COVID19 Fashion Parenting

Day 56: Children’s Clothing Sorting Adventures!

May 10, 2020

(yes, non-COVID19-related topic. You’re welcome!)

I am about to begin my Organize365 journey and I am excited — the official start date for the summer 100 day organization program is tomorrow. I am sure there is a day for the organization of children’s clothing, but I decided to get a jump on things (b/c our current situation was out. of. control).

How many sets of clothing do kids need, anyway!? I never felt like we overbought, but somehow we ended up with . . . more than seems necessary.

Part of it is that the way that Annabel grew she remained the same size for YEARS (got taller but not really any wider), yet I still bought her some new things with each new season. Even if it was just a few things, it has added up.

Cameron is very picky about certain items of clothing so he has an annoying number of garments that are entirely unworn and other things (that he wears) that are full of holes.

G’s situation is actually the most under control. She is not really in A’s hand-me-downs because when A was her current age, I had no plans to have any more past C!

Some observations from diving into the piles yesterday:

1- The high quality stuff does last longer. Only a handful for A’s clothes that she is finally growing out of are in decent enough condition for G. ALL of them that survived are Boden or Tea Collection. Target/Gap items did not survive.

2- Kids’ sizes change in unpredictable ways. While A remained the same size forever, C did not. G only wore 2T for a brief period (she is now in a mix of 2T & 3T). Better NOT to buy piles of one size unless you have a long line of kids to inherit those items (ie: Laura or Sue — they each have 4 boys!)

3- It’s also hard to predict favorite items! You may think it will be the practical staples that get worn the most, but . . . not in our house. Annabel especially will wear the living daylights out of a random party dress. I finally got rid of a couple that she wore 953874937 times that are a) too small and b) in embarrassing condition.

4- You can find a middle ground between what kids like and what you do. Until the kid is BUYING their own clothes, anyway! There are enough options out there that I haven’t had too much issue with having to steer A away from items that I deem hideous. We sometimes look at catalogs together (that are pretty well-curated) and I let her pick her favorites. This helps. My kids have been shopping physically VERY rarely. We haven’t needed to do it!

5- WELL, EXCEPT FOR SHOES. Shoes = best shopped for in person, in our experience. However, all 3 kids are currently sporting sneakers I ordered online. This works better if you have a brand you already know fits. C is extremely picky about shoes and we know he will tolerate Skechers (in a slightly too-big size), so that’s what we get for him.

What I’m not sure about is . . . how much do they actually need? I think it’s a little different here compared to some places because there are many pieces that work year-round since our “winter” is so mild.

Here’s my tentative list . . .


❏ 4-5 pairs shorts (can sub sporty skirts or a jumpsuit for some)

❏ 4-5 pairs long pants (1 jeans, the rest leggings or sweat pants)

❏ ~8 t-shirts

❏ 2 dresses or 1 dress shirt & nicer pants

❏ 1-2 sweatshirts / long sleeve shirts to layer

❏ 1 pair sandals / 1 pair water shoes / 1 pair sneakers

❏ 2 bathing suits + 1 swimsuit cover up

❏ 3-4 sets pajamas

I think we already have most of what we need for each kid. A is probably due for 1-2 summer dresses (some of hers are years old and getting short) and C definitely needs bathing suits and possibly some T-shirts in his current size.

Saturday Dispatches

(in our complex)
TAKE-OUT NIGHT! From Kaya’s Meditarranean (local)
amazing color coordination
during wardrobe excavation, I found this old Cameron Crazies shirt C used to wear all the time!

PS: Happy Mother’s Day! As usual I will try to keep expectations low . . . hopefully it will be a nice day 🙂


  • Reply Gillian May 10, 2020 at 7:51 am

    Simple Families does some good stuff on kids capsule wardrobes. I have definitely overbought in the past–especially for my daughter. With one girl and 3 boys and no cousins etc to had the barely worn stuff down to, I have been trying to get better at this. I agree about the quality issue though. The good stuff looks so much better after lots of washing. We do Primary, Boden and Winter Water Factory (they have super cute tees that last forever!). My12 yo will only wear athletic wear with logos (grrrrrr!). I have started buying these items on ThredUp. We live in a community where dressing up (under more normal circumstances) is common so we have a Crew Cuts navy blazer in every size–they get worn a few times a year and passed down to the next boy…

  • Reply CBS May 10, 2020 at 8:43 am

    I just have the one boy so try not to buy too much. We’re still in the potty training accident / roll in a mud puddle phase so I feel like we have more, maybe 15 outfits and 7 sets of jammies so we only have to do kids laundry once a week. There does seem to be a big difference in quality, the Primary jammies are so much better than the Carters or even the Baby Gap ones. Kids wear uniforms here, even in public schools, so I feel like I want to dress my son in cute things as long as he’ll let me. But of course, he only wants to wear the fire engine top and the top of the gruffalo costume.

    We do have some friends that we can hand things down to – a friend with a son a bit younger and a cousin who fosters and runs a community closet, which make me feel better. I keep a box next to my son’s dresser and pop things in as I’m putting away laundry.

  • Reply Emily May 10, 2020 at 9:08 am

    I love G’s skirt! Hope it’s in the keep pile, ha. Have a happy Mother’s Day!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

      Oh yes! In fact I found it bc I was going through things. It is big so will fit for a long time.

  • Reply L May 10, 2020 at 9:45 am

    What are you doing with all of your donate items?
    I have a pile building that I’m not sure what to do with in our strange new world. No one wants to touch my old stuff right now.
    Also, how was the run!?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I have a pile in bags in the garage to donate! Assuming I will take to local donation box once it’s open 🙂

      Run was great and everyone was not asleep when I returned but they were all still in bed 🙂 (Annabel woke up and came into our bed)

  • Reply Lisa S. May 10, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Happy Mother’s Day! I’ve also noticed during this stay home period that my daughter has WAY more clothes than she needs or actually wears. I feel silly staring at the many summer dresses in her closet, which most often just end up tossed about her room. I love the idea of making a list and sticking to a smaller but higher quality set of options (which I think will save time, money, and sanity).

  • Reply Lisa May 10, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    As my kids have reached teen years, we’ve had lots of success with clothing budgets. You get $X to spend on clothing until September, and anything else comes out of your allowance. We do this 2-3 times/year. My son is brand conscious and this keeps it under control. It helps him see that he has to make choices and compromise.

  • Reply Maria May 10, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Good tips! Super smart advice not to overbuy and all kids are so different here… my son fit into 2T for… 4 years on some things?! My daughter, less than 4 months, I swear. Especially in a 4-season climate like ours, I’m thankful I have bought very little for her, and only supplement with the things we need.

    I prefer the better quality clothes and agree they hold up WAY better. On the other hand, our daughter is so messy and so many are full of stains – I’m glad many were hand-me-downs from cousins or cheap. So this one is a balance!

  • Reply Omdg May 10, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Hanna Andersson has the best leggings imo. I started letting Dylan choose her clothes with me, which seems to help. She refuses to wear dresses so I won’t buy them for her. It’s only been a problem once, when the school requested formal wear one day. I just ignored the request.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 10, 2020 at 1:55 pm

      Pants can be formal too 🙂 do they make kid sized theory? lol. or jumpsuits.

      • Reply omdg May 10, 2020 at 2:43 pm

        HA! (Theory does not make kid sizes, unless you count size 00).

        Sadly, all we have are leggings and sweatpants. I don’t even have jeans for her anymore, since she never wears them. If I recall correctly, I went with cleaner looking leggings and a newish t-shirt. Nobody said anything. However, every time she goes over to her friend’s house, she gets sent home with new clothes. I think the parents think we must be poor.

        I keep eyeing a this Hanna dress for her, thinking it would just be so freaking cute on her. But then I control myself because — really — where is she going to wear it this summer? Maaaaaybe in the Fall, but then I really need to buy a Fall dress, right? BTW she is size 10 now. Hanna only goes up to one size bigger than that. Where the heck am I going to shop for her then?

        TBH she has worn the same pair of Princess Poppy fleece pajamas every single day for the last two months if we don’t force her to put on real clothes, and sometimes even then. I offered to buy her a second pair of pajamas, or even a pair that fits her (these are getting quite short). Nope! Total refusal. Given all that’s going on, I decided this was not a hill I wanted to die on. Haha. I’m just hoping the weather turns warmish and we can finally sit outside in the evenings again, and she gets an opportunity to wear the shorts I bought her.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 10, 2020 at 1:55 pm

      I need to try Hanna … their pajamas are so cute too.

  • Reply Sara May 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Totally agree on the quality of kids clothing! Hanna and Boden are my top picks – they hold up much better with active boys (especially the pants!!) If you buy the clothes on sale and buy fewer items, I find we do pretty well $$ wise. Lands End also has great quality clothes. I liked the swimsuits I bought last year a lot.

  • Reply Jennifer May 10, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Oh wow, circumstances definitely vary a lot. I had to buy more shorts and tees for my daughter last summer because camp meant two sets per day. I thought the”pack a change of clothes” instruction was just in case, but they’d get so dirty that the counselors wanted them to change into clean clothes after swimming. And then those would get too dirty to rewear. So that’s a minimum of 10 each just for camp — I have no appetite for laundry on a more than weekly basis!

    But I guess this year camp may not happen so it may not be an issue for us.

  • Reply Coco May 10, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    totally agree about your points on kids clothes, especially shoes. I’ve bought so many cute-to-me shoes that my little one never wore.
    super excited to see your journey with the organise project, I’m so tempted to join too. how much time is it require per day?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 10, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      I’ve never done it before so I’m
      not sure! It’s the 100 day program from organize365!

  • Reply Megan May 10, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    I’m definitely a bit of an over-buyer with kids clothes but like someone else, still in the recently potty trained, roll in mud, rip your pants falling off your bike, want to splash in every body of water we see stage so extras are a good thing. We also have to provide 2 full spare sets of clothes for daycare so I do like having extras that I can rotate through and keep the bag stocked up.

    In Aus there’s a brand called Seed Heritage that you might like- and with the currency exchange in your favor at the moment the prices are decent. I have some pants for my son from Seed that went through a friends 2 boys, then my son and now his cousin and they are still in good shape. There’s also a UK company called Next that makes really great quality kids stuff. They are currently closed due to the COVID situation but definitely worth a look when they are back up- prices are quite a bit lower than Boden but comparable quality.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 11, 2020 at 6:05 am

      ooh good to know!

  • Reply kate May 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    My three kids have older cousins and a neighbour who pass along hand-me-downs to “shop,” but last year we lived abroad and I had to buy almost everything new. It felt super indulgent but also kind of amazing to choose everything rather than pulling from boxes in the attic! What I loathe, though, is that clothing organization has somehow become my chore. Last Christmas I told my husband that as my gift, I wanted to be free of all children’s clothing management, including seasonal sorting, shopping, mending, donating, and dealing with sports equipment and shoes for a whole calendar year. He went very pale. I got a plant instead.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 11, 2020 at 6:04 am


  • Reply Katie May 11, 2020 at 6:17 am

    I feel like there’s no firm answer to the ‘right’ amount of clothes, so I just go with “the number of items which fit nicely in the drawers/wardrobe when everything is clean”. Or if that still ends up with way too much stuff, then designate some drawers/ space to be used for specific other things, like spare sheets or something. And then if that gives you space for exactly 16 t-shirts then you pick your favourites, and then afterwards you do one-in-one out.

  • Reply Lauren Coyle May 11, 2020 at 7:44 am

    I think it’s also worth figuring out how often you want to do laundry. We have a little more than necessary for each kid but it allows us to do laundry only once per week, which is a really great thing, especially right now with less household help!

  • Reply Maggie May 11, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Any recommendations on favorite comfy sandals for toddlers? I’ve got a 2 yo daughter who was only in Crocs last summer when needed but needs a new pair of non water sandals this year. I find it so hard to shop for things like that when they really can’t describe fit or feel to you. What have your faves been?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 11, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Stride rite tulip SRT! I love them. Super classic and comfortable. I’ve also bought stride rite water shoes.

      Mini Melissa are cute too for toddler girls.

      • Reply Maggie May 11, 2020 at 2:10 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) May 11, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Well done on the great clothes sort-out. I agree with your numbers. I had a friend once who is a true minimalist – she had 7 tops and 3 pants for each boy, and when they were on the last T-shirt, it was laundry day. I love it in principle but I like just a bit of buffer 🙂

    I am so happy that during lockdown my kids are actually wearing all their clothes. Mostly laziness to do laundry but whatever – I’ll take it. And we are in a similar situation as we wear the same clothes in Johannesburg for 9 of the 12 months, with a sweatshirt over tops for winter.

  • Reply cate May 11, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    glad to hear that tea collection wears well… it’s my favorite brand but I don’t buy a ton because of price… now that I just had a second girl, starting to buy more for the toddler since they can both wear it!

  • Reply MBC May 11, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    Oh dear lord we have waaay more clothing than that. Part of it is that I like to buy big lots of used clothes in sizes ahead. when I get a whole huge bag of 30 things for $30 I don’t mind if some of them aren’t what we like. Or that, like everything she ever wore in 2T was leopard print it seemed. With once a week laundry, and spares needed regularly (plus change for daycare) I’m at at least 10 sets tops/bottoms for each kid.

    What do you do about outerwear? Or is that just irrelevant in Florida? 4 seasons means, rain boots, rain suit, fleece, windbreaker, snow suit (x2 for daycare!), snow boots, hats, mittens, sun hat, sandals, swimsuit. Gets crazy fast.

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