Minimize Kids Clothing? The Reasons Why Might Surprise You.

Surprising Reasons to Minimize Kids Clothing

A few years ago I was certainly not a mom who thought I could ever minimize kids clothing.  One of the things I loved most about having little girls was dressing them up in cute little outfits. Ruffles, bows, sparkles.

I shopped a lot and not just in one place. I checked out box stores, boutique stores, small shops, resale shops, online resale shops, anywhere that might have something cute to add to my girls wardrobes.

The other women in my family also have the same sort of problem. We are suckers for a good deal and a cute print. My girls were getting clothing from everywhere.

I never got rid of any of this clothing. Once one girl grew out of something it went on to be stored for the next little girl.

I was drowning in little girl clothes. Overflowing closets, bins under our beds, in our garage, in my parents’ garage.

At some point, I realized the absurdity of having this much stuff. The care and maintenance was taking over my life. You can only organize a hoard so many times before realizing you cannot fool yourself into thinking organizing will bring the chaos into order.

I needed to purge my kids’ closets. I needed to get on board and minimize kids’ clothing.

If we are being honest, as much as I knew I needed to do it, the idea of doing it was overwhelming.

Then, by chance, I watched a movie that made me rethink my entire philosophy on clothing. It was about the way our fast fashion industry works. Its called The True Cost. If you have never watched it I’m straight-up begging you to make a point to see it. Netflix had it for a while but you can get it here on Amazon too.

After getting a serious kick in the gut I decided I was making a change. Not just for myself but for my kids too. I didn’t want them falling into the same buying cycle. I wanted them to know what it costs to be a consumer of things.  

Along the way to purging my life of the excess clutter that had become our wardrobes, I discovered downsizing my kid’s closets had an even bigger impact on my life. On the lives of my entire family actually.

Minimizing kids clothing will lead to less laundry.

Less laundry! Yes. Seriously. You would think you would be doing the same amount of laundry no matter the size of your wardrobe but with a significantly smaller wardrobe, I do much less laundry.

spend less time doing laundry by minimizing kids wardrobes

Perhaps its because with a smaller, more planned out wardrobe you can dress up or down an outfit, meaning you have to change less.

Or because a smaller selection of outfits doesn’t tempt you into a quick outfit change for every situation.

Maybe its because when you decide to have less, the things you do keep are items you love instead of just like. Meaning you want to stay in them for longer.

Buying less of something means when you do make a purchase you can probably afford a higher quality, which automatically means less washing. ( Is it just me or do cheaper clothing items seem to attract spots and stains?)

Downsizing Children’s Clothing Saves Time When Getting Dressed

When you create a smaller wardrobe and minimize kids clothing, when done correctly, you will have lots of items that automatically go together. You no longer need to search for that specific pair of pants to go with that specific shirt. Everything coordinates.

Also, with fewer choices, you (and any little helpers you may have) will have less of an opportunity to worry over making the right selection.

Lessening your child’s clothing choices will help them dress themselves.

At some point when our closets were filled to bursting my husband decided he couldn’t dress the kids anymore. He was too overwhelmed with choices and was afraid of making the wrong choice. 

Downsize clothing for your kids so they can dress themselves

This seems so silly now but I remember being so angry when he couldn’t figure out how to match up an outfit.

If a grown adult couldn’t figure out our outrageous clothing situation there was no way a little girl could.

Since we decided to minimize kids clothing my kid’s closets they suddenly have the newfound freedom to dress themselves. Sure my three-year-old might still put her shorts on backward BUT she at least has the opportunity to make wardrobe choices for herself. I rarely have battles with my five-year-old anymore because picking out an outfit from a minimalist closet is not a struggle. There are very few ways she can go wrong and it gives her a sense of accomplishment when she gets ready all on her own.

Downsizing your children’s apparel takes the focus away from their external appearance.

Doesn’t it just seem wrong that we spend SO MUCH TIME obsessing over our appearance these days? Makeup, hair, nails, waxing, shaving, working out, tanning, getting dressed. I look at that list of the things we do to make ourselves look acceptable and feel beautiful and it kind of makes me sick.  

Do we want our children to grow up thinking the outside matters so much? I mean yeah, wear clean and unwrinkled clothes and brush your teeth but jeez don’t spend too much time fretting over what anyone else thinks about you. Spend more time cultivating your heart instead of your appearance.

When you remove a huge selection of clothing your children will become less conscious of the superficial nature of getting dressed each day. They can learn to see clothing for what it is meant to be. Functional. Something to cover you, keep you warm, keep your feet safe.  

Sure, you can argue that people express themselves through their clothing. I get that. I do. But shouldn’t we be teaching our children other ways to express themselves when they are young? When they are all grown up and making decisions for themselves IF clothing becomes an expression so be it. While they are little though, let us do our best to show them that beauty is on the inside.

Downsizing your kid’s attire means less time spent shopping 

Honestly, this is my favorite part of a minimal kids wardrobe. I used to love shopping. It also stressed me out a little bit.  

Maintaining a large wardrobe for a child is a pretty big job. There is always something new they need. Something that needs replacing. Something they don’t have enough of.

None of that is true.  

Think of it this way. Five tops and five bottoms will make twenty-five different outfits. Almost a full month of clothing with 10 pieces. Add in a few special pieces and you could make it multi-seasonal. 

Buy clothing in the next size up so your child can wear it longer.  

Last winter I got all of my kid’s clothes in the next size up. This year I don’t have to buy anything at all because it still fits. Which means NO shopping at all for this season.

My children have four pairs of shoes each. Only four. Flip flops, sandals, closed-toe shoes, and rain boots. We only buy high-quality shoes so they last and look great. We only get new shoes when they grow out of them. My kids LOVE their shoes. My five-year-olds favorite pair is over a year old now. I’ve not had to shoe shop for a year!  

What could you do with all the extra time? Instead of spending a Saturday out hunting for clothes couldn’t you find something better to do? Make some memories with the people you care about most instead of investing so much time in worrying over superficial appearances.

A smaller wardrobe will cost you less

Even if you buy higher quality items in your smaller wardrobe you will still end up saving money.  What a wonderful reason to minimize kids clothing right?  More money in your pocket?

Think back to my four pairs of shoes rule. That one pair of high-quality leather Mary Janes my daughter wears almost everyday cost me $60. A year’s worth of cheap Target shoes would probably cost twice that much after replacing them every other month as they fall apart.

Why you need less clothing for your children

When I was still buying clothing all the time I remember getting both kids the cutest pair of faux leather clogs for like $20 apiece. The first time they wore them my youngest walked across a parking lot dragging her toes as she went. Ripped the whole toe of the shoe off. That was the very last time I bought low-quality shoes just because they were cute.

Just by not buying so much you are saving money. 

However, there are even more ways to manipulate a wardrobe to spend less money. Buying multi-seasonal items are a great way to stretch your dollar. 

A sleeveless dress is great for spring and summer. Add tights and a sweater and it transitions to winter.  

Adding knee highs or tights to sandals can transition them from summer into fall.  

Layering is also a wonderful way to extend the seasonality of an item.

Thinking outside the box and using what you have instead of buying something new and single-use will always be cheaper.

What could you do with some extra money in your pocket?  

More modest closets lead to less stress

I cannot emphasize this enough. Clutter leads to stress and overwhelm. Those things can be crippling to a mother. According to this article from Psychology, Today clutter seriously messes with our brains. It causes excessive stimuli, makes it hard to relax, distracts us, makes us feel anxious, guilty, and frustrated.

Nobody wants to feel this way.

If you have ever had any of these feelings about the state of your home, specifically your closets, all it takes is a purge to start feeling better. Letting go of stuff is like lifting a weight off your chest.  

There is empty space in all my closets and it is glorious! I used to think if there was space in a closet it needed to be filled. Which led to more shopping, which led to spending more time and money on something that was stressing me out. It was a vicious cycle. Now I look at empty space and I am thankful I know better.   When you are surrounded by clutter and stressed to the max you aren’t any good to anyone. Not yourself or your kids. Don’t let a closet full of clothes be the thing that makes you snappy, snippy, or short-tempered. Don’t let clothing be something that distracts you from the joy of mothering and homemaking.

Less clothing = Less Waste 

You don’t think of clothing as a waste item. But it is. Shockingly so. Here are a few wasteful facts for you.

  • According to the EPA, over 10 million tons of textile waste entered landfills in the US in 2015 alone.  
  • The average person throws away 81 pounds of clothing every year (Cotton Today)
  • The water used to create a single pair of jeans is as much as a normal person drinks in seven years! (Planet Aid)
  • Just washing clothing made of synthetic fibers introduces micro-plastics into our water systems (American Chemical Society)
  • Synthetic fibers can take up to 200 years to decompose and over 70% of today’s clothing are made with them. (Planet Aid)
  • US donated clothing which isn’t resold is exported to foreign countries for almost $700m annually (BBC)

Shocking, right? I’ve started to look at clothing a lot differently since discovering startling waste statistics. I try to buy natural fibers, used clothing, hang on to items as long as possible, reuse them when I can, and overall just consume less.

Our children are going to have to deal with this mess we are creating. Some day they are going to come to us and ask us WHY we hurt our planet so badly. Ask us WHY we left them this huge mess to deal with. I can’t bear the idea of having to answer them with “but you looked so cute while I was doing it”  

We need to so desperately to stop thinking there are no consequences for our consumption. 

There are so many. 

Some that matter today, right now. Some that affect how we live, how we raise our children, and what we do with our time and money. 

Others will matter later, in how our children decide to live and how our planet will cope with ALL this unnecessary clothing!  Without sounding like my high school English teacher, I am begging you to at least consider minimizing your kid’s attire.

Final Thoughts on Why to Minimize Kids Clothing

If you want to make a change, change the way you think. Change your ideas on clothing. Change your views on needing more. Learn to live with less. Teach your children to live with less. Live clutter and stress-free with empty space in your closets. Teach your kids to love themselves, other people, and the earth. Minimize to maximize!  When you minimize kids’ clothing you are making bigger changes then you might ever know.


  • Noemi September 28, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    What an awesome post! I’m also drowning in my girls’ clothes. They have sooo much. It’s frustrating because I do save my oldest’ clothes for my youngest. So there’s basically an overflowing hand me down drawer which will most definitely come in handy later on. I was great at minimizing clothes and increasing space until hand me downs were involved. I will take a look again in their closet! Great post.

    • TheGracefulOlive September 29, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      I have been working through our hand me downs too! I just started taking out everything I didn’t absolutely love. I would rather be able to dress my kids in the items I love more often instead of having to cycle through things I just kind of like OR things I feel like I have to put them in because I feel guilty because someone else purchased it for them.

  • Madi Rowan September 29, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Such great advice! I’m trying to do the same with my own adult closet haha!

    -Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

    • TheGracefulOlive September 29, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      Its so hard! I’ve done it with my own closet but it took a LONG time! I think we as women tend to hold on to things for sentimental reasons and clothing was very sentimental for me

  • Heena September 29, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I know this is straight from mom’s heart and what we go through when dealing with kids clothing and organizing closets. Every time we plan to travel I know how much time I spend thinking to carry and pack my kid’s clothes. I am really touched with the words to teach your children to love themselves, others around and earth-the nature. Best process to make them good humans.

    • TheGracefulOlive September 30, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Yes! Its just time we spend on things like organizing clothes that we will never get back! It just seems crazy to think thats where we spend out time!

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    About Zhade

    About Zhade

    Hi Mama

    I’m wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to three little girls: Everleigh, Magnolia & Juniper. I LOVE motherhood, holidays and hot chocolate. I crave efficiency and NEED to figure out the easiest and best way to do EVERYTHING. Life is short & I refuse to waste it on being boring.


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