How Many Clothes Do You Really Need?

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How Many Clothes Do I Need? These easy tips for organizing clothing and reducing clothing related clutter will help you reduce stress about clothes!

How Many Clothes Do You REALLY Need?

Too many clothes? How Many Clothes Do You Really Need?

One thing that costs many families a lot of extra money and causes lots of stress is having too many clothes. Besides the cost of buying more clothes than you need, storing them, caring for them and trying not to constantly trip over them can be overwhelming. Save yourself the time and trouble – Make sure your wardrobe fits your needs.

If you’re wondering, “How many Clothes Do I need?” we’ve put together a general list of how many of each type of clothing we recommend. Don’t be horrified if it doesn’t fit your families’ needs. When my granddaughter was born she had a stomach valve problem and we had to deal with non-stop throwing up. She needed about 3-4 times as many sleepers as a normal baby. Not only that but my daughter and I had to change our own clothes from her bouts about 4-5 times a day. Throw in the fact that it was the dead of winter with no dryer and, needless to say, the clothes list had to be adjusted very quickly.

It takes just a couple of minutes when you are organizing your children’s clothes to really figure what they need. Do they wear 7 t-shirts a week and you wash t-shirts twice a week? Then 7 t-shirts should be more than plenty. If they wear 7 pairs of socks and underwear a week and you wash twice a week, 10 pairs of everything is more than plenty. Why put 15-20 pairs back in the drawer, especially if you don’t have a lot of room?

Be sure to go through and weed out too small or worn out clothes in your children’s drawers every couple of months. More children become frustrated trying to put their clothes away into drawers that are already full of clothing they have outgrown. They then get in trouble for not putting everything away properly. There’s a scripture that says “do not provoke your children to anger”. This is one of those cases where parents do it all the time.

Sit down and plan how many outfits each member of your family needs. Most families wash the laundry once a week or more. You don’t need 15 pairs of jeans for each child. Three or four pairs will work just fine. A newborn may need 10 pairs of pajamas since the newborn lives in them and spits up on them, but a 10 year old only needs three or four pairs.

Here are a few guidelines to help you get started. Like I said, feel free to adjust this to best fit your family. Hopefully by following these guidelines you will be able to cut back on your clothes budget and get more use out of what you do have.


Toddlers and Pre-schoolers

9-10 everyday outfits
3-4 dressy church outfits
3-4 casual dressy outfits
4-5 pajamas
2 pairs play shoes
1 pair dress shoes
1 pair casual nice shoes (optional)


School Age
(including teen boys– If your teens complain about the clothes, make them responsible for them, including paying for the extras that they want.)

3-4 pairs of jeans or school pants
7-9 school shirts
1-2 pairs dress pants
3-4 dress shirts
1-2 casual dressy outfits
2-3 pajamas
1 pair school shoes
1 pair causal shoes or 1 pair of shoes for dirty work
1 pair dress shoes


Women (stay at home)

5-7 everyday comfortable attractive outfits (NO SWEATS, I REPEAT, NO SWEATS!)
1 outfit for dirty work such as painting
4-5 casual dressy outfits (depending on your social life)
4-5 dressy church outfits
2 pairs of comfortable shoes (one for painting and one for wearing everyday)
2-3 pairs casual dressy shoes like loafers
4 pairs dressy shoes for church (black, navy, white and tan pumps or flats)
Adjust shoes for your wardrobe.


Women (who work outside the house)

7-9 work/dressy outfits
5-7 casual outfits
2-3 outfits for relaxing at home
3-4 pairs work shoes (depends on your work. Only 2 if you wear tennis shoes or similar shoes to work)
3 pairs casual shoes


 Without knowing a man’s weekly work schedule etc. this list will have to be a little general. This is mostly based on only doing laundry once a week if you do it more often you can cut back on even this list.

 If you work in an office with a/c you will need:

2-3 pairs of “casual” dress pants like Dockers
5 button down “casual” dress shirts
2 pair of jeans
1 pair of grunge jeans
1 pair of sweat pants
3-5 t shirts
2 pair of shorts
1 pair of really nice dress pants
1-2 ties
1 pair each tennis shoes, casual dress shoes and dress shoes.
It use to be that most men had 1 black suit but so many things are casual now that you could maybe get by without one. Once again that depends on your life style.

If you need to dress in a suit and tie for work then you will need:
2 neutral colored suits
4-5 dress shirts
3-4 ties. Make sure you can mix and match the ties and shirts and that they can go with both suits because you can get more variety that way.

If you wear jeans to work then you can get by with 1-2 pairs of “casual” dress pants and you will need 3-4 pairs of jeans.

Of course this is a general list to get you started and you can add take away where you need too. Men general need more tops then women because – well how do I say this delicately??= men tend to sweat and get their shirts dirtier then women. There’s and old joke of why this is true and men get ring around the collar more. It’s because God made Eve from Adam’s rib and He made Adam from dirt. : ) : ) 

For everyone, you need:

1 winter coat
1 dress coat
1-2 pairs boots, short and long

Remember, these are just the bare bones of a wardrobe. Add or subtract according to your needs. The main thing is to be ruthless. Most women wear only 20% of the clothes 80% of the time. Get rid of everything else!

You can get most kids’ clothes at garage sales for a fraction of the new price. Be picky and only buy the few things you love. By spending one morning going to garage sales, I found all the clothes I needed for my 3 year old son. We usually get enough clothing as Christmas gifts, but this year he didn’t get everything that he needed. I spent three hours and $5 on everything from shirts to shoes. I got 10 shirts, 5 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shoes and 4 pairs of pajamas. I saved myself $225. That is $75 an hour I “earned” by going to garage sales or 24 hours (3 days) less my husband would have had to work to buy the clothes.


Sheets – 2 sets per bed. You can get by with one set if you wash and put it back on the bed the same day.
2 towels and washcloths per family member
5-6 hand towels
4-5 towels for guests
10-12 dish rags
10-12 dish towels
10-12 kitchen hand towels
Shoe box of small rags
Small box of large rags
Stack of old towels for large emergencies like the toilet overflowing

These are minimum suggestions. Adjust according to your needs.


Laundry and Children

I am probably the only mom who would not allow my children to put their clothes away until they were older. Why? Because, by the time I had carefully washed, beautifully folded and ironed everything, I didn’t want it to be dumped, wadded, smashed and mooshed between the laundry room and my children’s bedrooms. It’s amazing what a husband and child can do to a clean pile of laundry!

Even though I say that, children do need to be taught how to do laundry from beginning to end. From the age of four or five I would have the kids help me fold wash rags and underwear. Once they succeeded in those things, we would moved on to other things.

As soon as they were tall enough, I had them help put clothes in the washer, then move them to the dryer to fluff and finally take them out of the dryer. Young children seem to love doing this, so let them.

By the time they are old enough to start cooking simple things on the stove, they are old enough to start ironing with supervision — Boys, too.

Once kids reach high school, they should be able to take care of their own clothes from start to finish. Until I had them very well trained, I didn’t expect them to do the laundry alone. This wasn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed visiting and learning about their day while we folded clothes together or while I was ironing.

Jill and Tawra

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  1. Heather says

    Thank you for this list. I have been looking for something like this for quite a while because I am trying to get a handle on my daughters’ clothes.

  2. Cheryl says

    Thank you so much for the list. My grandson who lives with us has a mountain of clothes. Now I have some guidelines as to what to keep and what to donate.

  3. Dawn says

    Where do people get all that money for all these clothes? I raised 3 kids alone. I shopped thrift store and garage sales first and then bought the bare minimum clothes to get by on. Sometimes I didn’t have a washer, dryer or a working sink…used a clothes line, but we made it without debt. Since so many people have debt problems now, why don’t they stop buying so many clothes and pay what they owe? We didn’t have a TV for 10 years, so we read a lot from the library….and I have never bought a TV… the one that I have now has been broken for 2 years and maybe I’ll get around to replace it sometime. I won a TV at a Christmas dinner that I didn’t attend, at my 2nd job Christmas event. My boss threw my name in the hat and I got a call the next Monday to stop by the store and pick it up.

    I think people need to get their priorties straight,…we still all love to read and my kids were honor students. Didn’t hurt us a bit.

    Always bought classical basic styles, no fashion, my kids never thought they had to have what the other kids had, they were much too practical and they put themselves through college, one wore almost all black clothes because everything went with everyting on a limited wardrobe. Her grade average was 3.9 in a private college. Oh, yes, did I mention, my kids all went to private schools grade through high school except for one went to public high school, then private college. I worked 2 part time jobs, at times, plus one full time to do this with jobs, at the school, or close to my home with hours to suit my kids, not me. My kids all worked part time jobs. Wasn’rt easy but guess what, Boy, are they self reliant. Did I mention they all tithe as adults, and 2 support other families not as well off us they are. You are hurting your family by giving them too much. Wake up and find something else to do besides clothes shopping. How about cleaning house?

    • Sherri says

      Love your post! I thought I was the only person that thought this way. My sister just moved in with me and she says throw it away, it is beginning to wear. I still wash and iron and wear. No holes, no bare threads. I am always clean and acceptable. And then you have the other sister who ‘saves so much’ but spends only $25 every time she goes to Goodwill which can be as often as 2-3 times per week but she ‘never’ spends money on new clothes so she says. She has so many clothes, I don’t know how she can even wear them. Thanks again for the post Dawn!

    • ccattwood says

      This is just about the smartest advice I have read on the internet in a very long time. I no longer feel so alone – Dawn read my mind! Amen, amen!

    • Aliyanna says

      I looked at that list and almost choked on my tea!!! I have a large family and 3 of them are special needs….which means special diet and special supplements…well just about everything is special for them….Cuz they is special….just like the rest of my kids….lol My husband is self employed, and the state takes as much as we get…so money is very tight.
      I can NOT imagine having that many clothes and esp that many shoes!!!
      We shop second hand stores and sometimes Walmart at the end of the season…you know the clearance area…
      Our general rule is 5 of whatever you need for everyday….some of the girls like skirts, some like dresses. 2 pairs of shoes….one for work or town or whatever and 1 for church. We usually wait til the end of summer and buy a bunch of flipflops or something similar that aren’t a big deal if they outgrow during the winter. This is for indoors. I try to get the Opie brand for most of us…except our toe walker…he just gets regular flips. As long as they wear something on their feet…they usually are fine. And the Opie is thick enough that it lasts for quite a while. And end of season they have been like $3 a pair or so.
      We also tend to recycle or upcycle clothes. If one sister gets an outfit…she gets tired of it and another sister likes it..then they trade or we tweak a bit so that the clothes are a bit unique. Same with the boys.

      To my way of thinking being a good steward of what God gives us…include being creative and working hard. It is not easy…but you know when the hard times hit…they aren’t as stressful…as you know how to cope…and esp you are doing what God wants ya to do in the first place. We need to rely on Him….but we shouldn’t waste what He gives us.

      • says

        Had to chuckle at your saying you tend to recycle or upcycle clothes. I need to get with the times. In the “olden” days we use to call them hand me downs. : )

    • Maggie says

      Sometimes things get away from us. I’m sorry we have spent our money in a way you deem inappropriate. We are working on downsizing. Please forgive us.

      • says

        Looks like I have hit a nerve. I always find it interesting how people react to my posts. I find when people are confronted with doing something they feel guilty about they often get very defensive and strike out. I don’t care what anyone spends their money on but what I do care about is the fact that when they get themselves in a mess because they have spend their money irresponsibility and can’t get themselves out of a mess they start whining about their mess and blaming others. They then have to get money from the government or friends and family to help them pull them out. Things that I often have to indirectly pay for.
        If you have all your debts paid and are self supported then spend your money on what ever you want but most aren’t and they are asking for my help so I am only answering the plea for help from many of our readers. I am just answering their questions. If the answer stings, hits home or you don’t like it there is nothing I can do to help you. I am not going to tip toe around my answers and what I say to make you feel good. That is part of what has gotten us in our financial mess. We are so worried about making sure we say every thing that is politically correct and won’t offend anyone we don’t speak up when we see someone making a mess of things. We see people doing something stupid (I’m just calling it like it is) and we don’t care enough about them to say anything to help or warn them. We are too worried about them not liking us more then we are concerned about them and what they are doing to hurt themselves. Just like you are now having to clean up your mess and are having to downsize.
        Having negative emotions does not get the job done. It just waste a person’s and other peoples time and energy.

    • says

      Dawn you pretty much wrote the story of my life and what the website is all about. I do agree. Even when we did the clothes list that I posted I felt it was even more then really absolutely necessary but tried to make it a practical base for everyone to work from.

      • Christmas says

        I have 4 chrildren 1 boy is 9 and 3 girls 7,5,3 which two of my youngest girls wear the same shirts and keep my 5 year old clothing for my 3 year old. But the thing is my 7 year old has a lot of clothing. I throw them away and she gets more and it’s hard to keep all my girls clothing in a bedroom that they share and let’s not talk about all the
        shoes they have one word WOW just to much. Now my sons room is alittle small for his clothing that he out grows then he has his games and toys. Just way to much stuff have to get read of and then you have toys in every room.I’m tring 2 steps a head and 3 steps back.

  4. Brenna says

    One of the problems I have had is keeping my childrens’ clothes. I have 3 daughters 6, 3, and 1. After my first daughter I kept EVERYTHING, and I do mean everything, because we knew we wanted at least one more child. Well, as luck would have it, we had our second daughter. What I found was that it was harder and more time consuming and STRESSFUL going through clothing (even though they were organized by size). I was so excited to be able to start getting rid of clothes as she outgrew them. I had just started that process when surpise, surprise I was pregnant with daughter number 3. It was soooooo much easier, less stressful, and I believe cheaper for me to acquire her clothing as she needed it than to have to go through bins. I did begin to keep clothing again starting with about 18 months, but am seriously thinking about selling, donating, etc. these clothes and getting the stuff she needs as we need it…Just a thought:-) Have a great day!!

    • says

      Brenna, I agree with you. I talk about how I don’t usually buy a lot of things in bulk because I can get it just as cheap on sale some place but the main thing is the stress of putting all that food away, storing it, rotating it etc. I know you were talking about clothes but I think it is true for many things.

      I don’t think any of us realize how much stress we put on ourselves storing, cleaning and sorting all of our stuff. Since I have been sick I am learning less is best in most cases.

  5. Angie says


    I also agree. I had two sons and they are 5 years and 5 months apart. I too kept everything after my first son because I knew we wanted another child. I was excited when I found out we were having another boy and I could re-use everything…but my first son was born in Summer and my second in Winter. So, I couldn’t re-use everything. Then I realized how stressed I was trying to store all of my first son’s clothing in a 1000 square foot home. I finally realized that I didn’t spend that much on clothing anyway and it was cheaper to give away clothing that my older son wore and just buy what my younger son needed as he needed it. This worked very well for me. Sometimes the stress of storage isn’t worth the minute amount of money that is saved.


  6. Brenna says

    Jill and Angie,

    I added up what I spent this entire year to outfit my third child (or 9 1/2 months :-)) And I have spent approximately $75 (approximately $13 per month) and that is with needing new sizes from birth to 12 months (4 sizes). Because I shopped yard sales and the like, that’s less than it costs for my family to eat out for one meal (which we don’t do very often). All in all easily budgeted for. Thank you for inspiring me to really crunch the numbers, maybe now I won’t feel so guilty for doing what I really wanted to do in the first place :-) Hope everyone has a great day!!


  7. Angie says


    That is wonderful!!! :-) I haven’t ever actually calculated what I spend on clothes but it isn’t much at all. Even the times I haven’t shopped yard sales, I’ve gotten really good deals. I shop the end of the season clearance racks at Kohl’s and have bought shirts and shorts for my boys for $2 – $3 an item. I never buy more than 3 – 4 pairs of jeans a year for the boys and I usually buy the Kohls or Sears store brands for less than $15 a pair. Add shoes, underwear and a pair of PJs and they are good. My parents usually buy the boys an outfit at Christmas and birthdays. Maybe a couple of times a year, my parents will also take the boys out to eat and shopping and they get to pick out a couple of t-shirts or a neat pair of pj’s or something. My parents are bargain shoppers too, so they don’t spend much either but the boys really enjoy the treats and my husband and I really appreciate the help. My parents have said they enjoy being able to treat their grandchildren since their children have been self-sufficient and handled their finances in way that they can make it on their own. With both me/my husband and my sister/her husband, we live frugally and may not always have everything we want but definitely have everything we need. So it’s nice that my parents like to treat the grandchildren with little extras sometimes. :-) Sorry, I’m rambling on…but I’m passionate about living within one’s means and I love to chat on this site. Anyway, you are doing a great job with your clothes shopping for your little one. Keep up the good work! We should have a topic here on this site about frugal victories, excellent deals, etc. so that we can all post a comment about our ‘success stories’!


  8. Alisha says

    Is this per season? We are about to make a major, across country, move and want to get rid of most of our clothes! I only want to bring the bare minimum. So, is the number of outfits per season, or all together? I also have two girls, and have been exhausted trying to save and dig through all the boxes/bins trying to find the right clothes for the second daughter. I have been trying to figure out if it is cheaper to pack it all up and pay to move them or just get rid of them and buy new/used clothes and she gets bigger.

    • says

      I forgot to add that on the 2nd daughter it depends on how far apart they are. If they are close in age then keep the clothes but if it’s like me where 2 of my 3 boys were 6 years apart I just got rid of it and started over. For the $20 or so (that’s the high end) it costs me to buy them clothes it’s not worth messing with. Tawra

    • says

      Alisha, also you can cut back at least for at first, by taking summer tops and then one or two cardigan sweaters to wear over the top for the winter. It also depends on where you are moving too and from. You may find many clothes won’t work as well in the new place you are living. For example I brought all my cute sandals and shoes to Idaho when I moved but I ended up living in a pair of short mud shoes because I lived on a gravel road across from Tawra and we rarely went to town. It was almost always muddy. The same thing happened when I moved to Eastern Colorado but this time it was cowboy boots. We pretty much lived out in a field and had rattle snakes or mud so I wouldn’t step out of the house without my boots on.

      I guess I said all of that to say cut back and only take the basics. Also I once talked to a moving company and the mistake most people make in moving is moving books. They are very heavy and because most moving companies go by weight they are expensive to move. Just a heads up.

  9. Rachel says

    Your lists have been soooooo helpful. As a mother of six laundry can be so OVERWHELMING at times. Especially when people are constantly giving us clothes. I have had to start saying NO! I am ready to deal with the bare minimum. Most of the older children do their own laundry but it can still be too much. It can be equally overwhelming to them as well. These lists are a great guideline and I plan to start weeding out. Thank you!!

    • Dorothy F says

      Yes! My problem is people sticking us with all of the clothes they don’t want anymore. I also have a problem with grandparents who overwhelm my kids closets with “icing and fluff clothes” as one blogger put it. Those are the clothes like frilly princess dresses or special occasion things or just things that don’t go with everything in your closet. I finally had to get ruthless and grow a back bone, toss out the excess and start setting my foot down on what I allow people to bring into my tiny house.

  10. says

    Make sure you don’t fall into my problem for this week.
    I have been hurting for 50 years but 15 years ago we got into politics. I bought a couple nice outfits so we could travel to the conventions and things.
    Over the 15 years I have lost a lot of weight and gained a lot as the meds took effect. We didn’t go to conventions we didn’t go out to eat and we stayed home on holidays and stuff.
    Now this next week we have been invited to meet our Prime Minister. Great reward for all our hard work. One problem I have nothing to wear. Things are too big too much out of date. No stores in town to try and find something. My husband has also lost a lot of weight and this weekend he will try on his suits to see what will do.
    We will be in the city next friday and will have about an hour to try and find something for him. Possibly a new suit but at least dress pants to go with a shirt. Jeans and a T shirt just won’t cut it.
    I will try and find a nice blouse to go with grey dress pants. Would be nice to have the time for something fancier but don’t have it or the energy to hunt up stores or through racks.
    So when you purchase a wardrobe item include something you can mix and match with what you already have. Maybe a simple dress that you can fancy up with a scarf or shawl or some jewelry. For those once in a life time outing.

    • says

      How excited you must be grandma in spite of your clothes problem. That is too cool. Hope you have fun and can find something. You are right about the clothes. I keep a black sleeveless shift dress which I can dress up or down with jewelry etc. or wear a jacket for an interview or add a belt if I lose weight and it expands some if I gain weight . The cut is such it never goes out of date either even if I am tired of it.

  11. says

    I am so glad I left my death bed and went out with my husband to wander. We stopped at the only true clothing store in town. I like to shop there once in a long while since the owner is a school mate of my son and I think she needs more business.
    Long story short I found two dress with jackets combined and they both fit me and my husband likes them both. One is a chocolate brown to almost my ankles and the other is a rich burgundy with a paisley type jacket. He said get them both. Was I ever glad I look at the price first. They were both on sale from over a hundred to twenty five.
    I can get skirts of different colours or different jackets or wear them with a shawl or plain. Lots of outfits with a base of $25 plus tax.
    They are also easy to size down the dress part at least as I plan on losing another 30 lbs in the next while.
    So good to go for another couple years. And I will look good to meet the prime minister. I love getting a deal.

  12. Jude says

    hey im totally confused…wait so is this lie per season like(school age kids) each amount of items for fall, winter, spring and summer? this was really helpful, and my son just has so many things…..

  13. Shannon says

    I love your basic list, but will change it to meet our needs. Our schools have gone to uniforms, so I will do 2-3 uniform pants and shirts, 3-4 pair jeans (as that is all they like anyway) 1 or 2 dress shirts (my girls won’t wear dresses, have tried) and they wear shorts and tank tops for pajamas. I don’t buy seasonal clothes, they don’t like long sleeves, but will wear a fleece jacket to school in the school color. I buy 95% of their clothes at Goodwill. The rest of what they receive is given to them, and they sort out what they want and send the rest to goodwill along with stuff they have outgrown. This past year we had to pair it down to one outfit for school and a few jeans for home and church use, and a nice shirt to go with them.

  14. barb~ says

    I can hardly believe I am shopping almost exclusively at Good Will now. Not only have I gotten all the clothes and coats I need for winter, but I’ve also found some great bedding-sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc.

    Like you both, Tawra and Jill, I have decided to sell my home. I need a few things to make it show well to buyers, so I have bought a couple of furniture pieces for just a few dollars. I know in this tough market a house has to stand out from the competition. I’m trying to do this on very little money. I took your tip, Tawra, and I go to Home Depot and Lowes to look for paint on sale-stuff that other people have returned.

    Question…what do you all think about buying underwear, pajamas, robes, socks, etc. from Good Will? I’m really curious about your thoughts. I see many purses, shoes, etc. that have to be really dirty if you put them under a microscope! Can personal wear be worse or not?

    • says

      Personally I buy just about everything at Goodwill. The only thing I don’t buy are underwear for Mike and I. Socks, Pj’s, etc. I don’t see what the problem would be. Socks and kids underwear, not a big deal, just bleach before washing.

    • says

      Barb things like purses or shoes I wipe with disinfectant or spray with Lysol. Our thrift shop uses disinfectant on most of their things like that before they put them on the shelves but I still take it home and disinfectant. I too at first was leery about buying things like that but once I got started I don’t even think about it any more. I can get such cute and expensive things for nothing which I normally would never be able to afford. I bit the bullet and haven’t stopped since.
      I know just what you mean in your hesitating but once you start it won’t bother you. I knew a gal once who wouldn’t dream of buying anything any place but Dillards. She then broke down and started buying at Walmart and after swearing she would never buy used she ended up having a passion for garage sales. My point being you just start slowing and before you know it you will be comfortable with it all.

      You know in all the years of buying things used and all the people I know who buy used I don’t know anyone who got any disease or weird something from it. I am not making little of your question because I too thought just like you for a long time and it took me quite awhile to get over my squeamishness and felt the same way. I’m just saying I found out it was me and my mind set more then anything really wrong with the items.

      • Sherri says

        How funny you say about squeamishes. My husband broke his arm and was home 6 monthes with surgery etc, I had cervical cancer (at29) with 2 young kids. We had NO money for anything and Christmas was around the corner. I asked my friend, the owner of a kids 2nd hand store to let me in on some hot finds. One Christmas I bought all 14 of our nieces and nephews 2nd hand clothin for Christmas, washed and starched it. My brother found out and refused to allow his kids to wear it. He said it was disgusting. Anyway, about 10 years later, I found him and my sister in law in Goodwill and I asked the what in the world they were doing there. They said they had been going their for quite some time since they ran into some medical issues. Then it was ok, but a few years earlier, no way. I wash everything in warm or hot and rinse in vinegar. It is a disinfectant as well. Thanks for your post!

      • Krista Danielle says

        wow yes this is so true, I have been shopping at thrift stores since I was 14 I am 33 this year,My mom has been shopping at them even longer,and other people I know also and NOBODY has ever got sick in any way from buying and wearing thrift store clothes or shoes,or using purses, My mom never washes the stuff before she wears it the thrift stores wash it before they put it out or use a disinfectant spray and there has never been any problems. I got all my jeans at thrift stores except for one pair that I got at walmart,and all of my shirts,my 2 windbreakers,and 4 pairs of Nike tennis shoes. I do buy my socks, and underware at walmart but I am sure if something looks clean and you wash it first it would be totally safe to buy those too at the thrift shop.

        • Krista Danielle says

          and I was going to add I had a friend who told me it was “gross” to wear jeans that somebody else had worn, but when she couldnt afford to buy her 80 dollar mall jeans anymore she discovered that Goodwill jeans are not gross and cost a LOT less!

  15. barb~ says

    Tawra and Jill,

    What you say makes such good common sense. Even when I think about brand new clothes, who knows how many people have handled them before they wind up hanging on a rack in a dept. store. Glammor and glitz does not equal clean!! It just means you’re going to pay a LOT more!!

    Good Will washes linens-you can tell because they smell so nice. Most of the clothing, I don’t think they do. That’s a great tip to wipe down purses with disinfectant. Maybe the inside, too??

    I’ve seen some great things at Good Will that would make wonderful Christmas gifts. I am really puzzled about how I could package and wrap them so they don’t look used-also don’t want to spend more on the boxes, wrapping paper, etc. than I paid for the gift!! Got any good tricks for this??


    • says

      After Christmas or other times I try to find gift boxes or bags on clearance or for very little. I even get these at the thrift store but do find a lot just on clearance. One year I found new 5 gift boxes for $.50 and this year my aunt gave me 2 large grocery sacks from a Hallmark closing down which she got for free. It had a ton of bags and boxes.

      I am a container hoarder. I admit it. If I get jewelry I save the boxes and then if I find jewelry for my granddaughters at the thrift store I will put them in my boxes. I also will also use cute containers I find at the thrift store. For example my son loves superman so I found a metal superman box for $.25 and will put a present in it for him. He gets a two for one gift that way and it makes what I put in the container look special. I found a set a of 10 stackable boxes like my granddaughter wanted and I will put a gift in the smallest box for her.

      My main way to give gifts which aren’t in their packages is to lay them in a box nestled in white tissue paper which I get on clearance each year. The white tissue paper makes everything look really nice. Some times I spray a little scent or Christmas scent on a corner of the paper so they get an immediate pleasure from the smell before they even open the box.

      Another thing I do is for example I found a scarf for someone at the thrift store. I found some new gloves for $1.00 after Christmas last year which matches the scarf. I will lay the two side by side in a box with tissue paper and because the gloves have the original tags on it is looks like they both are new. I will also do some things like if I find something on clearance but the package is messed up let’s say a bottle of lotion – I will tie a thin satin ribbon around the top to make it look special.

      I will sometimes embroider an initial or sew a little trim or appliqué on a pair of pajama’s or something like that so no one thinks anything about it being out of the package because I would have had to open it to add that little extra. Once you start looking around for containers and boxes or bags you will be surprised at what you find.

      When I first started giving my thrift store finds to my family it was only 1 and the rest of the gifts were new but my family started enjoying my “used” finds more then the new things and found I could give them more so they got to where they could hardly wait to open the “used” things. I know my son in law has said “where did you find that?” many times because I have given my daughter a cool gnome from the thrift store and he had spent hours hitting the stores trying to find one with no success. We will be posting more articles on gift wrapping soon so keep your eyes peeled and hope this helps some.

  16. says

    I worked for Nordstrom for several years and know the clothing business pretty well. If you think about it, the only clothing that is “new” is the clothing I took off the rolling racks in the morning and put out on display. Many people try on clothes before they buy them….and often leave them in a pile on the floor (that’s another story!) so often an item is tried on over and over before being purchased. Also, many items are returned and unfortunately “worn” at least once. We were pretty cautious about putting clothing that was returned back on the selling floor that we felt was worn but things slip through the cracks.

    Needless to say, when you consider the retail “mark-up” on clothing it is very smart to purchase used. I got over the stigma pretty quickly when I saw the condition of the clothes and the prices at re-sell shops or thrift stores. We often share clothes among family and friends so why not at a thrift store? I draw the line on underwear too…except I once bought a slip that I have worn for years and it is the best quality I had ever found. So you never know. Every well-run thrift store I have shopped in had clean items for sale. Garage sales might be a little “iffy” but disinfectants should work fine to be safe.
    I also like buying used because I can tell the quality of the item. If it is still beautiful after several washings and hasn’t shrunk that tells me a lot.

    • says

      Yes, I love buying used because if it still looks good after it’s gone to the thrift store then it will probably last a while. I was so frustrated. I broke down and bought 4 brand new shirts last summer. After 2 wearings they all had faded and stretched and just looked bad. They cost me about $25 for all of them with coupons etc. but that was still $25 wasted! Not again!

  17. barb~ says

    I really love your clever ideas. Putting a sweater in white tissue paper and in a box would sure make it look beautiful and new! The scented spray is a terrific tip,too. But, when you can add something with a new tag in with the items they all have a new look, I’m sure.
    I just thought about blocking sweaters…I remember my mom doing that. It sure made them look new again. I can’t recall if they were damp or not. I can picture her using the iron to make a crease down the sleeve, but I’m not sure how she did the rest. I know when they were done and folded they looked fabulous and like right from a dept. store! Any tips on how to block things like sweaters? I bet it would make a Good Will item look pretty spiffy!

    • says

      Barb usually you block natural fiber sweaters – cotton, wool etc. You normally do it on a damp sweater by laying it on a surface you can poke pins in. You lay if down and gently shape and stretch it to the shape you want. Here is a video on blocking I found for you to watch which explains in detail. If you can’t watch it let me know and I will go into more detail.

  18. Brenna says

    Well, five months later, I finally accomplished weeding through and donating all the bins of clothing I was storing for our youngest daughter. Better late than never,huh? LOL! Anyway, now that the clothes are out of the way, I can concentrate on organizing other areas of our home :-) Hope you all have a wonderful day!

  19. barb~ says

    Thanks so much! The video on blocking was terrific. It is amazing how an extra touch with an iron makes a garment look brand new.

    Preschool children were shown pics of “common” items found around today’s home. VERY FEW kids could identify an iron. I know mom’s are extremely busy and few have time to iron. Still, unless you can afford professional cleaning it’s still nice to iron occasionally!

    • says

      I found your comment very interesting Barb. I love to iron. I even did it for years to earn money for the kids and I and at one point was doing ironing for 5 families besides my own. That was a lot of ironing. I still to this day do all of Tawra’s ironing (we trade; she does my yard and I do her ironing). I do pillow cases, t shirts everything. I have also made sure that not only do my grandkids know what an iron is but they know how to use it. Oddly enough they all seem to like using it.

      We even put a whole chapter in our laundry e book about how to iron, ironing boards, irons, the difference between starch, sizing and much more. It is one of many skills I think everyone should at least know how to do. You may not do it all the time but it is needed once in awhile. My son just recently was telling how when he went to an employment service how over dressed he felt in his neatly ironed dress shirt and slacks compared to everyone else who had old t shirts and cut offs on. And people wonder why they can’t get a job. Oh dear. Sorry will get down off of my soap box. Anyway my son is now employed. I wonder if that means anything? Hummm?

  20. says

    About 30 years ago my chiropractor forbid me to iron even for short amounts of time. About 15 years later I got rid of my big heavy iron.
    Then we started traveling out of town and had to have dress clothes so my son bought me a light weight travel iron. Never used it because motel rooms supply irons and ironing boards.
    He took it for 4 years at university.
    Just recently my husband has started putting pictures onto pillow cases and a few T shirts. Took me a day to find where I had stashed the travel iron.
    Just glad he uses it and I don’t have to touch it. But they do come in handy once in a while I guess.
    Still love my chiro after all these years.

  21. barb~ says

    I think it says a lot, Jill. Clothes DO make the man! Even inexpensive clothing looks so much sharper ironed. Those that iron jeans and slacks always make a great impression-just like your son found out. He stood out from the crowd. I think it says something about a person when their clothing is pressed. Btw-I blocked a cotton sweater I got a Good Will today following your link. It was from Talbots so it is lovely quality. It looks beautiful now:)

    The same preschool kids couldn’t identify a cheese grater-most people buy the already grated now, and they didn’t know what an electric hand mixer was, either.

  22. says

    The thing I find scary about identifying tools for things we do is
    when you walk into a museum and find something there that you learned on.
    Tredle machines, the toaster with the sides that flip down, a wringer washer.
    Sure makes you feel old. They were also fun to use, real hands on type things.

    It depends on the job you are trying to get what type of clothes you should wear.
    My husband and one son are welders by trade. If they showed up at an interview in good clothes they would be laughed out of the shop. They have to wear grubbies since they will have to show how well they weld. Interviewers do that kindly to being told they will have to wait until the interviewee goes home to get clothes or he needs a place to change into the appropriate clothes. Clean but work clothes are the best bet.
    My other son never wanted to work in dirty places so he went in dress shirts and jeans or dress pants.

    • says

      Usually when we mention dressy outfits we are talking about dresses and/or skirts. It of course depends on your own personal life style so you may have to sit down and just do some figuring. One guide line you could use is you really need 1 black skirt,1 brown skirt, 1 cream/khaki or denim skirt (for summer). I have gotten along with only a black skirt for years and 4-5 dresses. Of course if your color palette is different from mine you may want to add a navy instead of brown etc.

      If you work and have to wear dresses every day or you attend an extra amount of church services where dresses need to be worn then you may have to add extra.

    • says

      It depends on when they wear them. If it’s only for church then 2-4 in the minimum. If it’s for everyday then you would just swap out some pairs of pants for the dresses. I would say no more than 3-5 tops. Mom might say differently but that’s my two cents. :-)

      • says

        Like Tawra said I would say 4 if they have to wear a dress once or twice a week. I might let them have a few more tops like 5 everyday tops and 3 nicer dressier tops. Most people do laundry every day or at least twice a week so you can usually keep things washed up.

        Now the reality is you have little girls. They love their clothes but you still may have to put the brakes on and the older they get if you make them pay for things other then the basics and do their own laundry this will help some.

        Also one thing which really helps and may seem like a pain but in the long run pays and that is twice a year when the season changes from cold to hot, go through their clothes with them. Get rid of too small, worn, ugly and they never wear etc. clothes. People tend not to sort through their clothes in a big way a couple of times a year so things start taking over.

  23. barb~ says

    If your girls really like a lot of variety and money is tight, be sure and take them to Good Will, or any thrift store. Thanks to Tawra and Jill telling me what great things you can get for so little money, I haven’t paid more than a few dollars for anything in the past year!

  24. rose says

    ya know … when i was a little girl, and we were super poor .. we did shop at thrift stores and well in the summer, we wore our bathing suits all of the time .. or those little summer dresses with undies .. and sandals …
    only good clothes we had (which was one outfit) was for church and if we ever went to anywhere special (which was never bc we couldnt afford it) ..
    and we lived in nj ,,,
    we got 2 new outfits for school b4 school started and that was it ..
    when we had little jobs, we usually bought our own clothes at the thrift stores ..
    my mom was a single mother and well, we were poor .. she had 5 kids and did the best she could…
    our tv? .. it had rabbit ears and the foil that went around the room … and sometimes my brother had to stand on a chair and hold the foil up … he was the tallest ..
    we survived .. instead of buying bikes we bought groceries to help out … my brothers used to go to the junk yards and do whatever they could to make a few dollars and get pieces of bikes and put them together .. and then spray paint the bikes so it was all one color ..
    i remember buying my shoes at the grocery store (it was only $1 and they looked like those peds sneakers, you know the ones, they were canvas material with the little white trim (sorta like the converse soles) and they came in different colors) .. well, this one time i had made an extra $5 raking leaves and i bought 5 pairs of those sneakers just to have .. they lasted me yrs .. and they were so comfortable ..
    even today i wear my shoes until they are literally falling apart ..
    my sister still wears those little flat shoes (they come in a little clear baggy by the pantyhose sections and they say somehting like “tired of wearing heels, wear flats” or something like that .. they really look like slippers and have rubber soles on them .. but bc she doesnt go anywhere (her hubby is disabled, they have no car and her kids take her to the stores) .. that is what she wears .. only in the winter does she wear her boots (that she got yrs ago) ..

  25. says

    had to read this article. Changing life style makes for changes in what is considered decently covered.
    Getting back into politics so meetings and travel are on the agenda.
    Track pants, nice tops just don’t cut it. At least not at my age. Young skinny figures can get away with more casual items.
    At my age my self confidence needs the boost of the clothes I wear.
    For Christmas my husband bought me a velour outfit. pants and a jacket type top unfortunately it has a hood but when it is pulled tight it looks more like a big collar. I bought a cream coloured tshirt that looks really nice so that is sort of my mix and match outfit. Different coloured shirts and a red velour top from another velour outfit so I can have about 4 from the one basic.
    At least that will let me be dressed well for the winter. Already starting to look for something similar for spring and summer.
    Velour is great since it doesn’t wrinkle on the trip to the meetings.
    So when you are getting new clothes think of the care of them. Ironing every time you want to wear something is inconvenient and for some downright painful so avoid them.
    Instead of dresses for girls try skirts blouses and sweaters so you get more outfits when you mix and match them.
    just my two cents worth.

    • says

      Rhea pretty much it means 7 cool weather and 7 warm weather shirts. I would sometimes do things like buy short sleeve shirts for summer and then just buy 1-2 long sleeved cardigans for my daughter to wear over her short sleeve tops when it was cold. Actually she didn’t mind it because she lovedddddd her short sleeve tops and her soft warm cardigan so was okay with that. I didn’t do it all the time of course but it just gives you a general idea of what you can do if things are really tight.

  26. Rhonda says

    just an added idea (because these things happen)

    My sister recently went through her son’s clothes, he’s still young so the deal was – “we are gonna empty your closet and if you cannot wear it it does not go back in” This was fine – UNTIL – he tried on (or tried to) a t shirt that has not fit for a while – it still looks goo and is one of his favorites – but it is 3 – 4 sizes too small. We have all hit this issue at some point – in some form. He was is total distress – he wanted to keep this shirt – she was determined – the closet was too small for clothes he cannot get into.

    At last a happy compromise was reached. The shirt did not go in his closet, she used it to make a pillow sham for a small square pillow to toss on his bed. So – she got the closet cleaned out and he got to keep the cute logo that was what he really liked about the t-shirt

    • says

      Rhonda, mom has done the same thing for my kids. She just made a pillow out of my daughter’s favorite sweater that she “just loved” and couldn’t get rid of. It makes it so much more peaceful if you can do things like that to help them get rid of stuff.

      • says

        They say great minds think alike. :) :) Tawra and I do this so often without meaning to and answer a question at the same time and with the same answer not knowing what the other is doing. Too creepy, my daughter is starting to think like me. HA!HA! Bet she loves that!!!

    • says

      Thanks for the tip Rhonda. I just did that with my granddaughters sweater and gave it to her for Christmas. The sweater had pockets on it so one side is to lay on and the side with the pockets she can use to put her treasures in. When my grandkids discovered that Nan can make a pillow out of their favorite clothes they more then willing give them away.
      They also love the quilts I make for them so I tell them to give me their favorite things and I will some day make a quilt for them.

      One tip for quilters. I just saw on Fons and Porter to slide a small cutting mat inside the t shirt then lay your square cutting ruler on top of the logo or part you are cutting and cut. Thought this was a great idea.

  27. says

    Oh, how true. When my grandson was tiny, my daughter had about 30 pairs of trousers for him – the washing and ironing became just unmanageable, because she left it for ages because there were so many clothes, and then was faced with a mountain of laundry …

  28. Sherri says

    And here I thought I was the only one to make such lists! In our house, we call it the ‘Practicality List.’ Each season we consult the list and sort our clothes accordingly ~ no small feat since we have 9 children!
    We also live on a farm, so our ratio of good/town clothes vs. work clothes are the opposite of what you’ve listed above. Since we’re in rather close quarters with a large family, we also own less of each item.

    • says

      Sherri I’m glad you mentioned you need different amounts of clothes then we listed. I write general lists but I want people to adapt them to their own needs and sometimes people don’t understand that and will try to use the list exactly as it is or just say those won’t work for them and don’t do a list at all. The point is really think it through and make a similar list for your family and their needs and to keep it to a minimum.

  29. Sherri says

    It would be a rare thing indeed to find someone who would have an exact list to fit our needs! Not many have to consider mudboots, chore tennies, and poultry processing clothing! :)
    However, your list is a great starting point. Besides, I plan to show it to my children. Perhaps they will realize I’m not just the odd one who tries to be practical!

  30. Trace says

    hi i live nyc but i have a communal lifestyle, so its me, my wife, her best friend and his wife, and 8 kids! now we have the kids share clothes that they both find interest in. ex: we have two girls that are 5 and 6, we have about 6 or 7 tops that they both like and instead of buying double they share, is it normal?

  31. says

    What we did was to watch what we wore for a month. Once it was worn and washed, instead of putting it back in the closet or drawers, we left it folded and neat in a laundry basket. At the end of the month, everything that was left in the closet and drawers was taken out and switched with the laundry basket of clean clothes! Then we just set the laundry basket of UNUSED clothes aside in the room and lo and behold, very little of it was wanted. I think we waited a couple weeks and then when it was clear that no one wanted to wear the left overs, we donated it all to Goodwill!

    It was a very easy way to REALLY know if we wanted to wear the things in our rooms! And no one had that panic feeling of having to choose right away in some big stressful cleanout. It was a really gentle way of cutting back.

    We’re working on doing it in the kitchen too! Everything that gets used, is staying out in a few totes for a week, and then we’ll take all the left over stuff no one uses much, out and replace with the everyday stuff. If after a week or so the left over stuff doesn’t come into active play, we’ll sort out the few “holiday” things and then donate the rest!

    Simple, gentle de-cluttering! :-)

  32. Jen says

    Hi,My husband and I have 4 children and I have homeschooled for 5 years.All of our children have a day of the week that is their laundry day.They all wash and dry their clothes.The older two fold and put away their own and the younger ones wash and dry and I still hang or fold for them.I fold pajama shirts and pants together amd fold or hang pants/shorts and shirts together so they just grab one and its already matched.The older two do theirs that way as well even though they dont have to now that they fold their own.Makes it alot easier on them to have all their outfits incliding pjs reay to go.

  33. Rachel says

    Well, here in Florida spring is in the air! Drove past the bay this afternoon going to my daughters house, and people were laying out and the kids were in the water splashing around!. I put on a cotton skirt and blouse and flip flops this morning. Anyway, I was looking at what I have for spring and summer wear, trying to decide what to buy. at this point I am thinking just a pair of black capri pants and a pair of black sandals. Do we really need to go out and spend a fortune every season on clothing? One thing I remember thinking that I wished I had to put on last summer was a pair of black capri pants. I have several tops that would match. So it looks like that will do me.

    I’m pretty good about keeping my clothes cleaned out, but my husband is terrible. He hates for me to get rid of anything. He has a drawer full of nothing but socks.

  34. Pat says

    It is just Dh and my self at home now. Each Jan when others are making their resolutions for the year I make up a clothing replacement list for each of us. I have a note book back to 1997 that I have saved with each list and for that year each item we bought, where it was bought , price paid and how it stood up to wear. Over the years our cost for clothing has dropped each year. Since I know most of what we will want for that year I watch the sales, and garage sales and Thrift store. So far this year I have gotten from my list 1 top for better wear, 1 flannelet night gown ( I got 2 actualally as I was at a bag sale at the thrift store and all 3 Items were my size and in new condition) total clothing expenses so far this year $3. Last year I need a pair of new shoes so my yearly total was high at $76.81. This year still on my needs list is a new winter Jacket ( the one I have will become my chores jacket). So I am watching the sales, but haven’t yet seen what I would like ( yes, even though I don’t spend much I am fussy!).
    Love reading all your hints, I wanted to mention I also cut down my slacks and make “Peddal Pushers” (or what ever they are called now.) for summer wear, and for working around the yard. I patch work clothes for the yard, for hubby and I too, and many other small sewing things to make clothing last longer, fit better and look better too.
    I try and hang my clothing up so it can air out if it isn’t dirty , that extends the life of the garment as well.
    Of course using the right method of cleaning works too! As Dh learnt one year while I was away, you don’t wash pure wool sweaters in hot water in the washing machine.

  35. Millie says

    We moved to a smaller house recently and I am so happy. I’ve been forced (due to size) to give away tons of stuff and continue to do so. I’ve finally learned the difference between “want” and “need” and I’ve finally learned that even if something is on special for really cheap that if I don’t need it I better not buy it because I just don’t have space for any more dishes in the kitchen cupboards and no space for even one more pair of shoes. When we had a bigger home it was just an invitation to store more (not needed) stuff. It’s amazing how little we really need, and how much we want. There is a huge gap between the two. You’re list seems drastic, but it is so right!! There are only seven days a week, so why would one person need 50-60 shirts and 20-30 pairs of shoes, etc. THANKS for sharing tips.

  36. rose says

    i like what my sister in fl did when her kids were little and teenagers..
    she had them hang up every blouse/shirt/pants/shorts and etc .. and for the socks and undies she got those drawers made out of boxes and/or she used those plastic storage containers ..
    she said she did this bc it was always “i have nothing to wear” and then never looked in their dressers and etc .. thus finding the need to constantly add to their wardrobes ..
    and being a single mother she couldnt just keep buying them clothes so that is what she did ..
    i thought that was a clever idea bc its true if its out of sight its out of mind and you tend to forget what u have esp if u have lots of things! …
    just sharing .. 😀

  37. rose says

    also by them hanging everything up there was less of my sister yelling at them to make sure to keep their clothes folded neatly in the drawers if they wanted to wear something that was on the bottom ..
    and if they took things out, sometimes things landed on the floor thus creating more laundry .. (you know how kids are) .. so .. by the time they were about 10 she implemented this idea …
    just sharing again 😀

    • Angi says

      I just did that yesterday! It looks so much neater! I hung all my kids’ clothing up by outfits, a pair of pants or shorts with the shirt over the top. It’ll be so much easier for them to find outfits that way, and I don’t have as many hangers in the closet. Now I just need to get rid of some of the outfits.

      • says

        It sounds like you are on a roll Angi. Can’t wait to hear how your clothes look when you get done going through them. Good job.

  38. Glenna says

    In our house, we each have a limited amount of space for clothing. My husband and I have 12 ft of hanging and shoe space and a standard chest of drawers each. Our son has two chests of drawers, but only 3 ft of hanging space. then, we share a 3 ft closet for coats. We don’t store out of season clothes. Everything hangs or is in drawers all of the time. It is so much easier. We just clean out clothing that doesn’t fit or is worn out once a year. Easy!

  39. Dineen says

    I very quickly learned that my little one had difficulty with being stimulated by changing clothes at bedtime, so pajamas quickly dropped off our clothing list for her. Transitioning to bedtime still at age 3 is just easier, the fewer things/activities we put between evening and bedtime. I think also that many children’s pajamas are just too hot for her so sleeping in a cotton onsie or t-shirt kept her comfortable and sleeping through the night much better than polyester kids’ pajamas.

  40. Vincent Mitchell says

    Hope My family and I can get even more help from our new found friends….. We often refer to the clothes situation and the Clothes Demon… Seems he always wins.. but not anymore.. Hopefully my wife will read along with me and we and Fix this situation once and for all

  41. Erin says

    This article gives me so much encouragement! I recently issued my family a challenge: that we could clothe, entertain (toys/games) and educate (books) 2 whole other families! (I have 4 children) We just have way too much everything and it is so far past manageable. My goal is to meet my challenge and MAINTAIN the new system!

    • says

      Erin you sound like many of us. I once read about a woman missionary who loved her clothes but when she went on the mission field realized she had to get control of them. She bought 7 dresses all the same style but in different colors. She said it changed her world. She never gave clothes a second thought and it saved her so much time. On Mon. she wore her yellow, on Tues. her green etc. She never had to worry over what to wear again.

      Of course that is the extreme for most of us but boy it would be nice to be able to do that and not think about clothes any more.

  42. Angie M. says

    Sometimes less to choose from is so much simpler.

    My aunt was a manager at a large, well known corporation for years. She actually retired from this corporation.

    She made a lot of money and felt like she had to spend a certain amount of money to dress the part. Apparently they had a lot of drama in the office with the women all competing to be the best dressed and constantly focusing on wardrobes.

    Corporate passed down a dress code for the ladies: Black, gray or navy skirts (no shorter than knee length) or slacks, white blouses, jackets optional, black, gray or navy flats or pumps, small, minimal jewelry.

    At first my aunt was really disappointed because she had such a wide variety of work clothes to choose from and could no longer wear most of it to the office. Then she went shopping for the new dress code approved items and said her life was changed.

    Since everyone was wearing similar clothing, the need to ‘out do’ other co-workers’ clothing was gone. She didn’t feel the need to have as many items…just enough to get through a week at work. Her clothing expense dropped to about a quarter of the amount she had been spending…she and her husband went on a week long vacation with the money she saved in one year! She felt a freedom from getting up in the mornings and knowing what she was going to wear without really thinking about it.

    At first, she couldn’t bear to part with her closets full of accumulated clothing. Then, after about a year, she was able to start letting go. She carefully cleaned out her closets and sold some things on consignment and donated what she didn’t think would sell. A few things she kept for special evenings out or church but since then she only needs one closet. And she’s never felt the need to constantly shop, keep up with other peoples’ wardrobes or spend a small fortune on clothing again either!

    This is an extreme case but just goes to show how sometimes more does not make one happier!

  43. says


    It was nice to see the list of clothing each person really needs but, I didn’t see a men’s list for clothing. Do you have that list too? My husband could use to cut down on his clothing. My older sister’s have cut down on their clothing but, have to have extra for when they get put on certain medications that make them gain weight. They eventually lose the weight again but it takes time, sometimes months. So if a person is in that situation I think it is fine to have extra put aside for when that happens. Also it gets pretty cold in Minnesota, at times negitive 20 degees with a negitive 30 degree windchill so we need extra winter clothes too. Layering what you have can only go so far up here, then you need winter specific clothing.
    Thanks for what you do, I appreciate it.

  44. Mille says

    I had tons and tons of clothes (from going up and down in sizes and having a baby recently) and have a tiny, tiny closet. I recently gave away several boxes of clothing by using the following test– if I could only do one load of laundry, what would I wash? I did this for three pretend loads of laundry. It was so easy to get rid of things that weren’t worth the time and effort to wash and store, and was able to pick out the most important pieces of clothing to save.

    I didn’t realize that a baby outgrows his clothing within 3 months, and had way too many clothes for him. He didn’t even wear half of his newborn sized clothes. I have learned now that babies can grow really fast and not to spend too much money on the smaller sized of clothes. Children’s resale shops have some really good deals, and I have no problem dressing my 6 month old in used clothing.

    My husband is the King of simplicity. His jeans tend to rip at the pocket, and he will wear the ripped jeans around the house until I finally throw them away and buy him a new pair.

  45. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    It only seems logical to me to put the sheets back on the bed immediately after drying them. Why bother folding and putting them away? This also brings some fresh smells into the house. It also elimates having to have an extra set for each bed. Maybe you only need one extra pair in twin and one in double.

    I like the idea of YOUR putting their clothes away. When I watched my sisters kids for four months finding the perfectly folded and clean laundry at the bottom of the dirty clothes filled laundry basket made me see red.

    • says

      I often put my sheets right back on the bed but since I don’t have a dryer then there are days where I have to change my sheets but it is raining so I can’t get them dried and in that case I need another set to put on the bed.

      Also when I have company I let them use my bed. I have a special set of good “company” sheets which I use for them. So it is does save to put them right back on but seems as if I so often have things happen to prevent that.

      Like I said I always put my kids clothes away myself. Even though at the moment it seems easier for them to do it it really in the long run is a big headache and I can keep better control of their clothes and really made my life easier. We need to teach our kids to do these things but at the same time we sometimes expect more from them then even some adults find hard to do.

  46. Debra says

    This list is such a great help to me when I buy school clothes for our grandkids. It’s a good organizing tool for me, or re-organizing, I should say; since I’ve retired and no longer need those career clothes taking up space in my closet.
    However, I blew that pairs of shoes list right out of the water. Sherri, great idea on reorganizing and decluttering; All great tips! Thanks!

  47. Sheri says

    I hoping to thin things out a bit in the next two weeks to put together a couple of bags of clothing to share at our church’s “Free Indeed” clothing exchange. A couple of times a year our church ladies bring in gently used clothing. This clothing is sorted into men’s women’s, children’s and into pants/slacks, skirts, shirt/blouses etc.. It is so much fun to come and “shop” on that day. We end up shopping for each other. Last time I found a shirt that I could wear to work; a jacket that they all said has my name on it; a skirt, but a gave the shirt to Linda; (We each got the piece we wanted.) and we all had a great time. At the end of the day, we can go back and claim whatever of ours is still there, or let it go to charity.

    I find that one of my barriers to giving things away is that I want it to go to a good home. I guess I want it to be loved like I loved it. It helps me to part with things when I can see someone enjoy it. Especially the baby clothes! I wish my daughters-in-law enjoyed seeing their children in their husbands baby clothes more. Oh well… Maybe my daughter will enjoy that more! She’s not married yet… but we are not in a hurry.

  48. Shelley says

    Wow, that is a lot of clothes for just “bare bones”. As a stay at home, I’d say I have 4 casual outfits, 2 dressier outfits (basically job hunting outfits), 3 pairs of shoes(I use the term loosely, because 1 pair are really thongs, and the other pair are croc’s. I do have a pair of tennis shoes, but I haven’t worn them in a couple years, not even sure where they are, so I didn’t count them, and a pair of heels (haven’t worn them forever either..wonder if they still fit?). Now that’s bare bones.

    Why would 7-9 of only one type of outfit be considered bare bone, especially if you are a stay at home? We can do laundry while we’re home LOL

    My teen son (17) has a lot of clothes, but he only wears 4 different shirts, and 3 different pants over and over. Except now that it’s summer, he wears 2 different shorts (because he only has 2 pairs) and if they’re both dirty he wears pants.

    My daughter (13), otoh, thinks bare bones is like what you describe. She has enough clothes to go a month without repeating anything. Luckily she isn’t too snobby because she will wear stuff from thrift stores…else she would have 5-7 outfits TOTAL.

    No way will I let my daughter read this blog entry…we don’t have enough space for the clothes she has already.

    • says

      Shelley you must not have read the part where I said you may have to adjust it adding more or taking away to fit your family’s needs. This is for the average person.I have one 1/8 of the clothes mentioned on the list but I have a huge amount of undies because I live alone and wear my clothes more then once so it takes me awhile to accumulate a load of laundry so I need more undies to tide me over. So just adjust.

  49. Michelle says

    I was wondering if you had the stats for men’s clothing? I see it is just women and children. Thanks!

    • says

      Michelle we didn’t do the stats for men’s clothing just because the average guy doesn’t go over board with their clothes and shopping. If given free rein many of them would wear the same old comfortable thing every day. Usually it isn’t the men who want the walk in closets (I know there are exceptions). But they generally keep their clothes under control so that is why we didn’t list them.

  50. Michelle says

    I understand. That is a true point. I will just go with the working woman’s list and modify it from there. Love this site. It is a help.

    • says

      Just figure out how often you wash and what your guy does for work. For example if he wears dockers each day probably 3 pair would be plenty if you wash twice a week. If he is in construction and comes home with filthy jeans each day and needs to wear a clean pair maybe he would need 4 pair where the guy who wears dockers could wear them twice sometimes. Does that make sense?

  51. says

    I only own three pairs of shoes. One pair of sneakers, one pair of Sunday loafers and a pair of white shells I almost never wear. I guess I am an oddball. I think the amount of clothing your article refers to as bare bones is a bit excessive. Even a working woman can get by with a 9-piece wardrobe plus a few extra clothes for Saturdays, evenings, and work-outs at the gym or home garden. Of course, a sick toddler who throws up all the time will require more–unless you do laundry 2-3 times a week.

    • says

      Rachel so often people over look it when I say these are the “average”. There are some who will need more and there are some who will have a lot less. You are to work out what is best for you and your own needs. I have about half the amount of clothes which is the list now. At one time I had more and other times I have had way less. This is just a “guideline”.

      Besides it really isn’t a sin to have lots of clothes. If you are financially stable, no debt, savings,giving to others etc. and you want to spend the rest of your money on lots of pretty clothes then that is ok. The point I was trying to make was watch where you are spending your money if you are in debt. Do you really need that many clothes and can you save in that area.

  52. says

    It’s true, there are worse things to spend on than clothes. I’m not in debt, but living on less than $10,000 a year, because of my job situation. On the positive side, since I only work 5-6 days a month as a small-town sub, I save on gas and clothing expenses.

  53. says

    Ah, yes, the laundry quandry. I have three kids. Each one has Very Few Clothes. My daughter (14) has Nice Clothes but only a few and she is happy with that.

    My almost-10 year old is very sensitive to clothing so he has about 5 pairs of super soft polyester pants or shorts at any given time plus 6 or 7 silky running tops.

    My 5 year old is tiny so he is still wearing 3T and 4T shorts from years ago – maybe 4 pairs, plus a half-dozen t-shirts.

    I don’t shop often but when I do, I tend to replace the whole wardrobe. That can be done cheaply when that is only 4 to 6 outfits.

    I briefly had two step-daughters and their clothes habits drove me crazy. PILES and PILES of ill-fitting, cheap clothes they never wore, then threw in the laundry instead of putting them away. I finally sent all but a few outfits to their mother’s house. They could make a mess even with those few outfits because they never put anything away. When the good stuff I bought migrated to their Mom’s house and the cheap crap migrated to mine, I donated all of it so they would have to start thinking carefully about having enough clothes for the weekend, then keeping track of them and taking them with them when they went back to their mother’s. Some weekends they wore the same clothes all weekend because they didn’t remember to pack – but were both more than old enough to learn basic responsibility in that regard.

    Laundry during those years was very stressful.

    Now I have just my three kids and a load a day keeps us caught up and we don’t have any clothing management problems, or storage problems because we just wear and wash and wear the same handful of outfits.

    Simplifying this part of our lives has been extraordinarily liberating, both financially and by reducing the chore of managing laundry.

    • says

      Angie it is a little hard without knowing more about your life style for example do you go to church each Sunday where he needs dress pants or is it more casual. Do you go out to dinner or over to friends where you dress more or less etc.

      The best I can do with out knowing more is usually a guy who has uniforms for work can get by with
      2-3 pairs of jeans (1 pair for work around the house in)
      1-2 pairs of docker type pants (tan pair, dark pair)
      1 pair of nice black or brown dress pants
      1-2 dress shirts
      2-3 polo shirts
      3-4 everyday t shirts
      1 pair tennis shoes
      1 pair dress shoes
      1 pair semi dress shoes

      You can add or take away from this list of course. The main thing to think about is how often do you wash. If wash everyday you can get by with much less. A dress jacket is nice for a man to have for special occasions but not a must have. Plus your husband may love to have a couple of old sweat shirts or t shirts to wear around the house all the time and if that is the case he could get by with less nice t shirts or polos. You just need to adjust it but maybe this will give you a start.

      • Jodi says

        I’m glad Angie asked this! I’ve been searching for a guide for my husband who also wears uniforms for work. This is perfect! Thanks!

  54. Linda says

    About 15 years ago I had a stroke – at middle age. Because of it I had a hard time doing laundry, and a hard time tracking money. So when I ran out of clothes, I bought more.

    Fortunately, I also had decided on a single, simple “style” that I would simply vary the color of. So I bought years worth of clothes over the span of a couple years. Needless to say, I’ve hardly bought but a few shirts and pants in the last 10 years. I won’t wear skirts or hose, and I can’t walk in anything with a heel. So the temptation to be a clothes horse is gone.

    Now, I just put in the rag bag something that finally wears out, and if I finally have too few, I get more. Problem is, I need more black pants, no polyester, and all of them are those stupid hip huggers that were awful the last time they were in style too. I guess I’ll have to wait a few more years.

    • says

      I have to agree with you on the hip hugger pants. I too didn’t like them 40 years ago and like them even less now. Makes you wonder what the designers are thinking sometimes or what we are thinking going along with what ever they say. You throw in the tops which are too short and boy what a sight for sore eyes. : )

      I have noticed they might be getting the hint though because the tops at least are getting much longer this year and the pants a little higher.

  55. Bea says

    I’m very sick of looking at the crack in women’s behinds because of those hip hugger pants. The women who wear them don’t even have the common sense to wear a top that would help cover their behinds. I can’t tell you how many times I see almost half the behind of some woman who has absolutely no sense of dignity. What a shame.

  56. rose says

    jill .. its funny u mentioned those hip hugger pants .. well .. (now this is just my opinion) .. it might have been an idea to play a joke on the fashion industry ..
    no matter how stylish those pants were, some people looked absolutely ridiculous in them ..
    take my hubby for instance .. hehehehee 😀 .. he doesnt mind i share this bc well when ur young and where “the latest style” .. sometimes the best style of all is something that is universally right (like suit style pants, straight leg jeans) ..
    hubby (when he was younger and way way way b4 i met him) .. had a pair of hip hugger, bell bottom pants ..
    let me describe a picture for you ..
    here is a very handsome young man .. long hair (style back in the day!) .. beard down to his belly button, mustache (of course, to go with the beard) ..
    he is 5’9″ .. but he is all body with shorter legs … ok .. now comes the hip hugger/bigger than life bell bottom jeans (and sometimes he would wear these horribly striped/weird print ones) .. and to top it all off, a plaid flannel shirt (he was in ky then) ..
    yep .. my true love.. mr fashion statement himself .. hehehehehehe .. and yes .. even to this day we still laugh at that outfit ..
    altho.. i must admit.. i can beat that outfit that is one to be remembered for all eternity..
    i was 10 yrs old .. i will never forget this outfit for the rest of my life ..
    brown/white plaid hip hugger/bigger than life bell bottoms (and it wasnt a dark brown or light brown .. it was med brown) .. and wild flower print blouse.. (wait! it gets even better!) ..
    green sun glasses and a funky hat (sorta like one of those beach hats ladies wore back in the day .. kind big but not too big .. if u look at the movie “dick” with kirsten dunn, the end scene where she and betsy (michelle williams) are wearing the american flag hats/outfits, well the hat that kirsten dunn was wearing .. yep .. that was my hat with my outfit!) ..
    hehehehehehehehhee ,, i still wonder what i was thinking .. hehehehee …
    so.. now i wonder if those hip hugger bell bottoms were really part of a joke someone started and of course you know how things just take off like a rocket whether they make sense or not .. and well .. just to see how many can look like “what were they thinking??” .. hehehehehehehehee
    and yes i was 10 yrs old ..
    and at that time . when hubby has his he was about 16-17 yrs old ..
    what happened to my “really cool” outfit? well .. we moved to florida and my older sister, i can still see her face when we got off the amtrak train when she saw me .. and my mother just flipping her eyes as to say “dont say a word! .. i need help! .. get rid of this outfit! .. .help!” .. (you know the look!) .
    well my sister told me that when she was doing the laundry, the machine “ate” my really cool outfit and well .. she took me shopping for some new clothes ..
    i have a really cool and wonderful sister .. and yes she bought me generic/classy clothes that i wore for over 10 yrs ..
    as i got older,i never wanted to go back to the hip huggers and still dont .. (too chubby for that now) ..
    thanks for posting this ..
    hubby and i are laughing up a storm on our memories ..
    hope this tickled ur funny bone too 😀 .. hehe 😀

  57. rose says

    and when those bell bottoms/flared pants came back into style .. my daughter just had to have the biggest flares .. so yes..i had to remind her of “our mishaps” with what’s in style and yes she did manage to get a few flared pants but nothing like what we had and certainly no odd prints or flowers or whatever ..
    now all she wears are capri’s..
    funny how clothes come and go back and forth in style..
    😀 …
    and she keeps her clothes very classy as much as possible .. nothing that can be embarrassing when she is older ..
    my son? jeans and t-shirts and few button down shirts ..nothing too special about him ..
    and when we talk about the “really cool clothes” me and hubby wore, the kids roll their eyes and thank the GOOD LORD those styles aren’t coming back .. hehehehee 😀 ..

  58. rose says

    and if they do come back . my kids have enuff sense to let the “fashions” of that time ride out into the sunset .. hehehehehee 😀 ..

  59. rose says

    yep .. i agree bea . and whats worse than that? its when the men wear their pants practically to their knees .. shameful is right! ..
    just my opinion ..

  60. Rachel says

    I remember a famous playwright (can’t remember his name) saying that extremes in fashion should be avoided by all except those for whom they are extremely becoming. Others should stick to the time-proven classics. I guess if you look like Kate Moss maybe you can wear hip huggers. I weigh a lot and wouldn’t be caught dead in them!

  61. rose says

    jill .. my daughter wanted me to check with you .. i told her about the post i sent to you (see above) and she is hoping u didnt choke too badly on ur coffee just imagining what a sight i must have been! .. hehehehehee .. in fact, she said, no one will ever forget that dizzy girl on amtrack so many yrs ago for an eternity .. adn if anyone has had a camera, like they do now, i would have been posted on the internet .. heheheee .. 😀
    i told her i would contact u to make sure u r ok ..
    i also told her that its a good thing her father and i can certainly laugh at each other .. it did tickle his funny bone and well mine too and my kids, they laughed too .. cringed a bit just thinking of our outfits but still laughed 😀

    • says

      Rose I wasn’t too shocked. Tawra use to dress like that when she was younger too. Some of the outfits she came up with just amazed. Thanks goodness she out grew it and now dresses very nice. But alas I am going through all over again because my granddaughter was here this week end and she is driving her parents crazy with her “unique” outfit combinations she is coming up with. :) :)

  62. Bea says

    Jill, if I were you, I would tell your granddaughters about the early Christian female Saints that became martyrs for the Faith because they didn’t want to violate the Christian virtues of modesty and chasity. Look up the story of Saint Agnes and Saint Maria Goretti. I know you are not Catholic, but virtue is virtue, and we can agree as Christians on that. Even the Bible mentions Christian dress codes. Those two female Saints (among others) would rather die than commit sins against modesty and chastity, so the least Christian women of today can do is dress modestly. They don’t have to become a martyr, just cover up, so as not to be a temptation to men who want to not sin with their eyes and thoughts. I pity men of today that want to stay pure in their thoughts. It’s hard enough on me putting up with those silly women, I can’t imagine how hard it is for men.

  63. Rachel says

    They dress like strumpets then wonder why men can’t love them for their minds. :p If we spent half the time worrying about our insides as we do our outsides marriages would stay intact and there would be a virtual end to crime and violence. No one would steal or covet what wasn’t theirs.

  64. Maggie says

    I’m not sure I understand why you say “no sweats”. On a cold winter night, right after I get home from work, I change into a nice pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt and then make dinner. My house is old and drafty and this outfit, plus socks and slippers is very comfortable. If we go out or I go to the market, I don’t wear the sweats but don’t see why one or two outfits can’t be a nice addition for the winter.
    I use the old, soft, worn out ones for pj’s and they work very well. Then, of course, they are great for the ragbag once they are beyond wearing.

    • says

      I don’t mean no sweats in the way you are using them Maggie. Yes a pair of warm sweats are warm and cozy on a cold winter’s night. Plus on the cold days when you don’t feel good to put on a warm pair of sweats is like heaven.

      What we are talking about is the problem of so many now put on sweats and never get out of them. They sleep in them, get up in the morning and don’t bother to get dressed, wear them shopping and all their activities. In cases like this it is more of an attitude then the clothes themselves – like an I don’t care or I don’t want to bother. They want people to respect them but they give off an attitude of I don’t care enough to get dressed I don’t care about anything. That may not be what they are thinking but that is the feeling they are giving off.

      If a person is tempted to do this then it is better they not even own a pair at all.

  65. Bea says

    I’ve seen women in the summer wear their pajama bottom pants outside shopping etc., instead of sweats. Pajama pants are the warm weather alternative, but just as tacky and sloppy looking as sweats outside. Women are the worst offenders in bad dressing. I don’t see as many men doing the stupid things women do dress-wise. There are some men and boys that do, but I see many more examples of horrible dressing on women daily. YUCK. Sometimes I wonder what happened to women???

    • says

      I’m not too sure what you want to know about them. I don’t mind them or leggings but I do think most gals look better in them if they wear a long tunic top or sweater with them and if you don’t have the figure for them you maybe shouldn’t wear them just because it would not be flattering.

      I usually don’t worry about fads too much and never had. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them or like to be stylish but I am more concerned if the things I wear fit me nicely, enhance my not so good features (not make them stand or or worse), can be worn for as many different types of activities things as possible and of course is modest.

      I where my jeans pretty snug so I don’t think I could get ones that are any “skinnier” although I do know what you mean by skinny jeans. I wear my jeans tight because I am shorter and baggy anything make me look like a rolly poly bear. Not sure I answered your question or not but ask again if I didn’t and will try again.

  66. Sophia says

    Actually, a really good reason to clean out your closet is not only for more space and a more organized closet but also you can deduct what you donate to charity on your taxes! When I used “MONEY For Your Used Clothing” I saved around $900 on my taxes last year! When years before I donated, but didn’t know that I could deduct that donation on my taxes! This book also protected me against interest and penalties associated with overstating the value of my donations. SO pretty much this book encourages you to donate to charity, GUARANTEES you save at least $250, and PROTECTS you against interest and penalties! I hope this helps someone out there trying to save money as well as organize their closet! I found the books website at :) Happy Donating.

  67. Grandma says

    those skinny pants make me look like an apple with tooth picks for legs and the tight sleeved sweaters you have an apple with toothpick arms and legs. Add a tomatoe with curly hair for the head and there I am.
    Not a flattering look for me and that is all I can find in stores.
    I used to love the look of wide pants and bucaneer tops. I was told that I looked great. Now if that would come back into style and I could lose the belly I would be a hot lady at 56.
    Oh well the dream was nice while I wrote it.

  68. Sophia says

    Actually Tawra, I thought the same exact thing! except to be in accordance with IRS guidelines the charity can’t provide the values. The Money Book complies with the IRS guideling and is updated annually to reflect the current years fair market value. So, you get more back when using this book and you can be protected as well.

  69. grizzly bear mom says

    I just reread your wardrobe advice sorted my clothing by color vs blouse/jacket/bottom. Then on the computer I made myself a chart depicting my clothing as follows and placing a little colored block in front of each item. I found that I had a huge wardrobe and many more tops to go with my suits:
    Navy skirt suit Ivory Shell
    Navy pant suit Ivory Sweater Twin Set
    Grey Skirt suit Light Pink Sweater
    Grey Pant Suit Lavendar Sweater
    Purple Suit Raspberry T
    Teal Jacket & Skirt Raspberry Sweater
    Coral Jacket Aqua Sweater
    Black Skirt lilac sweater
    Black Pants Medium Blue Sweater
    Royal Blue Sweater
    Light green Twin set
    Medium Green T
    Dark Green Shell
    Black Suplice Top
    Black Tank
    Too bad I didn’t due so earlier. I would have much more room in my closet and money in the bank!

    • says

      I know what you mean grizzly bear mom. I have done the same thing with different items – not realizing how many I really had until I laid them out and either wrote it down or counted them. That is why I keep telling everyone to actually count how much you have of something (like boys cars or girls dolls) because we just see a pile of them there not realizing we have 15-20 of something and we really only need 5. It is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to find storage for your home.

  70. grizzly bear mom says

    I put dots in to show the seperation because it show how many tops go with the bottoms:
    Navy skirt suit……….Ivory Shell
    Navy pant suit………. Ivory Sweater Twin Set
    Grey Skirt suit ………Light Pink Sweater
    Grey Pant Suit ……….Lavendar Sweater
    Purple Suit ………….Raspberry T
    Teal Skirt Suit……….Raspberry Sweater
    Coral Jacket………….Aqua Sweater
    Black Skirt…………. lilac sweater
    Black Pants…………. Medium Blue Sweater
    Brick Skirt Suit ……..Royal Blue Sweater
    Brick Pant suit……….Light green Twin set
    Beige Skirt Suit ……..Medium Green T
    Beige Pant Suit ………Dark Green Shell
    …………………….Black Suplice Top
    …………………….Black Tank

  71. Gayla T says

    When I moved here to my new old house, I sorted and I mean sorted. 120 y/o houses don’t have walk in closets so I knew I had to. I had read that if you haven’t worn it in a year through all 4 seasons you never will. I gave my self some lee way and went through 2 years and gave away 5 boxes of stuff, even parted with my beloved sweat pants. LOL I did keep a big pair that I wear over jeans to go out in the snow with the grands. I really thought I was done but when I put away summer stuff and got out winter a couple of months ago, I was even able to go deeper and put out another really big box. I had been keeping a lot of clothes in hopes of getting well and going back to work but I’ll be 67 on the 25th of this month so that is probably not going to happen, is it? Then at Christmas I got out the box of things that I wear at Holiday time and gave away a big stack of Christmasy sweaters. My daughter took them down the street where an extended family has had to move in together and the older lady actually teared up because she had always wanted a Christmas sweater and never could rationalize the expense at the time of year when she had gifts to buy. I think I sent 3 sweaters and 3 embroideried shirts. It made me sad to think that I had so much that I didn’t even appreciate when they made such an impact to her. I think a couple of them even were thrift shop buys so never were a big deal to me at all. I intend to go through my summer wardrobe again come spring. I know there are still things I can part with looking at it with a new understanding of how spoiled I’ve become. I am not a high fashion dresser at all but still….if I wanted something really bad and couldn’t buy it for myself I know one of my children would love to know what to get me. I heard at Christmas that it is so hard to buy for me and I suppose it is when I can give away that much stuff and still there is more. Let’s just say that I won’t be using the gift card I got for Christmas on clothes.

    • says

      Gayla I know just what you are talking about. I have been on the receiving end many times in the past and those things meant so much to me because I wouldn’t ever have had some things I needed if someone hadn’t been generous to me. I remember when I was expecting with my second baby I had no maturity clothes and I mean none. We went to church at least 3 times a week or more and I had one shift dress which I was getting by with. Besides being embarrassed that I had to wear the same dress over and over, at 7 months along it was getting way too small. We had a week coming up where we had to go to church every night.

      I didn’t know what I was going to do. I did some mighty praying. 2 days before the nightly services started my neighbor came over and said “I have all of these maturity dresses I thought you could maybe use.” There was about 10 of them. She said she never even wore a dress so couldn’t figure out why she was keeping them all. Boy was I glad she decided to clean out her closet.

      That is why now if I keep mounds of anything thinking I may use it some day I give my self a good shake and get rid of it because I know good and well there is someone who would be putting it to much better use then I am. Besides by the time I do get around to wearing them again the chances are they will be out dated anyway.

  72. Gayla T says

    I recently had a startling revelation about butt cracks showing. LOL It really has to do with how your body is built. I have one little grand that is built like her daddy and they carry their weight on the front, with a bigger tummy. The rest of us have big butts. She would even lose her diaper and little slacks as a toddler. She will be outside playing with the other kids and has to be reminded to pull up her pants and she just hates it. We used to put her in overalls a lot but you can’t do it with a big girl. She wears a lot of dresses with tights under them for that reason but she wants to have jeans too and it’s always going to be a problem, one I don’t have an answer for.

  73. grizzly bear mom says

    Saving on childrens’ clothes: Number your LARGEST child and the tag on the back of the neck/waist of their clothing with roman number I, send largest child number II, third largest child IV, etc. As they hand their clothing down update the number on the item.

    Also, buy mostly inter gender clothing. Girls can hand down red, blue, green and yellow shirts to their brothers. Because boys may feel embarassed at wearing girlie things consider buying only boy pants as long as you can get away with it.

  74. Joyce says

    I am a retired, 73-year-old widow, living only on a meager Social Security income. I live in an apartment bldg. for those over 55, and receive assistance from the housing authority. I use a laundry which requires $1 to wash and $1 to dry, so I have enough clothes (hand-me-downs and good will finds) to last a month, except for undies. I wear each pair of jeans for a week (around home) and find that with different sweat shirts & clean undies, no one notices. I have 2 sets of sheets, but often launder and remake the bed with the same linens. I have 4 or 5 “Sunday outfits” including some outfits which are at least 10 years old and still decent! Just wanted to pass along my methods of survival. I love your newsletter and recipes!

  75. Bea says

    I think an answer to have your butt crack NOT show, is to wear underwear. If women would wear real underwear, instead of thongs, bikini, or none at all, when their low cut jeans slip down when they sit, you will only see the underwear, which is an improvement over a bare butt in public. Or wear a longer top.

    • m says

      I think having underwear showing is only marginally better than the skin. I’ve been unable to find shirts long enough (why are the tunics only in plus sizes??), so I wear a long tank top under my shirt.
      The only trouble is, it’s really too hot for that in the summer. I wear more dresses then.

  76. Amy says

    I read this post about a year ago but at the time my heart was set on getting rid of my storage bill. And I did now my heart is set on downsizing my house. My mother showed me that I had an over abundance of clothes. Which simply makes it harder to clean. Now that I am placing all of my abundance into boxes for a yard sale. I am starting to see the light that it is becoming easier to clean the house! Which I have been praying about for a long time!

  77. Marie says

    I used to buy clothes on sale because they were a good buy, but never wore them because I didn’t have any thing to go with them. Now I ask myself, would I buy that if it were not on sale. If the answer is no, or I don’t have anything to go with it I pass it by. A penny not spent is a penny earned.

  78. Sara says

    Personally, I believe there is no need to buy pajamas–I’ve been wearing my parent’s old t-shirts since I was a kid. They’re big, comfortable, and not binding in the least. Every time I visit them, my dad pulls out old shirts he no longer wants (they’re used, but not ratty). The only person who sees them are myself and my husband–it’s not like I’m making a fashion statement for the public! Also once my t-shirts become too faded to wear out to the gym, I start using them for bed, too. For sleep pants I wear my husband’s old boxers–cleaned, obviously.

  79. Susy says

    Hello Jill

    Been having a look at a couple of subjects on your site. I am married to a man who says we cannot afford to tithe; I have previously done so, but now give less. I enjoy spending money but overdo it and get into the red. Which brings the subject of clothes and shoes. I own far too many, have a good clear out then begin filling my wardrobe again (Compulsive Spending Disorder). Thank you for the good advice on both subjects.

  80. kirsten says

    This was very helpful!! Mt family of five, 9 months, 28 months, 7 years (all boys!) as well as two adults. We have an absolute laundry overload that depresses me every time I see it. My basement of roughly 700 sq ft is FULL of laundry. I hate it and it’s overwhelming. We need to move soon and I will not be taking all of it with me thanks to your helpful, informative tips. Overcoming this now seems much more do-able. Thank you.

  81. Mae says

    I need your advise. I have 2 kids (7 yr old & 15 month old toddler). Do you think it’s worth to keep my eldest clothes for my younger one? Thanks


  82. Bella says

    I think that you are totally right! Everybody does’nt need so many clothes. If they have so many clothes it uses up to much storage. I’m only 11 and I think about this stuff! Weird right?! My mom told me about this website and I love it! My mom is so cool and I am so blessed to have her. I used to be so disorganized and now I’m organized because my mom taught me how. My drawers are so neat now and I love it!?

  83. Chris says

    This is such an important post because we frugal folks love getting things free or cheap. We’re an easy target as a dumping ground for our friends to give us stuff. And then our time and energy is consumed dealing with it!

    Also, I hate the idea of needing something to wear right away and being forced to go out and pay retail on short notice.

    Losing/gaining weight and working/not working has not helped my wardrobe expansion. Suggestions for these changes would be appreciated!

    I have at least 5 coats, for various occasions, because they were either cheap or free. But I need to get rid of them!

    I notice that there’s no guidelines for men’s clothes…?

  84. Jade says

    Thank you so much for this list! It’s the excellent starting point that I needed so much as purging, organizing, and cleaning aren’t my strong suits. It’s well written, personalizable, and even made me giggle once or twice. The parts about yard sales, thrift stores, and having kids make age appropriate contributions to doing the laundry remind me so much of both my own childhood and how I’m raising my children. I didn’t always like laundry (or any chores for that matter) as a kid, but I was so thankful as an adult to know how to do those things. I’m hoping that the same will hold true for my kids someday. :)

    Anyway, thank you again! I can’t wait to start clearing our the extra stuff cluttering up our closets (and my mind!).

  85. Buffie says

    I like this a lot, my daughter’s closet is out of control. I felt bad because my son doesn’t have that many clothes but now I don’t. He still has more than he needs esp since he is with his dad more than he’s with me (for now). My closet is another story, I have a lot of clothes, however, most I’ve had since before I had my daughter. I’ve gotten a few things in the last 2 years, but not much. Because of how old my clothes are, most have holes or are stained. If I were to get rid of all the “well worn” clothes, I wouldn’t even have the minimum you listed.

    • says

      Buffie I would get rid of as much of the older and worn things as you can and give yourself the bare bones of a wardrobe. This way you have fewer clothes and it might make it more manageable for you to take care of the things you do have and easier like mending them and treating for stains. Sometimes we get so many clothes (and other things) that we don’t treat them properly or care for them as well just because there are to many to deal with.

      It is better to have a very small handful of neat clean clothes then a ton of worn and uncared for ones. Also the things we list is a guide. I personally have about 1/3 of that amount of clothes listed and at times have had even less. We have just 7 days a week but it is not uncommon for people to have 40-50 tops alone. For those of you who think I am stretching that go in and count your tops (t shirts, blouses, sweaters) I think you will be surprised at how many you really have.

      One last thing too. Are you really wearing the worn clothes. I don’t say get rid of the clothes you are using so if you are using them then keep them but if you aren’t wearing them because they are old, worn or stained then even if you won’t have as many clothes why have them hang in your closet if you aren’t using them.

      Check out thrift stores and garage sells if you need some nicer things. I pay $.99 for most of my tops (blouses and sweaters) that way if they get worn or stained I can pretty easily replace them. I get most of my dresses for $.99-$2. I’m talking really nice name brand expensive things. At one point I was getting my tops so cheap that I figured it up and by the time I spent money on soap, water and electricity it would have been cheaper for me to replace them then wash them but I couldn’t bring my frugal self to do that. : )

      But like I said get rid of all you don’t use then it will be easier to take care of what you do have.

  86. says

    one thing to remember is when you buy the clothes if they need altering in any way do it quickly.
    I bought a great pair of slacks and they needed to be shortened about 2″. they had a cuff so that made it difficult and by the time I got them done 6 months later I had lost so much weight that the first time I wore them I was hiking them up while in the grocery store. Not a nice feeling as your pants slide down past your hips. So I have worn them 3 times borrowing my husbands adjustable belt.
    Sort of a waste of money and time.

  87. Buffie says

    I actually do wear them just because its really all I have. I’ve been out of work since March and just last week started babysitting, so I still don’t have a whole lot of cash to get anything. Several months ago, a friend helped me go thru my closet, everything got tried on and over half of it went in the trash. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been given 2 dresses by friends and they are the only 2 I have.

    • says

      I’m sorry Buffie. I misunderstood you. I know it can be hard at times. I remember once I was down to only a couple of dresses and I was getting so sick of wearing the same thing and having people see me in them until one day a neighbor had cleaned out her closet and asked if I could use some of her things. That is why I tell those who have a closet full of clothes they are not using to get them cleaned out and give them to someone because you never know how desperate and in need someone else can be for things.I do hope you will find something soon to help you.

  88. Lisa says

    I turn the hangers around Jan. 1 and if they are still reversed next Jan.I know I never wore it. I notice during the year I’m not wearing something -why? fit, nothing to go with it, makes me feel frumpy, so fix it or lose it.

  89. kathy says

    I agree completely with fewer clothes in drawers but i keep the extra (boxed in garage or under a bed) so that when kids stain the clothes you will have extra on hand for free.

    • says

      The thing with this list is that we couldn’t possibly list clothes for every single person’s needs in the world but had to give a general idea and formula of how to go about figuring things for your own needs. There is an old saying – give someone a fish and you feed them for a day, teach them to fish and they can eat forever. That is what we try to do on this web site is to teach people how to do things and then they can take it from there. For example some people work out twice a week and others 6 times a week so it would be hard to say exactly how many clothes they would need. Some wash clothes every two weeks and others every day so you need to factor all of that in.

      Let’s say you work out 3 times a week and wash a load of those clothes 2 times a week, 3 outfits would be more then plenty. Here is a side note for those who are really serious about saving money though. I would not buy work out clothes at all but just wear a top and shorts I could use at home too. Plus to really save I would not pay to go to a gym. There are so many ways to get good exercising in without paying for a gym. Many people are running out to buy exercise machines and get gym memberships this time of year but be careful. I remember when stair steppers were the rage and everyone was paying big bucks for those things. I looked at those things and said why can’t you find a step in your own house and use it for the same thing? Be careful if you don’t have the self discipline to exercise without a machine the chances are you won’t have it with a special machine or a gym membership.

      • Cindy says

        I agree, Jill. I bought an aerobic step at a thrift store for 99 cents. I play music for free on the computer using and get plenty of exercise that way, plus the lift of upbeat music.

  90. Fay says

    My thoughts on reducing the amount of clothes. All my clothes are in one closet. I put my out of season clothes in a suitcase. At the beginning of the season all my clothes get hung with the hangers the opposite way. When I wear I rehang put them the right way. At the end of the season anything still hanging backwards gets donated because I didn’t wear it. Also if at he end of the season it is stained it gets turned into rags or donated.

  91. Diana says

    People live off credit cards and buy beyond there means! We live in an age where if you make only $40,000 a year you are able to purchase a vehicle that’s well over the cost of what you make for that year, and they live in homes that are 4 times their income so I do not feel sorry for people like this that dig themselves into a hole! Then they rob Peter to pay Paul! It’s stupid but that is the mess we live in now a days. People just don’t care! They buy their children every toy or every electronic thing that’s out there! They also never say no to their kids as well. It’s truly sad. My sister and her husband are both like this and are divorced because of it. He spent way to much and so did she! They dug a hole to deep and now they are learning their lesson the hard way!

    • says

      The difference between those are dish cloths are special cloths made or bought that are used for washing dishes only.They use to be a different thickness and material say from a wash cloth for your face. A dish rag is just an old rag of any kind that was set aside and used only for washing dishes. Kitchen towels are usually terry cloth, linen or flour sack towels used for drying things with in the kitchen like dishes, tables, counter tops. Now we interchange things a lot but the main reason you have a difference is because you shouldn’t use the same rag to wash your toilet or floor as you do your dishes. Also the material the rags are made of can make a difference. You need something with more texture to rub a dish clean then say a bathroom sink.

  92. Carol says


    I came to your site because I had a problem. I have 3 different moms who give me Boys clothes. At first it was great as I got Exacly what I needed, but now I am overwhelmed with 5 garbage bags of clothes. My son wears size 6 and we are storing 5 garbage bags with clothes up to size 10. My ‘frugal’ mind says save it as its free, but we live in a 700sqft home with one storage cupboard and no closets so it is stressful.

    I realized I had a problem when I took out the size 6 for him… And he has probably enough clothes to last a month without washing! Yikes! I suffer the ‘what if’s’ but this is ridiculous, and way too much laundry.

    Also I know you’ve said not to save clothes… But even though my
    Second son will be 5yrs different from my 1st, to me it’s worth it. I live in Canada and have found our Goodwill and value village are not good priced. Alot of items are more expensive than Walmart! Anyways I appreciate the list and will use for decluttering of all our clothes. Thanks!

    • says

      Carol one thing that might help you a little is for most kids 3-4 pairs of jeans are plenty. One to wear while one is in the wash and one just in case he gets two pairs dirty before the laundry is done. You didn’t say but you can keep some of the bigger sizes but only maybe keep 3 pair of each size and not all that are given to you. The same for tops 4-5, 3 pairs jammies etc. Don’t know it that will help a little or not.

    • Angi says

      Take the clothes that you don’t want to store to a consignment shop or have a yard sale. That way you don’t have to worry about storing them and you’ll also make a little extra money.

  93. Marsha says

    I have looked at your clothes list, but I have to adapt it. We live in central Missouri, we have hot, hot weather and extreme cold weather and everything in between!! I am a part time librarian and part time farmwife. My husband is an accountant and part time farmer/mechanic/handyman, etc.
    We need clothes for hot and cold weather, clothes for work and to wear doing the dirty jobs around our home. I also hang all of our laundry. We hate the dryer and use it only when it is below freezing for days or has rained for 10 days. I have tried to keep our clothes managable and usually do a good job.
    I keep 3-4 good winter work and summer work outfits. 4-7 good winter and summer casual outfits and 4-6 ‘dirty work’ oufits. we also use more jackets, hoodies, and long sleeve flannels in winter and shorts and tees in summer. Also, when we built our home, we added a walk in closet and big coat closet. I try to clean out often, especially when people give us clothes.

  94. says

    To: Jill, I really like all the suggestions and stories. I would like to add one thing. I have found it very helpful to store the summer clothes in totes during the winter time, and storing winter clothes during the Summer.. This has helped to keep enough drawers and closet space per season at a time. Also keeps the kids from trying to wear everything, and just making a mess of dirty laundry.

  95. says

    Jill, I forgot to mention I love how you mentioned how the scriptures stated not to provoke the children to anger.. Thank you for that confirmation.. 😀

  96. Esther says

    Just a quick thank you. This was an excellent template to start from. I am sorry so many seem unable to understand that it is a guide to then be adjusted based off each individual situation and that a few even went into attack mode on what you dared to call “base bones”. Shesh!

    Anyways, this has inspired me to begin our March Declutter Project in the closets and work out way out from there!

    • says

      Esther thank you thank you thank you. One of the most frustrating and hardest parts of my job is dealing with people who miss the whole point of what I am writing or the fact the things I say are just a stepping off point. I know to you you may not think you said anything deep and profound but it was like a drink of refreshing cold water. Ok now I am getting too deep but it was so nice to read a common sense comment.

  97. anona mead says

    My grans an d their generation worked on the theory of one one off and one in the wash in the early 1900’s. I don’t think we would be so keen on loads of changes if we had to wash in tubs with wash boards and then iron with flat irons like they did. Having said that I grovel with thanks in front of my washing machine every time I use it.

  98. MaryR says

    All my clothes fit in my closet and drawers. I don’t have to move clothes to storage seasonally as some do. I do buy new once in awhile, but, have purchased most of my clothes from our church rummage sales (we have been having 2 a year for decades), goodwill, Salvation Army thrift store, and a few thrift stores in local villages. It is so much fun buying at the rummage sales because I work along side my friends and we all keep an eye out for “finds” that one of us would like. We proudly wear our “new” outfits to church functions and don’t care who owned it before. Recently, our family was preparing to go on a cruise and we all went shopping for some new clothes. I found very few items in the stores after hours of shopping. The next week I went to a village thrift store and shopped to my heart’s content….finding “exactly” what I had in mind. I think my clothing style is more “one of a kind” and don’t enjoy the cookie cutter look that we find in the chain stores. That, and the fact that most chain stores don’t cater to anyone over a size 12 or 14 or smaller!
    I have your book, Living on a Dime, and decided to check out the website. I have been thoroughly enjoying reading all your articles and everyone’s comments. Keep up the good work.

  99. Rufus the Red says

    Hello, Some good posts here. I frequently have a clear out as I tend to overspend on shoes and clothing; thus filling my wardrobe up. I read somewhere just have one base colour for skirts/trousers such as navy blue, grey, brown or black, then work around this with a few tops in different colours. Say a navy blue skirt with a yellow top or a black skirt with a cream top. Also to avoid patterns, apart from the odd dress worn with a plain colour jacket. Stick to black or navy blue shoes which go with anything else. I am aiming to reach this goal myself thus gaining a nice neat wardrobe. Thank you so much for reading this; hope it helps others out there.

  100. Elizabeth says

    Thank you for your ideas and examples.
    As you go through clothes you might want to consign better pieces that don’t fit or you have worn to a special event. We don’t have to own everything. Remember borrowing your sisters or friends clohtes? It can be fun. If you have basics, as mentioned above, you can update them with accessories. Re-style your clothes with the help of a good tailor. Peace and Prosperity!

  101. Angi says

    Love these lists! I am a clothes hoarder, and I am determined to stop it! I am 32 years old, and while going through a box of clothing this week, I found a skirt that I bought when I was 15 years old. It hasn’t fit in years! Definitely going to put these lists to good use! My kids have a lot of tee shirts from vacations and weekend trips, so I am cutting the front of them into squares, so that you can still see the design on the front, and cutting the backs into squares and tossing the rest of the shirt. When I have enough, a friend is going to help me make a quilt for each child out of the old tee shirts. That way they still have their memories, and they also have a cozy quilt they can snuggle up with! I’m including tee shirts that they are particularly attached to, like my 6 year olds favorite superhero shirts. I think they’ll love it, and storing just the squares takes up a lot less room than the whole shirt!
    I noticed that a lot of people are asking about seasonal clothing. Something I always do with my boys is buy short sleeve tees and polo shirts for summer, and then I buy a few solid color long sleeve tee shirts or thermal shirts that they can wear under the short sleeve tees. The solid color kong sleeve shirts are much cheaper than new long sleeve shirts, and they still look nice. I do like to make sure they each have at least two pullover sweaters for church and for going to dinner or special functions. Their thin cotton dress shirts from the summer look very nice under a good sweater, and the sweaters look good with jeans for a more casual look.
    I buy almost exclusively from thrift stores and yard sales. I usually buy them one new outfit for Christmas, usually a suit or other dress outfit, and a new pair of sneakers for school, and that’s about it. I do buy new underwear too. I tend to keep clothes and hand them down from my oldest. It isn’t really practical, he is 14, and my next oldest is 6. Maybe I’ll just keep one or two outfits that I really like for my younger son, and have a yard sale with the rest of it. Anyway, thanks for the lists! They’ll be a great help in my de-cluttering project!

  102. O'hara Haggerty says

    I am a fashionista! I have wayyy to mannyyy clothes I need to sell some to lower my credit card bills because I moving back to Hawaii.

  103. Terry says

    Great list. I do something like this, too. 5 pairs of jeans, 9 shirts, etc., etc. I do have to comment on saving kids’ clothes, though. I thought I’d be saving money by saving my daughter’s clothes for the next baby. Turns out the next baby was a boy – and 7 years later. Still, what the heck, if I have a baby, I’ll have the clothes. Well, baby #3 didn’t come til another 8 years later. Now the clothes I had saved were 15 years old! Luckily, my second daughter was in the same season, winter, so I did get to use a lot of my older daughter’s baby clothes. Buttt…. Daughter #1 was ultra skinny and daughter #2 not so much. So all the clothes daughter #1 wore were slims, but daughter #2 needed regulars. Should’ve just thrown out all but the baby stuff. Kept all those things for 15 years for what? Daughter #2 probably got all she needed in gifts for the first year anyway.

  104. Marcia says

    Just about everything I have in my wardrobe was given to me and I am a middle aged plus sized lady. I even had to take some of the clothes I was given to Salvation Army because I didn’t have room to store them all. If we spend money on clothes at all it’s for DH because it’s harder to find clothes for a big handsome man and he works at a professional type of job. I’m not a clothes horse and never have been. As long as I look neat and clean and I don’t smell that’s what’s important to me.

  105. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    The :How many clothes do you need?” is my favorite post on Living on a Dime. Every once in a while I go back and check on it. As a working professional, I have black/navy/gray pants, skirts, and matching jackets. I have a few seperate jewel toned jackets and tops. I repeatedly put on and take off the jackets in DC’s cold winters and hot, humid summers. I hang everything up inside out on my bathtub rob to air out and wear it untit its too dirty too. Then, I just pop them in the washer and dryer and hang them up immediately after it stops because ironing is “against my religion”, gigle! Why would anyone want the expense or fumes of dry cleaning? I purchase everything to go with my black pumps and oxfords that live at the office I commute to. I wear black mary janes and sneakers and a backpack for casual wear and commuting. I wear a raincoat with zip out lining for winter dress, a down one for nice casual and a thermal hoodie for the dirty dog park. At night I wear jeans, polos, and sweaters, again until their dirty. Because I wash clothing so infrequently I have lots of undies. Yes I have some excess clothing that I shouldn’t have purchased, but I am working on disposing of everything that isn’t beautiful or useful.

  106. crystal says

    I recently lost my mother who was a depression era baby so she kept EVERY thing in cleaning out her house I was overwhelmed. she had 4 dressers and 3 closet (1 was a walk in) of clothing and she lived in the several outfits that lived on her closet doors on hooks. I’ve been thinking we have entirely too much clothing (along with everything else) for quite some time but after coming from her place it smacked me in the face. Now I read your article and it’s like God is yelling at me because I’m not listening. I promise to go home and work on our closets this weekend because our church is currently having a clothing drive and while all donation centers are great somehow I feel better if I know the group that is going to benefit from my donations. As to your suggested numbers we have multiple times what is listed. It will feel great to lighten the load.

  107. Amanda says

    Re: kids clothes. My cousin had a boy in Nov. 2010. Her sister a boy on Nov.2011, and I had a boy in Nov.2012. When my first cousin was expecting, my aunt bought 3 huge trash bags of boy clothes at a yard sale for $5 a bag, and they’ve been passed through the boys. I’ve spent $15 on baby clothes since last Nov., and that wasn’t necessary, but I wanted a cute Christmas outfit for him. Another cousin is having a boy this Dec., so those same three bags of clothes have gone through 4 kids in our family alone.

    As far as my clothing, I’m a professor at a small university, so I have to dress professionally. I typically teach 2 classes each day, so I’m only at work 4 hours, tops. I have 3 pair dress pants (2 black, 1 grey), 12 tops (3 are prints, the rest are solids that I can dress up or down with scareves or jewelry), 3 cardigans(black, ivory, ad royal blue), one black skirt, and one black suit with a jacket, skirt, and slacks, that I need about 4 times a year. I wear the clothes 2-3 times before washing them as I change as soon as I get home. For casual clothes, I have2 pair black yoga pants, 1 pair of jeans, and 3-4 tee shirts. Shoes: 1 each black pumps, black loafers, black Mary Jane style sketchers (so comfortable and I can wear them to work when my feet hurt), cowboy boots, and sneakers. Most of my clothes are mix and match, which is why I wear so much black. For nightwear, I just grab one of m husbands old tees. He’s a foot taller than me, so his tees are as long as most nightgowns anyway, plus they’re already broken in and comfortable.

    Wow, after listing all that, have more clothing than I thought.

  108. Susan says

    Hi Jill

    You are right as rain when it comes to clothes.People today think if they go to the movies they have to have a new outfit! Me, I have just what I need and 99% comes from the goodwill store with the exception of my unmentionables and those I buy on sale. I had to laugh the other day when I heard a lady say Aug 2-4 is tax free day for back to school shopping in our state and then made the comment to her friend “well the kids don’t need anything but I can’t pass up tax free.” I am thinking well they don’t need it don’t buy it! I guess I am old school but I just can’t see buying something just because its on sale or tax free. Have a blessed day!

  109. Cindy says

    Great ideas, as always, Jill.
    I like the idea of sticking to basic colors for clothes. A colorful scarf can really dress up an outfit so it’s good enough for work, but I am shocked at the price of scarves. It’s just a piece of cloth! I’m not a seamstress so I’d like to know if there’s a simple way to make a scarf from a length of fabric. I’ve seen lots of pretty remnants in fabric stores but they don’t have a nice edge on them. Scarf edges aren’t hemmed, though. I’m really showing my ignorance. :)

    • says

      Cindy for a non sewer the only thing you could maybe do to make your own scarves is to buy fusible hem tape (everyone at the fabric store knows what it is so just ask). You place it on the fabric edge and it fuses the fabric together for a hem. The instructions are on the package. Now if you don’t want to do that I was at a thrift store yesterday and was looking at scarves. They had some beautiful ones there for so much less. That might work better for you if you don’t mind shopping at one.
      If you know anyone who sews they might be willing to sew one up for you in exchange for something else or charge you less then if you have to buy one.

      • Cindy says

        Thanks, Jill. I will check into that. I have no problem shopping at thrift stores, but in our rural area there’s not a lot available. The nearest GoodWill (50 mile round trip) is quite pricey.

  110. Samantha says

    We live on a farm and alot of our play and work can get really dirty…how many farm clothes would u suggest? Stuff that we dont wear to school or town but just around the farm? Thanks!

    • says

      It really depends on how dirty you are talking about. Mucky smelling dirty you would need an outfit for each day. If it is just some caked on dirt or mud that can be shaken off you could wear those a couple of times so 3-4 outfits would be enough. We had play clothes that had dirt and mud on them (not stinky) and it was no big deal to put them on again because we would be going right out to get in the dirt again. No need to put on clean clothes for that.

      Also depending again how dirty they get you could probably get by with 2-3 jeans and then 3-4 tops which I think would be plenty. It is a lot like my dad was a mechanic and he had his 1 pair of overalls he would put on for that work and even though the got messy he would only wash them once a week.

    • says

      Kevin I will try. Without knowing a person’s weekly work schedule etc. it will have to be a little general. This is mostly based on only doing laundry once a week if you do it more often you can cut back on even this list.
      If you work in an office with a/c you will need 2-3 pairs of “casual” dress pants like Dockers, 5 button down “casual” dress shirts, 2 pair of jeans, 1 pair of grunge jeans, 1 pair of sweat pants, 3-5 t shirts, 2 pair of shorts, 1 pair of really nice dress pants, 1-2 ties, 1 pair each tennis shoes, casual dress shoes and dress shoes.
      It use to be that most men had 1 black suit but so many things are casual now that you could maybe get by without one. Once again that depends on your life style.
      If you need to dress in a suit and tie for work then you will need 2 neutral colored suits, 4-5 dress shirts, 3-4 ties. Make sure you can mix and match the ties and shirts and that they can go with both suits because you can get more variety that way.

      If you wear jeans to work then you can get by with 1-2 pairs of “casual” dress pants and you will need 3-4 pairs of jeans.
      Of course this is a general list to get you started and you can add take away where you need too. Men general need more tops then women because – well how do I say this delicately??= men tend to sweat and get their shirts dirtier then women. There’s and old joke of why this is true and men get ring around the collar more. It’s because God made Eve from Adam’s rib and He made Adam from dirt. : ) : )

  111. Mae says

    The best thing I ever did was teach my 5 sons to do their own laundry from an early age. My oldest, at 12 years, would complain each morning because the shirt he wanted wasn’t clean. After listening to him complain for a few mornings, I told him to do his own. It worked so well that I had his brothers do the same. My only rule was that the boys had to do several days worth of laundry at one time or do laundry with a brother or two so there were full loads.

    My youngest was 7 when he started doing all his laundry–from sorting to washing to drying to folding and putting away. It made my life so much easier and made the boys self-sufficient.

  112. Dorothy says

    I did not expect that from the time my boys were about 5 or 6 years old until they were into their teens, having jeans for them to wear that were not ripped would be be so hard. I couldn’t buy enough jeans. Once, when my oldest son was just entering this phase and I didn’t know what was in store, we received a large amount of very good hand-me-down jeans. I couldn’t see any reason to have so many, so I only kept 4 pair and gave away the rest. Within a very short time every pair my son had were ripped out at the knee and I wished I had kept more and after that I didn’t give away jeans. My girls would sometimes rip a pair of jeans, but it was rare for one of the boys to outgrow a pair of jeans that was still good.


      I got a couple of packages of those iron-on denim patches (~ 4″ x 6″). Then I cut some in half for the smaller son’s pants & used the larger size as is for the older son. The trick was to attach them on the INSIDES, so that they supported the knees & helped to keep their fabric from tearing. KMC

  113. Dorothy says

    Thank you for this list. Most of my clothes I wear are worn out and I will use this as a guide as I begin to replace things so that I don’t end up with too many of some things and not enough of others. I’ve never been very good at managing my wardrobe because I’ve mostly had what someone has given me. Right now my closet is full of things that have been given me but I don’t wear because they don’t fit or are not practical or don’t match anything. I have come to realize I have let things manage me instead of me managing things. I have been enslaved to things instead of making things serve me. I not only have a closet full of “good” clothes that are useless to me, I have a lot of “good” things in my house I need to get rid of because it is not “serving” our family by making our life better: it is making our life worse because there is too much stuff.

  114. Manuela says

    I would be very happy to have that what you described as the bare bones of a wardrobe. I have only very little clothes and all things are hand me downs from friends. But I will not complain about it. It was worse a year ago. Back then I moved here from another city, had no job, no appartment and no money. I owned what I wore and a plastic bag containing all my other belongings. I managed to get a job, get an appartment and to find friends. My income is very low and there are so much other things that are important to take care of (to me at least) that I am happy when some friend gives me a top or t-shirt or something like that. I don’t ask for it but they give me something from time to time. They are not rich, most of them might also only have what you think of as bare bones of a wardrobe.
    At the moment I have one pair of jeans, 3 Tees and 2 Sweaters. The tees and sweaters dont fit really and are very worn but nevertheless I am happy I have them. The jeans is becoming threadbare and there a few rips so I think I will need new ones in a few weeks. My shoes are canvas ballet-style shoes with rubber soles. I got them last year and they are worn through now.
    I know that you can get cheap clothes at thrift stores and all but i am really poor. And unfortunately I smoke. Or better: i am addicted to cigarettes. I can’t help it, tried to quit so many times. But I can’t. So all of my money what I can spare (not much) is for cigarettes.
    I hope it will be better soon, I am looking for a better paid job. I would really like to have the bare bones of a wardrobe.

    • says

      I am so glad things sound like they are getting better for you and you have a job, apartment and all. There is nothing wrong with hand me downs that is for sure. I would have been almost naked for most of my life if it hadn’t been for hand me downs and 90% of the stuff I have now are hand me downs. I have told this story before but I never even had a store bought dress until my 16th birthday. I didn’t even know how to use the dressing room. : )

      • Manuela says

        Hello Jill! Thanks for your kind answer. No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hand me downs! Even if they don’t fit, it is better than nothing! And if I will have more money in the future and could afford to buy some things, it will definiteley be second hand. You get so much more value for your money if you don’t buy new.
        I wouldn’t buy much, only what I need. A few tops, two or three pairs of jeans (or other type of pants), a coat and shoes/boots perhaps. It is not so nice to have only one pair of very worn and threadbare jeans (and no other pants or dresses) and only one pair of wornout shabby shoes. As said, I won’t complain, I have worn worse. I know how it is to walk in the streets wearing flip-flops while it’s snowing and so on. I don’t want to ask my friends for things. Not because I am ashamed of it, I just don’t want to urge them to give me some of their (also not much) clothes. So I hope I will get something without asking before my jeans are in rags and my shoes fall apart. It would be nice if I could just buy that what I need. I am working on it.

        • KAYTHEGARDENER says

          Some of the food pantries in our area also run used clothes closets, for expectant mothers, children, the elderly or people in general…
          Have you checked out the resources in your place??
          As for the cigarettes, why not concentrate on just cutting back a bit, if cold turkey is too much at this time??
          And filling your mind & hands with other things instead— hobbies, computer classes, volunteering, etc??

  115. Mrs. Miller says

    About sweats…………I work in a copper mine. It’s dirty, very dirty. I wear long sleeve camo t-shirts. I’m a heavy set in build. Sweats are my life. At home I wear sweats or scrubs (the scrubs were a gift from my lovely fam witch dr.-my pet name for him, he works in the med field but not a doc). So I wear these. I live rural and see no need to dress finely anymore. I used to dress up and like it, but at my age prefer comfort to looking snazzy. I hardly leave my home except for work. So I’m in cleaning mode most of my off time unless I have to drive elderly family members to med appts. So I’ll keep my sweats and T-shirts and scrubs. As the saying goes,”you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear……my addition……all you can do is dress up a sow’s ear, but it’s still a sow’s ear.” so sweats it is.

  116. Erica says

    I tried to search through the comments but there are a LOT and I didn’t make it. Is there a trick to keeping clothes looking nice after they’ve been washed and dried a million times?? My boys are only 19 months apart and I have NO problems with hand me downs and I shop at yard sales/consignment stores all the time but I find that the clothes look so worn after a while.

    NOTE: I currently wash all of my kids clothes in cold water on the regular cycle and dry them on the low setting.

    • says

      Here are a few clothes facts that might help. Certain colors and fabrics fade and pill more so you might stay away from them.
      The more expensive the clothes or brand does not mean they will always last longer or better.
      The dryer is usually clothes worst enemy. I could not for years understand why people kept having to by socks and underwear for their families so often when mine last and stay nice for ever until I realized I don’t dry my clothes in a dryer. The heat and the tumbling do a number on clothes.
      You might try dying some things. It is very easy to dye a load of blue jeans or black shirts and socks. It really helps refresh them.
      I would still buy at yard sales etc even if the clothes seem to look worn faster. If you think about it I can get a little boys pair of jeans for $1. The same jeans would be no less the $10 new. That means that even if I had to buy 5 more pairs before they out grew that size and started fading I would still have saved money.
      One last thing. Try different thrift stores. It may seem like it wouldn’t be true but they are not all alike. I have a favorite one I go to because most of they clothes are really nice and in good shape where other ones I would not step foot in because they will sale any old thing. Hope these helped.

  117. Krista Danielle says

    I used to have so many clothes I could not fit them into the closet this was mostly when I was a teenager and in my early 20s but now I remember something a teacher taught us in 10th grade she said 10 shirts, 5 pairs of pants, 1 jacket ( we live in florida) 2 pairs of shorts,1 pair of beach shoes, 2 pairs of sneakers is a good size wardrobe, i have basically this except I do have 5 pairs of Nikes because I wear them ALL THE TIME , 4 of them i got at a thrift store and 1 pair i bought brand new! all my other clothes are from thrift shops except for my bathing suit , 1 pair of jeans, and my socks and underwear which i got from Walmart on sale.

  118. Jillian says

    Oh my Goodness!!! I must have over 45 pairs of jeans, well over 80 pairs of shoes. Guess thats a little excessive huh?

  119. Mary Jane says

    I was watching a T.V. show about helping people dig out of debt, right around the time that I first read this post. The financial advisor in the show did an impromptu poll in a local shopping mall, to find out what items of clothing people had bought. One very cute young lady said she had bought two or three new t-shirts. Then the advisor asked her how many t-shirts she already owned. The woman answered about 70, (yes, 70) after she gave it some thought. The advisor told the young shopper this bit of info, which really stuck with me. “Do you know that the 5 to 7 tops are the most that you can have in your wardrobe, if you plan on getting the amount of wear from them, to make them worth their cost? Much more than that number, and the clothes are likely to go out of style before you get your money’s worth of wear.” In other words, because we can really only wear so many clothes at a time or in any one season, if we have too many, something is just being stored, and therefore, not used. When we do pull it out, chances are it will be outdated. (Not to mention that our tastes may have changed or we may have lost or gained weight, or we no longer have something to wear it with). All that money, stored in our closets as clothing…how much better it would be to have that money in the bank. Fortunately, it looked like a light bulb went on for the young lady, and she said that she had never really thought of her shopping that way.

  120. Brenda Lee says

    Manuela – don’t know if you’ll see this or not but just a suggestions. There is a site called Hero Network where you can register with a wish. I’d strongly suggest you register your need there. Please don’t feel like you are begging! A lot of folks who are downsizing are actually looking to find folks who need their used but still in good condition clothes. Some of us aren’t so thrilled with donating to “charities” who are very close to being for profit orgs. Many of those who post on this site make it very clear they are happy to take nice, used clothes. I’d love for you to give it a try.

  121. Amber says

    I have 3 girls and we reuse the oldest ones clothes for the next one. They also get random new outfits from grandma or from birthdays. Needless to say, I have bins and bins of clothes to go through each time it gets to the next kid. I also get tons of clothes from my goddaughter who is 12 (that is usually why we have tons of clothes). But as my 2nd one is getting older, she is 5, her taste in clothing is different from my 10 year old when she was 5. And who knows what my 2 year old will want to wear when she is 5. I don’t want to get rid of too much since I keep these clothes very clean. any tips on how to save for the next kid in line?

    • says

      One thing you could do is to mostly save the basics. For example no matter what style they like there are some things they will always be able to use like jeans, shorts in basic colors, basic t shirts, shoes, sweat shirts or coats in solid colors like black, navy or brown. Then you can easily add to their wardrobe like having grandma get their favorite color or character in tops, dresses or pj’s. Also get rid of most character outfits. For example your 10 yr. old may have loved Cinderella but now everything from Frozen is the rage so the chances that your 5 or 2 yr old will love those characters as much are not so good. Granted some characters are timeless in one way but the chances of them being “the thing” when your child is in that size of those clothes are probably not good.
      You don’t need to keep a lot of the things like jeans, shorts, t’s etc. For example don’t save all 10 pairs of size 6 jeans you receive. 3-5 pairs are plenty depending on your life style. In other words if your kids wear uniforms to school and you aren’t planning on moving then you may not have to save as many jeans as if they go to a school where they can wear jeans.

  122. Mary Jane says

    An earlier post by a lady said that she was worried that if she got rid of all of her well worn clothes then she wouldn’t have anything to wear. I have been there and done that. If you can find a way to afford it, a washing machine full of dye (bought at dollar stores)can go a long way to freshen up and revive tired blouses, jeans and pretty much anything else that is more than 60% natural fiber. Just follow directions on the boxes. They sell for $2.00 per box here, and 4 boxes in an extra large washing machine will beautifully dye 4 or 5 plus sized items. Dark colours cover a lot. If dying isn’t for you, sewing notions, a bit of beads or trim, buttons, etc. can be used to cleverly give new life to clothes, or cover stains or small holes. Books and sites on re-purposing clothes, or old sewing books from the 1950’s are full if these ideas, that require few or just beginner sewing skills. I know, because even I have been able to do it. I am no seamstress. Don’t overlook simple but inexpensive accessories. A thrift shop scarf, a pair of Wal-Mart earrings, a fake pearl necklace, can and does give new life to dressier clothes that have started looking a bit sad. Also, put the word out, that you are willing to take anybody’s cast offs, and will take what you don’t use to a charity shop. Lots of people would rather drop stuff at your house than make a trip to the thrift shop exclusively, or they prefer to put a face to their giving. Keep your mending done, wear clean clothes when you go out, and put on your most flattering fashion treasure…..a great smile. This should get you through the rough patch until you can buy yourself some other clothing.

  123. Alice says

    I was told last week, by my boss, to go buy another pair of jeans for work (I work in a garden center), because they were so worn that if I didn’t wear long johns under them I was indecent. I still haven’t replaced them — I’m wearing my dress pants to work. I don’t have to worry about ruining them, since I never go anywhere else, except to put gas in my car.

  124. diane says

    I was just thinking about one of your lead in paragraphs about having to have more clothing due to a medical situation with your granddaughter…i was thinking that in a case like that, maybe two to four sturdy canvass (able to resist moisture but also able to be wiped off), plastic (able to be wiped down) or terry (very absorbent) long aprons would have helped to cut down on the clothing for the adults at least. I am currently in the process of culling my thrift and yard store clothing now, so thanks for the article and the suggestions for how many clothes are enough!

    • says

      Aprons are a good idea Diane. I wear them for every day on a normal basis. I was even thinking about them the other day on how we use to wear them all the time and I was wondering if more ladies (and gents) wore them now if it would save on their laundry. The the thing with my granddaughter was we needed more like the suits they wear for infectious disease where you are covered from head to to. No matter how covered we or the furniture was she seem to manage to hit the few little places we didn’t have covered. It wasn’t just a little bit of baby spit up either this was what seemed like at the time “gallons” of stuff coming out of one little baby mouth. Now we look back and laugh but boy at that time I was sure we were going to make it but we did. : ) : )

  125. Megan Moser says

    How many undergarments do you need? I apologize if it was said on an earlier post. Just curious.

    • says

      It is interesting you should ask that question Megan because I was looking at an organizing video and the woman had so many bras I could not believe it and it really wasn’t near as bad as some that I have seen. We really don’t need as many of these things as we think we do. I personally have 2 sports bras, 2 regular bras and one black dressy bra. Now for most people I would say 3-4 regular bras because you probably do a load of laundry at least once or twice a week so that should be plenty. If you go out for the evening and need dressy clothes you may need to add a strapless bra or a dressy bra too. Also if you are very active in sports you may need to add some special bras for that.
      Panties = 7 should be plenty. Now I know we all have more than that usually.I have 14 pairs now because living by myself it takes me longer then a week to get a full load of laundry and I line dry my clothes so if it is raining or something I can’t always get laundry done. As you can see it kind of depends on your life style. Though most people have way more than they need.

  126. Didda says

    Wow, that is a LOT of clothes to keep, especially the shoes!
    Does this mean that I can go shopping? Haha.
    Seriously though, it’s a great list for people who have no clue where to start.
    My only amendment would be on the winter coat for people who live in cold climates- you’re going to need 3. One for when it’s actually above freezing, one for when it’s -20C, and that one for when it hits -40c. Yuck.

  127. Mary Jane says

    Hi, Jill. I just wanted to say thank you for this post. It is one of my favourites. I have never had a problem with far too many clothes, (I am pretty good at editing the wardrobe as needed, and most of my life, I didn’t have enough), but I appreciate the way you broke the problem down to a simple formula or pattern for people to adapt for themselves. It never ceases to amaze me the defensiveness or critical attitude some people can develop when you are just giving basic, asked-for advice. If you don’t agree with the advice given, just ignore it. There is no reason to get testy. I thought that you made it very clear that your lists were starting suggestions, and can and should be hand tailored to every one’s personal situation. So I was surprised by some people jumping right in to tell you that any of the number of items you suggested were either excessive or insufficient. I also enjoyed reading some of your calmer, more polite readers’ comments, that talked about how they adapt the lists you gave to suit their personal situations. Bravo! They got the point. Personally, I have kept a modest closet with one rung strung across it, in our master bedroom closet. It serves both my husband and myself…fifty, fifty. I have a few storage bins for out of season clothing (he has Rubbermaid containers, I have a homemade trunk), and one other closet to hold the entire family’s winter coats. (That closet has always been used for the entire family’s coats, and now there is just two of us.) We each have one dresser.Whenever I “run out of room” for my clothes, I know that I have too many, and it is time to sort through them and edit. Thanks for taking the time to put down a plan for those who don’t know where to start.

    • says

      Thanks Mary Jane. I always say I don’t have to defend myself because we have the sweetest readers who will jump in the fray to defend us with wise words and common sense. I don’t even post the really bad comments we often get just because I feel so sorry for them because they tend to make a fool of themselves when they are being so mean and I don’t want them to embarrass themselves to the whole world. I’m like you. If I go to a website and the advice won’t work for my situation or something I wouldn’t dream of leaving a nasty comment or call the people stupid for what they posted. I just leave the site. I think this is like going into someone’s home whose decorating style is different than mine and telling them that their style is awful and wrong. That would be so wrong and rude of me. It is sad but so many on the internet have lost a sense of common courtesy and manners. But all is not lost because there are still many many more who are really kind and sweet like you and so very many of our readers. Thank goodness.

  128. Matthew says

    After skimming through a few comments, I love how direct and realistic you are. It really is easy to get yourself into a mess financially and then blame others. And this is a very easy means of saving money. Though, I see many comments mention shopping for hand-me-downs. It’s interesting because my mother always emphasized buying new cloths when I was a youngster. When it came time for me to do the shopping, I first went to a thrift store, but didn’t quite find anything. So, of course I went to retail stores only to see how expensive everything was. However, with the money I earned, I rather had have a *few* large articles of clothing that would last awhile and more importantly be comfortable. Having grown into many of those clothes (at least those that were not extremely damaged) it really was not a half bad option. Some could argue it is socially unacceptable to wear oversized clothes, but in the most pragmatic and economical manner it is important that you wear whatever is most comfortable since it will be done on a daily basis. It’s not an easy task to find gems in a thrift store!

  129. EnglishMuffin says

    Good article! As a non religious person (minus the religious outfits) I think you’ve really got the numbers right here. I am 22, this is what I have in the wardrobe:

    4 woollen/Autumn dresses,
    2 long sleeved tops/jumpers,
    2 sleeveless jumpers,
    1 long sleeved top,
    1 vest,
    1 t-shirt,
    2 sets of PJ’s,
    3 summer dresses,
    3 miniskirts.

    Still feel like I need a clear out…

    • says

      I could tell you are English. I have loved reading English books for years and it took me awhile to know what a jumper is and correct me if I’m wrong but I think it is a sweater. I get so tickled over the words we use for different things.


  1. […] How big is your wardrobe? Do you or your children own 30 pairs of jeans at $60 a pop because you don’t keep up with the laundry or because your closet is so stuffed you can’t find anything? That adds up to $1,800 worth of jeans. If you cut it down to even 10 pairs you would save $1,200. How many tops do you own? How about those shoes? Before you say, “There is no way I have that many jeans, shoes, or tops!” go count you clothes. You may be surprised… […]

  2. […] Don’t overdo when buying clothes. A four week supply of clothes isn’t necessary for every member of the family. Ten days worth of clothing is plenty for most people. Unless you work outside the home, five dresses for church, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress pants and some blouses are more than enough. […]

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