Kids’ Clothing – How Much Do They Need?

organising kids clothes

I have been asked this question a couple of times by readers and I never really have a great answer. The most recent email exchange with a lovely mum named Katie went like this:


I am wondering if you have some guidelines that you follow when deciding how many of each type of clothing you have for each of your kids (ie. how many pants, how many t- shirts etc)? I read your blog about organising your kids drawers etc which was good. I have the enviable problem of having too many generous friends who have donated pre-loved clothing to us and I don’t know how to decide how many of each type to keep.


I haven’t written about this topic because I am not very good at it! I find it hard to give away clothes in good condition. I am going to post this question on facebook and see what responses I get and collate the best of them and will post it on the blog.

So in this post I am doing just that! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to this post on the Planning With Kids Facebook page.

And good luck to Katie who is expecting her third child any day now!

My thoughts of managing kids’ clothing

Keeping on top of the kids’ clothes is always a work in progress. At times, some of the kids’ wardrobes or drawers can get to bursting point, if I haven’t kept on top of it!  But here are some things that are working well for us at the moment:

  • Culling every quarter seems to be a frequency I should work to.
  • I find it is easier to manage the kids clothes when they are older, in school and wear a uniform. You definitely need less clothes once kids head to school and wear a uniform.
  • Each child has at least two school uniforms, plus a sports uniform. At least three pairs of school socks / stockings.
  • Mr I went through the kids’ drawers recently and left them with only two pairs of pyjamas each. The younger ones were just grabbing a new pair pretty much every night! This has worked really well.
  • About a 18 months ago Mr I bought two large plastic tubs and labeled one summer and one winter. When in summer like now, all of the kids’ winter uniforms are put away in the winter box. Any summer uniforms that do not fit any of the kids, are put away in the summer box. This system is working really well in terms of finding items of the right size for everyone when we change over seasons.
  • We tend to have only one really dressy outfit for each child. My kids don’t love wearing “fancy” clothes, so it is a waste to buy more items that will sit in the cupboard and rarely get worn.
  • Underwear and socks, I like to have at least seven pairs of each.

Suggested kids’ clothing guidelines from other mums

There was a great range of responses to how to manage kids clothing. Have a look through and see what might work for you:

Susan B Alton – Two weeks of outfits plus a few special occasion pieces for each season.

Katrina Harrison – I agree with Susan, even though I wash every few days its nice to have a [set of] fortnightly clothes ( in case of holidays etc) plus some dressy stuff which for boys is easy!!

Renée Hurley – For my 2.5 year old DS I find for summer: 2 pairs of dressy shorts, 4 dressy casual shorts, 4 yard shorts and 1 tshirt for each outfit plus 4 spares, 2 pairs of boardies/rashie and 4 hats. Then winter same again with same number of singlets and jumpers as tshirts. 3 pairs of shoes for each season.

For my 7 month old DD I have a bit more as she is a really messy eater even with a bib and I mix up shorts with skirts and dresses etc.

Allison Dench – I like to have at least enough to last a week plus a few spares.. and you can never have too many undies

Ella Sutton- I work as a nanny – general rule is 3 jumpers, 2 cardigans, 1 winter coat. 7 t-shits, 7 long sleeve shirts, 2 long dresses, 2 short dresses, 2 evening/party dresses, 3 soft shorts(sports), 2 denim shorts, 2 dress shorts, 2 board shorts, 5 jeans, 2 track pants, 1 dress pants, 3 skirts, 7 pairs of leggings (they don’t wear well), 1 horse riding leggings, 2 swim wear, 3 hats(school/nappy bag, car & home), a pair of wet, dress, sandal and running shoes. Underwear a minimum of 14 (7 day wears) but they currently have 20, 8 singlets. That is summer & winter wear, the key to make things easier is figure out what colour suits your child best and keep/buy things that mix and match with everything! If a child hasn’t worn an item in 30 days in that season it’s gone. Like adults they have their favorites. Mister 5 will only wear soft fabrics and only goes for light blue and red with one mid green shirt so thrown out most green, cream, grey, black & dark blue he won’t wear.

Jacinta Jesser – Wow! I am surprised! I only have one 2.5 DS, he grows so fast I buy very little. He has maybe 6 pairs shorts, 6 singlets and 6 t shirts. 2 pairs boardies and 3 hats and that’s summer! I wash every couple of days, don’t see the need for more than this, it will only be used for 6 mths tops!

Rebecca Egan – I did do 7 of each piece of clothing ie. 7 dresses, 7 shirts etc, probably still too much but I’m a hoarder! Also yes, they do wear a lot less once they start going to school, so the rule should probably reduce to 4 of each!

What about you? Do you have guidelines that you follow when deciding how many of each type of clothing you have for each of your kids?


  1. Kreeftje says

    That was interesting to read and it made me realize how upside down it is in my family. Sir 14 is growing so fast at the moment that he has only a few shorts or shirts that fit him. Because of that Sir 12 is swimming in clothes enough to dress everybody in his class. Funnyly enough Sir 8 refuses to wear anything that comes from big bro so I put it away for a while so he (hopefully) forgets where it came from. Considering he is quite small and so much younger this trick has worked fine until Sir 12 opened his smart mouth saying “hey, I remember I used to wear that…” Queen15 has her favorites and has difficulty buying new clothes as she does not like the current fashion for girls. She has difficulty finding shorts that don’t make her feel she’s walking around naked or Tshirts that cover her belly therefor she has at the most 4 shorts and several Tshirts. I have to agree though, you can never have enough undies and socks, they seem to have a life on their own!

  2. says

    I have found my kids (5, 3, and 1) tend to wear the same things over and over again so it’s not hard for me to pull out anything that is not a favorite or that doesn’t get worn at least once a week.

    I swap out their clothes twice a year and we keep out 8 play outfits, 2 dress up outfits, 8 pairs of socks and underwear, and 2 pairs of pajamas. My washing machine is fairly small so I like to do their laundry twice a week anyway.

    But I agree, if I don’t keep up with it we are swimming in kids clothes!

  3. Alicia says

    I find this topic really interesting, as we spent 9 months last year travelling overseas with minimal clothing. I loved it so much I am trying to incorporate it now we are home, although with a few extras as we are no longer restricted by suitcase size.
    My 3 girls (aged 10,7 and 3) survived with 3 shorts, 1 jeans, 1 track pants, 4 short sleeved Tshirts and 2 long sleeved, 1 dress, 1 cardigan, 1 fleece, 1 pair of PJ’s, swimmers and 7 pairs undies/socks. Their shoes included thongs, sandals and sneakers. That really covered most events and I found that they had their favourites that they would wear all the time anyway even in that small group. Their wardrobes were always tidy and washing was really manageable. They also became really good at letting me know if something could be spot cleaned!!

  4. birdie22 says

    This has also been a trial and error issue for our family. Especially since they grow so fast it seems that they literally no longer fit in their clothes in the middle of the school week !I have 2 children, 10 and 11. My children are now into choosing their own clothes, so this has made it a bit easier for me. My son won’t wear anything except short sleeve Ts , polar fleeces and cargo pants. So I no longer have all the extras and what ifs. I keep one long sleeve ultralight merino wool T shirt for him and a couple of flannel shirts and 10 t shirts. That’s it. Same with my daughter’s preferences. I do his laundry on Mondays and hers on Tuesdays. I have no idea if this will work as they get older. : )

  5. Leah says

    I think if it comfortably fits in the space allocated, there is no need to get hung up on exact numbers, except perhaps for minimums of essentials. My daughter probably has waaaay more than necessary especially given during term she wears a uniform and dance clothes on a Saturday but it fits in half a walk in wardrobe and a chest of drawers so all good. I usually buy up a size so most clothes get worn 2 or 3 seasons, especially possible with girls sizes with the tight cuts, can start a little baggy and end up as intended the 3rd year!