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?
Note: This post contains affiliate and/or referral links. For details, please see my disclosure page.
Ellie Davis says
It’s interesting to know that changing out seasonal clothes is a great chance to take inventory of what you have. My sister and I are thinking about fashion tips for this fall season, and we are looking for advice. I will let her know about the benefits of seasonal changing our wardrobe to see is it helps.
Laundry is a never-ending battle in our house. We’re back to living with my parents, along with my sister and her 2 kids so there are 5 adults and 5 kids ages 7 to 8 months in the house. 3 of the kids are mine (ages 8 month girl, 4 yr girl, 7 yr boy) and my sisters kids are 7 yr boy and 6 yr girl. There are SOOO many clothes, and of course the two boys are the 7 yr olds but are 3 sizes apart. I got so sick of rewashing clean clothes they toss out of their dressers while looking for what they want to wear, I finally went thru my kids clothes and weaned them down to 5 prs of pjs, 5 pairs of jeans and 5 relaxing/yoga pant-type bottoms, and 10 tops. We live in upstate NY so it gets REALLY cold here in the winter, and its almost necessary at this point to switch everything out. The only things in their dressers now are long sleeve tees, a few sweaters, their jeans, pjs, socks and undies. Each kid has one huge tote where the hand-me-downs that are still too big and the off-season clothes go. When its full, nothing else goes in. It is fun to find those hidden treasures from the previous seasons though, especially when they still fit!!
Now.. if I could only convice my sister that her kids don’t really NEEEDDD 20 prs of pants each… oye!!
Oh yes… the laundry! A great reason for getting rid of some clothes! And I totally know what you mean about the hidden treasures in the off season box! It’s fun!
Kadie @ 12 twenty 8 says
I have done the KonMari method and it has worked great for me! We live in the PNW and the weather is too temperamental to actually do seasonal clothes (most of our clothes work all year long, give-or-take). And after KonMari, we can easily store all of our clothes in our dressers or closets. But our family is much smaller with just two adults and one child. My daughter is a teen now, but when she outgrows clothes that are still in good condition, we pass them on to the neighbor girls. There mom WILL hang on to them for a few years until the fit (but they have the space for that).
That’s awesome that it works so well for you Kadie! With the weather varying so much one day to the next, it makes sense to have access to everything.
Irini S. says
Very useful advice thanks
in Greece, now operational stores second chance, but only in major cities
the province simply offer the clothes that do to us or our children to relatives or to friends
and what has been badly worn, cut and strip and weave ‘rags’
That’s great that you can at least share with relatives and friends!
Sara Newton says
I’m not nearly as organized as you and with a 4.5 year gap between my girls I struggle with the idea of holding onto stuff, but so far I have kept what’s still good. The only problem is that the youngest has found her memory and won’t wear stuff she knows used to belong to the oldest. Sigh. we are currently working on that, but we may be going to a consignment shop soon! We also receive clothes as a gift pretty often from grandparents, so actually buying clothes has been rare. I supplement with buying coats, socks, undies, and all other things we usually aren’t gifted.
That’s funny that she doesn’t want to wear her sister’s hand-me-downs (and crazy that she remembers)! That’s nice that you are gifted a lot of clothes!
I read KonMari this summer and didn’t feel like a lot of her advice was applicable to families with kids. We live in the Northern part of the Midwest and to leave out shorts for the 39 weeks where we can’t wear them is ridiculous. And she has obviously never had an argument with a 3.5 year old about wearing shorts in January when the temperature is hovering around 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Into the storage tub they will go gladly! My 12+ tubs (18 gallon) of boy clothes has saved us so much money! 2 kids same gender.
YES! I thought the same thing– there is know way she’s dealt with young kids (just her siblings). I, on the other hand, totally know about the shorts argument. We just had that discussion last week! 🙂
Liz S says
My method sounds a lot like Jennifer’s from an above comment. 🙂 I did read the book about the KonMari method and really enjoyed the book, but what works best for us is a lot like Jennifer’s method. Because our basement is completely finished and super cozy, we spend a LOT of time down there. That’s also where our utility room is with laundry. Instead of carrying the clothes up 2 more flights to the top level of our home where the bedrooms are (and then carrying stuff back down 2 flights every time we get dressed since the kids and I get dressed in the basement bathroom), we use the one large closet in the basement for our clothes. The kids get the 2 bars on the left side (older child gets the upper bar and I keep a foldup stool in there) and I get the 2 bars on the right side. None of the bars are full, but I like that, so nothing is crammed. I tend to hang up ALL shirts and pants. (In return, I almost NEVER have to iron.) As soon as they come out of the dryer they go right on a hanger and then onto a rod in the utility room. Then it’s easy to grab the hangers and walk 10 feet around the corner to the closet. There are 4 drawers between the 2 sides of rods that the kids use for pajamas, sock and underwear. Then there are 4 shelves above the drawers that I use for myself for my few sweaters, pants and exercise pants/pj bottoms. I then have another tall, skinny dresser elsewhere in the basement (near the closet) that has about 8 mini drawers where I keep the rest of my things. We do keep all out-of-season clothing like shirts/sweaters/pants/dresses on hangers, only difference is that whatever is out of season gets stored on the top level of the house in our unused bedroom closets. That way the clothing item is easy to grab if the weather shifts, which sometimes it does. And clothes aren’t getting wrinkled or anything like that. And then we also keep extra coats, gifts, larger clothing for the kids, etc… in those upstairs bedroom closets. Unlike the KonMari method though, I do throw out of season pjs, heavy socks, tights, leggings, etc… into a couple tubs and store them in the garage when not in use. And I will add that my husband insists on doing his own laundry always (he says it’s the least he can do), so that’s why none of his clothing was mentioned. He actually has the identical size closet and closet system in his closet (which is in the 2nd master bedroom on the main level of our home beside the kitchen) and his closet for just himself is packed to the brim and overflowing…he’s not the aspiring minimalist like i am, plus he has to dress up 365 days of the year, so he also needs more variety. 🙂
That sounds like a great laundry system Liz! I don’t blame you for not wanting to haul everything up and down stairs. I am totally with you on avoiding ironing too! That’s fun that your husband does his own laundry and that he has a huge closet of clothes. 🙂 My husband dresses up everyday too, but that has kept his wardrobe down (though I just ordered some new dress shirts for him to give him a little more variety).
I do seasonal wardrobes. One I live in the Midwest so we get COLD by January. Two I have 3 boys 7 to 12. Everything mostly gets handed down. Occasionally my unprecedented old will get new jeans or something that didn’t survive the first 2. Now my oldest is growing so fast that he barely gets use out of a pair of jeans before they are put away for his brother. I found jeans on children’s place for 7.99 and couldn’t resist! He will now be wearing sixes 16 jeans at 12!!! Sigh… I also use bins now it’s a mixture of their clothes but used to keep them by size as well works so much better!
That’s kind of exciting to be at a place where they are growing so fast they aren’t wearing things out. My young kids seem to be growing fast, but they are also really hard on clothes. Great deal on new jeans! 🙂
I have a large walk -in closet in the center hallway bottom floor of my home that we made into strictly a kid’s clothes closet. It has a closet system with bars that extend the length of the closet. I put all of one child’s clothes on one bar and the younger child’s clothes on the other higher bar since she won’t be picking out her own things for a bit. At the very end of each bar is mostly their “new stuff”. These can also be items they are waiting to grow into, stuff we only wear for special occasions, winter coats, etc.. The other side of the closet is accessories like bows, hats, scarfs, overnight bags, backpacks, swimsuits, etc. There is also a place in there for socks, panties, and stuff we don’t hang up. I have a couple boxes stored in there that are what I call “clothes in waiting’ for the younger child to grow into. I don’t pack up per the season because our weather is very unpredictable( shorts one day, sweatshirts the next). I simply moved the most frequently worn items to the front of the bar. Keeping the clothes that the kids are growing into in sight keeps me from forgetting about them then of course losing money. I really like the fact that my kid’s don’t have their clothes stored upstairs in their bedrooms. They tend to tear stuff down that I hang up and I would be constantly going up stairs to two separate rooms every time I put away clothes. We store other less frequently used items in their bed room closets like Christmas decor or extra blankets. Having the kids clothes all in one place is a huge time saver and saves me money by not losing clothes. If I could fit my husbands and mine in their closet I would do that too and only make one trip to put away everyone’s clothes, lol. That’s a little funny but not really because it is totally a great idea! I told hubs that if we ever build a house we will make a room with the washer/dryer/ironing board in it that will double as a closet and everyone will have their own dresser and hanging rods all in the same room.No more putting up laundry in 10 different locations. Anyway, I know this won’t work for everyone but this system works so well for my family so I thought I would share.
That is a wonderful system Jennifer– a great use for that big walk-in closet! I love the idea of having most everything hanging so you can see what you have and move things around easily! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
We change out our children’s clothing because we expereince a large temperature swing where we live (between +30C and -40C) and there would be too much for thier drawers to leave it all out. We store the cothing by size thoguh and I keep an electronic inventory so I know exactly what I have in which size (http://onemamatoanother.com/organizing-childrens-clothing/).
Once my youngest children have outgrown an item it gets taken to a consignment store or sold online. This helps us to purchase clothing in a larger size without necisarrily paying out of pocket.
We had a RS lesson in September that talked a bit about the KonMari system and while there were some good points (I hate clutter!) some of it was just too out there for me.
That’s awesome that you keep inventory of everything! That is serious organization! 🙂 Yes, some of the KonMari is a bit “out there” like your clothes having feelings and liking to be folded a certain way. 🙂
When I click the links, I only get a $10 credit. It’s OK though – I think I’m too cheap to pay their prices anyway…I can’t seem to find anything that’s a really good deal.
Hi Mona, I just double checked the links and they should each give you $20 when you actually sign up. About the prices, I should have shared my trick. I always sort “price low to high.” I do that pretty much on any website I shop on, so I forgot to mention it. For $20, you should be able to find several things. I never buy any of the front page things they show anyway (where the prices for ultra name brand things are more than I would pay for anything new, even though they might be a “good deal” for whatever brand they are.
I’m not organized enough to have a seasonal wardrobe. But I want to try. We have way too many clothes and need to pare down. My son doesn’t have one either (he’s two) but I do have a place for clothes the next size up. When he is going up a size, we just dig through the bigger clothes that he needs. I need to find some better thrift stores I think. I pay an average of $2/piece of clothing – that seems high compared to what you get.
That’s still much cheaper than paying full price Carrie! 🙂 In a lot of ways I’m not the most organized either, but with dressing six people (let’s be honest, I shop for my husband too) I kind of have to be or I’ll go crazy! 🙂