Thursday, February 28, 2013

What We Wear

I get asked about clothing quite often.  There is a lot of it in this house after all.

Outfitting this tribe can be a challenge.  There are MANY options for purchasing kid's clothing and, they've changed as my kids have gotten older.  Most of those new purchasing options have been good, so I won't complain much at all.

There are some basic ideas that I have tried to keep in mind as I collect clothing for us all.

Primary colors go together and are gender neutral.  I get primary colored t-shirts w/o pockets in the pre-puberty sizes at nearly any garage sale I find.  Mainly I get short sleeved but I like to have some long sleeved tees as well for layering and cooler days. The exceptions to this are camouflage and tie-dye because I am convinced that these actually DO go with just about everything. (Except each other ~ though my kids attempt to rock that wardrobe combo.)

Images and advertising are distracting and hard to match. We call them "picture shirts" here. They also get dated.  I avoid them unless they are very, very simple and usually hand made.  I just think they are nicer if they look original or unique instead of just like everyone else.  Think of it as a unique feature of my family.  Or another quirk.  

This is our current favorite picture shirt.  We got it for Party Girl from THIS etsy store. It's not in primary colors but, for a cute puppy shirt for her birthday, we made an exception.
There are some exceptions again, of course.  I snagged up a black t-shirt with SECURITY in block white letters across the back.  That has been a fun one to hand down among the ranks.  I keep my eyes open for these sorts of wacky, one-of-a-kind things.

Blue jeans in nearly neutral styles are common here for the younger crowd.  I don't like non-blue jeans.  We don't need any more occasions to look oblivious to coordination.  If I went that route, I would have a 5 yr old in a blue tee and purple pants every time I needed to get out the door with them.  

For the same reason, I don't like embroidered or patched details on pants.  Child-chosen outfit just won't match well with that many things to coordinate.  And those little flowers on the pocket won't cross that pre-pubescent gender line that I like to work to my advantage.  There are a lot of years when plain blue jeans can be for boys or girls.  Let's maximize that option!

Dresses are not worn here a lot.  I have a few little girls that like the ones that my Mom has made them for playing in.  Simple jumpers with bloomers are great for the littlest girl who doesn't like the updraft she gets from having a skirt short enough to walk up the stairs.  Fuzz likes to twirl. You gotta have a good skirt on a dress to do a proper twirl.  But these are rough and tumble jumper dresses that take several trips out "so Grandma can fix them."

But we do need to have dresses for some more formal occasions.  Again, I prefer primary colors but will branch out here because this one-piece outfit doesn't need to match anything else if you have neutral shoes.  I try to keep the patterns simple.  A big plus is no white, no off white and no black.  Why?  When I avoid those colors, I'm not limited to colors of sweaters to put over top in the fall or spring.  A dress with white flowers won't match as well with the off-white sweater but the blue dress with yellow flowers (primary colors) will be fine with whatever sweater I happen to have in that size.

Khaki pants for the boys have been great... sort of.  I have one pair (sometimes 2) in every size from 2T to 18 and some I have in the slim sizes as well for my scrawny butt boys that have shot upward but not wide enough for regulars yet.  They only wear them for weddings and funerals pretty much.  They always look situationally appropriate and tidy.  

Madras shirts or flannel, long sleeved shirts go well with these for the guys. The ones we have gotten aren't exclusively in primary colors but they all look good with khakis.  I have one or two in each size in differing patterns and they only come out at these occasions.  It's a pain to store them all but worth it if needed on short notice.  

Khakis & button front shirts for guys. What could be the draw back of this great pairing?  Well, when we walk into the room, we generally stand out just in sheer numbers.  When all the guys have fresh hair cuts, look JUST like their Dad and are all dressed in the same khaki & shirt combo - it's more than striking.  It's either intimidating or just plain weird.  Folks, read about life here and you'll know we don't need to emphasize that natural weirdness any more than we have it right now.  I just haven't found a good alternative yet.

How about shoes?  Shoes can be a mess of its own when there are this many feet stompin' around!  We usually have one pair of play shoes, one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of sandals per person.  But there is a WHOLE lot more to that topic.  I hope to hit shoe choices, storage, boots, and various barefoot and minimal shoe options we use around here in a future post.  


  1. I like your simplicity! We too do basics, no pictures/character shirts. Then we are less offensive (or offended) by what we wear (or are given)as well as the coordinating issue.
    SO, how many pants and tshirts do you have for a child? And how do you keep track of having enough, or do you just always pick up what fits your criteria knowing someone will eventually make use of it and therefore never run into the "so-and-so doesn't have enough of "X" problem?
    How many times can a child wear an item before you deem it necessary to go in the laundry pile, or do you wash everything after one wear?

    Boys and pants/jeans. It doesn't seem to matter what we buy, holes in the knees haunt me. What do you do about them, or is it a non-issue in your home?

  2. In a nutshell (though I should give this a whole post) here's what we have... kinda:

    2 play pants/jeans/long legs in summer. 3 in winter.
    2-3 play shorts in summer. 1 in winter. Just cuz we're weird. And I'm slow at seasonal clothing switch sometimes.
    2 town jeans all seasons unless child is especially tidy. 2 town shorts in summer.
    2 town SS tees all seasons. 1 town LS tee in winter.
    2 play SS tees in summer. 3 in winter.
    2 play sleeveless in summer. 1 play LS in winter.
    1 sweatshirt all seasons
    6-7 pairs of socks all seasons. All one style per person. Sometimes shared with others.
    1 pair dress socks all seasons.
    Dress pants, shirts and dresses are usually stored until needed.

    There are exceptions. Very messy eaters & players may get a extra or two. Very untidy folks may get fewer items so their shelves have a better chance of being functional.

    Older kids have some items they have bought themselves along they way. Those items are theirs to manage. Those go above or beyond the usual allotment of clothing I give them.

    I do pick up things in a size or style that will suit someone here eventually. I have bins of clothing sorted by sizes. I'm at a place not where I won't need to buy another Little Kid Small shirt again unless Fro is really, really hard on them and destroys them so they can't be handed down anymore. (You know that happens. Nothing got handed down from Skinny. No clothing survives our dear, curly-top M.)

    Laundry is considered dirty if it smells or if it has stuff on it. Chili for supper is hard on our clothing. We have one that needs a new shirt every day for this reason.

    Holes in knees? Oy. I have tried iron-on patches. Sometimes you can iron on patches on the inside of the knees of new jeans and get a little more wear. I've stitched some and patched some. Usually I just let them wear them that way.

    This deserves a few other posts. I'll copy into my idea file and flesh these out in the future. Thanks!

  3. LOVE reading this!!! We get lots of hand me downs for the youngers so no getting choosy. My big NO-NO is brown with black or navy with black...and unfortunately, I have at least 2 boys who are colorblind so things can be literally, ugly, here at times. :) Shoes!!! OY! is right!!! we have 6ft long(x4) shelves in our laundry room that are ALWAYS packed full of shoes and that doesn't include MY total # of shoes(church and run out the door shoes are not there but my running shoes are) and 2 DDs are not there. UNREAL how many shoes 13 people can use. I got thru some times looking for some to stash away but no, they're all in use. Can't wait to read more from you!!!

  4. I have one child who "uses up" the hand-me-downs too ;-)