Fall is my favorite time of year! Although my desire is to keep the cool weather at bay as long as possible, inevitably the temps start dropping sooner than I’m ready for. Before I know it, the kids start scrambling to find any warmer clothing that still fits them. Usually the pants are inches too short, the boots too small, and the shirts creeping uncomfortably high. Therefore, to make the transition to our seasonal clothing smoother, I have developed a system that is quick, effective and saves me so much time and money for our family of 11. I’m showing you today how to simplify a large family seasonal wardrobe rotation in hopes I can give you and your family more time outside enjoying the glorious weather. The key is found in determining what to keep, donate, and what to store. I’ll break it down for you below!
Why I use a seasonal wardrobe rotation system
You might be like I was and put off the overwhelming seasonal wardrobe rotation just to then go out and purchase new items to “get us by” or “just in case”. Only to find out later you had more than enough already after said bins eventually came out. Consequently, you have to decide what to do with all the extra clothing while realizing you wasted a lot of money. Instead, I have learned how to store and rotate our seasonal clothing in less time than it would take to run to the store, try on and buy new things.
This does not require relabeling individual bins per child and size every single season, or meticulous writing initials on tags! Just read along to find out how to bless your future self with a system ready to go for the next season or child. Now let’s get to it!
What will be covered in this post
- When to rotate
- Clothing staples we keep out year round
- What to keep and what to get rid of
- How to streamline the rotation
- How to store clothes for the next season or child
When to rotate
As soon as the…
- temps are consistently much higher or lower
- current clothing items for the season are no longer making you through until wash day
- drawers seem too cluttered (this can happen from gifted items or things pulled down for the overflow bin to bide us by)
- clothing is obviously too small, short, tight etc.
I know it’s time to bring up the next bin and put away our current season’s clothes when these things happen. The main reason for doing this is that if I don’t there will be too many clothes in the drawers to reasonably keep track of and I will have a 6 year old trying to wear a tank top and shorts when it’s a 45 degree rainy day. 🙂
Clothing staples we keep out year round
Here is what we keep out year round for all seasons and don’t rotate out except for duplicates.
(I keep more clothes for infants and toddlers. Usually 2x more for 2t under and 3x more for infants )
- 7+ pairs underwear
- 5 white tee shirts (these are worn by our boys for night shirts as well as under dress shirts)
- 2-3 active shorts (worn for jammies sometimes as well)
- 2 sets lightweight sweats or activewear
- 1 sweatshirt
- 1 pair mid toned dress pants (ie. light brown or gray)
- 1 lightweight jacket (denim or canvas jacket)
- 3 pairs ankle high socks (these come right above the ankle and are good for any season)
- 1-2 pairs of tennis/ running shoes. 1 for play 1 to be kept for outings in good condition
How to streamline the seasonal clothing rotation
1. Remove the unnecessary
The first step is to remove the unnecessary. I go through one child’s clothing at a time and pull out about 2/3 of the current season’s items, and anything they’ve outgrown. Below is a list of what I would pull out for a summer to fall rotation for example. (This should take under 5 minutes per child)
If there is a sibling close in age in the same gender to pass clothes to I put more away for them in a labeled bin (see below). If they don’t have a sibling close in age and gender to pass then I see what I can stretch through to the next season. For example, what summer shirts can be worn with a long sleeve under, or dresses with a jean jacket, skirts with tights etc. This saves me alot in my clothing budget.
Example of what I would remove transitioning from Summer to Fall:
- tank tops
- all but 2 pairs of shorts
- All but 3 short sleeve shirts ( I cull the “summer” specific and light colored ones first)
- all but 2 short sleeve dress shirts ( I cull the light colored ones first)
- dress shorts
- extra lightweight activewear
- low rise (below the ankle) socks
- extra swimwear
TIP: I like to do this on their laundry day so I can cull those things coming through the wash at the same time!
From this pile I then pull out and trash anything…
- severely faded
- with holes or tears
Whatever I wouldn’t buy secondhand I don’t keep for the next child. Trust me on this! NOW is the time to be ruthless! If you feel bad, your future self will thank you that you don’t have to do this next season. You will only be buying what you actually need for next year. Sometimes a child’s whole wardrobe will need to be replaced, but most times there are several items worth keeping for the next child.
TIP: If there isn’t another sibling to pass down to in the same gender and fairly close in age, I either give the remaining good but unneeded items to someone I know or donate them immediately.
Whatever I wouldn’t by second hand I don’t keep for the next child or season!
Next, I bring out the bin that would have my child’s next size and season of clothing in it. If it’s just a bag of hand-me-downs, that’s fine! Just bring out any bins or bags that contain your child’s next size in them. I bring out the clothing they are just entering into. For example, if I have a 7 year old just beginning to wear a size 8, I would get out the 8 & 8-10 size clothing. I would rather roll up a pair of pants and cinch them in then have to get more clothes out in a month. 🙂
Below is a list of what we keep for a fall wardrobe for example. Anything beyond this number, if it’s in good shape, we store in a small bin in their room to access if something is outgrown or trashed mid season. Keeping their clothing to this limit has helped them not be overwhelmed by decisions. It also helps maintain tidier dressers and room.
Budget saving tip: As you’re bringing items out keep a list of what you don’t have enough of so you’re ready to source only what you need.
Here is what we add in to their staples for Fall- keeping favorites first:
- 4-5 long sleeve shirts
- 1-3 extra sweatshirts
- 1 puffer vest (if available)
- 3-4 pairs of pants/ skirts
- 4 pairs of long pants pajamas
- 5 pairs of above the ankle socks / & 4-5 pairs of tights
- 2-4 long sleeve dress shirts
- 2 pairs lightweight dress pants/ 5 dresses
- brown or gray dress shoes or dress boots
- 1 pair of rubber boots
How to store clothes for the next season or child
Tip: If your current supply of clothes was from a big bag of unsorted things, just tuck the unneeded items back in the bin or bag. Do NOT overwhelm yourself trying to sort it out now. With consistency this system will develop itself. Don’t try to cull and donate those items right now unless it is very clear what you would donate or trash!
My husband and I and our adult children just have 2 bins each. 1 spring & summer and 1 fall & winter. (Except a tote for heavy winter coats or snow things) This helps limit our wardrobes to only our favorites as we are constrained by the size of the bin to keep things paired down to the essentials.
How I label our bins for the sizes we have in current rotation: ( I’ve never had all sizes at once)
How I label our bins by size and season
1 bin per size per season (only 1 for infants)
- 0-3 mos.
- 3-6 mos
- 6-12 mos
- 12-18 mos
- 18-24 mos.
- 14-16 …
- Extra clothing bins:
- Snow accessories
- Heavy winter coats
- Christmas clothing
TIP: Color code by size and season or gender for quick reference!
How I labeled my bins once and never again!
- Only keep bins up to 2 years ahead of your youngest child (IE: if you have a 4 year age gap, don’t keep those items for the younger sibling unless they’re in excellent shape and a classic style)
- Store empty off season bins stacked inside of each other if space is minimal
- Do not change labels unless the size has been eliminated (last child has outgrown it or gap is large)
- Keep only 1 keepsake box of the most precious clothing items per gender (ie. christening gowns, special occasion baby outfits, handmade sweaters) Your future children will not want their old play clothes for their children! Heheh..
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In summary and closing
Remove the unnecessary
Keep only the essential favorite items needed per season
Store only what you would be happy to see again
Remove the rest out of the room
Decide what to donate or trash once your mind is clear
Label your bins once and keep going!
As always, thanks for being here and reading this far friend! I hope the time you spent reading this will pay off in more time dividends in your future! Less time organizing, shopping and dreading the seasonally clothing switch and more time with the ones you love!
If you’ve found this post helpful, be sure to please pin and share on your social platforms! If it helped you, it would likely help those you know, too! Thanks again for supporting my little corner here.
In His service,