a how to for the shoulder season and beyond

I took on the arduous awful task of switching the kids clothes over from "hot as hades" to "pleasantly crisp." I always do it too soon and usually end up with an overflowing amount of clothes to cover the shoulder season that make absolutely no sense and the drawers and the closet and the WOE!! It's New England after all, so the weather changes in an instant. Send them in long pants, it is sure to be hot and humid by the time you pick them up. Forget to send a coat and get treated to a whinefest on the ride home about how cold they were.

This is never really perceived as a big deal to Steve because he is always warm and would just assume to send them in shorts and t-shirts year round. See, the task of buying the clothes is mine too, but he oftentimes feels that they don't really NEED this stuff. I might not need a new pair of yoga pants, but Connor needs new pants each season. That is fact. If only we lived in North Carolina, perhaps year rund ts and shorts could be a reality. We live in Massachusetts where we are incredibly lucky to HAVE a fall season full of color and crisp air and apple cider (donuts).

I check the weather each night and by morning it is different. I like to plan the kids clothes for the week in advance, it saves precious time in the morning. It also allows for less chance that I will dress us all the same. If you get a hankering for nantucket red pants and a striped shirt and THEN go to select the children's clothes, brace yourself to walk out the door before you realize you look like a family of bees headed out for the day. In fact, that is probably the number one reason I must choose in advance because this happens to me all the time, particularly with Caroline.

I have one of those fabric five shelf sweater organizers that hangs from the rod in each of their closets and it helps in many ways, namely that I can typically send Caroline in to choose a shelf and thus I have given her choice and helped her make an appropriate decision at the same time. This prevents a lot of fights, except the weather has been so unpredicatble that our laundry last week looked almost shizophrenic; jeans, sweaters, mesh shorts, long sleeves. I've been bringing her majesty two choices in the mornings instead of using my five day planning system because weatherwise, it just doesn't work in September.

There is a lot to choose from this season. Five years in people and I think I am finally starting to get a handle on how to shop for a new seasonal wardrobe for growing children... while saving as much money as humanly possible. It doesn't hurt that both grandparents contributed some pretty amazing finds of their own. Kiki found some fantastic Bear Paw boots and the cutest skinny jeans ever. Nana sent her home from her visit earlier this month with the prettiest fall skirts that I cannot wait to send her to school in with TIGHTS.

I still spend a good amount of time as the new season approaches scouring my favorite consignment haunts searching for quality basics like khakis, cords, skirts, denim. I search both their current size and a size up because with second hand clothing comes a second hand laundry history. I found a great Gap white button down shirt for Connor marked to half price for $3.00. For Caroline, I located an amazing Splendid three-quarter sleeve magenta and grey striped dress to wear with leggings for under $10.00.

I have a system now, one that makes Steve roll his eyes and say "Oh, Boy." At the end of each season, I review EVERYTHING and make three piles; "Keep for next year," "Storage," and "Donate." Careful review before storing limits what I spend and buy the next season and yes, it's more work, but why buy a surplus of size 5 jeans just because you put them in the attic and have no idea where they are?

Review what will still work from last year, revise your wardrobe plans to maximize what you already have. I review what will and won't work, forcing her to try things on when necessary. Unfortunately, asking her to try anything on is akin to requesting her to donate a kidney, so I put anything that I think MIGHT work into the keep pile and play a rousing game of wardrobe roulette on those mornings. I can already see how it will play out because she has already mentally placed several items in the "can never go to other people we know who are smaller" pile. Once I take a look at what each kid has, I take stock of what they absolutely need and what I think would be cute or fun to add. I literally write it down on a card and stick it in my wallet and I search for it. I took Caroline to the outlets and we checked off denim skirt, denim jacket, and button down (peter pan) collar white shirt (which ended up being a bit of a splurge.) We found and conquered "sporty comfy" pants and button down shirts for Connor. I learned last year that the best way to work a boy's wardrobe is to maximize the use of t-shirt year round; solo in summer and over long sleeves in the cooler months. He will literally wear some of his shirts for a full year this year and I am stupidly excited about it.

I spent a little more this year than I typically do because she is getting older now and has opinions and he is getting older and ruining less clothing. I splurged on some really cute things that Caroline loved because I know she will want to wear them and that is most of the battle isn't it? I'll post of photo of her wearing my two favorite splurges; a ridiculous heather grey DKNY swish (auntie!!!) and her off the runway long buttonless cardi with ribbon sash from Crewcuts. Girl knows she looks sweet, smiling at herself in the mirror, tossing her curls back. Don't you wish you could look in the mirrow and blow yourself a kiss because you think you are the hottest little thing?

This is also the year I update myself because enough already. It cannot be nearly Thanksgiving again before I realize I didn't find one cute thing for myself this fall. Most often when I open my wallet, it is for them, while I still wear shoes from ten years ago. This is the year I hop on the leggings train and ride it into the sunset, discreetly covering up with long sweaters and tunics of course.


  1. You can tell Steve that even in North Carolina, you're not sporting jeans and t-shirts all year round. I've realized that we're about one month behind you guys weather wise in the fall and one month ahead in the Spring. We're starting to have those cool mornings, warm afternoons here. Top that off with a child who insists on wearing skirts everyday (!?!) and I am baffled most mornings. Eventually she'll have to put on a pair of pants because she doesn't own that many skirts and I hate seeing clothes in the closet that haven't been worn.

    Ah yes, clothes for myself...that would be why every winter I end up in a wool peacoat that is a size too big for me saying, I'll pick up a new one on winter clearance.

  2. Laughing about your family of bees comment - I accidentally put us in matching clothes all the time! Leah and I are both wearing coral tops right now...

  3. So Beth, how south exactly would we need to go to have t-shirt season year round. I'm sure I would love it and Steve would melt into a puddle. and GET THAT WINTER COAT!! You deserve it!

  4. Erin, glad I'm not the only one who does that! Relieved actually.