Save suitcase space with the KonMari method

“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” landed on Netflix earlier this month and is responsible for the swath of images flooding your Twitter feed of tidy kitchen cupboards and perfectly-folded clothing.

Folding clothes using the KonMari method. Image credit: Sarah Lou Francis.
Folding clothes using the KonMari method. Image credit: Sarah Lou Francis

We’ve all been there. You get a last-minute call for a business meeting interstate or overseas but don’t know your exact schedule. Will you be wining and dining clients, taking a trip outside the city, or having to pack for bad weather? The variations of what will go into your suitcase are almost limitless.

While the travel conditions might vary, your suitcase space doesn’t. Many of us find what normally fits into your suitcase ends up taking more room as we add in a few extra items for peace of mind.

Here’s where Marie Kondo’s Method, first featured in her #1 New York Times best-selling book and now in an eight-episode home makeover series on Netflix, could come in handy.

The KonMari Method means tidying by category and only keeping items that “spark joy”. So let’s take a look at the six basic rules of tidying, according to the KonMari website.

Rule 1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

Rule 2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

Rule 3. Finish discarding first.

Rule 4. Tidy by category, not by location.

Rule 5. Follow the right order.

Rule 6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

KonMari consultant Aline Lau, who runs Tokimekie and became a certified consultant in February 2017, identifies items which “spark joy” as things you cherish and which serve a “clear purpose” in your life.

The London-based expert said while the method is largely focused on tidying the home, the principles behind the method contributed to packing as well.

“It’s ultimately a tool that reveals what we truly value in life by surrounding ourselves with what contributes towards our happiness,” she said.

To apply the method to your suitcase, Lau recommends choosing items which will serve a “clear purpose” and store each item by category. Perhaps the biggest tip though, is how to pack the items.

“Fold the clothes and stand them upright so when you open your suitcase you can see everything that is inside in one glance and it will also optimize space,” Lau said.

U.K.-based KonMari consultant Jenny Hayes, who has worked with a range of clients via her company Lightly, said packing a suitcase for a holiday and returning to find you’ve only worn a third of it is a situation most of us can relate to.

“One of the most common comments from clients I have worked with is how simple packing becomes,” she said.

“This isn’t a process that just makes things look good, although that is a natural byproduct – the way in which you live and move changes for ever and the ripple effects are felt far and wide.”

Hayes said often when we pack for business, we sometimes forget to inject a bit of our own personality into our business attire.

“When we are ‘working’ we can often think we need to be or look a certain way but it is still vitally important that we take ourselves to our colleagues,” she said.

The packing method remains relatively the same when you’re packing for a luxury holiday, Hayes said, but often times you’ll find you have more space and time to take more with you.

“The thing to recognise is that we do not need half as much as we think we do,” she said.

“The old adage ‘we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time’ holds true no matter where or when…The KonMari Method tends to eliminate the excess noise from our wardrobes, homes, suitcases and minds.”


Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Amy is an Australian journalist living in Berlin. She covers a range of topics, with a special interest in tech and science.