Children’s clothing

I have been struggling to find time to wrote my blog posts over the last few days because my parents are visiting so today I will keep my post short.

Being that the mini mission for the day is to declutter the outgrown, worn or unloved clothing that is hanging in your child’s wardrobe I though it appropriate to make a few comments on that subject. There are several reasons why is does not pay to overindulge when it comes to children’s clothing…

  1. Wasted money ~ why buy a whole lot of clothes that are going to get rarely worn before your child grows out of them. You really only need enough outfits to keep them clothed from day to day and no more. A few good outfits and a two weeks worth of everyday clothes ought to be enough to get by without running out even if you don’t have a clothes dryer for wet weather periods. Beyond that is sheer indulgence.
  2. Creating a monster ~ Children aren’t born as fashionistas they are transformed into them over time by making a big fuss about the way we dress them. If we constantly make a fuss about how beautiful they are in new outfits we buy them they with start to associate that with their self worth. This is not a path I would advise any parent to go down.
  3. Wasted resources ~ Yes you can hand clothing on to someone else when your child is done with it but wouldn’t it be better for the environment if you placed as little strain as possible on the supply of natural resources. The more items you buy the more demand you place on the materials and energy it takes to provide these items. Please do your best to shop sustainably.

So work out what it is the your child needs ~ everyone has different circumstances so their needs will be different ~ than shop only for what is necessary. Replace items only when needed and adjust to suit future needs. It is possible to raise your child to present themselves neatly and appropriately without making them vain about their appearance. These guidelines can just and easily apply to adults so if you have no children considered taking a look at your own wardrobe.

Today’s Declutter Item

More baseball stuff gone to a new home via Freecycle.

Things that made me happy, made me laugh, made me feel grateful, fascinated me or I thought were just plain awesome.

  • Having a lovely day in Sydney yesterday.
  • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Talking with perfect strangers and learning about their lives ~ Sometimes hearing about other peoples struggles make you far more grateful for your own good fortune.
  • Inexpensive public transport.
  • Rain on the roof at bedtime.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I find that dressing my children in more subtle clothing lets my child be the star rather than their clothing. Star might be the wrong word, but I think simple clothes put the focus on the adorable child not the fancy label or busy pattern. Simple clothes are usually more reasonably priced and don’t lead to overbuying for me.

    • RIGHT ON! And then I find this system (subtle clothing) to be easier on our laundry loads, because we can separate darks w/ darks and lights w/ lights and we eliminate having to wash something specially just because the colors might bleed or whatever!!!!

      • Hi Annabelle,
        funny you should bring up the issue of washing sustainably while still separating your loads because my family seem to be naturally inclined to wear similar colours to one and other and we have always been about to wash full loads no matter what colour and without running short on clothes. Now that I have a front loader I just wash a load when there is a full one to wash. I may end up washing one load every other day or three loads on one day but I never have to waste water or electricity washing small loads.

    • Hi Megan,
      there will come a time where your children may want to put their own stamp of individuality on the clothing that they wear. At this point it is best to give them a little freedom. There is always a fine line between giving too much and making too few allowances, both can cause the same undesirable effect in the long run.

  2. Can’t believe parents or their friends and family spend money on Baby Dior white outfits (is it because they look so lovely with green poo stains after the nappy’s slipped) and Louis Vuitton changing bags…

    • Wow Lynda, I never knew Dior had Baby outfits…But then again I never bought a Louis Vuitton bag for myself and wouldn’t buy one for my kid! 😀 I, for one, think that outfits for children shouldn’t cost more than 20 dollars, or else it’s too much. 😉

    • Hi Lynda,
      don’t even get me started on this subject. I am not a lover of ridiculously expensive designer brands and especially not for kids. Status symbols gone mad. Bring on the green poo I say!

  3. Hi Colleen,

    I usually so agree with you and your take on the whole clutter issue, but somehow “children aren’t born as fashionistas” proves wrong for me. I can’t speak for children I have, only for the child I was, but my parents sure created “a monster” by raising me on a pretty minimal, only what the kid needs kind of wardrobe. I absolutely went into the overbuying mode once I had my own money because I felt so deprived of the pretty stuff I wanted „all my live“ (I started buying my own stuff (mainly bargains or second hand) at the age of 13 with money I earned from delivering newspapers, so actually the period of “deprivation” was shorter than the period of nearly 20 years of overindulgence that followed it) . I believe my parents did everything they did with nothing but our well being in mind, but I could not stand the mainly practical, good quality items, chosen after their aesthetics that could be passed on to my younger brother. I wasn’t encouraged to want to look pretty at all. I wanted it myself. I wanted to look nice for myself and within my very own aesthetics (which most likely would not have passed as pretty in the eyes of the grown ups but would have made me happy and proud of my own choices). I guess as long as you count the WANT of the child as a NEED, I agree with only giving them what they need. But giving them only what they need in the eyes of a grown up who makes “better choices” can horribly go wrong, or at least that’s how it went for me. I probably would have cried and thrown tantrums when the overexpensive sweater I wanted so badly when I was five had broken after a couple of washings. But afterwards I would at least have believed them that it was not so good in the first place. They could have given it to me for my Birthday instead of a toy I wanted (maybe pointing it out in advance that I had to choose – I am sure I would have choosen the sweater! ). I feel that by not letting me get overboard ever they created the fashionista-effect rather than prevented it.

    • Great comment Ideealistin
      It’s, as with everything in life, about striking the right balance between the adult perspective on things and child’s own. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      • Hi Ornela,
        Ideealistin comment make a great point ~ It never pays to go to either extreme. Moderation is best because going overboard in the other direction can cause just as much of a problem.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      your childhood sounds like a classic case of the other extreme. There is a not so fine line between restraint and deprivation and I think you got the raw end of that deal. Clearly in the end the resulting effect can be the same whether a parents uses one extreme or the other. I think you weren’t suffering only from not having enough but, even more so, a case of not ever having anything nice. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. It is possible to limit choice without eliminating it altogether. Your story is a very good case of taking things too far and I would never suggest anyone do that.

  4. I don’t have kids, but I did declutter quite a few items of clothing today to the charity shop. Seems I chose the right day to do it!

    • Hi incurable hippie and welcome to 365lessthings. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I took a quick look at your blog and enjoyed the post “why I crave more stuff”. When my visitors have gone I will have to go back and read more. Today was an easy day for you but I am sure I will find plenty of ways to challenge you in the future. 😉

  5. When I was growing up my mother picked my clothes. She was even pretty much in charge during my teen years. There were times when I hated it but later I realized that because she told me why she was picking the various items I learned a lot about buing clothes that fit, lasted, and stayed classic so that I didn’t have to toss them in 6 months when they were no longer “IN.” We didn’t have a lot of money and so we had enough clothes for a week for school and 2-3 outfits for church on Sunday. When I went to work and made my own money I found myself not caring about having an extensive wardrobe. My one roommate had 3 huge closets full of clothes and over 45 pairs of shoes. Yet, she was always wanting to borrow my shoes or my tops, etc. I had a small walk-in closet with 2/3 of one side containing clothes and the other side had my luggage and a few other items I put there rather than down in the parking garage level storage room. I still live that way. I no longer work. I have a small closet that isn’t full. I have no clothes stored elsewhere. I own 2 pair of shoes–sandles and walking shoes. I’m perfectly happy and people think I dress nice. One thing that helped me a lot was that I early on learned that I didn’t have to look like everyone else to be liked or to be accepted. I never tried to “fit in” so got along with everyone pretty well. I didn’t grow up reading magazines that told me I didn’t look right or stuff like that. I think it helped a lot. BUT, times have changed hugely and I think that we have to make sure that we assure our children they are loved, that they are accepted and that they are beautiful just the way they are. If they get this at home it will hopefully help them live with the peer pressure they face outside the home.

    • Hi Deb J,
      your mother did well to explain why and how to choose classic well made clothes. These are lessons that obviously stayed with you for life and important lessons they were to. My mother was a dressmaker and I think I may have been a teenager before I ever had shop bought clothes and I was always well dressed. She also taught us how to sew ( all four of us boys and girls) and from that you soon learn how to identify well make items and the fabrics that are most serviceable. Lessons I will remember for a life time.

  6. Good points. My take on this is that we need minimum of seven, no more than ten outfits (meaning, for example, seven pants, seven tops, three dresses). I do a load of laundry a couple of times a week. Just like for myself, a color palette that isn’t too all over the place works best, so you can wear all the pieces mixed, though I’m not very serious about matching her clothes hehe, nor is my husband, so she sometimes wears things that don’t really match at all.
    Right now my main criteria are that the things are comfortable (jersey, stretchy velour) and preferably organic /second hand and of course I choose things that look nice to me as well.
    I definitely don’t want to raise a consumerist fashionista, but I still understand the previous poster’s point about wanting to feel pretty, and enjoying clothing. It’s okay for a little girl to dance around in a dress she got from her older cousin, and be admired!

    I also agree with wanting my child’s personality to show rather than the bright patterns and big logos. When I was pregnant I went nuts and bought a bunch of bright colored cool clothes (a lot of them were second hand, but a bunch of them went practically un-worn ..) but then I realized that I did not want that at all. I’m so glad I stopped the madness on it’s tracks – I have a much more natural approach now, it’s about CLOTHING the child, it has nothing to do with FASHION or STYLE. I love hand knit clothes, soft fabrics, hand-me-downs that don’t scream “brand-spanking-new” and mostly solid colors for easier mixing.
    When she will start to have opinions about clothing, I will listen to her. On any given day she can choose what to wear from her closet, but I will try not to take her shopping a lot, except perhaps sometimes at a secondhand market. I think it will better to just choose and buy what I want for her and bring it home, and at some point later she can have more of a say in her own clothing, but I will always have the right to veto – no “teen” clothing for a seven year old!

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      it sounds like you have a very good formular planned and I think it should work well for you. Although my blog is more about about reducing quantity I would also choose comfort over style any day. This are the clothes that will always get the most use. For a child it is even more important.

  7. Totally agree Colleen. My daughter is 10 and my son is 8. He would (and does) wear the same polar-fleece hoodie every day (when he is not in his school uniform). God bless school uniforms!! She has a more eclectic wardrobe (mainly secondhand stuff) and loves to throw things together like stripes with florals when she has a party or goes to church, but mostly lives in jeans/shorts and t-shirts. I don’t encourage preening and fashionista-type behaviour, as my sister and I were often dressed (and coiffed) like perfect little ladies by our mum and I HATED it! I have realised that my daughter only wears about 20% of her clothes anyway, so this year I have vowed only to buy her items when she grows out of what she has. My son would wear his clothes until they are 2 sizes too small and then I still have to PRY them out of his hands to give away!

    • Loretta,
      I love school uniforms too. When I first left school and started to work I was only in the job for about six months when I asked the boss if it would be alright for me to choose and buy a set of uniforms for myself because it would be much easier to organise what to wear each day. (I was their only employee) They were OK with it so I bough three dresses the same and wore them everyday until I moved on to a new job. I was only fifteen at the time and even at such a young age, when it is all about how you look, I new how much simpler it was to wear a uniform.

      My son has two little league T-shirts from when he was eleven and twelve that he stills wears on a regular basis. For some reason they didn’t seem to cater for the smaller kids and only offered bigger sizes. At the time the t-shirts came down to his knees but they still fit him quite well now at twenty years old. It could be a bit of a problem trying to declutter them when they finally wear out. 😕

      • You were ahead of your time! I worked at McDonald’s for a while, and LOATHED their uniform with a passion: ill-filling, polyester and completely unflattering. I’m thinking about having my own ‘uniform’ now, but the trouble is, I can’t decide whether I’m a pants/jeans girl, or skirts and boots girl!

  8. I remember with fondness the times as a child when someone would give huge black garbage bags of clothing to our very large family. We would sit in a circle on the living room floor with the bags in the center, eagerly anticipating what they contained. My mother would pull out one piece of clothing at a time and determine who it would fit. It was like Christmas to us! We never felt shamed or poor, only excited and privileged. People always commented on how nicely my mom dressed us.
    When my son was born I determined that I would give him the same opportunity. I always thought it was such a waste to buy new clothes for babies and young children, unless for birthdays/Christmas and under-garments, when they outgrow them so quickly, so I gladly accepted used clothing. Many times they were like-new. When my supply of given clothing ran short, I quickly learned how to spot and feel for quality clothing for both he and I at garage sales and thrift stores. Often we were sporting brand-name clothing for under a dollar. My son learned the thriftiness of buying used and saving money while enjoying nice clothing without over-indulging. He was also more appreciative when he got the occasional new outfit. Now an adult, he was bragging to me the other day that he got several pieces of clothing for less than what his friends pay for one piece. Another money lesson well-learned.

    • Hi Di,
      I loved this comment about the bags of clothes and waiting to see what came out and who it would fit. I could just imagine it would feel like Christmas to you all.

      When my brother was a teenager (he was seven years younger than me) some of his clothes were bought ~ rip curl, billabong and the like ~ and some my mother made. He would unpick the labels from the bought clothes and mum would sew them onto the ones she made and he always got more compliments for the made clothes than he did for the bought ones.

      There seems to be a lot of parallels between the way you raised your son and the way I raised my children. They sure know how to get a bargain and don’t mind wearing thrift store clothes.

      • What a creative and clever mother you have to have thought of and taken the time to do that for your brother.

        • Hi Di,
          I think the labels thing was his idea but my mum would have had no problem complying. She is a great dressmaker and made all the wedding dresses for me, my sister and my sisters-in-law. My dad was the same way with doing anything around the house and he owned a smash repair business and fixed up cars old cars for us when we were teenagers.

  9. I think this post is absolutely right! We must not, as much as we want to, buy every fashionable piece of clothing our heart desires for our children. Maybe it’s easy for me because I have two boys, and fashion for boys goes as much as the trendy jeans and shirt. But we can buy locally manufactered clothes and don’t need so and so label to make our children look good and feel good. Clothes for children, are, mostly, for playing. In my case, whenever we go out, to a party, or to a friend’s house, I just want them to get there looking good, for afterwards they will go and play, and get dirty and all messed up, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much. So I disagree with Ideealistin on the count that Colleen is not suggesting that our children shouldn’t have nice trnding outfits, but that they shouldn’t have too much of it. I have two boys and the second one got lots of hand me downs, of clothes that were very worn and others not so much. It’s a relief not to have to buy a whole set of new clothes as I had with my older boy. My young one got clothes as gifts and I bought him one or two new outfits. They both are well dressed, look good, and I didn’t spend a mountain of money dressing them. I think that’s decluttering.

    • Hi Andreia,
      thank you for a good comment and I am glad you understood my meaning so well. It is possible to dress nicely and appropriately and still keep the quantity under control.

      My son is 20 years old and he hardy has a dressy outfit in his cupboard because he doesn’t go anywhere that requires such clothing. When he was in school sometimes they would have to dress up for some school function and then the clothes would sit in the cupboard unused until he grew out of it. On reflection I should have bought those outfits at the thrift store but clothing was so inexpensive in America that I just went to the store.

  10. Ok, I’ve done today’s mini-mission (kids clothing). I really liked how you mentioned to not indulge them to begin with! This is a great lesson for me to learn. Even though I do shop for my kids clothing at thrift stores, and even though the prices are low (yahoo!), those reasons don’t mean I have to get them extra stuff just because it is “just so cute and the price is right”!

  11. I like the numbers thrown out there by Cat’s Meow. However, I need suggestions for numbers of clothing items for this formula: Daughter, age 15, son, age 13, both parents work full time and basically only wear casual clothes (jeans, tees) on weekends and vacations. Due to the kids’ schedules, we do laundry once a week. Oh, and both kids are in public school – wish uniforms were required, but they are not. Climate = Midwest United States and cold, cold winters.

    • Hi MargeE,
      there are no right numbers as it is not an exact science. The best way to approach it is to work on what you think they need as a minimum and then add to it if you find you need to. Teenagers especially females will always insist they need more than they do so you have to be careful here. I gave my daughter a clothing allowance from when she was twelve because I had one idea about what she should buy and she had another. I gave her an amount that I felt was enough and she had to budget to what she wanted. They soon learn to be less particular about branding if they wanted to make ends meet. I was fortunate that I had small kids who didn’t grow fast so they got good use out of their clothes.
      Living in cold climates always make clothes shopping and storing a more complicated affair. My son lives in jeans, cut off jeans and t-shirts all year round here in Australia. He has a couple of sweaters but that is all. Although when we lived in Seattle he wore much the same thing with one heavier jacket.
      Different needs, different personalities, different hobbies, different climate, different social activities, different tastes… all these things have to be taken into consideration when buying clothing. It is best to find items that are versatile that can be mixed and matched. What I am saying is that there is a lot to take into account or to use a scientific term ~ multiple variables.

  12. I used to always buy marked down clothes ahead of season for my son, but I’ve stopped doing that because he ended up having so many clothes that he just didn’t wear. I would have spent just as much if I’d bought just enough clothes at full price! I’ve started now buying clothes when he needs them.

    It’s funny too, that you say two weeks of clothes. My son has probably got two weeks of clothes, and I think it’s far more than he needs! About a week’s worth is enough for him, considering our washing patterns. I’ve been thinking about how many clothes he will need in size 5, considering he starts school next year. He should, theoretically, only need clothes for the weekend, but what about school holidays? He’ll probably need almost as many clothes as he would being home all day every day.

    • Hi Susan,
      one thing about the 7 day a week shopping, if you find you don’t have enough clothes for your son you can always get more. So best to work on a minimum basis and add to the mix if you have to. There is no fixed number as to how much is too much but either way I think we all really know when we are at either end of that scale.