curating your child’s minimalist wardrobe

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I’ve been busy these past few weeks decluttering my kids’ closet.  They share a very small closet (and a very small room) and because they wear different sizes there tends to always be a lot of stuff floating around in there.  I decided there was not a lot of sense in keeping clothing they don’t like or won’t wear, so I’ve been posting lots of stuff on craigslist this past month and have luckily sold quite a few items.  Their closet is finally becoming manageable, and that’s no small feat – I’m pretty sure it’s been stuffed to the gills since the time I was pregnant with my first child eight years ago.  It really was the last bastion of clutter in our otherwise orderly home.

Here’s a few tips I’ve found useful to keep in mind over the past few weeks as I clear out the kids closet and work towards keeping a minimalist wardrobe for each of my kids:

  1. Do not anticipate a need before it actually arrives.  This is probably the most useful tidbit I can offer on this subject.  Do not buy a winter coat in summer, do not buy a bathing suit in November (unless you’re going on vacation!) and do not buy shoes for your kids in sizes they are not currently wearing.  Kids body shapes change so quickly and differently that you might anticipate – your child might skip a size, or spend an ETERNITY wearing one size, and if you have neatly tucked something away for future use, chances are you will forget it’s even there (ahem, speaking from personal experience).
  2. Do not buy ahead – or if you do, keep a list.  This is something I’ve struggled with since becoming pregnant with my first son.  While I don’t enjoy shopping, I have always enjoyed the thrill of getting a good deal.  This can lead to problems.  Or ten pair of jeans in a size your child won’t be growing into for the next three years.  Buying ahead can lead to clutter, but I can appreciate that there are some savings to be had by shopping this way – so tread carefully and keep stock of what you already own before you get too carried away by the latest sale at your favourite kid’s store.
  3. Consider what your kids will and won’t wear.  I would not have guessed that my kids would be built differently and that one would grow at a MUCH slower pace than the other.  The bonus?  My youngest wears clothing for at least a year longer than his brother was able to.  The downside?  He is much pickier about his clothing choices and would choose the same shirt and pants daily if I would give in and let him.  I’ve decided to stop fighting my little guy’s natural tendencies toward comfort and have pared down considerably for my second child.  This strategy works well in that my oldest has more clothes and will not be able to wear out most of his clothing before it gets passed on to my youngest.  And then my youngest will be able to choose his favourites and we will cull the rest.  Win, win situation, right?
  4. Keep footwear to a minimum.  Buy good shoes.  But not many.  One pair of well-made runners are usually sufficient, and they may be expensive so plan ahead to buy them once a year (I like to buy them in the summer so they are in excellent condition for September.  That and they are also usually on sale in the summer months).  If your children are not school-age yet and are still growing out of shoes quickly, be sure to check thrift stores and craigslist for high-end shoes that have been worn minimally.  Prices are sure to be better than in stores.

What kinds of things are my kids wearing this fall?  Long-sleeve t-shirts on top, and jeans or casual pants on the bottom.  They each have one pair of runners and one pair of rain boots.  They also have a pair of warmer winter boots that we will be breaking out when the weather really gets cold, and one pair of sandals that they’ll be taking on vacation this winter.  In terms of Project 333, my kids could get away with much less than 33 items each in their wardrobe.  Here’s a good list of clothing that I am going to stick very closely to:

  • 10 tops (or less if you can swing it) – these can be short-sleeve tops in the summer or long-sleeve shirts in the winter, and I try to incorporate at least one dress shirt and one nice sweater to wear for special occasions or a night out.
  • 6 bottoms – shorts in the summer and pants in the winter.  Again, at least one pair of dress shorts or pants in the appropriate season for more fancy events would be useful.
  • 2 sweatshirts or hoodies, useful for layering and warmth in the Fall and Spring seasons
  • 1 seasonally appropriate jacket – either a rain jacket or a winter coat, preferably with a hood
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 3 footwear – includes one pair of runners, one pair of rain boots and one pair of summer shoes

I have gone minimalist enough in my own daily routine that finding time to do laundry daily is not an issue.  I am usually doing a load of laundry every day or two, so there is no real need to have more than a handful of clothes in rotation anyway.  Another bonus: I find my kids are less overwhelmed about getting dressed on their own when there is less clothing in their closet, which means less arguing about what to wear.  It’s true that less really is more!

Are you and / or your family participating in Project 333?  I love to hear from others who are on the path to living with less, so be sure to share your experience in the comments!

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5 responses »

  1. My boys had one pair of shoes per season (not counting boots). When my youngest played basketball in high school. He had one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals and the shoes for playing. when the season was over, the old sneakers were shot, the basketball shoes became the every day shoes and on it went. There is no need for children to have a lot of shoes IMO

    • Too many shoes makes me crazy! We share one small closet for all of our coats, shoes, home improvement stuff (paint & tools), and strollers. So no room for lots of shoes! I keep the off season shoes hidden away so they don’t contribute to the clutter. 😉

      • I have never had a coat closet for shoes. I have used a small rug near the door. So all shoes have to fit there and much to my children’s frustration, neatly.

  2. This is about twice as much as most of my children have. I have a rule of three – three outfits (and one pair of footwear) – which works most the time as we wash every day. Having less works really well most the time. I started this when our twins were babies (we have 8 children).

    • If I had eight children, I would be striving for less clothing too! I can only imagine the laundry situation at your house. 🙂 I will definitely be working toward less than 10 shirts for each kid, but for now, it’s what they have and I’ll be continuing to let go of stuff as they outgrow it.

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