I used to think my children didn’t have a lot of clothes. Based on the amount of clothing I saw displayed at garage sales, my kids really didn’t have much in comparison, I reasoned.
But when we started to be able to go 2 full weeks without washing anything (except socks and underwear), I began to see that perhaps we weren’t as minimalist as I thought.
Seriously, where did these clothes come from? I wondered. I became convinced that they reproduced on their own, like mushrooms. Then I started thinking about just how we filled our drawers and closets.
A shirt here, a dress there. I’d buy things on very good clearance and then forget what we had (because it was packed away in a box) and buy more. Next someone would give us hand-me-downs. Then the kids’ birthdays or Christmas would come and grandparents would give clothing as gifts.
It was all coming into our house in a inexpensive manner, but as we go along in our frugal living journey, I’m realizing more and more that a deal really isn’t a good deal unless you’re going to use it. Our closets aren’t overflowing but we’re definitely not lacking in selection either.
One of our three financial changes for 2013 is to spend less money on clothes, especially our children’s clothes. We are 30 miles from the nearest thrift store and with three children and being pregnant, I don’t have a lot of time or energy to browse clothes or go in on days where there are rock-bottom deals, stuff-a-bag sales, etc. Garage sales in our small town don’t have a lot of selection and so that’s hit or miss as well.
The best ways to make this change seem to be to pare down and minimize our children’s clothing “collections” and to stay organized about what we already have so we don’t buy duplicates or too many extras.
In our family we have two boys and one girl (until our next girl joins us on October!) and we don’t go many places throughout the week. This means that I’ll have a chance to wash clothes that get dirty fairly often.
|Super duper clearance clothes from Old Navy–I’m going to remember & use them!
Based on our needs and our lifestyle, this is what I’m planning on having (per child):
- 2 pairs of dress pants/shorts/skirts, in different colors
- 4 nicer dress shirts (polos, button up, etc)
- 1 fancy dress outfit (1 fancy dress for my daughter)
- 5 outfits for play that are interchangeable and can get dirty without me minding
- 2 nicer casual outfits
- 3-4 pairs of pajamas
- 1 swimwear item
- 2 pairs of shoes, one dress, one casual (read why I always buy new shoes for my kids)
- 1 pair of play sandals for the summer (like crocs or flip flops)
- Seasonal jackets & outerwear as needed
- Undergarments & socks as needed
I’m also going to be stricter about when clothes go in the wash. At the end of the day, if it’s not noticeably dirty or smelly, it can go back in the drawer or closet. This saves on wear and tear from washing as well so the clothes last longer.
Possible barriers to success:
- I’m a clean freak, so I expect the whole “waiting to wash” thing to be a slow process
- I will forget to wash clothes and my kids will have nothing to wear but undergarments (public nudity is not my thing)
- I will wake up one morning and realize I have gone completely insane
Maybe this seems like an extremely minimal amount of clothes and it’s going to backfire. I’m just going to try this as an experiment this summer, so I won’t let go of the winter clothes I’ve already stocked up on for this winter just yet. I want to see if these amounts of clothing are really consistent with our needs.
Already I’ve had a little success! I was pleased to find after going through my 2 year old son’s clothing last week that the only thing I had to buy new for him this summer were one pair each of dress and play sandals. I’ve saved some of his brother’s clothes and bought a few clearance items last year so that was very helpful.
Likely benefits of a minimal children’s wardrobe:
- Less storage space used to store clothes for the next season or when saving for the next child down.
- Less time washing, drying and folding (maybe my kids can manage it ALL now!)
- Better record keeping
- Saving even more money!
How many clothes do you think a child should have? How much is too much? If your kids have too many clothes, what is your plan to pare down?
Read about what I did to clean out my daughter’s closet plus the series “finale” where I share the results of my experiment!