Patchwork made of squares of coloured fabric.

Can clothes really 'spark joy'?

Guest blogger Jen Gale explains why clothes don’t have to ‘spark joy’ for you to love them.

I have to confess right from the get-go, that I am not a clothes horse. I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and got to the bit about only keeping clothes that ‘spark joy’, and looked at the contents of my wardrobe with a sinking heart.

You see, I think I have very few items of clothing that genuinely spark joy.  I have lots of very functional clothes: warm woolly jumpers; hard-working jeans that have been patched more than once, on both legs; vest tops for any fleeting glimpses of sun in the summer, that also double up as an extra layer of warmth in the depths of winter.

But very few items that genuinely spark joy. That make me smile to think of them, and get excited at the chance to wear them.

I haven’t bought any brand new clothes for over three years now, since ‘converting’ to pre-loved during a year of buying nothing new. But I don’t think that that is the reason. If anything, I find buying second-hand clothes liberating –I don’t need to worry about whether I am contributing to the demand for fast fashion, and I don’t beat myself up about how much things cost. So if anything, my wardrobe has expanded since I embraced ‘charity shop chic’. I think it’s just that I see clothes mainly in functional terms.

So can you still love your clothes, even though they don’t spark joy? I think you can, yes.

Take my jeans as an example. I was gifted them on a local Buy Nothing site, and they were pretty much new when I first got them. They fit adequately, and they do all that anyone would ever need a pair of jeans to do.  When they developed a hole in one of the knees, it never even occurred to me to throw them out and get some more. It seemed like so much less hassle to me to simply patch the offending hole, and be able to continue wearing the inoffensive jeans.

Jen's patched jeans

Actually, now I stop and think about it, mending clothes is something that does spark joy for me (at least it does when I’ve finished doing it). And I especially love a visible mend. One that is there for everyone to see. It’s like a badge of honour, showing the world that I think my clothes are worth loving, worth caring for.

So although the jeans themselves might not spark joy, the patch I’ve created might be getting somewhere near…!

Jeans and sewing materials

Jen Gales

Jen Gale spent a year Buying Nothing New, and is now on a mission to get the world Making Do and Mending. Her website is My Make do and Mend Life.