Monday, October 4

Children's Wardobes...

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
-Ambrose Bierce

Today was the day that I spent putting all of the summer clothes away and brought all of the warm things out. Last night, I wrote down a list of the clothing that we need for autumn and winter and was happy to discover that we had many things for the children stored away and will really only need to purchase a few items (socks and tights, underwear, and bigger shoes).

It has been interesting to see the tastes of our little ones develop as they've gotten bigger. For the past few years, our daughter has chosen to only wear dresses (which secretly pleases her parents to no end!). Our son also has favorite clothing and wears the same few items over and over again, and so I find myself putting away lots of pants and tops that didn't see the light of day.

Despite the fact that our little ones were consistently choosing to wear the same clothes week in and week out, their drawers were filled to the brim. It was nearly impossible to find something needed in the jumble of unwanted clothes. Though I think that our wardrobes are pretty small by most people's standards, the reality is that we don't use half of what is out for each season. It is sad to know that there are things in our closets that are not being used, while there are people in this world (and in our area) that have literally nothing to wear.

I have been thinking a lot about the clothing that we use and how to simplify things. I've thought about the amount of clothing that I think is realistic for each of us to have (how much we wear, how often I do laundry, wear and tear, the fact that life with children means changing clothing more often, etc.). In the case of the baby, I realize that he will have to have much more than the other children at this stage of his life. It isn't realistic to limit his clothes because I cannot keep up with him spitting up (he has a bad case of reflux) or or having a diaper explosion. For my two older children, this will be an experiment of sorts. Will we be able to get by on fewer things? Am I prepared to keep up with the laundry? Will cutting down on our clothing really simplify things? These are questions that I will only be able to answer after we try life out with less... something I am excited to try!


ChocolateandWoolens said...

I think the amount of wardrobe you need depends a lot on what you do. Little people who are prone to making messes need more clothes than older children who don't. Adults who work in places that trash their clothing usually need more clothes and need them replaced more often than people who wear desk jobs, etc.

I found the following things helpful in narrowing down my wardrobe.

1. I wear two kinds of socks: black winter socks and black summer socks. They all match and it's very easy.

2. I completely eliminated short sleeves shirts. I have long sleeves shirts and tank tops, which I wear under cardigans of varying weights depending on the season.

3. I drastically cut the colors I wear. I basically only wear black, grey, dark green, plum and the odd bit of burgundy. Everything goes with everything else, so it's much easier to create outfits with fewer pieces.

4. In the same vein--I got rid of most distinctive pieces. A top or skirt in an interesting print is great, but I find that it tends to be hard to match and is very noticeable if I wear it too often. Noone notices if I wear a plain black skirt every day for a week.

5. I tried as often as possible to have clothing that works for as many seasons as possible. I have a couple of summer linen skirts and a couple of winter wool ones, but for the most part, all my skirts work all year round. I have heavy and light cardigans, but I try to maximize the mileage I get from them by creative layering.

6. I stopped buying clothing that wears out quickly. Good stuff that lasts means I need less stuff. (My skirts are mostly Shukr and my tops are mostly Lands' End, with the odd Ebay purchase thrown in.) Given that I know I will be wearing something for almost a decade, I have to really like it before buying it. Fast fashion, I find, leads to more clothing purchases, and ones that wear out quickly.

Also, because it's generally a useful tip: designate one container for stashing all the extra buttons and thread that come with garments, so that they are easy to find when something needs repair.

Matushka Anna said...

TODAY, I bit the bullet and got the fall/winter clothes out. I couldn't put it off any longer although I know we'll have hot weather coming back. We usually have to live with an all-season wardrobe for about a month - woe is me!

I too am trying to simplify the wardrobes. With five children, and three of those girls who share a little closet, there really is such a thing as TOO MUCH. I always think I've pared down but then realize like you that I'm putting things away that were almost never worn. This season I'm being more ruthless. We'll see how it works out.

And now I think I've procrastinated long enough at the computer and I'm going to have to get back to work!

Digella said...

I have Boy 12, Boy 10 and Girl 8.

After discovering exactly what you have just realised, I sat them down and they picked out their faves. Then I kept a couple of play outfits. Winter things went into the bottom drawer.

I can now fit (if I wanted to) all of their clothes, socks, underwear in one tall set of drawers and it feels great!

What I did to keep things organised when they went to school was introduce another small set of drawers to keep all uniforms, socks, hats etc in. It is all organised all the time.

I think you are on the right track, just keep up with the washing (which I do every night) and you will feel so much more organised and less clutter.

Anonymous said...

good topic! My kids also wear favourite items over and over, so I try to be realistic and keep their clothes to what they actually will wear. My eldest needed new pants, so I just bought several pair of the same kind she liked in a few different colours :o) Another thing that has helped is each kid having a laundry basket. When one is full I wash and dry the clothes and then put the clean ones on their beds for them to put away. It makes life much easier. I had a friend who literally kept only 2 outfits for each person in the family (minus church clothes). I admired her thrift, but I don't think I could manage that!

Kate said...

What an experiment! My children are so unpredictable, I'd probably have to base it on a worst case scenario. Just the other day, my daughter went through 5 shirts in one day! Some times, my 4 year old boy has accidents and will go through 2 or 3 pairs of pants.

My children are the smallest and youngest of the families, so they get a LOT of hand-me-downs. I've given away or sold for dirt-cheap at yard sales about half of what's been given me. Even so, I have a LOT for each child.

Thankfully, they have a big closet.

Anonymous said...

Mat. Emily, My kids have a max. of about church outfits ea. and a handful of outfits for around the house, and 2 outfits for going out (in public that is but generally they can go out in their house clothes because I'm particular in what they wear anyhow) same number of socks to match each outfit, one sweater, one dress and plain coat and a few sweatshirts plus 7 prs. of underwear (basically, enough outfits to cover each day of the week and Church, they change afterwards and Church outfits shouldn't need to be washed every time just like pajamas). When we're not behind due to either cleaning house linens, especially fall cleaning curtains and whatnot and if we have "dry" nights then I typically have everyone just throw their clothes straight into the washer so that by time the kids are in bed I have a load going and by time I'm getting ready for bed it's in the dryer or ready to be folded. Lots of times, the wash just goes in the dryer first thing in the morning, the point I guess is not so much waiting to have enough of one sorted amount of clothes of darks, lights or whites but just to throw in together (except for things that really need a good bleaching or hot water cleaning), hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was about 3 Church outfits ea. Just enough to give them variety and choices.

Jen said...

I seriously purged my childrens wardrobes. I live in all round summer, so it was easier, but the theory could work with each of your seasons.

What I did was:

1) Cut the girls down to 4 church dresses each, and the boys have 4 shirts 2 pairs of shorts, and 2 long pants.

2) The kids at home have 5 outfits a week of "house clothes". For Amy, this means 5 dresses. For Eli, he has 5 t-shirts and 3 shorts.

3) For the kids at school (who wear a uniform) they have 3 "house outfits" For Beth, 3 dresses. For the boys, 3 shirts, and 3 shorts.

4) They each have a pair of flip-flops, 1 pair of church shoes, and one pair of mid range (going to the store) shoes. The children attending school also have their school shoes.

5) I downgraded their pyjamas to 3 nighties/sets each.

6) For the cooler weather they had a cardigan for church (girls) or a light jacket (boys). They had a sweater for at home. I don't think I'll worry next year with the sweater, as they didn't really wear them. The girls liked their cardigans, but the boys hardly wore their jackets.

I donated FOUR TRASH BAGS of clothes. o.O

I'll admit that I haven't gone through the baby's stuff with a fine tooth comb yet, though I have been putting the clothes she has grown out of into a bag to give to a friend who is pregnant.

The laundry has been so much easier to keep up with!! And they haven't noticed they are missing any clothes, and there is certainly less work for me to do ;)

Mimi said...

The sweater quote gave me the giggles. Thank you.

I agree, it is easy to get overwhelmed with wardrobe choices, I think paring down is a good idea.

Kh. Patty said...

I need to do this too. I'm thinking along the same lines as you, Matushka, that I want to have much less and change it out/assess it seasonally. However, one thing I cannot get back into since having #3 is the laundry. I am seriously failing in this area!

Sarah said...

I'm glad that you posted this and that so many have commented. Hubby and I have been wanting to write down an inventory of sorts to decide what we really *need* for our little one. Being first time parents, we're part clueless, part needing/wanting to spend wisely, and part in shock about how quickly our (not so little anymore) baby is growing.

Jean in Wisconsin said...

When my kids were smaller, I put all their clothing that I thought we did not need in a Rubbermaid tub in the bottom of the closet. this allowed me to pull something out if I found I lacked something. Half-way through the season, I'd check what was in the tub and find someone who could use it or take it to a thrift store, although I did keep some of the items if I had another child coming along who might use it.

Thanks for blogging!


KJ said...

When my husband and I moved across the country, we brought what clothes we thought we'd need until we could ship the rest. Of those suitcases-full,we wear only a fraction of the contents. I'm beginning to think it's natural to wear only a percentage of what's available, unless you know pretty exactly what you need and have a functional wardrobe. I found analyzing my body type and style before buying clothes helped me pare way down, allowing the budget to cover fewer, better-made items. Now when we do have kids, that'll be a whole new ballgame, I'm sure.

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