every morning. I think you get my point. Best Takeaway Tip: Those little loopy things on dresses? Don’t cut them out as soon as you get the frock home from the store. Instead, use them to help maintain shape. Zipping and buttoning helps too.

9. The gist of Chapitre Neuf: Stay the course. Sorry to be a huge buzzkill, but a great-looking closet requires ongoing maintenance. And that means daily spiffing up. Best Takeaway Tip: Watch your favorite TV shows on-demand, and zip-off to your closet to tidy up during commercial breaks. I just mashed two of Lecoeur’s tips together for a newly improved Super Tip. One that I need myself, btw. Holla, I watch a hella TV.