We had a pretty warm fall and then just last week the cold hit. We’ve been scrambling to put away shorts and pull out the long sleeves and sweaters. Changing seasonal clothing can be quite an ordeal.
Call me weird, but I kind of enjoy the seasonal clothing swap, both for the kids and for myself. That says a lot considering right now my entire living room floor is covered in kids clothes. True story.
I want to tell you about why we change out our clothes with each season instead of keeping it all available all year long. Oh, and if you’re just here to get the scoop on how to get free clothes, you can just scroll to the bottom of the post.
Where the KonMari method fails us
I know Marie Kondo, author of the popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up would disagree with the swapping out seasonal clothes. According to the trendy KonMari method, you should have your entire wardrobe accessible at all times and avoid storing seasonal clothing. The idea is that if your clothes are stored away you will forget about them, not wear them, and they will become clutter.
As I was listening to her book (my husband borrowed the audio version from the library), I couldn’t help but think that some of her methods just wouldn’t fly with kids around, at least at this house. We have found some real benefits of storing clothes rather than displaying each person’s entire wardrobe in closets or drawers.
That being said, we make sure that stored clothes are organized and not tucked away too deep. With changing weather and kids growing like weeds, we seem to be getting into the storage bins pretty regularly.
Benefits of storing off-season clothes
Opportunity for inventory
Changing out seasonal clothes is a great chance to take inventory of what you have. Are there still some things you need for the upcoming season? It’s also a chance to see what fits and what doesn’t. I find that we get rid of items on both ends– clothes coming out of the drawers and those going into the drawers.
When I change out my kids clothes, I have them try on any items that are in question to be sure it fits before it goes in their drawers. Clothes that are too big will stay in the bin and clothes that are too small either go into a bin to save for a younger sibling or are given away.
Finding hidden treasure
I always get excited when I get to the point in pregnancy that it’s time to break out my maternity clothes. There’s just something fun about having a complete wardrobe change. I’ve found that my kids feel the same way when we do the seasonal swap. It’s like Christmas! My daughter was thrilled to see her favorite jacket from last year and find that it still fits. My younger son was excited to see his flannel pajamas that I made for him.
You can save big on kids’ clothes when you can buy ahead. Shop the end-of-season clearance for what size your child will be wearing the following year. Storing kids clothes– both clothes that kids have outgrown (to hand down to a sibling) and clothes that are a size or two too big– helps keep our clothing budget in check. Spending so little on clothing is one of the ways keep the cost of kids so low.
Saving drawer space
With three kids in one bedroom (which also houses most of our storage), dresser space is very limited. My boys have two drawers each: one drawer for socks, underwear, pajamas and accessories, and another drawer for pants and shirts. My daughter has one additional drawer, but each drawer is smaller.
Taming the laundry monster
Having fewer clothes in their drawers helps me keep up on the laundry. If they had three weeks worth of clothes in their drawers, I might just wait three weeks to do the laundry. Plus, if the kids have access to their clothes, they will wear them, no matter what the weather. I don’t want to be washing sweaters in August and swimming suits in December. The fewer clothes accessible, the better.
How we store clothes we aren’t currently wearing
I use plastic storage bins to store my kids clothes. During law school I bought small, 10 gallon, plastic bins when they would go on sale periodically. Now I have a collection of about 16 of them. Having small bins for each size has forced me to keep the amount of clothing down. When my oldest would outgrow a size, I would put my favorite clothing of that size into a bin and label it for use by our future children (or cousins).
All of the “archived” bins (clothes the kids have outgrown) are organized by gender and size (i.e. Girl 0-6 months). Additionally each child has a “now” bin that has their current size off-season clothes (the current size in-season clothes are in their drawers).
Knowing when enough is enough
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of storing clothes. Buying ahead and holding onto hand-me-downs is a great way to save money. At the same time, hanging onto everything will cost you storage space and clutter can encroach on your sanity.
If your children are spaced close together and you have younger children that could wear what your older kids grow out of, then it may be cost effective to store their outgrown clothes. If the space between your children is quite a few years, you might prefer to free up the space and pass along the outgrown clothes and just buy new (or new-to-you clothes) when the child grows.
My kids, especially the older three, are pretty close in age, so I have saved the bulk of my kids’ clothes over the years. Because there is a seven year gap between my girls (my oldest and youngest kids), I have passed along girl clothes over the years, though I held on to my favorites. Saving the clothes my oldest is outgrowing now for another seven years until they fit the baby isn’t a good use of space for us (and the fashion police might arrest me for dressing my kid seven years out of style). Plus, I’m not nearly as attached to clothes past the toddler stage.
This round in addition to swapping out summer clothes for fall/winter clothes, I have also decided to get rid of nearly all of the boy clothes smaller than size 4. If we have another boy, I will start over building a boy wardrobe. I just saved some baby clothes so we’ll have somewhere to start (we always wait until birth to find out the gender, so it’s nice to be prepared either way).
I’m pretty darn good at getting kids clothes free or cheap, so I’m confident that I won’t have a hard time building a new girl or boy wardrobe should I need to in the future.
Get $40 of women’s or kids’ clothes free!
When you change out the seasonal clothes, you inevitably find some holes in your wardrobe. For us, I realized that my older son was short on jeans. Between being rough on pants (why does he always feel compelled to run and slide on his knees?) and growing an inch or two, he needed a couple of pairs of pants this year.
Two of the places I get free or very inexpensive clothing for myself and my kids are ThredUp and Schoola. Both have temporarily increased their sign-up bonus credit for new members. I like them each for different reasons.
ThredUp has high quality, name-brand clothes. Their standards are really high, so I have always been thrilled with everything that I have ordered. ThredUp is seriously my favorite place to shop for myself. I love browsing from the comfort of home. They have an awesome variety and the inventory is always changing. Right now you will get $20 of credit when you sign up (normally it’s $10)! There is a $5.99 flat rate shipping for all orders (free shipping for orders over $70).
The cool thing about Schoola is that 40% of the purchase price (even when shopping with your sign-up credit) goes to schools. In fact they will send you a bag that you can fill up with pre-loved clothes in good condition and they will donate 40% of the proceeds to the school of your choice. That being said, Schoola’s quality standards are not nearly as high as ThredUp. Right now there is free shipping with no minimum, so it’s a perfect time to use your $20 sign-up credit! You can’t go wrong with free!
Hint: On both ThredUp and Schoola, I find the best deals by sorting the searches “price low to high.” On Schoola, I add “good” and “new with tags” (under condition) to the search, so that I can get the lowest price on things that are not blemished.
What do you think?
- Do you store seasonal clothes separately and change out your (or your kids’) wardrobe seasonally?
- Do you hold on to clothes that your kids have grown out of?
- Have you tried the KonMari method?
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