I consider myself to be a pretty organized, minimal-ish person, but there is one big area that has always presented a challenge: kid’s clothes!
The first year of life is especially full of clothes since there are so many sizes (newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months) and you need a new wardrobe for each size. It slows down a little after that but you’re still changing sizes and seasons and needing clothing in each stage. I don’t try to achieve capsule wardrobes or limit a closet to a certain number of items, but even for someone trying to keep wardrobes small – it’s a lot of clothing!
To give you an idea of how much clothing we use at each stage, here was Vi’s wardrobe for 3-6 months:
And here is LJ’s 2T wardrobe:
Obviously, LJ has a lot more clothing because 2T lasts a year, so he needs a variety of options for seasons, whereas Vi’s only covers a couple months. They each have a few items also hanging in their closets like coats, dresses and nice button downs, but for the most part, this is all they have! I only keep their current sizes out; every other size is in storage.
With a son and a daughter and an unknown future (possibly having more kids and obviously not knowing their genders), we are currently keeping a lot of unused children’s clothing in our house. I quickly learned that I needed to be intentional not only with what I kept, but also how I store their clothing or things could quickly spiral into unorganized chaos. Vi turns 6 months in less than one week and she’s all but busting out of her 3-6 month clothes. Over the weekend, I was sorting through her clothes to put into storage, and I was struck by how far I’ve come in this area – storing her clothing was super manageable and didn’t take long at all.
Today I thought I’d share some of the strategies I use for what I save and how I store it in case anyone else is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their child’s wardrobe and wanting some tips. This isn’t a perfect system by any means, but it has helped me keep their wardrobes manageable and kept me from feeling overwhelmed by holding on to clothing.
Before Storing, SORT!
The biggest tip I have is to keep LESS. I save the outfits I really love, and I pass on the ones that have served their purpose for me. Sometimes I take clothes back to the consignment store and recoup some of the money I spent the first time. Other times I’ll donate it to a friend with a younger baby. I’ve also donated clothes to a local rescue mission that helps women and children working to overcome homelessness.
I don’t hang onto everything for two reasons. One, it’s a lot of clothes! I focus on keeping the type of clothing we use the most. We received a lot of baby outfits as gifts, only to find I mostly keep my kids in sleepers when they’re that little (it’s just easier!) My kids both sleep in pajamas every night (and sometimes we stay in them all day) so we need several pairs of pjs. I also need lots of play clothes – I make sure to have options like soft shirts and joggers that make it easy to move in. But we don’t need a lot of dressy clothes like button downs and dresses, so I only keep a few in each size.
The second reason I don’t hang on to lots of clothes is, trends change! Once I use clothing, I like to pass it on so that it can continue to be used while it’s still trendy. I have received both boy and girl hand-me-down clothing from others, and honestly, some of it seems outdated even though it was only 3-4 years old. A big place I noticed this was in pants, particularly jeans. The trend for kid jeans has shifted in the last few years and baggy, flared baby jeans from 2012 kind of look silly on Vi right now.
I also only keep quality clothing. If something has a stain that won’t come out or is torn or otherwise damaged, I donate it to a textile recycling program (I love H&M’s because they make it very easy to donate!)
Store in a user-friendly, inexpensive way
Once I set aside the clothing I love, that we use a lot, and that is good quality, I make sure it is washed and put it in storage.
My storage system for clothing is super easy, inexpensive, and not at all fancy. I have big plastic tubs that I keep in my kids’ closets. I fold up the clothes, divide sizes with cardboard pieces from broken-down diaper boxes, and use index cards to label each section. Then I just stack the tubs in each closet so they’re out of the way and nicely organized for the future.
I wasn’t kidding about it not being fancy ha! Since we don’t find out the gender of our babies ahead of time, most of our newborn clothing is gender-neutral so we only have one box in that size; otherwise, all the not-in-use boy clothes are stored in LJ’s closet and the girl clothes are in Vi’s.
Whenever Vi bumps up a size, I do go through LJ’s clothes in that size too. LJ has a lot more than Vi, only because I end up using a lot of his clothes for her (like plain colored onesies and joggers). Also, I keep future sizes stored in the shelves so they’re easy to add to as people give us gifts or hand-me-downs and are ready when we need them. In Violet’s case, I also keep sizes over 12 months in the bottom stacked tub since it’ll be so long until we use those.
I tried to be mindful of not keeping a lot with LJ, but I’m finding that I’m keeping even less with Vi. (The middle tub above is her 0-3 and 3-6 month stash and it’s about half of the amount LJ has in those sizes!) I’m buying less, using less, and keeping even less. I just realize that babies don’t need a whole lot of outfits and we tend to wear the same things over and over. I’m favoring the functional things over the cute-but-impractical and it’s amazing how much that lessens the burden of storing tons of clothing.
Bonus Tip: Don’t overspend on clothing to begin with
As a first time mama, I was so excited to buy cute baby clothes. My mom and I went shopping the week after LJ was born and in our excitement we bought so many cute boy outfits. I didn’t realize I’d mostly keep him in sleepers. I didn’t realize he’d be a little peanut and wouldn’t even get to wear some of the sweaters because by the time they fit him, it wouldn’t be sweater weather. I have lots of cute, barely used items that are harder to part with because I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of them. I learned my lesson and these days, I mostly shop consignment. It’s better for the environment to get more use out of clothing and it’s WAY more economical. Plus, once we’ve used a $2 shirt several times, it’s very easy for me to pass it along to someone else because I feel like I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth. Just some extra food for thought!
What tips do you have for storing clothes that aren’t currently being used?