Rotating Seasonal Wardrobes: The Ultimate Guide

seasonal wardrobes
source: Sam Szapucki

With fall quickly approaching, it’s time to think about rotating the seasonal wardrobes once again. It’s not just that I love fall — although I really do! — but we’ve actually been wearing sweatshirts during the chilly mornings and evenings, so I know it will be here soon, ready or not!

Although there was a time when unpacking the seasonal clothes was fun, I’ll admit it’s lost its luster now that we have four young girls who are fairly close in age.

If, like me, you find yourself dreading this task, here are some tips for making it just a little bit easier.

Questions to Ask

Before we get started, here are some questions to think about first:

  • Is rotating wardrobes just a matter of packing up the winter stuff and pulling out the spring/summer stuff, or do you also have to purchase larger sizes for growing children?
  • If rotating wardrobes also means reevaluating sizes, have you stocked up on larger sizes or will you need to purchase everything?
  • What clothing needs does each member of your family need to have – dressy clothes, play clothes, sportswear, etc.?
  • Do you prefer to limit the amount of clothing each person has, or do you love adding new outfits throughout the season?
  • Do you have any hand-me-downs to sort through?
  • Do you have limited space for each person’s wardrobe, or do you make room for whatever they have?
  • Will you be packing away the winter clothes for next year or another child, or will you be giving them away?
  • When you pack away seasonal clothes, are they in a convenient location (such as under a bed) or in a harder to get to spot (such as the attic)?
  • Do you need to buy any hangers, storage totes, etc. before you’ll be able to finish rotating the clothes?
  • How many people’s clothes will you be rotating? Do you prefer to do them all at once or one at a time over several days/weeks?

Based on your answers to these questions, you can make a plan to rotate the clothes, and then plan to buy yourself a pumpkin spice latte (or whatever your treat of choice may be!) afterward.

Make a List, Check It Twice

When we first started having kids, we pretty much accepted whatever clothing came our way, adding to it as we spotted cute outfits in the stores. It didn’t take long before we had amassed a ridiculous amount of clothing and were overwhelmed by it all.

These days, I start with a basic list of what items each of our children should have. I don’t follow the list to the letter, but I’m able to make better decisions about what to keep, what to give away and what to buy with the list in hand.

Having a written checklist before you start saves time, space and money in several ways:

1. If you’re working on purging your wardrobe, a written list forces you to think long and hard about whether you really need to keep that shirt that you just had to have but have yet to wear.

2. Limiting how many items of clothing you have means that your closet and drawers won’t be stuffed full, which will make it easier to keep them neat and organized.

3. When it comes to shopping for kids clothes, going in with a list means you’ll be less likely to grab every cute item you see and will also help you put together outfits that can be mixed and matched rather than outfits with limited options.

Of course, there’s a downside to this method as well, especially if you’re a fashionista and you love clothes. The solution may be to make your checklist bigger, or you may prefer not to have any constraints at all so that you can buy whichever pieces appeal to you.

Making Your Checklist

I tend to reduce our wardrobes a little bit more each year, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it minimalist just yet.

I’m sharing the checklist I’ll be using for each of my girls below, but only as an illustration of what I mean. I’m sure that some of you will look at it and wonder why they need so many clothes and others will wonder why I’m limiting it so much. The point is to figure out what works for your family!

  • 2 sweatshirts
  • 3 sweaters
  • 5-7 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2-3 short-sleeved shirts
  • 3-5 pairs of pants
  • 2-3 skirts
  • 3-5 dresses
  • 2-3 pajamas
  • 4-5 pairs of socks
  • 8 pairs of underwear

This year, two of my girls are wearing the same size, which means I actually ended up buying additional clothes in their size to make sure I had enough so that we aren’t running out in the middle of the week. As I mentioned in the spring, my kids play hard and regularly go through two outfits a day, and while I do laundry regularly throughout the week, I’d rather have enough to avoid additional stress during a busy week.

With a list in hand, it’s easier to go through our storage and decide what to pull out, what to keep in storage for another season or child and what to give away. You’ll also be able to make a shopping list of the items you still need once you pull out your hand-me-downs.

Having a Storage Inventory

Although I’ve never done this, there are benefits to creating an inventory of the items you’re packing away into storage as well. With a list of what you have, you’ll be better prepared to shop the off-season sales and pick up great deals on the items you need!

closet organization
source: Liz

Organize Clothing by Size

The single biggest way I’ve simplified this process in our home is to rotate clothing based on sizing alone. In the past, I would have my girls try on a variety of clothes to see what did and didn’t fit, which meant my boxes were never organized and I always had at least three different sizes in each of their drawers. Now, I sort clothing by size, and each child gets only the clothing in that size. If something fits much differently than it’s labeled size, I will go so far as to change the size on the label, but I no longer mix sizes because it gets so confusing to rotate them when they’re all mixed up!

The Process

Once you’ve decided how many pieces you need for each person and how you will store the clothes you’re packing away, it’s time to get started:

1. Pull out and sort last season’s clothes. To start, empty your drawers and closets and create four piles: storage, trash/repurpose, charity and transitional clothes that you’ll keep out for off-season days. Sorting the clothes as you pull them out of the closet and dresser means that you won’t have to go back through and sort them again later. You could always wait until next season to decide what to keep and what to give/throw away, but think how much easier it will be next year if you do it now!

2. Pull out the totes or storage bins with all of the seasonal clothes in the appropriate size for each person. Sort through the clothes in the bins, keeping your checklist of items in mind as you decide which to pull out, which to put back in storage and which to give away.

3. Make a list of additional items you need to complete outfits and round out the wardrobe. Making this list while you’re looking at all of the clothes for the season means you’re more likely to remember to add a white shirt that goes with a specific pair of pants rather than another pink shirt that you don’t really need. Trying to do it from memory will inevitably lead to doubles and missed items.

4. Make an inventory list and pack away the clothes that you’ll be keeping in storage for another season. Make a quick list of what you do have — i.e. shorts (3), t-shirts (5) — doesn’t take long and may be helpful when it’s time to rotate the clothes again, but even more helpful is a list of the items you need so you know what to watch for throughout the year.

You can see how I do it in this vlog from the spring.

It may still be a daunting task, but having a plan before you begin to rotate your seasonal wardrobes can take just a little bit of the stress away!

When do you rotate your seasonal wardrobes? Is it a task you dread, or do you look forward to switching things out?