It still strikes me at times, that our problem is excess when the majority of the world lives with so much less. Even my mom never had this problem of WAY too many kid’s clothes.

So let’s not be too hard on ourselves if our kids grow before they have a chance to wear things we bought  or if we sometimes go overboard at the Target clearance rack or garage sales. And lets also extend grace to our well meaning friends and family who contribute to this “problem.”

We’re all working to figure this out.

How much clothing do kids really need anyway?

There’s not an exact answer. But, as with most things I’m finding, less seems to be more.

Less laundry in baskets and piles around the house. Less for the kids to sort through and choose from in the morning. Less to deal with when they grow out of it. Less guilt over buying clothes they only wore once (or not at all!) before they grew out of it.

It’s taken some trial and error, but I’ve successfully pared down our kid’s wardrobes to what seems to be the right amount.

But what do you do with clothes for them to grow into? Do you buy ahead when you find a good deal? Do you accept hand me downs if they won’t wear them for a couple of years?

I’m still extremely frugal at heart. 80% of our kid’s wardrobes come from garage sales. I rarely buy anything new unless its on clearance, and when my cousin offers me brand name boy’s clothes two sizes too big, its hard to turn it away.

Because of this, I do buy ahead at garage sales when I find high quality clothes for a great price and when I find clothes on clearance. And do accept hand me downs from a few trusted people.

So for us, storing is a necessity, and we have space for it, so it works well for us.


I’ve assigned one rubbermaid tote to each of our four kids that fit in the back of their bedroom closet.  The key is: I limit what we keep to what fits inside. When our oldest grows out of something I decide if its nice enough to pass on to our younger daughter (they’re 2-3 sizes apart). If so, I toss it in her tote, if not it gets donated or goes in the garbage.

Each of their totes have a few different sizes in them. I try to put the larger sizes on the bottom and what they would wear in the near future on top.

Above is our oldest daughter’s tote. You can see it isn’t full. I try to only keep good quality items that are versatile. With the wide range of seasons in Minnesota we rely a lot on layers. I try to keep tops in the same color family and bottoms neutral or solid colored.

This is what I received from my cousin just a couple of days ago. If their tote is full and we’ve received new things I do a quick sort through the bin and keep what I think will get the most use.

Fortunately, there is some space in our oldest son’s bin:

…so I sorted through what she gave, put a few of the shirts in our donation bag and put the rest in his tote. The shoes I put into a separate bin that I keep in the basement for all of the kid’s extra shoes.

What I like about this system:

  • All of the kid’s extra clothes are in one spot.
  • It is self-limiting, it takes a little discipline, but we only keep what fits in the bins.
  • It is easier to keep the clothes they are currently wearing pared down if I know that I have extra clothes close at hand (I rarely need them, but it gives me peace of mind :)

And actually, what I enjoy most since we have cleaned out everyone’s wardrobes: our house stays cleaner! No more piles of clothes on the couch that need to be folded. No more laundry baskets in every bedroom with a mystery mix of clean and dirty clothes. No laundry room overflowing with clothes. No more full Saturdays spent doing laundry.

It is worth it and we don’t miss any of it :)

You can read more about our laundry system here (even in our new house it is what we stick to!): The Laundry System that Changed my Life

Here’s to getting rid of extra clothes! ;)

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One comment


Hey Dawn. Do you have a video on this?

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