How to fold a shirt

Sweater wall at Uniqlo. Photograph by Evy Mages.

When you step inside the new Uniqlo in Tysons Corner, you’re going to notice impeccable stacks upon stacks of folded sweaters, t-shirts, pants, and more. That is, if a mob of excited Uniqlo fans hasn’t come to take everything off the shelves before you get there. 

While neatly-folding clothing is generally a goal of every fashion retailer, Uniqlo takes it to a whole new level. I mean, just look at these sweaters:

Women's Merino wool sweaters are a popular Uniqlo product.

And not only do they emphasize it in the store—it’s also a point of pride throughout the company. Uniqlo’s standard is completing a stack, which is made up of seven items, in a minute.

When I joked to Jack Zech, Uniqlo’s director of stores, that Uniqlo could give host their own Dundies for shirt folding, he informed me that they do, only they refer to it as Uniqlo Olympics, which is an actual event where Uniqlo employees compete for the fastest speed and best quality in the folding of their stack. Well, then.

So how do they make it happen?

The folding process actually starts back at the factory, where Uniqlo area manager Elise Droste says the folds in the apparel are steamed into place, creating creases in the garment.

In the store, the associates practice “body folding,” according to Droste. Rather than folding on top of tables, associates are trained to hold up the garments against themselves to fold. The tables are less inviting, and they make it harder for an associate to drop what they’re doing to jump and help a customer, explains Droste.

Because the garments are already creased where they’re intended to be folded, it makes it easier for associates to pick up a Uniqlo sweater, hold it up against themselves, and to whip it into a perfect, neat square. Here’s a play-by-play: 

10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-1Droste starts by holding the sweater up against herself.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-2She then folds one arm across the back of the sweater along the crease.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-3Then she folds the arm of the sweater down.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-4Then she repeats the fold with the other arm of the sweater.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-5Then she prepares to fold it over in half.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-6The sweater is folded over allowing the size sticker to show on the front.10-28-16-uniqlo-sweater-folding-7The sweater is then added to the stack. Done!

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How to fold a shirt with short sleeves the KonMari way

An illustration from Spark Joy by Marie Kondo that shows how to fold a shirt with short sleeves the KonMari way.Spark Joy/Houzz

On page 68 of Marie Kondo’s new book Spark Joy, Kondo writes that “Folding works best if you approach it like origami.” Which means after each fold, be sure to smooth your palm over your shirt before going on to the next fold. This helps your shirt keep its shape longterm and makes it so that you can store your shirt upright and save space.

Now let’s roll, we mean, fold:

Step 1

Fold one side of the shirt across the center.

Step 2

Fold the opposite side of the shirt the same way, stopping a little before the edge, to form a rectangle.

Step 3

Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise to reinforce the shirt’s shape.

Step 4

Fold the shirt again in half or in thirds. For an extra long shirt, you might have to fold it four or five times.

Step 5

Stand the folded shirt upright on a table.

If your shirt stays standing, congrats! You just mastered the KonMari method of folding shirts.

But you’re not done yet. You still have to put your shirt away. Store the shirt standing upright in a drawer, or effortlessly store it in MakeSpace, and then repeat the process with your other shirts.

If your shirt falls over, it could mean that the rectangle is too wide, or the height of your folds in Step 2 or Step 3 is too high or too low. Experiment with folding your shirt until you get it to stand upright, an accomplishment that Marie Kondo calls the “golden point of folding.”

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Watch Marie Kondo in action:

How to fold a shirt with long sleeves the KonMari way

An illustration from Spark Joy by Marie Kondo showing how to fold a long-sleeve shirt fast the KonMari way.Spark Joy/Houzz

To fold a long-sleeve shirt, fold its edges toward the center to make a rectangle, just like how we showed you to fold a short-sleeve shirt. And remember, smooth each fold with your palm before moving to the next fold.

The key to shirt-folding success: Fold the long sleeve all the way over to the opposite edge, and then fold it down toward the bottom while following the line of the shirt. Try your best to avoid making the sleeves overlap each other, which would only make the shirt take up more space than necessary.

Ready to see the KonMari method of folding a long-sleeve shirt in action?

Watch the below video from Ebury Reads, and enjoy the power of being able to store more shirts in your drawers and MakeSpace bins than you ever thought possible:

 

Bonus: While knowing how to fold a shirt like Marie Kondo is great and all, nothing beats knowing how to organize everything in your entire home. Download our new KonMari Cheat Sheet!

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