When Clothing Attacks: Organizing the Beast

Part One: Children’s Clothing Sizes

Have you noticed that clothing brands NEVER fit the same? Same is true for baby clothes. I went through Little Champ’s clothing and decided to create my own sizing system, based on the averages of different brands.

I’d also get really confused. Are kids supposed to wear 3M until they are 3 months old, or do they start wearing 3M when they are 3 months old? Is 3M the same as a 0-3 in another brand, or a 3-6?

Carter usually fits my son the best according to his age. Gerber runs ridiculously thin and long. Ridiculous isn’t the word. Preposterous, maybe.

I could take a picture of the difference between Gerber and Carter sizes, but other people have done that for me. Below is a size 18 months in both. Click through to be taken to the source.


Anyway, here’s my clothing system. I went through all of Little Champ’s clothes and drew a color coded star on the tag designating weight.

Feel free to share, download, print, and use! You don’t have to credit me as long as nobody tries to profit from the chart. Share and share alike!

A few notes: Gap and Old Navy are the same sizes. I didn’t include all of the baby clothing brands, obviously, just what we had the most of. If you have a different brand and are wondering what to compare it to, I suggest comparing it to a Carter’s piece. A general rule of thumb is that cheaper runs bigger. Little Champ has a pair of Faded Glory pants that are 6-9 months that will fit no human child, unless he or she is wearing an innertube around the waist. I put the cheapest brand on top (Garanimals, the Walmart brand that I totally love. Nowhere else can you get a new fleece hoodie for a toddler for $4—not on sale). Uncharted brands may or may not have similar sizes to other brands in the same price range.

After 5T, I’m going to assume that the size will be appropriate for the age. It was for me, anyway, until I had to wear adult clothing (and join the blasted small-medium-large system that is idiotic, if you ask me).

When Little Champ is finished with a color range, I donate half and keep half for the next kid, sorted and labeled by color size.

2014 Update: Having clothing sorted by sizes has made things SO much easier for my second boy. I can look and see where he is on the chart, take that size out of my hand-me-down bin, and and put them in his drawers.

Part Two: The Rest of the Mess

Speaking of clothing, I haven’t posted in a while because I am trying to battle the clothing monster that has multiplied and is spreading across the house like a fungus.

My laundry room is like the rats that bore the bubonic plague. I had to start there, since it’s the source of the problem. Unfortunately I can’t play a flute to make every article of clothing scurry into a lake of drawers and closets. Somebody invent that.

I watched the YouTube video on folding shirts the Japanese way. Instead of raiding my own closets, I raided Pinterest for ideas on how to organize closets.

Basically, I know that my clothes have to be easier to put away than take out.

Rule #1: If you can’t see every article of clothing, you are doing it wrong.

I know, I know, when you think of folded clothes in drawers, you probably think of something like this, clothes folded and stacked neatly, maybe you throw in some rolled(!) shirts, because that saves space:

Now this works…if you wear the same exact thing every day, like a MARINE.

If, however, you have liberty to wear something different every day, and you stack your clothes like that, you will have to dig through the piles to find the one shirt you want to wear, and the clothes will soon turn into a scary, terrifying mess.

But if you simply turn those stacks on their side, then you can see every article of clothing when you open up the drawers. Like this:

You can then browse through your selection and pluck the fruit without disturbing all the other little berries of clothing.


Rule #2: Get over your aversion for hangers

Update: See how I got over my aversion for hangers in “The Cure for Hangerphobia”!

I can’t explain my aversion to hangers. I just really don’t like hanging things back up. It’s a familiar scene: I take something off the hanger I’d like to wear, I put it on, it looks terrible, my husband hears growling coming from the closet, I take it off, and I throw it on the floor so it knows what it’s done.

Most people at this point might say, “If it looks bad on you, why do you own it?”

That’s a complicated answer. 1) I buy things on sale if they fit my high standard of “not crappy” rather than buying what I actually love. I’m getting better, realizing that I could buy one really cute dress I love if I don’t buy ten clearance items. 2) Sometimes it’s the day—if you haven’t had “fat days,” don’t dare tell me—and sometimes it’s just wrong for where I’m going. “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t wear this thigh-baring, cleavage-creating dress to church.”

Anyway, LT actually doesn’t like hangers because dust gathers on his clothes, especially his pants that he doesn’t wear often. So we put his rarely worn clothing in garment bags.

I commissioned LT to create something so we can utilize a bottom row of hanging. I’d like to have my skirts and shorts under my shirts, with dresses hanging by themselves.


Rule #3: Sort.

I love the look of arranging clothing on hangers by color, and I tried it once, but it didn’t last long. So I sort the books on my shelves by color and went back to my old system of sorting clothing:

  • sorting by formality
  • then by warmth (sleeve length, usually)
  • then by color.

2014 Update: In our new house, I don’t have walk-in closets anymore. Now I have a hanging shelf in the middle, on one side I have colorful dresses and shirts, sorted by color, and on the other side of the hanging shelf I have my neutrals (white, grey, black, brown) sorted by color and then by sleeve length. Now I can make an outfit by oordinating colors or mixing a color with a neutral. I still have clothes that I don’t wear, but I replace them as I go shopping (which isn’t often, now that I have 2 little boys and little or no access to drop-in childcare. )

My plan is to create a lower rung in Little Champ’s closet so I can hang tops on top and bottoms on bottom, then sort his clothes in the same way. Then when he’s old enough, he can pick out his clothes and still be appropriate(ish).

I’d use four graphics: One for formal (a Church?) one for play (a soccer ball or truck?), one for warm (a sun), and one for cooler (a snowflake or cloud). These would either go on the hangers or on sections of the closet. On his closet door, I’d put a felt board that showed the weather and what we were going to do that day (play or go someplace formal, like Church or a wedding, etc.).

His closet would only have clothes that fit him and were appropriate seasonally. Out of season or different sized clothing would be in the garage, in labeled bins, or they would be in a different child’s closet. I plan to color code like crazy when we have a houseful of kids. If we have a host of one gender or the other in similar ages, I might designate one room to be the “closet”—yes, like the Duggar family.

2014 Update: I have a Pinterest board of ideas for living with multiple kids, including shared closet ideas. The board is called “A Full House” and you can follow it here.

How do you sort or organize your clothes?


6 thoughts on “When Clothing Attacks: Organizing the Beast

  1. Ahhhh! My favorite topic of conversation! I organize my drawers similar to you…in stacks, on their side. This is particularly useful for jeans. Instead of running them horizontally across the drawer though, I have three columns. One column is for skinny, organized from lightest to darkest wash. Next column is for bootleg, and the third is for trouser and wideleg. I have a similar drawer for “other” pants like cords, etc. I try to hang everything else, except for sweaters. I avoid Tom’s dust issue by just wearing things more frequently. I started eliminating wasted space by doing a little project in which I did NOT repeat an article of clothing in an outfit until I had worn out my closet…literally. The items I found myself begrudgingly putting an outfit together with, I tossed in the consignment pile. Now, I have a happily balanced and well worn closet!

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with hangers. I love that they keep my clothing wrinkle-free, and I love how easy it is to browse through my closet. However, I share the same aversion to hanging things back up, and I generally have an incredibly messy room because of it. I do not sort or fold my socks, and I very rarely find myself wearing an actual pair—it drives me mom absolutely, 100% nuts.

  3. Pingback: The Cure for Hangerphobia | diary of a bewildered mother

  4. So you sort the clothing sizes by their “color” on your chart rather than their tags? So like, yellow you’d have 3-6m AND 6-9m from Children’s Place? Will the baby that fits in CP’s 3-6 also fit the 6-9 then? that’s how I’m interpreting this. I think I’m going to lose my mind on baby clothes y’all… it’s insane.

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