How Many Clothes Do Children Really Need?
Are your kids wardrobes stuffed full of clothes?
Do you ever look at the contents of their drawers and wonder if they really need it all?
Perhaps you have tried decluttering a la Marie Kondo but still you think your kids have too many clothes?
I know that I am guilty of all these things.
In the last few months I have cleared out many bin bags stuffed full of outgrown clothes. I’ve given the clothes to charity shops, friends and family with smaller children and sent what is totally worn out to the recycling centre.
Yet it still feels like we have too much.
Too Many Clothes Can be Draining
When I look at the washing pile I am filled with dread.
The washing machine seems to be on non-stop, there isn’t enough space to dry everything and yet the washing pile never seems to get any smaller.
This is a real cause of stress for me.
The sense of disappointment that I have bought them much they don't wear or need is embarrassing and it is that which has spurred me on to write this post.
I am no better than the average person when it comes to buying. I know what should do - which is not buy it - but somehow my good intentions never last long.
I have decided to audit my kids wardrobes and find out exactly what they have.
How much is too much?
Just how many clothes do children really need?
No One Size Fits All
How many clothes children need will vary from family to family, how much laundry do you do and if they wear a school uniform.
What one family considers a reasonable amount might be far too much for another.
I know that my children have too many clothes - although a lot of them are samples made by me.
They get comfort from the clothes I make for them as gifts – it is a sign of my love for them.
But when I look at the sheer amount in their wardrobes I know that I really don’t need to buy them any more!
Breaking It Down….
I have written this short blog post to look carefully at what I think is the ideal amount of clothing for a younger child and what, in reality, my children have.
The ideal is just that. An ideal.
It is what I think my children should have. I have tried to make it a realistic number and I was pleasantly surprised that my eldest child wasn’t far of the ideal numbers.
I was also shocked at how far off my ideal my youngest child’s wardrobe was!
Perhaps this is because she is the youngest and gets all the hand me downs.
She is also a different shape to her sister at the same age. So although she has all the hand me downs in her drawers she also has lots of new things as the older clothes don’t actually fit her that well.
Socks, Underwear and Pyjamas
The Ideal: 10 pairs of socks and underpants and 3-4 pairs of pyjamas
The Reality: My youngest has 20 pairs of socks and tights
I decided to clear out the knicker and sock drawers and keep only what fitted the children and wasn’t worn out.Sock and underpants are an essential. I have a whole drawer dedicated to underwear and so do my children. But most get left at the bottom of the drawer and are never worn.
My elder two children have around 10 pairs of pants and 10 pairs of socks and I am happy that that is plenty. My youngest seems to still have twice that but as they all fit and are in good condition it seems silly to give them away just yet.
They each have around 3-4 pairs of pyjamas and that seems a reasonable amount to me.
- 6 polo shirts - one for each day of the week and one for the following Monday when it is inevitable you forgot to do the white wash over the weekend.
- 3 pairs of trousers/skirt/dresses
- 2 Jumpers/sweatshirts
- 6 pairs of school socks or tights - one a day plus a spare. Make sure they are all the same make so that your child can’t claim one pair is immensely uncomfortable so that on Friday morning you just get a dirty pair out of the wash to avoid an argument....(That tip is from a friend. I would never do that. Obvs)
- 15 polo shirts in the case of my youngest!
- My middle daughter appears to have 6 summer dresses!
- They each have 3 jumpers
- My youngest has 10 pairs of school socks plus tights.!
At the last count my youngest child (nearly 5 years old) had 15 white school polo t-shirts. That is crazy isn’t it? Who needs that many polo shirts for school?My children are all in school full time – for us that is just over 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Which means that for almost 20% of the week they wear a school uniform.
Granted, as the youngest in the family she does get all the hand me downs but I still think 15 is a bit excessive, don’t you?
Of course, as they grow, I will be replacing the uniform with uniform that fits and as a savvy mum I pass the outgrown uniform onto the younger siblings. I think I need to be careful that I am not also buying new uniform for my younger children when the hand me downs are adequate.
I am also guilty of stocking up on the ‘next size up’ and snapped up several summer dresses in the sales last summer. Which means I also have a drawer full of bigger dresses right up to age 10!
- 5 pair of trousers – jeans, joggers, leggings – whatever your child is comfortable in.
- 7 long sleeve tops
- 7 t-shirts
- 4 jumpers/sweatshirts
- 2 or 3 skirts/dresses
- A couple of party/’Sunday Best’ outfits
The Reality: My youngest daughter has….
- 17 pairs of leggings
- 13 long sleeve tops
- 15 t-shirts
- 9 jumpers
- 23 dresses
My children change out of their school uniform when they get home and put on home clothes. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that I can then spot clean their uniforms and they can get a second wear out of them!
Read more about why my children get changed into home clothes in this blog: Starting School: Home Clothes vs School Uniform
When I started researching this blog post I assumed that as they wore a school uniform for the majority of the time they were awake then they would need fewer home clothes.
I’m not sure this is the case – in the holidays I don’t want to be doing the washing constantly!
Out of the 17 pairs of leggings my daughter owns, 10 of them are handmade by me. And out of the 23 dresses she owns 13 are made by me too. I guess I need to ask myself why, if I make her so much, do I also buy her things?
Shoes, Coats and Everything Else
The Ideal: school shoes, trainers, boots/sandal, wellies. One coat and one mac with rain trousers.
The reality: all of the above plus numerous party shoes!!
In an ideal world I would streamline the shoes down to a pair of school shoes, trainers, boots (or sandals in warm weather) and wellies. I don’t think we are far off that at the moment but I know both my girls also love sparkly party shoes and we have (at least) a couple of battered pairs strewed around the hallway at any one time.
Coats are much easier. We have a warm winter coat and a thin mac with rain trousers. Although to be honest its struggle to get them to put a coat on even when it is freezing outside!
And everything else? Well there are dance leotards, tap shoes, football boots, training kit, match day kit, gilets for the garden, old clothes for cleaning out the chickens….sometimes the list is endless.
Are all these things essential? That is something that will vary from family to family but all the additional kits and uniforms does add to the dirty washing pile… (And don’t get me started the little black bits from the football astro turf that are a constant in our hallway….)
How many clothes do children need?
Not as many as I first thought!
It is pretty clear that my children do not need the quantity of clothes that they have.
I have cleared out a lot of outgrown and worn out clothes in recent weeks and still the drawers are full.
But it seems silly for me to clear out more when the clothing they have is in good condition – and my children like them! But it has made me realise that I don’t need to buy any more for them any time soon.
And as someone who is trying to be more environmentally aware I am really glad I did this.
I know that I don’t need to buy anything new for some time and that there are enough clothes in the house for pretty much any eventuality!
Thank you so much for sharing this great blog. Very inspiring and helpful too.
A Touch of Magnolia Boutique on
I landed on this page when really questioning how to quickly pack for a house move which then led me to look up how many clothes does my daughter need…waaay less than she has it seems, I’m just very bad at getting rid of all those cute little tops and it’s and lovely dresses that I get as hand me downs from my sister in law…so I’m realizing she needs less but HOW do you chose less when you really love what’s there already…I need to learn some tough love and fast!!
Having recently returned from a two week holiday and witnessed the mountain of washing in my kitchen, and that my kids already have clothes left in their drawers despite this, I think I have finally realised they have too many things. I have too many too. Therefore, I am commencing a no-spend year, with the exception of school uniform.
Thanks for this! My boys both have far too many clothes (as do I!) and I’m trying to streamline their wardrobes to be a little more minimalist. I’m pretty sure I can cut down half their wardrobes, each, and they’ll still have more than you’ve listed as the “ideal” here. Time to get to work!
Nicola N on