Oct 4, 2012

Fall wardrobe essentials: Preschool edition

Toddler fall staples.

Much as I believe in investment pieces, I’m pragmatic when it comes to T's clothing. She’s not quite tomboyish but definitely rough and tumble, growing steadily (as she should), and though she’s not especially messy her clothes need to be able to withstand the normal amount of wear and spills.

A note up front: I know that splitting up clothes by gender can be controversial (perpetuating stereotypes, etc.). However, while I'd be perfectly happy to have T - who recently turned three - run around in "boy" clothes, she's grown to prefer clothes that are any shade of pink or purple, ideally featuring Hello Kitty or Peppa Pig. And her little dude friends wear slouchier clothes in navies, greens, browns, and grays. So expect for the raingear I've split up the "key items" by gender, based on the types of outfits and colors I've seen work on T and her friends. And, of course, the quantity of each item required will vary depending on each kid's personal preferences - and messiness.

Key criteria:
- Durable / practical / washing-machine-resistant.
- All clothes, especially trousers / pants need to be able to be taken off quickly and independently - no buttons or zips, just elastic waistbands (any drawstrings should be purely decorative).
- Comfortable cuts and fabrics in patterns which the kid will want to wear.

Click the picture / widget below to see an overview of the essentials and some outfit suggestions for everyday scenarios.

Fall wardrobe essentials: Preschool edition

1 x lined water-resistant coat, hooded and ideally funnel-necked (= no scarf required!). Pictured: yellow "fisherman's" coat, JoJoMamanBebe.

1 x water-resistant pants. Pictured: navy "pack-away" waterproofs, JoJoMamanBebe.

1 x pair rubber boots. Pictured: JoJoMamanBebe. We actually own the £5.00 cheaper (and less photogenic) version from M&S, which T likes so much we keep buying the next size up.

2 x pairs fleece socks to be worn with the rubber boots (over normal socks). Pictured: “Welly socks,” JojoMamanBebe.

1 x medium-weight hat – for cold mornings and windy days on the playground. Pictured: navy knit hat, Petit Bateau.

1 x pair water-resistant mittens - gloves can still be tricky to handle at this age. Pictured: ski mitts, Tesco – toddler mittens are definitely not investment pieces, and these are a steal at only £3.00. T has been able to put them on by herself, even with one hand already mittened.

1 x warm jacket - this can be combined with the raincoat on especially cold and rainy days. Pictured: boys' green "shaggy lined hoody"; girls' navy "shaggy lined zip through," both Boden.

3-4 x sweaters - as with the rain coat, funnel necks mean they're kept warm even without scarves. T prefers sweaters to be hood-free, since her jacket and raincoat already have hoods. Pictured: boys' "classic cotton sweatshirt"; girls' "printed funnel-neck sweatshirt," both Joules.

4-5 x long-sleeved tees. Pictured: boys', Gap; girls', Petit Bateau.

Boys: 2 x button-down shirts. These are cute in an everyday context, but can also be worn for "formal" occasions (family portrait, going to see a musical, holiday occasions) Pictured: "laundered shirt," Boden.

Girls: 2 x tunic dresses. For logistical reasons, these are the only dresses T will wear at the moment - she's worried about peeing on longer dresses or skirts when going to the bathroom at preschool. Like the button-down boys' shirt, this is the sort of item that can be worn for formal occasions. Pictured: green jersey dress with horse print, Joules (T owns and loves this "horsey dress").

2-3 x cords - these work pretty much anywhere, from the playground where the tough fabric protects little knees, to the above-mentioned formal occasions. Pictured: boys' "cord baggies," Boden; girls' "littlest legging cords," Gap.

3 x sweats - for the playground, sports, or just lounging at home. Pictured: boys' cuffed "arch logo sweat pants"; girls' "arch logo fleece pants," both Gap.

Boys: 4-5 x plain jersey pants - basically nicer-looking sweats. Pictured: Gap.

Girls: 5 x leggings, selection of plain and patterned - these also go with everything; T prefers to wear leggings with socks instead of tights (which she finds tricky to put on by herself). Pictured: Gap.

Shoes, socks, and underwear
1-2 x pairs sneakers - ideally waterproof. Pictured: Timberland. We were happy enough with these and will probably get them again - though we went with the orange / brown drawstring last time (the only ones available in T's size), we will probably get the purple / gray velcro next since T had some issues with the drawstring when we first got the shoes (she repeatedly tightened the drawstrings before putting on the shoes; frustration ensued). The orange / brown model is also available with velcro fastenings, and the purple / gray model with a drawstring.

1-2 x pairs plimsolls - as mentioned before, these are great for drier fall days; T is currently a big fan of TOMS. Pictured: Navy and pink striped ("meleni").

1 x pair of slippers. Pictured: "Cosyshoes," Falke.

15 x underpants - this may seem excessive, but it ensures that even on a laundry day with multiple accidents there are no shortages.
Girls' "plain pants," Petit Bateau.
Boys' "boxers in lycra jersey," Petit Bateau.

7 x undershirts - to keep little kidneys warm.
Girls' "pain strap vests," Petit Bateau.
boys' "plain and striped vests," Petit Bateau.

Boys (and girls who don't like tights): 3-4 x pairs kneesocks. Pictured: Joules.

Girls: 3-4 x tights. Pictured: "milleraies" tights, Petit Bateau.

7 x pairs medium-weight socks. Pictured: "triple-roll" socks, Gap. We're big fans of these - they're long-lasting, come in a variety of colors, fairly priced, and can be worn as either knee or anklesocks.


  1. I am impressed, finally someone gives an actual list!! Clothes that we really need and will work out for all of our days. There are so many lists we clothes who have made me feel weirdly because I don't have 10 outfit for formal occasions or an outfit for church. Your list is so realistic, yes children usually play and they need clothes for that like sweat pants and waterproof jacket because it is so interesting to play out after the rain or during!!
    This is not only for pre-schoolers, I think it can feet into everyone's wardrobe, even mine!! It is plain and logic, you need x bottoms and y tops to mix them and voila!! Sometimes we know things but we have to hear it too from someone else, especially when you are mom for first time. Thank you very much for doing this.
    Can you do it for women and men too? I love to see your suggestions :)

    1. Hi Sofia! Thank you so much your sweet comment - glad this post was helpful to you. I'm going to put together some of those other lists, but it might take some time!