How we hand-me-down

by Shae on June 10, 2014


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You know I love second hand furniture. I also have big love for second hand clothes for the kids.

So much so that I have A SYSTEM.

The system pleases me almost as much as the clothes do. I would say that almost 80% of Willow and Harper’s wardrobe is handed down to them or thrifted-and I think they look cute!

Here is how I do it-


-Be clear that you like hand-me-down clothes! If you have a friend who has kids older than yours that will want a place to unload their no longer needed clothes on then put your hand up. Everyone wants a keen friend to take clothes off their hands. I have known to be so bold as to place dibs on clothes that friend’s kids are still wearing.

-Have a storage system that works. We use those big zip up tartan bags from the cheap shop so I can write on them in sharpie. Clothes are grouped by the age not size because I think kid’s clothes sizes are almost as bad as women’s. I have a separate bag for shoes and another one for swimmers/ballet gear etc.

-Sort before you store. ย If I’m gifted a bag of clothes or am packing away some of our old stuff I go through them and do an initial cull of things my kids won’t wear or that I don’t like and I pass those on. I also go through for clothes that are truly worn out that can become rags. Most of this stuff has come from multiple kids wearing them already! Don’t let clothes that you have no use or love for clog up your cupboards-and someone else might love them now.

-Sort again before you add into rotation. Do the same again just before that size is needed. This time be ruthless. We are lucky to have a few generous friends who hand down to us-which sometimes means we end up with more then 20 T-shirts! Keep only what will be worn and not too many of any type. Set aside things that might need mending or soaking.

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-Clean and take an inventory. Wash all the clothes and then fold and get every single item of clothes out of the drawers. Then make notes of gaps that need to be filled. Sometimes there are no long sleeve tops or all the jumpers are well worn so you need a couple of warm ones. Keep the season and child’s preferences in mind.

-Take your list to the op shop. Maybe you are lucky enough to live near a saversย or else you can check out your locals to fill the gaps.

-Then buy new. If you can’t find what you need it’s time to take your list to the shops. Having a list will stop you buying tons of clothes that you don’t need. Keep in mind that if you intend for multiple kids to wear the item you are buying then go for long lasting, more quality brands and maybe don’t buy super trendy stuff that will go out of fashion or very gendered clothes. This said not every item of clothing needs to be frugal and useful- feel free to have some fun stuff or something just intended for that one child that they really love. We certainly do!

-Find somewhere to pass your clothes down to. Keep the cycle going! It’s a good idea to find a family that love hand me downs as much as you do, unless you want your bags to be put straight in the thrift shop bin without so much as a glance. You can do that yourself if no one wants your used clothes.


That’s how we roll! I usually do a clothes inventory about twice a year-but it floats my boat. And it makes it easy for the kids to dress themselves if they have a few option that are in good, working, clean order.


Do you love to do the second hand clothes shuffle?

Have any tips to share?




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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kellie June 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

Another quick tip- you can post your “gaps” on your local facebook buy-swap-sell pages. For example when my four year old wore out all his jeans in a month I put the call out for Size 4 Jeans in good condition and I ended up with half a dozen pairs for $10 and I only had to go down the road to get them. I also managed to get snow gear last year right when I needed it in the right size in 24hrs. It’s also a great way to move clothes on if you don’t have someone in your “circle of clothes”. It can be a bit of work having people come to collect but mostly it works pretty good!


katepickle June 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Oh how I love hand me downs…. it makes me feel so much better about spending money on clothes or letting go of much loved items if I know it has a chance to be loved by someone else.
I also get an insane amount of joy from seeing my kids wearing hand me downs from older kids we love and admire…it’s just win win all round


Jo @Countrylifeexperiment June 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

We love to be given hand-me-downs. Twice a year I go through the kids wardrobes and cull what won’t fit any more. We then go through the stash of clothes and see what we already have. If we have any gaps, we then head to the local vinnies.


jess64 June 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm

We have a similar system to you. My only guilt is keeping jeans and stuff for my younger daughter who I think might wear them, when I know my first daughter won’t have a a bar of anything other than dresses and skirts.


Bernice OSullivan June 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I have 2 boys so hand me downs are a no brainer. We also live on 20 acres so plenty of opportunities for mud stains, rips or cow poo covered shoes out here.
I have the luxury of a shed so each sized clothing is in boxes and stored. I tend to op shop 2 sizes ahead of the eldest and I buy new things at the end of season sales.


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