About two months ago, I made a really big claim: I was going to pare down and minimize our children’s clothes so we didn’t buy SO many things like we had in the past.

After my surprisingly popular post in which I mused about how many clothes kids really need, I thought I’d give you a “month one” update of my three month experiment after some questions from readers. We’re getting into “month two” now but after a couple of summer trips, I had some observations that I thought would be good to share now! 


But first, I have a confession to make. I’m a  failure at my own experiment. This is what my 5 year old daughter’s closet looks like {it’s her 5th birthday today!!}:

Uh, yeah. Way more clothes than the amount I promised to pare down to in my kids’ closets. Sad, you say? Yes, in fact it’s a little embarrassing. But it was pretty much impossible to get rid of her dresses because she really enjoys wearing them all. And then we got hand-me-downs from friends. And I already had a few things I’d bought on clearance last summer.

There are actually two different sizes of clothes in her closet, because she has a summer birthday, so maybe it *sort-of* still counts as effort. I have kept her pants in her hanging organizer because we like to cover her legs in the evening if we’re in the woods or at a campfire or something.

It’s not always a simple process to minimize clothing, is it? And if your child switches sizes in the midst of a season, then you have to be prepared. However, I was a bit over-prepared and will be going through some of the size 4 summer clothes she has pretty much out-grown to give to a friend’s little girl.


Very organized…but too many clothes probably!

My boys on the other hand have just enough clothes to last for about 10 days. We went on a week-long trip and my 7 year old was actually on his last pair of shorts! My 7 year old has 4 pairs of casual shorts included in his wardrobe switches them around for both every day and bedtime as well as 4 pairs of khaki shorts. He has one pair of winter pajamas that he still insists on wearing {shrugs shoulders}.

My youngest {2} is using mostly all his older brother’s hand me downs with the exception of a few clearance purchases from last year, so his wardrobe is much smaller as well. He has 6 dress/nice shirts, 2 pair of khaki shorts, 4 pair of pjs and some random everyday/play clothes.

Bored yet? ;) If you’re still reading, the results of months one & two are thus:

  • My daughter still has too many clothes
  • It’s important to be prepared if a child switches sizes in the middle of a season
  • It’s easier to keep a boy’s wardrobe “minimalist” compared to a girl’s wardrobe
  • My sons have just enough clothes to keep me doing laundry and to last for a week-long vacation with a few things left at home {success–yay!}
  • My children each have two pair of shoes, one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of sandals {scratch that, just remembered my daughter has two pairs of sandals}
  • This is a learning process and will take awhile to perfect

Next month I will give another update, hopefully one that includes a photo of many less clothing items hanging in my daughter’s closet. :)


How about you? Have you minimized your kids’ clothing? Do you have any tips on setting a clothing budget? That will be the next thing I work on!

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26 Comments on How Many Clothes do Kids Really Need? Month One Update

  1. Moving across the country forced us to pare down. I had acquired a lot of our girls’ clothes by hand-me-downs and getting some on clearance for the next size up. There were too many things that weren’t worn because nothing went with it that I had saved from daughter #1 for #2. So what I did for both my girls {3 1/2 and 18 months} were to pair specific tops and bottoms together for a complete matching outfit. Then I bought leggings or a plain colored t-shirt {cheaply from Old Navy or Target} to make matches where needed. I choose 10 outfits and 3 PJs for each child per winter and summer seasons. And to save summer skirts and t-shirts for winter I bought a plain colored long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings to wear underneath for my 3 year old. Now in an apartment where we pay for laundry use I am much more able to look at their clothes at the end of the day and save what isn’t soiled for another day. Also, we have 2 towels per person in our house and 2 for guests that we don’t use. All 4 go in the laundry and the clean 4 come out for their rotation {that doesn’t include pool towels, which is only 1 per person}. I do the same with sheets as towels, having 2 sets per bed. I can get away with washing 4 loads {darks, colors, whites, towels/sheets} and drying 3 each week {the darks I hang dry to prevent fading}. I am loving the less laundry and less in the closets! I have not yet figured out shoes…

    • That is fantastic, Jenny! You have some excellent ideas that I really would like to incorporate in our home, especially regarding the number of towels. I have a hard time letting go of nice towels but maybe I need to because we just don’t need them :) Thanks so much for your ideas.

      And as for shoes….girls have SO many shoes. My boys only have 2 pair each but my daughter has 6 or 7 I think!

  2. Ah, I so need to do this! It’s ridiculous that I can barely stuff my kids clothes in each of their five drawer dressers! They have more clothes than me, and since they choose their own clothes, they wear the same things over and over again. There are some pieces that they’ve never worn and will never wear – why do I still have them in there?! Plus all the clothes they’ve outgrown…thanks for the inspiration!

    • It’s a process but I’m convincing myself it will feel so good when we get into a good routine with this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Literally “laughed out loud” at this line: “no wait—scratch that. I just remembered my little girl has two pairs of sandals.” :D Gr8 job on success with the boys! And your lil’ princess? * wry smile* just wait until she’s a young lady :D:D then things get really fun :D

    • Yeah, I’m a little worried about the teenage clothing years! By that time, she can do the whole laundry process by herself so she’ll have to deal with the amount of clothes ;)

  4. I love your honesty in showing your daughter’s closet (happy belated birthday to her, btw!). And I agree 100%…I have a much easier time taming the wardrobes of my boys than I do of my girls. I love this experiment and the update! Thanks!

  5. yes, it’s usually harder to pare down my girls’ clothes. But you have made some great progress! I like the way you are thinking through things and then taking action and re-evaluating.
    I do laundry once a week, so I’m working toward 1 everyday outfit for each child, 3 town outfits, 2 sunday outfits, and an extra top and bottom for spare. I CAN do laundry in the week if necessary.
    Your post has motivated me, thank you!
    (stopping by from The Better Mom)

    • Great job, I think you’re motivating me as that’s much more minimalist than I’ve been able to get to so far. And as long as I can do laundry once a week, I think that’s plenty of clothes for sure. Thanks!

    • Oh, I love how simple you made it Linda! I think I’ll have to write that down, and when I sit down to go through my kiddos clothes, keep that list in front of my face! It’s time to gift someone else with all these extra clothes!!!!!!!!!

  6. Loving this idea. I’ve been planning to pare down, but think I’ll experiment with you now. I checked out your other post and like your guidelines. Keep saying I’ll do that, but then there’s another box of hand me downs, or my daughters (and I) are overly attached to certain outfits…but in reality, they like the same 3 or 4 things all week long. Of course, sometimes that’s a clemson cheerleader costume for the 3 y/o, but at least she’s not naked :)

    • We always end up with so many clothing items too, from a variety of different sources. But you’re right, they end up wearing the same few things again and again! And little girls love to dress up–my daughter walks around in her pink princess dress almost every day for at least part of the day, much like your little cheerleader :)

  7. Ironically I decided this very thing when i was on vacation last month. I only took 4 complete outfits tops (plus church clothes) for my boys—-to last 10 days. My mom washes clothes every day, so it was so easy to keep them in clothes. When we got home, I took a look at the suitcase, then saw how packed full their drawers were, and their closet…and then at the 2 laundry baskets yet to be put away and went “okay—time to minimize!”

    So I did get rid of a LOT…but…we live on a farm. The boys during the summer can go through 2-3 outfits (pants and shirts) A DAY! So I’ve learned that we DO need more clothes then I originally thought. And man do they completely wear them OUT! Their jeans have patches on patches!

    But one thing that is different—I don’t have a clothing budget. I don’t buy clothes…because my MOM sends BOXES of clothes that she’s found at consignment stores. So I don’t have to worry about my $$. We only buy socks, underwear and shoes! I do mean that literally. My mom has bought nearly all the clothes for the boys—or a friend dumped off 2 garbage bags of clothes from HER two boys.

    But I have told my mom what holes there are in their FUTURE sizes so she can work there instead of the sizes they are currently wearing.

    All the same, I have filled a garbage bag with “extras” they either never wear or I never really liked in the first place.

    I am curious–how often do you do laundry for family? I do laundry usually about once a week—so i figure they need to have enough clothing to last a full week plus a few extras for the days when more than one outfit is worn.

    • When you live on a farm (I grew up on one and we still visit my parents’ current farm often) you definitely need more clothes!! Totally agree. What a blessing that your mom gets clothes for your kids!

      We do laundry once a week. Sometimes we have to do it more than once if there’s something special that we need to wash but normally it gets done on Mondays (and into Tuesday..ha ha!)

  8. Oh JennI need to do this too. My boys have way too many clothes in their closets. We don’t buy that many but hand me downs are in abundance especially for my youngest. Your little girls closet looks awesome compared to my kids. :/. I actually have been working on a post sort of on this same subject.

    • Well, some of her clothes were in dirty laundry so there’s even more than in the picture. :P It’s a process and we’re all at different stages with different needs too!

  9. Love this! It’s true that its easier for boys that girls but they still can both be parked down more than the average kid in the u.s. I am decent at this but I need to get better like you. Thanks for the leading!

  10. Girls are so hard to pare down – I’m convinced it is all the layers! Lena’s dresser needs some help, want to come and help me? Pretty sure I have too many towels – but how many towels should a household have so you have for guests too?

    • The layers–yes! It’s not just a shirt/shorts for them, it’s shirt, shorts/skirt, leggings, hair accessories…probably more for some.

      Towels…hmm. One of my readers said she keeps 2 towels and 2 washcloths per person (and others for cleaning rags/towels).

      We have more than that, probably 3 towels & washcloths per person, lots of hand towels and a couple baby towels. Then I have a set of two nice towels and two washcloths and a hand towel for guests that I keep separate and if they need more they can just use ours. We have 2 sets of Christmas towels too, but they’re more for display than actual use. :P

  11. We don’t have a clothing budget. I try to buy (or acquire through hand me downs) at least 10 outfits per season for my oldest daughter. I find clearance and sales to do this as cheaply as possible. Then, we take care to save these outfits for our other 2 daughters. My son has one nice pair of shorts, 3 sports style shorts, and 2 pairs of jeans. He has picked up a lot of tshirts through sports and other activities. He also has around 5 polo shirts. I find that with more clothes comes more laundry and more work!

  12. I certainly need to do this for both my kids and MYSELF! Any tips on that? A simple woman’s wardrobe contents list would be good!
    At the moment we are having major work done on the house so much of our stuff is in storage. And guess what? We STILL have more than we need!

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