Week Five: The Clothes You Want Your Kids To Wear (But They Don’t)

ccweek5 Talking about Kid Clutter this week. More here and here.

Somewhere around my son’s second birthday I really stopped caring about his clothing. Was it mostly clean? Great. Put it on. Was it hipster fabulous? Not really. Some days he looked pretty awesome in little Converse, skinny jeans and a button down. Most days he just looked… clothed.

That’s still the case two years later. We tend to buy socks, underwear and jeans ourselves. The rest we buy second hand on eBay (shoes!) and receive as gifts.

I keep kid clothing clutter down by not having a lot of clothing. My barometer for how much we have is, can I still find stuff without folding any of it?


Kid Clothing Clutter isn’t a problem for me because a) my kids are young and b) they have NO INTEREST in what they wear. Really, almost no interest. Occasionally the older one will request his rain boots or rain jacket instead of his regular brown shoes and winter jacket. He has a hockey t-shirt he likes to wear. But mostly I just grab and go with no complaints. I am sure this will change but for now, I am enjoying life on easy street and feeling extra excited that next year he starts wearing a uniform to school (even less choice!).

This tale of the easy life is no help to anyone that is struggling with a five year-old demanding multiple outfit changes a day or teenagers that refuse to wear anything you have purchased for them.

So, friends, we all need your help. Parents of older children or those that are picky dressers, how do you manage keeping the closet full of just what they’ll wear? Do you put a limit on how much clothing they can have? Do you remove items seasonally and as they outgrow them? Do you let them make all the choices?

The best part of blogging is the conversation in the comments. That’s where I learn new strategies and get previews of things to come in my household. So please, tell us your secrets. And if you are struggling with this problem in your own house, share the problem. I am hopeful a few of parents of older children have developed some strategies we can all learn from.

P.S. Too much clothing for babies and toddlers is still a parent driven problem. Thank people for gifts and then donate anything you won’t use. Return those 0-3 month size jeans for store credit and just keep what you’ll use over five to seven days.

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  • My situation is extremely unique but I thought I’d share! My kids are young 4 (5 in May) and 2 yr 2 mo. They’re both girls. And I share clothes with my sister-in-law who has 2 girls as well. They’re 3 yr 4 mo and 18 mo. So it goes: My oldest, SILs oldest, my youngest, SILs younest. Amazingly all 4 girls are the same size, proportionately. They each enter their new size right about their birthday. The biggest issue we run into is we don’t live in the same state or climate (I’m in Wisconsin, she’s in North Carolina). What we do is take photos as our kids outgrow their clothes. The other person says what clothes they want and we then save outgrown clothes in boxes (to pass along to the other, to give to our youngest child, or to sell/giveaway/donate).

    My kids are EXTREMELY picky about what they wear and they change multiple times a day. I have several solutions that work WONDERS. Once something is refused multiple times it gets put aside (for their sister/cousin/donation), no need to keep something they don’t like. They each have their own dresser and their dressers are in their closet (they share a room) with locked bi-fold doors. Then hanging on their closet door handles is a hanger that has multiple clips. I choose 2 outfits for them. 2 pairs of underwear, socks + 2 outfits. Then they can change once a day by themselves. It gives them a choice (of 2) and independence. If I’m lucky they only use those 2 outfits. Anything not dirty goes back into the drawer. It takes constant work, and is especially since my youngest gets clothes from 2 bigger girls, if I took everything from my SIL and kept everything from my oldest she would have enough clothes for 1 insanely overly stuffed dresser.

    • Sorry for over commenting – but this is the hanger system we use – http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-6027-533-Designer-Plastic-Hangers/dp/B000066RUK/ – 1 for each girls daily clothes in their room and 1 for their coats in our coat closet (we live in Wisconsin so they each have several coats for different degrees of cold/wet, they each have a winter coat, a rain jacket that’s lightweight for spring/fall, and a sweatshirt jacket, this is something I cannot for the life of me get down any farther, but I think it’s just our climate. But all 6 fit on this one hanger in our closet.)

  • Oh and no shipping of clothes, we just exchange clothes twice a year when we see eachother. It won’t last forever. As our youngest are only 7 mo apart so they’ll likely be in 2T together starting this summer, and probably more or less stay in the same size for more than 1/2 of each year. But, I think it’s a workable system, for us.

  • I have two girls, ages 7 and 9. My older wears the exact same 3 outfits over and over and over. Even year after year. By this age new clothes tend to be a little big the first year and fit just right the next. She has more clothes than she needs or wears, even when I try to keep her wardrobe minimal.

    My younger daughter has favorite outfits, but she rotates through her wardrobe pretty well. Unfortunately she doesn’t wear her sister’s hand-me downs often. They have different styles because they have different personalities.

    When we are getting ready to change seasons or sizes, I let my younger choose what hand me downs she wants to keep. Then we fill in the gaps.

    We regularly cull through our closets and choose items we can pass on to friends. I’ve been doing this all along and now my girls are willing participants. I have had to learn to respect when they really don’t like something or won’t wear something – even if I like it and wish they would wear it.

  • I have a 2.5 year old and a 4 mth old, both daughters. My friend has a 2.5 yo daughter who’s a bit bigger than my oldest. So she hands stuff on to me, then both mine wear it, on the agreement it is recycled if appropriate afterwards. My 2.5 year old gets some say in what she wears but she doesn’t change outfits… That said, she has just started asking to change into pj’s/ put her football kit on so maybe it’s the start? I try to give her the chance to choose, like last night I showed her what she could wear and she chose for today then this morning asked to wear a different jumper. I also try to follow Project 333 with her but at the moment life is a little chaotic with her baby sister! 😉 As for buying new stuff, again, I generally say ‘do you like this’ etc. The only issues really are that I want to steer her away from ‘brand’ stuff. Oh and they have a little play wardrobe that has to house any hangers and then a chest of drawers that they have a drawer in each so if it’s overflowing it’s time to sort out… She sometimes chooses rather random outfits or her biggest thing is a million hair clips in at once! But tbh I can let that go…

  • I have a boy (10) and two girls (6 & 8). My biggest help to reducing the amount of clothes the kids have are the fall and spring consignment sales we have in our city. I go through their clothes with them, seeing what fits for the upcoming season. I also ask them if they actually like the clothes…a lot harder with a 6 year old girl than my son! When I’ve cleaned out the outgrown, outworn, and undesired clothes, I sell their old clothes that are decent and take inventory of what I need to buy for the upcoming year. Although it does take a bit of work prepping clothes to be sold, it almost always pays for what we need for the next season.

  • I have a number limit for things. For my five boys (ages 3-14) it’s 5-8 t-shirts, 3-4 jeans, 3-4 shorts (seasonal), 2 pairs of sneakers, and one of each of the following: church shirt, tie, and church shoes. Plus one of each of the following (seasonal): boots, coat, jacket, gloves, snow pants, sandals.

    I have learned not to purchase long sleeved shirts because 1) their life cycle is so short, and 2) my children just prefer regular t-shirts anyway.

    I do it a little different for my six year old girl. I’ve found when I hang up her clothes normally (shirts here, pants here…) she goes through multiple clothing changes a day. But when I hang up this shirt (previously a dress) and this pair of leggings on one hanger then that’s how she wears them and has an easier time sticking to just one outfit a day. Although my daughter currently has more outfits than her brothers (eight plus two church dresses) it looks like she has less because of the way they’re hung. She could still stand to have a little less.

    I do laundry three times a week so technically they only need like 3-4 outfits, max. We have slightly more than that because life happens.

    The children and I go through their closets twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall and make sure they have enough clothes. I check that their clothes are in acceptable condition. This is when we evaluate sizing as well.

    I also let my children have a big say in what they wear. If they don’t like it they won’t wear it, so why buy it in the first place?

    I’m a big fan of second-hand clothing stores, but just because something is a good price doesn’t mean I need a lot of it. And I always judge those purchases by asking, “Do I like this enough that I would purchase it even if it were full price?” If the answer is yes, that’s when I know it’s a good deal.

    I get that the way I do this is not for everyone, and that’s great. But for us, this system works incredibly well. I’ve been doing it this way for many years so I’ve definitely had time to evaluate if this system actually works. It does. We only spend our money on clothes that actually get worn and laundry day is a breeze, even with so many people in our family. If anyone is open to setting a number limit to simplify things, I highly recommend it.

    • I really like this. I have three boys, all pretty little for their age, so we get a TON of hand me downs from friends and families. At the beginning of the school year, I noticed I was going to have to go buy clothes for my oldest- a first that I didn’t already have a box of clothes in his size. Since I was buying them myself, he has the smallest amount of clothes of anyone else. But, all of his clothes are ones he picked out and loves. He is by far the easiest to dress and his closet causes me the least amount of stress.

      I’ve been struggling with what to do with my 5 year old and 1 year old’s closet. There are just so many clothes, it is overwhelming to me and them. I’ve prided myself on the fact that I didn’t buy any of it, but clutter is still clutter, even when it’s free. I think I’m going to pick a number of clothes to own, box up everything else and see how it goes. Thanks for the suggestions, I have some numbers to reference!

  • My boys have three small bins each. One for shirts, one for pants and sweaters and one for pajamas, underwear and socks. Right now they are young and as their clothes get bigger w’ll have to change it. The toddler has less than 30 peices of clothing. He could do with even less and I’m constantly pairing down and tossing stuff. Stained? Too small? Doesn’t fit right? Out it goes without a second thought.

    The baby also wears his borthers socks since his booties keep the bigger sizes on. I also don’t worry about matching socks. Who has time for that?

    • Saw a tip somewhere to only buy white socks. Then you always have a match. I love the idea but.. is it strange that I like cute socks on my kids? They both have about six pairs and so far it’s not a hassle to find the sock mate.

      • We are usually ok with socks too. Funny, when you have six pairs it’s not a hassle, but when I look in my own closet (which is sadly over-socked) there are all kinds of orphan socks. So far my system is to have a bin for orphan socks to go, and then periodically dump it out and try to make matches. It works pretty well. If a lone sock persists, I usually give it up for a mismatch and get rid of it.

  • I use one of those hanging shelf organizers. One cubby for l/s tops, one for s/s tops, one for play trousers, one for shorts, one for jams etc. My son can sort his clothes himself and puts them in the right cubbies (even if it is ‘stuffing’ these days…) Their ‘church’ clothes hang on hangers – two outfits for my son. My daughter has more dresses than she ‘needs’ but honestly the darling dresses are one of the joys of having a daughter, and I indulge just a little without guilt:-)

  • My 5 year old girl is not very picky, but she´s very clear about what she doesn´t wear, unless we go to a wedding or a special event: dresses and skirts. So much for my dreams of sweat pink dresses… Over time, I found out that dressing a practical girl is so much better. She has the boys kind of uniform: pants, shorts, sweaters, hoodies, tennis shoes or shoe boots. All in more girly colours and shapes, of course. It´s really easy to dress her, since I accepted her way of being a girl, and stopped buying stuff that ended up going totally unworn for my younger nieces.
    I just buy clothes that match all together and my laundry is not a hell. Some colours she just doesnt wear in winter, like yellow or orange. It´s like my minimalist closet, really – I keep my colours limited so everything matches. In spring and summer, we go back to more colourfull clothes, because t shirts and blouses are lighter and easy to wash and sun dry. One big rule in our home is: no clothes that need ironing. There´s no time nor the mood for that.
    We get some clothes from two older cousins, who luckily are the kind of sporty girl she is, so we use lots of things.

    • My girl is like this too, though I encouraged the heck out of it. Dresses just aren’t practical for the playground unless they have pants underneath anyway. :)

  • The clothing items my kids will not wear: button down shirts or sweaters. Kind of a bummer, they look so cute on little boys! I compromise by having a couple of button down shirts that they wear for dressier occasions. Otherwise, they are in jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt daily. My oldest decided last year that he will no longer wear shirts that have a picture of any sort on it, so that just winnows the options a little bit further, but honestly, I am happy with his decision. ;

    How do I keep their wardrobes filled with only items they will wear? I don’t buy them much clothing, just enough to get by comfortably. This means about 6 shirts and 4 pair of pants. I like them each to have one dressy outfit. They also have three pair of shoes each (runners, rain boots, and sandals for the beach/pool). They are now 8 and 5 years old and they are no longer getting as much clothing as gifts from friends and family, so that really limits the clutter too. My kids share a small closet and a dresser, and only have two drawers each to store everything, so a small wardrobe is a necessity! I have started attending a clothing swap with friends a couple of times a year, so anything that my kids aren’t wearing on the regular gets taken there and someone else’s child might get some wear out of it! Anything that is outgrown by my youngest gets tossed in the “swap bag” or given to friends right away. Clothes outgrown by my oldest are reviewed by my youngest and either put back in the closet for future use or put in the swap bag.

    I am loving your theme this week. When my kids were smaller, there were many things I bought because of aesthetics. Reality is everyone likes different things, and just because I think something looks cool does not mean my kids will wear it/play with it.

    ps. Sorry for the novel. 😉

    • Erin – you are a few years ahead of me with two boys. Thanks for detailing your system – great ideas for me and others here. And, again, thank you for the PJs not needed idea. So handy just to have comfy pants that could also be worn to gymnastics or just out and about.

  • Boy is simple. We order the same sort of strategy every year. Childrens Place has elastic waist jeans and cargos that don’t look elastic. They’re very good. We order 4 cargos, 2 jeans and 1 chinos. For shoes it’s good running shoes and crocs (lined or unlined depending on season). We also like the Land’s End suede slide ons. They’re good for outdoor play and look almost dressy. A full zip up hooded fleece for each and some graphic T’s on sale.

    But girl-child was impossible. She relies heavily on comfort and at 7 has her own particular style. I don’t understand it but it’s leggings ONLY and bright colors. Super duper bright colors. I, myself, have a closet of black and grey fitting clothes so this is hard for me. But my husband asked me to embrace her style and let it slide as a phase. I bought a lot of tunics and long cute T-shirts. Lots of cute boots. I’m trying.

  • My 10-year old has started to be interested in clothing. Luckily his two criteria: comfort and no brand names. ( which unfortunately rules out a lot of Gap clothes)

  • We figure out how many of each item each kid needs, and then go through them periodically to winnow down to that number. Things that are permanently stained, torn, etc. go first. Then things we don’t like or they don’t like. We honestly buy very few clothes for them, except that we splurge on our annual trip to Canada at Roots. (They don’t ship kids’ clothes to the US.) Between that and doting grandparents, we are set except for the occasional purchase at Target or Payless. (Will have to look into eBay – good idea.)

    Things they love and we hate have thankfully been minimal. They get to keep them usually. A ridiculous pair of leopard print leggings have been kept for “weekend pants” because my daughter adores them. The four-year-old wears what we say to day care and whatever she wants on weekends, as long as she’s decent. So far that works. The baby cares not.

  • My kids are older- my son is 14 and daughter is 10. I have found that I get the most longevity out of her clothes thanks to current trends/ styles. Dresses that she outgrows make really cute tops over jeans or leggings, plus we try to buy items that carry over into other seasons (cotton sweaters vs wool, chinos vs corduroy, etc.) She is pretty particular about what she wears but isn’t brand loyal- we will shop certain brands like Gap and Aeropostale but only when they are having good sales. We have also gotten some great deals on shoes/boots on ebay. My teenager on the other hand, has been all about Abercrombie, although lately he has been more willing to explore other brands. With him especially, we scour sales, and give a budget of what can be spent. He understands that choosing more expensive brands means he has less clothing, but he doesn’t seem to mind. They both have small but nice and versatile wardrobes. We generally get at least a year out of their clothing, often more if we size carefully and shop after their yearly growth spurts. :) Coats we buy bigger and usually get 2 winters out of. I sell their nicer items via our local Facebook site or consignment and then apply that $ toward the family clothing budget. Retail me not is my favorite shopping app on my phone.

  • I’m way past this stage of life but here’s what I did: When my daughter wanted Gloria Vanderbilt jeans I decided she was old enough to understand clothing costs. So I gave her the money for her school wardrobe for that year and we went shopping with her taking the lead. She bought regular jeans rather than have her whole budget go for one pair of “name” jeans then having to wear everything else from last year. I’m pretty sure she was 11 that year so this can happen younger than you might think.

    • Linda – thanks for this example for older children. In my time it was Guess jeans :) I never got a pair. By the time I had money to buy a pair from babysitting and a part-time job, I was buying most of my own clothing and decided, like your daughter, I would rather have five pieces of clothing instead of one pair of jeans. This was when I was still growing so needed bigger sizes every year.

  • I also learned early on to pick a colour scheme. We used to have brown, black and blue clothing and nothing matched. Now we go with navy or khaki bottoms and tops that match blue. It means that whatever my toddler picks out to wear matches with no battles!

  • I limit clothing to what will fit in one dresser drawer – especially since said dresser is soon to be shared with the younger sibling. I think I’ve got the toddler clothing purchases down to an art form now. In the fall, he gets half a dozen pair of elastic-waist cargo pants in various neutral colours (they look smart, but are almost as comfortable as sweatpants), two pair of sweat pants, plus a dozen tops, ranging from long-sleeved tees to sweaters to button-down shirts. Everything can be mixed and matched, so he looks presentable, no matter what he chooses to wear. In the summer, it’ll be half a dozen pair of cargo short and a dozen short-sleeved tops. I try to only buy things that I know he will happily wear. He’s refused jeans for the last six months, so I won’t be buying any more until he actually asks for them.

  • We have one medium sized dresser that my daughters share and a small one for my son. If it starts getting full, we cull. We also never buy them clothes ourselves–they are gifted with just about everything. I know that won’t be forever, but it helps keep the clothing clutter down.

    My daughters are still young (6 and 4) but are pretty picky about what they like. They won’t wear jeans at all. But a drawer full of shirts with sparkles and another with leggings work for us.

  • I have two girls aged 3,5 and almost 5,5 – one more on the way in April :-) Obviously having two girls with only 22 months between is easy as the youngest just inherit from the older and since she tends to be slightly taller than my oldest, at this age I just move things from one drawer to the other… No. 2 actually likes the idea of getting the nice clothes she has seen her sister wear. They have very strong opinions about what to wear (girls!!!) and mostly like dresses – fancy dresses!!! Luckily they go to a private school requiring school uniforms so we rarely have the discussion during the week. They know they have to wear their school uniforms! During the weekend they can pick a dress to wear – we have a small selection of wintery and summery dresses – and then a few (2 or so) dresses reserved as they say for “birthday parties or something like that!” So in actual sense, they have very few clothes items. My oldest has 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pair of shorts, 2 pair of leggins, maybe 5-6 long sleeve T-shirts – a few more short sleeved, 3-4 winter dresses, 5-6 summer dresses, 2 “fancy dresses” and then a couple of big winter sweaters (heavy knitted ones, knitted by my mum), tights, socks, underwear, 2 pyjamases (+ 1 really warm wintery one), 1 winter night dress and 3 summer night dresses. Add to this the school uniform. The little ones has slightly more clothes, as she tends to get more dirty and once in a while (although rarely by now) has ‘accidents.’

    They used all their clothes regularly. I buy clothes (apart from the school uniform) om sales. Here we have sales every January and July and you can buy things ranging form 30 to 70 % off! I roughly know what they will need within the next year. I do the same with shoes (they need black school shoes summer/winther, black boots, sneakers, wellies, fancy dress shoes, a pair of sandals and some crocs for indoor use). I also sometimes get a bag of clothes from a couple in church. They I go through it with the girls and see what they can actually fit/what they like. The rest I give to charity. A few items they like but are not really something l would like them to wear. Compromise is that they have a box in their room with “dressing up clothes” and they love that game! (Again: Girls!!!) Several times a week I find them dressed up with funny clothes, hats and scarves and having a blast of a time! Rather inexpensive toys and a lot of fun….

  • My oldest (7) has one outfit-shirt, pants/shorts, undies and socks-for each day of the week, plus one dress shirt, 1 set of snow gear, and two hooded sweatshirts.

    My two younger kiddos (3 & 1.5) have nine outfits each since they are a bit messier and potty training still. Plus 1 dress, 1 set of snow gear, 3 hooded sweaters.

    Laundry day I pair up the outfits and put them in individual bags so the kids can just pull out a bag each morning and know that everything they need to get dressed is there. It also helps dad because it means he’s not getting a sideways look from me for trying to pair giraffe print jeans with a polka dot dress, and if we want to get away for a day or two packing is a no-brainer because I just grab everyone enough bags for each day we plan to be gone.

    Snow and swim gear (we have to drive to find snow) for the whole family goes in the same bin and if we want a snow/beach day I just toss the bin in the car knowing that everyone will have everything they need instead of triple checking that I remembered to grab everyone’s gloves or swim trunks.

  • Who has ideas for when children change thier mind about what clothes they like midway through a season? My 3 year old all of a sudden stopped wearing jeans, cargo pants with elastic waists (Soft so they didnt pinch), button ups, certain style sweaters, etc. I had already purchased the items and he wore them for about a month and then poof, melt down city trying to get him into any of those clothes. I have a closet full of clothes that he refuses to wear and it is not worth it to push the situation- there are greater battles to deal with in my house. I do know going forward that he will be part of the decision making process because I refuse to waste money on clothes, no matter how inexpensive. However, if anyone has tips on similar situations, PLEASE share! :)

  • It’s funny. We has so many hand me downs and purchases for my daughter. She barely wore her clothes out as a baby. With less money (I quit work) and no hand me downs my son has maybe 7 outfits a season and I love it. So easy. Less stress and clutter. Really highlights the benefits of less. I’m hoping to do that with my closet in the near future (we are unpacking so it’s not high on the list yet). I’d love more ideas on what to keep once they’ve outgrown. Or not to keep. Right now I throw it in the closet (Shame I know) but I have the what if problem.

    For my three year old daughter we have a drawer with preschool clothes and one with regular clothes. She gets to pick and generally puts them on herself. She’s very into doing things herself. It’s simple and works well.

  • I wish I had all the money that I spent over the years on cute kid’s clothes that didn’t get worn very much. I think most of us have to learn the hard way that children really don’t require all that many clothes, and it makes life so much easier if they don’t have too much to choose from/keep up with/pick up off the floor/wash, etc. Based on the coat closet, I’m still learning that lesson about coats, but after four kids, I’m doing much better about buying less/getting rid of clothes that they don’t like/won’t wear. At the end of the season, we go through all the clothes we have and try them on or just go ahead and donate any that were hardly worn. Let’s face it, if they weren’t worn this season, they won’t be worn next year either, even if they do still fit. Two of my biggest tips would be to not take your daughters shopping very often:) and to check consignment sales at churches, especially for girl’s clothes. A lot of churches have them in the spring. They’re a great place to sell your extra kid’s clothes also.
    Thanks for doing this series, and I hope your readers will take note and go the easier/cheaper route with clothes, toys, etc. and put the money they save into college funds or vacations or making memories with their kids.

  • This is a tough one in our household as my wife and I have different philosophies on clothes for our 8 year old daughter. My philosophy is to only buy new stuff when she outgrows her current. Her philosophy is to buy new clothes whenever.

    To deal with the difference of philosophy my daughter and I do closet purges a few times a year. We’ll go through her stuff and get rid of anything she doesn’t wear or that doesn’t fit her anymore. My wife gives us free reign on the purges because she realizes if she didn’t she would never get rid of anything because “IT’S SO CUUUTE!”

    My daughter is super fashion savvy, and seems to create her own style with different combinations of clothing and layering. Being that as it is, she also knows what clothes she doesn’t like to wear and is quick to pick out the pieces to purge.

    I’m not sure the buy and purge method is the best method, but it’s what we’ve been able to compromise on as a family.

  • We have 5 boys and our youngest turns 18 soon, so of course we know all about hand-me-downs in this family! When our oldest didn’t like a shirt, it was no big deal as it just got passed to the next son in new condition. Funny thing was, he wouldn’t wear it either, nor would the next, and so on! Sometimes there is just something about how a piece of clothing fits, or a scratchy tag or elastic that digs that makes it unpopular, even though it looks just fine to us. One thing I did over the years was get rid of dressers in their rooms and wish we never would have had them in the first place. We put all shirts on hangers and pants on the skirt hangers with clips, and had baskets on the closet floor for socks, underwear and miscellaneous items like shorts. Sold the dressers online and they now had more floor space in their rooms. Did the same in our master bedroom, no dressers now though lucky that I do have 2 closets and my husband 1. I have a plastic set of drawers on the floor of mine for socks, underwear and scarves and try to hang up everything else, sweaters get folded and kept on top shelf. Hubby has baskets for socks, underwear and workout gear. I have purged a lot of clothes in the past couple of years so we also have room in the closets for luggage and seasonal wear like heavy coats, as well as blankets and linens. Wish I would have known a more minimal lifestyle when I was younger, the money I could have saved and how simple aspects of my life could have been!

  • Our boys are 3 + 5 and VERY into what they wear! I have to admit, I am also very into what they wear. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I never had a little girl to dress up and another part that I am a bit vain about how they look. Things I don’t buy for them/donate if they receive: anything with cargo pockets, Croc-type shoes, khakis, and any shirts with designs I find hideous. I do buy some of the boys’ clothes new, but I have been finding some good items thrifted. We stick to skinny jeans since I have thin boys, so even those look like more regular fit jeans. And I generally stick to Old Navy for those since they seem to fit the best AND be priced well. As for amount, each has about 3 pairs of jeans and maybe 4 pairs of shorts. They each have a heavy jacket and 1-2 sweatshirts/hoodies. The item they have the most of is shirts. Each has 10 or fewer short and 10 or fewer long sleeved shirts. I have an intense love of skate brands, so I sort of go wild there. Each has about 5 in size shoes, but for different purposes: school shoes, rain boots, flip flops, creek shoes, and another pair to be kept in backpack/at school. I think we’ve got a good system going. Oh and as for PJ’s…we did the easiest thing–let them sleep in undies! They would live in their undies if we let them–also saving a lot of wear and tear on clothes 😉

  • I have one 9 yo daughter and she gets lots of hand me downs from her five older female cousins.
    So what I do is go through in a first round with her and eliminate what she says no to from the many piles. (Trust me..a lot gets discarded in this round). We wash them up and then they go into her drawers…usually too many… BUT I give it about 2 months and look at what’s she actually worn out of all those clothes and the ones she hasn’t worn (after 2 months of wearing she’s obviously chosen her favorites from those) get pulled and either passed on to friends who can use them or donated to our bi-annual church yard sale.
    I do fill in the gaps with sales,.,I will casually shop for those year round. I always buy new socks, undies, shoes and coats. If we are lucky enough to get coats/jackets, they usually aren’t in good enough shape to wear..although we have been able to get a few hoodies that have been very usuable.
    We also try to wear things more than once in our house. I practice this easily but my daughter hasn’t quite caught on that just because you might wear something one afternoon and do nothing but sit around the house in it..that it CAN be worn again. :) Jeans always get multiple wearings and a lot times we can stretch the wearings on tops.

    I’ve been using this method of “Wait & See” for about 2 years now and it works very well for us. She never misses anything I pull out and donate/pass on. I guess this method may work better for those with “tweenish” kids who are all the sudden very opinioned about what they wear. 😉

  • I need to know where you got that short sleeve button up and the skinny jeans and converse shoes, please?

    • Ha! :) I believe they are H&M. Strangely, we got a lot of use out of that tie for birthday parties and special occasions. Not sure where those Converse are from but probably eBay? I buy most of our kid shoes off there. With our proximity to London there is a really good selection and you can find barely worn shoes for 1/4 or 1/3 of retail.

  • I’m lucky that both my daughters (5 and 3) aren’t picky about what they wear. They have a TON of clothes (most bought by my mom). My oldest is a peanut so she wears clothes FOREVER. Seriously, she has a pair of shorts size 2T she can still wear. My problem is how many clothes do I keep? They are of course attached to all of them. I think I need to do the hanger system where you turn them all the opposite way and once they are worn turn them around. Well, it will work with cold weather clothes. I’m sure we will have more of a fight when it comes to all the dresses haha.

  • A very entertaining discussion that just proves once again how individual kids are! :)
    As a child, I had a school uniform and a few dresses, skirts and sweaters and that was about it – we didn’t wear trousers in middle England, for some reason?! When we moved to Switzerland, I no longer had a uniform so life became complicated. Later I found that my school had a very Americanised “uniform” – Levi’s (which were really expensive here!), band shirts, check shirts… no matter the occasion, that was all we wore and all I had.
    When my girls were small, in the 80s/90s, all kids seemed to live in cotton turtlenecks/tights in the winter, just putting on pants or snowgear to leave the house… In summer it was a T-shirt/biker shorts. The girls all refused to wear skirts from the moment they started Kindergarten at 4-5. Guess I wasted a lot of money back then, though I always loved the idea of a “uniform” – they didn’t!
    Now my grandkids amuse me. The 5 yr old boy is an extremist and if he won’t wear something, he won’t wear it, to his mother’s despair. She resorted to offering him only 2 choices and keeping his clothes minimal and very separate so he couldn’t insist on shorts if it’s too cold, for example. That worked ok. But he takes a vehement dislike to some items at a whim – check shorts was one thing a couple of years ago or a plain sweatshirt yesterday, and then it just has be got rid of. As little choice as possible is probably my advice for those kids!! He does love bright colours and it is wise to take him shopping and consult with him or it’s just a waste of money.
    My granddaughter, on the other hand, is 2 1/4 and has very definite ideas about what she wants to wear but will accept a wider range of choice without tantrums – quite a revelation! And a relief to my daughter… ;o
    They each have a dresser and not too many clothes, so it’s easy to see at a glance what is on offer – useful for grandparents helping out to know what the choice is, too!

  • I have 2 girls, a 14 year old and a 10 year old. The 14 year old hates shopping, so once I got her style down she started wearing whatever I put in her room. Mostly she’s drawn towards comfort, though. Jeans, yoga pants or sweats. If things start to look too tight or short I whisk them away when she doesn’t notice, easier than starting another debate. (14 year olds love to argue about anything!) She has a drawer for tops, bottoms, skirts/shorts, and swim suits (I am sort of a swim suit addict!).
    The 10 year old is so particular about how something “feels”. She is s pain to shop for. I just started adding a little extra on to her debit card so that when we are out shopping and she sees something she likes then she can buy it. No more shopping responsibilities on me. I’m tired of returning stuff! They both have a weeks worth of clothes, not too much else. I’ve noticed they tend to gravitate to the same outfits anyway.

  • My kids are ages 13 (boy) and 11 (girl). A teenager and a tween. They think nothing of throwing every article of clothing in the laundry, dirty or not. This alone is enough reason to minimize the clothes! They wear uniforms to school. They get lots of clothes as hand me downs and as gifts. The only things I really buy are school uniforms and footwear. My daughter is a bit of a fashionista. She is my go to person for fashion advice and I need her! Today is laundry day so I decided to see what was left in the drawers as these are things not worn as much. I bagged A LOT of their clothes. My son won’t care. My daughter might so I will wait to see what she misses before I ditch the clothes. The hardest part was getting rid of beautiful clothing that still fits or will fit but is just not needed. I got rid of anything that I hadn’t seen them put on since winter started. I also have a pile of summer clothes for my son to try on after school (he will be thrilled) to see if they still fit. I usually am good at culling clothes at the end of a season but lately they are growing fast! Thanks for the ongoing inspiration!

  • I have had that struggle and little by little I’m still learning that even though I really would like my girls to wear something, they don’t have my taste in fashion. My youngest one won’t wear a lot of the shoes I though she would love because they had glitter on them, my oldest daughter won’t wear long sleeves no matter how cold it is, only a sweater and a t shirt. My oldest son wear what he chooses only as he is 17 and is very set on looking a certain way, my youngest boy, 14, will usually wear whatever I give him, except for the school pants, they have to be soft and high quality, which in the end it works out as he gets a lot of wear out of them and honestly they live in their uniforms through the winter more than casual clothes. So it makes sense to me at this point to not shop alone anymore for my kids. I take them with me and involve the in the choosing of they clothing. I also save tags and receipts as very often two days later the girls have said, they really don’t like what they got, and that they only picked it because I kept hinting at it. haha.

  • I have 4 kids, 2 girls and 2 boys, ages 1-10. I buy all their clothes at yard sales and I only buy clothes I like. I have a wall in the garage with big shelves on it. The shelves are full of 44-quart plastic containers. Those aren’t the huge plastic tubs- they are smaller. I have over 30 of them (but some are for cloth diapers that aren’t currently in use, newborn receiving blankets, etc). They have labels on them like “6-12 month girl”, “4-year-old boy”, “toddler girl shoes”, or “snowpants ages 1-5”. I buy clothes at yard sales even a few years in advance and keep them in the boxes. I don’t keep more than one box of clothes per gender per year. If a box is too full I declutter it, keeping only the best items. I lived in Europe as a young teenager and we espouse their philosophy and wear an outfit for 2-3 days unless it gets dirty or stained (underwear gets changed daily, though). When kids outgrow clothes, we go “shopping” in the garage. I only buy white socks except for church socks. So each child has one package of all white socks. That way there is no worrying about not being able to find a match- just grab two socks and go. Then my boys have dark church socks and my girls have tights in white and black (no weird patterns, stripes, bright colors, etc), but other than that we just do white socks. I go through my kids’ clothes at least twice a year to see what they have and what they need. I also have an inventory of my yard sale clothes so at any time I can pull out a binder and see how many 4T boys’ pants I have or how many girls’ shoes I have in a size 3. That way if I’m at a yard sale and see a pair of brown boys’ sandals in a size 11, I can quickly look and see if I already have sandals in that size or not. Or if I find a yard sale with a lot of girls size 6 t-shirts I can see if I already have 8 of them or if I only have 2 and know how many to buy. If I buy something new I record it. I try to stick to just a few pair of shoes for each kid at a time- one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals, one pair of dress shoes (two for girls- one white and one black), and one pair of snow boots. I don’t buy any shoes that only go with one outfit, so we don’t have hot pink sneakers, shoes with sequins on them, gold dress shoes, etc- just stick to the basics (I do the same for me- I only have about 5 pair of shoes including sandals and boots). Otherwise it gets excessive. I buy things like snow boots and snow pants in gender neutral colors so it can go through all the kids. If the kids want anything special like sequined shoes or colored socks they can buy them with their own money. They really don’t ever bother to do that, though- there is so much more they’d rather spend their money on.

  • I have a little bit older kids – girls 9 and 7, boys 5 and 3. We have one big closet between their two rooms that they share. Their clothes are totally limited to the space we have – the girls share one tall dresser, the boys each have an ikea drawer unit (antonius I believe?), plus the each have a section of hanging rod. So there’s not a huge amount of room, but we have enough space if we focus on keeping just what we all really like, what fits *right now* and what’s great quality. Basically capsule wardrobes for kids. I have pretty much stopped taking many hand-me-downs for this reason. I’d rather buy a few things that I really like and that will fit properly – my girls especially are hard to fit correctly and need particular sizes. My sister is a great seamstress and makes beautiful dresses for the girls, so I don’t say no to those of course! Even my three year old can have strong preferences about clothes – he for instance refuses to wear non-matching pj sets (no truck pants with shark top!), and they all have favorite items. I do try to be sensitive to their preferences when deciding what to keep, but I do reserve the right to make the final call. The three olders are also in charge of folding and putting away their clothes (I sort them out of the dryer), so they sort of realize to that the more clothes they have the more work they potentially will have.

  • I have 4 kids, 2 girls aged 4 and 9 and 2 boys aged 6 and 8. The oldest girl and youngest boy both have sensory issues and i have stopped buying clothes for them because so many things were going unworn.

    I try and buy colours that match, usually navy and greys for the boys, and my youngest looks great in navy pink and greys too. I avoid red at all costs, too many times my husband has turned something pink in the wash!!!

    Less is definitely more with kids clothes, they wear the same things over and over any way.

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