Day 220 Kid’s Wardrobe Declutter Part 2

I wanted to do follow up on yesterday’s post with some practical advice on children’s wardrobes. I would like you to keep in mind that my children are 21 & 19 now and it has been a while since I had control over what they wear.

When my children were small, well actually they are still small but we will come to that soon, I was very lucky that I really didn’t need to buy much for them in the way of clothing. Both my mother and mother-in-law are very good at sewing and made most of the clothes they needed. My MIL would buy good second-hand clothing and shoes for them on occasion as well. I don’t recall them being inundated with more clothes than they needed so there was no out of control spending that’s for sure. Also because they were small the fabric required was minimal and were often off-cuts so no waste there much either.

As I mentioned, both my kids aren’t big. When they were little I could never predict what size clothes they would need for the next season because their growth rate was not the average. So I never took advantage of end of season sales. One of the advantages of having small kids is that they tend to wear their clothing out rather than grow out of them so that was my savings advantage. We also lived in the tropics for four years of their young lives so there was no seasons to buy for really.

When my daughter turned twelve I copped the usual teenage girl desire for name brand clothes and going shopping with her became a nightmare. I did what all smart mothers would do and gave her a clothing allowance. It didn’t take long for her to realize that the money I gave her would not buy much unless she settled for sensible brands with reasonable prices. She soon learned how to find a bargain and that she was cute enough without doing free advertising for companies whose clothes were not that well made anyway.

My son however has always been hard to fit because he has always been a skinny little thing so he tends to find something that he likes that fits and wears it to death. He still wears his little league t-shirts from when he was twelve he is now nineteen. Says a lot for how well they catered for sizes at his little league club but that is another story. He mostly lives in skinny jeans, t-shirts and button up flannel shirts these days because that is the skateboarder fashion. His one weakness is skate shoes but now that he is responsible for paying for them himself I am sure he will be more careful with them. Oh and he will not part with any band t-shirts or hoodies that he has ever owned and they are stored in a box in the garage. I am not happy about that.

Sure there were times where they had more than they needed. Sometime an item was bought that they didn’t like so much and didn’t wear to its full potential. Every now and again there had to be the “only for good” outfit that they grew out of before they wore out but for the most part we didn’t do too badly.

The moral of this story is we all know our kids well enough to know the style of clothing that best suits their everyday needs. We pretty much have a handle on their growth rate and their personalities. We know if they are the rough and tumble type or the gentle variety. We know how often we have time to do the laundry and the type of climate we live in. We know the kind of social lives we lead separately and together as a family.

All our kids need is enough clothing of the variety that best suits the needs of the categories above and no more. If something wears out it is easy enough to replace it so there is no need for multiple back ups. If you are lucky like I was and someone else is catering well to their needs in this area just be grateful of one less financial pressure. If that leaves you with extra funds maybe you could funnel the savings into a college fund or something else that suits their immediate needs. It is best to teach them now that excess is not necessary for a happy life, they will thank you for it in the end.

I am not going to be a hypocrite and pretend that I taught my kids all the right lessons when it comes to being frugal. Hindsight is a great thing but often too late. Suddenly having an independent income can go to their heads when it happens no matter how well you think you taught them. I just hope the fundamentals are locked in their somewhere and they will settle into it.


This Thomas the Tank Engine train set was a Christmas gift to my son many years ago. He kindly allowed me to give it to his young cousins who are Thomas fans.

Thomas the Tank Engine

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Not having kids myself I don’t have to worry about the kid closet thing. BUT, I used to help my friend buy for her grandkids and let me tell you the thing we learned was to go to garage sales in upper middle class areas. I was amazed at the things we could find. Some with the tags still on and none were worn. We kept her grandkids clothed for next to nothing. Cute clothes. We also bought some for my one cousin’s children and did well with things like coats and sweaters and things like that. When you can use them, sell them and buy more used, it wasn’t hard to keep them in clothes that were their size. If they had siblings who could later wear them they would be kept. If not they would be resold if still in good shape. Other then coats for $3-5 we seldom spent more than a $1 for anything and most were less.

    • Hi Deb J,
      that sounds like a great situation to me. I had no problem with my kids wearing secondhand clothes, they also had a secondhand cot and toys etc. You can waste a lot of money buying new for little people who are going to grow out of things before they are worn out and hey do grow out of everything not just clothes.

  2. Oh yeas, secondhand is great! We have this organization that holds flea markets just for kids stuff all over the city. I plan on selling some of our outgrown stuff – and I buy from there myself. I also get stuff from my sis who has three kids.
    I have a pretty good understanding for now what kind of clothes get worn and the kind that tends to stay behind.. We help her get dressed of course since she is not even 2 yet so it’s up to us really, but we like jersey 🙂 Legging, tees, tunics, sweatpants, the kind that is comfy and easy to get in and out of. The fancy stuff doesn’t get worn much. That may change when she starts to have opinions about what she wears.

    I try to not go overboard, just have enough so we never run out of clean clothes, but I have to admit this is my weak spot – and kids’ clothing is always easy to declutter after it’s grown out.

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      like you say one really can’t beat the jersey, leggings, tees and sweatpants. They really are the most comfortable and easy to get on a off. There is a big fleamarket in a stadium near where I live soon just for baby and kid stuff I think it only happens once a year but it is a great idea.

  3. Hi Colleen,
    I just ran across your blog and admire what you are doing – I have two bags downstairs where I put things we haven’t used in a while. When the bags are full, I take them to our local thrift shop and rarely miss any of their contents.

    As far as kids clothing sizes go, there is a way to find brand-specific sizes for them. We put together a size chart calculator ( that you can use to find current and estimated future sizes based on your child’s growth trend. Right now, we have about 300 children’s clothing brands’ size charts. I think the calculator can be used to avoid buying more, or getting the wrong size, because it helps you get fit right the first time.