Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My girls' wardrobes: 8 things I do to keep them well-dressed on a budget

Tight budget and tight space call for creative measures. This is a list of 8 things I do to keep my two girls well dressed, spending minimal money. Clothes are expensive here in France and houses are generally smaller by American standards. How have we adapted?

1. Hand-me-downs. As long as they are in good condition, generally stain-free and classic enough styles that they are still "in style", we accept! And we have been blessed enough to have several family members and friends who regularly give us hand-me-downs, so my girls are free to choose the cream of the crop! The rest we pass on to someone else. Once we have chosen what my girls want to keep, we give the clothes a good washing. We do this even if the clothes are clean to eliminate fragrances that belonged to someone else!

2. Rotate clothing. Twice a year we make the "big switch". Spring/summer clothes get traded out for fall/winter affairs or vice versa. I pull down giant bags (thank you IKEA!) of clothes from the garage attic and the girls go "shopping". Items they haven't seen in 6 months, suddenly take on a new appeal and I get lots of delighted squeals from my girls.

3. Fittings. I ask them to try everything on, which can be kind of a pain, but so worth it because then we don't keep items they are never going to wear. It's a mess for about three days until we get through all of it, but then it's done!

4. Eliminate. When there are too many clothes in the closet, it makes it difficult to see what they can actually wear. I always keep two large bags near their bedroom where I gradually add clothes they no longer use. One bag is for giving away; the other is clothes that don't yet fit that I store in the garage attic to use for future seasons or years.

5. Organize! My girls share a small closet and space is tight, so there is no room for clutter! My girls are to put dirty items in the laundry hamper in the bathroom and neatly lay clean items in a basket near their closet. Since they still can't quite reach the hangers or the higher shelves, I take care of putting their clothes in their closets. It's a bit of extra work for me, but their closets stay neat and outfits are easier to put together. I've added a few baskets under the shelves to maximize space.

6. Optimize space! Like I said, baskets under shelves or using the closet floor to store sweaters are both space optimizers!

7. Shop the sales! For the few items that my girls are missing, we keep a mental list and as soon as items go on sale we fill in those gaps. To stretch our budget, I'll say, this month we'll buy things for Gabriela and next month for Elena or Alex... Note: Alex's wardrobe is easier to manage since he likes to stick to jeans and hoodies (yes, even in the summer, crazy boy!) and he has his favorites from which he varies very little (like when I beg him to let me wash them!), but I use the same basic principles for him.

8. Create outfits. Their clothes comes from different sources, so making outfits can be a fun challenge. For example, if there's a cute blouse from one bag that would look adorable with a skirt from another bag, we hang them in the closet that way. This eliminates lost time in the mornings when we can often be in a rush. This also ensures clothes get worn! There's no solitary blouse that just hangs in the closet with nothing to do! Another thing my girls like to do is lay out their clothes (from head to toe) in the evening for the following morning. Also a timesaver!

What about you? How do you keep your children well-dressed and their clothes organized? How do you optimize space and save money?


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