How to Limit Your Kids’ Clothes

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Yesterday I shared with you why I think it is beneficial to limit our kids’ clothes. Today I am sharing with you how I go about doing that! It is not wise to simply get rid of clothes without any method. Trust me, I’ve done that and invariably have ended up getting rid of something I truly needed. That kind of defeats the purpose. :)

Empty space in closets, rather than clothes spilling out on me, is less stressful. Use that as motivation!

Photo by gfpeck

How can you get rid of clothes, then, and still be sure you have what you need? The best way I have found is to think in categories.

1. Everyday clothes:

This is what your child will wear on any given day. If you have a preschool boy, you can bet it is going to be jeans and a t-shirt. I usually choose clothes nice enough that we can run to the store in them, but easy to care for so that when they get a mud bath it is no big deal. :)

We have less than a week’s worth, but I would probably have one week as my target. Typically, if you are going to travel longer than that you will be doing laundry anyway, so this usually works.

2. Dressy Casual Clothes:

Yes, kids have these too!

This will sometimes overlap with the everyday clothes, but it is nice to have a few outfits that are a little nicer for those family gatherings, outings, or other events you might attend. This would be something like a nicer polo shirt for a boy and cute little outfits with matching tights and hair bows for the girls. You get the idea!

If your child goes to a school that doesn’t require uniforms, you’ll probably have the bulk of your clothes in this category, but you could probably have fewer items in the everyday category.

This will definitely vary depending on how much you go out, but think carefully about how much you really need. For us, 2-3 outfits is plenty. We don’t go out much, however, and since I have been doing this for a while, I am comfortable with it being pretty low. You might need more! :)

3. Church Clothes:

I have a small rotation of outfits for church or other special events. Think about how often you go and determine an amount that is good for your family.

Remember that less is more.

Think about it: Let’s say your daughter wears the cute, frilly dresses once a week on Sunday. If you have four dresses she will wear each dress once a month. That’s not a bad rotation. If you wear those dresses for six months before the seasons change, she has only worn them six times total.

That is barely getting your money’s worth out of them. Since dresses run at at least $30 unless you find them on sale (which I hope you do), that comes out to a full $5 per use.

4. Clothes for Specific Activities:

This will include any sports clothing or equipment, school uniforms, swim wear, or clothes designated for any other type of special activity. We don’t need much in this department yet, but I know that will change as my kids get older.

There is no specific amount of clothes that is right for everyone. The key is to know what you need and then stick to that. When new clothes come in either by gifts or purchase, something else has to go.

Sit down and think through what an average week looks like in your home and determine what your children truly need in the clothing department. Then set aside an afternoon to purge.

I recommend that if this is a new concept to you, you take it slow. Choose one category and then wait a few weeks before doing another. Or you could eliminate 2-3 outfits in each category and then, a few weeks later, purge a few more. If you have fifty outfits and trim down to ten in one afternoon, it will be too drastic of a change and you won’t see the true benefit of it. Baby steps is the real key to success here.

You will feel better when it’s all done and your life will be much easier. I promise!

Tomorrow, I will share with you how I organize the clothes for easy use by both adults and kids.

What method do you use to limit and sort through your kids clothes?  Leave a comment. I’d love to hear!


  1. Loving your posts, Johanna!

  2. Love this! Hopefully I can get similar guidelines in place *before* our little man comes so that we don’t have to do the weeding out thing later on. So simple. So practical. Thanks! (My hubby was quite impressed too 😉

    • It will definitely help to start off with the mindset that less is more! It won’t be long now for you! Exciting! Thanks for reading. :)

  3. Thanks, Johanna! This was a helpful read in preparation for a little one. I am definitely finding that we will have to be very minimal in what our child has because of space. This was a helpful reminder, as well as great tips.

  4. Michelle G. says:

    How do you handle season changes? My kids live in shorts (but sometimes have cold stretch that requires long pants) during the summer. I feel like I need to keep a week of pants and shorts (the pants, of course will also be used with sweaters and such when it’s truly cold).

    We have been given a lot of hand-me-downs (mostly for my older son, who will pass down whatever he doesn’t destroy to his younger brother), so I sometimes try to keep a few items unworn in the garage so they don’t have the extra wear by the time kid #2 gets them.

    • In the summer, I just keep 1 or 2 long pants for the chilly days and the rest shorts. I also keep one rubbermaid per size of clothes in storage. All seasons are included in that rubbermaid. I.e. one for 2T, one for 3T, etc. If it doesn’t fit, I don’t keep it for the next child. It may mean that I have to find a few extra items when that child gets to that size, but I am not willing to give any more storage space than that. :) Hope that makes sense!

  5. Annie Foster says:

    Dear Johanna,

    I hope all is well! I have been enjoying your posts on facebook and your blog.

    I do have a question about this paticular article. As you know I have a 7 month old boy now. I also have tons of clothes for him, most of them given to me and mostly not well organized (ie – the 3-6 months are mixed in with the 6-9 months and a few bigger ones.) Many of them are cute. I just want to keep them and make sure he wears all of them. I have sorted through some of them and realize that I have many more outfits in the smaller size then the bigger size (I think that is typical for a first child?). I also realize I typically fall back on the old reliable sleepers. He is also smaller than many his age. So all in all, I guess my question is “what do you advise I do? I am trying to be reasonable and not have to cart so much stuff from place to place.

    Sincerely Annie

    • Annie, first of all, SO sorry for my delayed response :( . I have a rubbermaid for each year. If it doesn’t fit it goes. The way I do it is I initially sort the clothes, putting the ones I don’t especially love in the giveaway pile. If I still have too many after that, than I look at name brands. Good name brands will last longer after lots of washing, and especially if you are planning on keeping them for possibly other children.

      It is hard when you get lots of clothes given to you, but as you come up with a system it will get easier. The key is to remember that you don’t have to keep everything you were given. Sometimes the extra work of having so much is more stressful.

      Thanks for the comment!


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