Sunday, June 24, 2012

Small Space Living: Hand-Me-Down Clothing Organization

Recently we have been blessed with a huge amount of hand-me-down clothing.  Embracing gently worn clothing is a great way to reduce waste!  It is also a great way to live frugally.  

Free clothes?  Oh yes.  Free clothes in good condition?  Even better!  

In order to sort through the clothing I made guidelines for myself.  These guidelines made it easy to keep quality pieces that are worth their "wait" in the closet.

The guidelines I have set for sorting hand-me-downs are:
  • sort with my spouse (no use keeping something he wouldn't want our kids wearing AND we get rid of excess because there are two people who can say "nah" instead of one)
  • no stains allowed
  • no fuzzied-up, worn-out or faded clothing
  • no poorly sewn/assembled pieces
  • rarely keep "play" clothes (unless we both give them a "yea" and they meet all other requirements)
  • focus on classic pieces that will mix and match easily (I find this is WAY easier with boy clothes than girl, but it would greatly simplify and minimize a girl's wardrobe)
  • store clothes in a labeled sweater-sized clear plastic box (thanks to Rachel who blogs at Intentionally Simple for introducing me to this size storage box!)
  • record in my Excel "Kids Clothing" document

So this is how our kids clothing storage (spare bedroom closet) is organized.  It includes other baby items such as Cloth-eez red edge prefold cloth diapers (will be borrowed by a friend soon) and misc. baby items (top left is our shopping cart cover - not necessary but keeps germs at bay!).

In general, the blue lids are the boy clothes and the white lids are the girl clothes.  In the both genders we have through size 4T.  

I'm really excited that in three boxes of each gender we have such a span of sizes.  It was pretty difficult to choose, but I think we have kept the best.  Really?  Who's to say we won't have one girl and six boys!  Rather not have girl clothes invading our house and us have just one - and same possibility for the boy clothes.

The hanging clothes in the bottom right are the clothes that Rita is currently growing into but aren't seasonally appropriate.  

In addition to organizing and storing the clothes for the future, I wanted a system to document what we have and don't have.  This makes it possible to prepare before we sort through a given pile of hand-me-downs.  We pull-up our list and check for areas we are lacking as well as areas we have abundance.  Then, when we sort we can avoid doubles and doing something crazy like storing all long sleeve shirts in one size and only shorts in another.  

Without a system to document, every time we receive hand-me-downs we would have to open the appropriate box, pull everything out, compare with what we have and repack everything.  This seems overwhelming, so I have much preferred being able to have our clothing inventory documented.

Our Boy Clothing Inventory

Using the storage bins that stack well, are clear and labeled, being specific in what we keep and documenting our inventory of clothes helps to keep hand-me-down clothing a blessing instead of a burden.  I am so glad that we have embraced a simple life.  There is so much freedom in being free from the silent stress of a home filled to the brim.

A Note About Organization in General:  When your house (including the front porch) is under 1,100 sq feet anything that you store for future use has to be organized.  Thankfully, we simply don't have room (or time) for disorganization.

When you have chosen to live a simple, uncluttered and minimal lifestyle disorganization really isn't even part of your life.  There are times when possessions seem to accumulate (or sales papers...meal planning mommas you probably hear me!) but for the most part we leave surfaces empty and pick-up every night.  Our closets usually remain neat and clear, storing clothing we wear often (meaning weekly or bi-weekly, minus special occasion clothing).

How do you handle hand-me-down clothing?  Do you find it is easily overwhelming and accumulates other clutter too?  

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