How do you organize kids’ clothes? I’ve found it’s a bit of a challenge to buy, organize, and maintain a seasonally-appropriate wardrobe through my child’s growth spurts — particularly since I like to take advantage of sales, and often buy clothes that are too big (I like to call them “future clothes”). So how do you keep them all organized so you remember what you have? I’ve never seen anything on this topic, so I thought I’d share my technique.
As I mentioned: I like to shop the sales. So whenever I’ve seen nice/cute/basic things for 3-year-old Jack in future sizes, I buy them. Physically organizing the clothes wasn’t that hard — I have a big bin where I throw future clothes and about every six months I sit down and sort it into bags for each size and general season (winter 3T, spring/summer 4T, winter 4T, spring/summer 5T, etc.). Then, when he starts to outgrow whatever size he’s in, I grab the bag, cut off all the tags and stickers, and throw them in the wash, along with all of his old clothes. His old clothes get stored in a vinyl chest (along with a post-it or other label telling me what size clothes it contains), and his new clothes get sorted into the drawers. Easy peasy. But I found that I had two big problems that required a bit of mental organization. First, I needed a way to keep track of what I had bought so he had an entire wardrobe. For example, I’d realize that I had a zillion 2T t-shirts, but very few pants. Or, we’d have a super chilly day in May and he didn’t have anything long-sleeved or warm that fit his current size, and I’d have to rush out and buy something full price. (And I HATE paying full price.) The second problem comes from my thrift — if I saw a crazy sale on an item for Jack, I would buy it no matter what size it was. We have sweatshirts that are size 7! (He’s 3T right now.) So the second problem that required organization was being able to remember what I bought, quickly and easily.
I should also mention that I almost exclusively shop online for him. So here’s what I started doing: I right-click over the image to save it (the .jpg or .png file) from the product page to my desktop, and then later organize it into folders by size. (Another great place to save images: the email they send you summarizing your order! Those are super tiny images, but for my purposes it’s fine. If the image isn’t clickable I end up pushing the “Print Screen” button on my keyboard (for me it’s above the Home/End/PageUp/PageDown buttons on the keyboard), opening Paint on my PC, and pasting it in there, and saving the image file. So, for example, here is what his “clothes folder” looks like in general:
And here’s what his 4T folder looks like:
Then I can glance at the pictures, flip through them like a slideshow, or even sort by type, because that’s the first piece of information in the name of the picture. The naming of the picture is very important also. I like to capture info such as:
- type of clothing — longsleeve shirt, lightweight pants, jacket, PJs, etc — so like is sorted with like
- brand — brands sometimes fit differently, so I like to record that info…
- size — helpful if you end up buying several pieces and several sizes at once and then have no memory later on when you’re sorting. I often just dump them into the general “JAG clothes” folder and then sort them into the size folders later
- any pertinent info about the piece that you’ll wonder about later and can’t tell from the picture alone. Are the PJs fleece or jersey? What temperature is the coat recommended for?
- and, if you’re insane like me, you can also capture price info. I like to remember what the price was originally, as well as what I paid, for a few reasons. First, I like to revisit the glory of a sale. ($12 down from $69! Score!) Second, I like to gauge the quality of the piece based on the price. (Well, what do you expect for a $5 pair of shorts? — or — This coat should last WAY longer than this, it was originally $150!) Finally, if we end up losing something, remembering how little we paid for it helps put things in perspective. (Hey, it was only a $5 hat, and he wore it solid for 2 months, so, there you go.)
Here’s how that looks with two pieces, bought months apart:
(I JUST bought that Squall bib in 4T and 5T, by the way — Lands’ End still has it in limited sizes and colors. He’s used previous bibs about twice each, so $12 is a price I’m happy to pay, and I don’t particularly care if the bibs match the coats at all.) This obviously isn’t terribly scientific — someone with an MLS would laugh at me, I’m sure! — but I find that it’s much easier for me to flip through a folder on my desktop rather than find the opportunity for uninterrupted quiet time in my son’s room (where we store the clothes once they come) and go through them to see how much we have, what we need, and so forth. (I think I tried to go through the clothes once while Jack was home and they wound up in a huge mess strewn about the room. Joy.)
Another big bonus that I’m finding now that we have a second son: I’ll be able to remember what we have in the sizes that my toddler has outgrown. I keep meaning to sit down and keep track of what was lost (goodbye, dear hats) and what was dirtied beyond repair, so I’ll know what hand-me-downs are still good for Harry.
I only started the folders around size 2T, so I have a lot of catchup to do — I’ve gone in and physically taken pictures of some things, laid out on a bed or whatnot to add to the Clothes Folder, but I find that process much more onerous. (It’s easiest to do when I’m swapping out his old clothes for his new clothes in his drawers.)
Readers, what is your system for organizing kids’ clothes? How do you remember what you’ve got or need for your kiddos? Is this a task you outsource to your nanny or partner?