What is a Montessori wardrobe? For the sake of clarity, this article will not be discussing Montessori school attire. We will be discussing the piece of furniture for organizing and storing clothing that was inspired by the Montessori method of teaching young children. Though there are many variations on the theme, Montessori wardrobes are all about simplicity and accessibility. Keep reading to find out what a Montessori wardrobe is.

Key Points

  • A child's Montessori wardrobe should be designed with accessibility in mind. Open wardrobes should be prioritized over ones with doors and drawers.
  • Hanging and folding should be incorporated into a Montessori wardrobe, so children can learn these important life skills.
  • A shoe shelf and clothes hamper are also important additions to a Montessori wardrobe.

Montessori Wardrobe: Philosophy

The Montessori method of educating young children is known and revered around the world. Named for its creator, Dr. Maria Montessori, the model has a reputation for engendering independence, creativity, and empathy in its students. It also has quite a list of notable graduates including Beyoncé Knowles and Mark Zuckerberg.

Like the education model, the Montessori wardrobe is designed to engender independence in even the youngest children. Dr. Montessori felt that adults should never do for a child what they can do for themselves, or even tasks they only think they can do themselves. With that in mind, a Montessori wardrobe is typically simple and open. Drawers and doors are notably absent. This is because drawers and doors present obstacles for young children. Montessori wardrobes are arranged so that children are capable of dressing themselves without input from adults. They also teach children about organization, encourage independence, and allow room for self-expression. So how does this tried and true system work?

Full frame photo of a child’s open white wood wardrobe. On the left side of the wardrobe is a aqua blue fabric cube in the top shelf below it is a shelf it looks like clothes have just been shoved in it from a laundry basket. Those clothes appear to be mostly shirts. The shirts are blue yellow pink and one that is gray and pink. In the queue below the shirts are three pairs of blue jeans visible that look like they’ve kind of just been haphazardly put away as well there is something below the jeans but it is not visible in the photograph. To the right of those shelves is a large rectangular cube with a rod. There are 13 hangers on the rod. The hangers are blue pink green orange and yellow. The clothes in the left cube look like costumes in this particular Though there may be a kid-sized cocktail dress, but it’s more likely a princess costume. There is a terry cloth robe, too, but that may in fact be a “The Dude” costume. On the shelf beneath the rod is a blue fabric cube with a handle it appears to be empty though there may be things lower down in it behind the fabric cube is a mesh cube with a purple rim that has some thing indiscernible in it In the cube to the right of that cube there are 20 or so hangers upon which regular looking clothing is hanging, primarily shirts and a couple of jackets. The jackets are grayish powder blue. A long sleeve white shirt hangs to the right of the jackets. a short sleeve pink shirt hangs next to the white shirt. There are a indiscernible pieces of clothing between the short sleeve pink shirt and then a short sleeve blue shirt. Directly to the right of the blue shirt is an empty orange hanger. To its right is a short sleeve white blouse and then another short sleeve white blouse and then an empty yellow hanger and then a yellow blouse. On the shelf underneath the clothes are some indiscernible objects- possibly books and maybe a ball. In frame right are three shelves the top shelf has an aqua fabric cube with some things sticking out that are in describable below that is a mesh front cube with a three stenciled onto it. It is green and seems to have toys in it below that are two red mesh cubes that have the number one stenciled on each of them. Not sure what they contain. There is some cloth in front of them on the shelf. In the bottom half of the frame is actually another lower shelf and rods, but it is out of the frame for the most part.
In Montessori wardrobes drawers and doors are notably absent. This is because they present obstacles for young children.


Montessori Wardrobe: Hanging

One facet of a Montessori wardrobe is the hanging rod. This rod should be located at a height that is easily accessible for young children, typically between 3-3.5 feet from the floor. The rod may be either wooden or metal. Though a plastic rod is an option, Dr. Montessori felt that natural materials, such as wood, are more suitable for young children. The rod can be part of a larger Montessori wardrobe or a stand-alone model. How the clothes on the rod are organized is a matter of personal taste.

A light-skinned little girl, facing the camera and wearing a short-sleeved navy dress with polkadots Is visual center frame. She has shoulder length honey brown hair. She is standing directly Underneath a portable clothes hanging bar. She is standing between a number of different dresses on her left and right. Her left hand is holding a blue hanger from which hangs a red and white striped dress. Her right hand is out in front of her giving a thumbs up sign. From left frame the clothes are a gray shirt hanging from a purple wooden hanger, a red and white gingham dress hanging from a yellow wooden hanger a pink dress with a yellow him sleeve hanging from a yellow hanger, and a faded long sleeved denim dress hanging from a light blue hanger. To the little girls left are the red and white dress hanging from a blue hanger a gray and white striped dress hanging from an orange hanger a plaid short sleeved dress hanging from a Green Hanger. The background consists of more rods with clothes hanging from them however they are obscured by the little girl in the clothes in the front.
The rod can be part of a larger Montessori wardrobe or a stand-alone model.

©Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Some families find that hanging the clothes in the order in which they will be worn throughout the week is a good system. Other families hang the clothes in rainbow color order. And then there are those families who pointedly state they are just happy the clothes are hung up regardless of the aesthetic. And you know what? Those are all perfectly suitable systems.

A light skinned male presenting child is seen center frame. He’s standing in a closet surrounded by from the left a yellow raincoat a green windbreaker and a white black green and blue plaid button front shirt. To his left, frame right, or a light blue oxford cloth button front shirt a blue white and gray striped sweater a Carolina blue shirt with a white stripe a royal blue fleece. He is wearing a short sleeved gray T-shirt. He has dark hair that sweeps across his forehead. He is looking up toward right frame apparently at a blue shirt that makes him very happy.
Some families hang the clothes in rainbow color order.


Montessori Wardrobe: Folding

The other component of a Montessori wardrobe consists of shelves or baskets in which folded clothes are placed. These baskets or shelves or fabric cubes should also be at a height that is easily accessible to young children. Mix-n-match! Open shelving works well for t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and sweats. Baskets work better for socks and underwear. As with the hanging rod, different families employ different systems.

A young light-skinned girl is visible in the left frame she is facing away from the camera. She has waist length honey blonde hair. She is wearing a short sleeve heather gray knit dress. Her arms are out in front of her and she is putting an orange piece of clothing into a wooden cube in which there is already a navy shirt and aqua shirt and four white T-shirts. On  top of that cube is a Chartreuse piece of clothing. To the right of that wooden cube are several shirts stacked up on the shelf from top to bottom they are light blue jade green navy taupe black and white heather and then two white shirts.
Open shelving works well for t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and sweats.


One popular system involves having a separate basket (or fabric cube) for each item worn on a daily basis. In this particular system, there is a basket for underwear, a basket for shirts, a basket for bottoms, and a basket for socks. When the child gets dressed they know to take one item out of each basket. Whatever system you choose, be certain to include your child in the process. Discussing the pros and cons of different systems with your child deepens their understanding of and confidence in the system.

A light skinned little girl with honey blonde long hair in side ponytails held with black elastics, as well as a blue headband, is seen in the left frame. She is facing right frame. She is wearing a short sleeved light pink T-shirt. Her right arm and hand is visible in the center front frame. She is holding a purple probably shirt in her right hand pulling it from a gray and white fabric insert that contains four sections which all have clothes in them. The insert is part of a white wooden open wardrobe. There are similar inserts above and below the one the little girl has pulled out. Above the top insert is just a shelf that has four pieces of clothing visible they appear to be folded shirts. The top shirt on the left side of this cube is orange below it is a light blue shirt and below that is a gray shirt; to the right of those shirts is something black on top of a light sage green shirt. There appears to be more to the wardrobe behind the girl however she obscures it.
One popular system involves having a separate basket (or fabric cube) for each item worn on a daily basis.


Montessori Wardrobe: Full-Length Mirror

Along with a Montessori wardrobe, it is suggested that you have a full-length mirror in your child’s bedroom. Being able to watch themselves as they get dressed is an immeasurable help to a toddler. To be sure there will still be days when shirts are worn backward and shoes are on the wrong feet. But then there will be days when they’re not. They grow up so fast.

A light-skinned toddler Is visible in the bottom left frame sitting on a natural wooden stool. The toddler is wearing a red sundress with white polkadots. The toddler is facing away from the cameras looking in a full-length natural wood mirror. The right half of the frame Contains a simple wooden wardrobe that consist of a wooden rod that is about 3 feet long on which several small toddler size clothes are hanging. The clothes are organized in colors from (L-R) white to red to blue to yellow. There is a hamper that is primarily white with a gray chevron pattern on the left side of the wardrobe. Two hats are next to the hamper. The room is completely white including the walls in the floor. Two small green plants in white pots can be seen in the reflection of the mirror.
Along with a Montessori wardrobe, it is suggested that you have a full-length mirror in your child’s bedroom

©Ellona Kritskaya/Shutterstock.com

Montessori Wardrobe: Shoe Shelf

Speaking of shoes, a low shelf for shoes is another must-have satellite accessory for the Montessori wardrobe. Though some Montessori wardrobes come with a lower shelf for shoes, not all do. It’s also not a bad idea to have a shoe shelf by the entrance that the family uses most often. This helps children get in the habit of removing their shoes when they come into the house. And having a place to put them keeps them out of the middle of the floor. Not that I would have any first-hand knowledge of such shenanigans.

A 3 x 4 wooden structure divided into 12 cubes. The structure is seen at an angle from the left frame moving back farther to the right frame. The structure is painted blue and yellow. Seven of the cubes contain a pair of shoes each. From top left there is a pair of pink tennis shoes next to it is a pair of brown tennis shoes followed by a pair of gray and orange tennis shoes, and then a white pair of tennis shoes. In the second row the first cube is empty followed by a pair of red white and black shoes that say NIKE on the heel. Next to them is a becoming out of focus pair of blue and gray tennis shoes beyond them is a very indiscriminate pair of black shoes.
Speaking of shoes, a low shelf for shoes is another must-have satellite accessory for the Montessori wardrobe.

©S Gribble/Shutterstock.com

Montessori Wardrobe: Clothes Hamper

A clothes hamper completes the Montessori Wardrobe. A canvas or mesh hamper jibes with the Montessori mood. Train your child early to place dirty clothes in the hamper. when they are tall enough to reach the controls on the washing machine and dryer, they are old enough to do their own laundry. Some laundry prodigies may be ready to do laundry when they can reach the controls while standing on a sturdy wooden stool. Children who haven't started washing their own clothes should still be responsible for folding them and putting them in their Montessori wardrobe.

Photograph of a white mesh clothes hamper with black trim. The hamper is full of cloth/clothing of a discernible type from the bottom to the top there is some light beige cloth on top of which is some sage green royal blue there’s some maroon cough and then a lot of gold cloth and then hanging out of the hamper is a bath towel that is wheat colored or light yellow. Photograph is sit against white isolate.
A canvas or mesh hamper jibes with the Montessori mood.

©Michael C. Gray/Shutterstock.com

Montessori Wardrobe: Quantity

Montessori wardrobes are typically not large and that’s with intention. Yes, children should have choices in their clothing. However, when children are presented with too many choices, it makes their decision more difficult. The younger the child, the fewer items of clothing they should have at their disposal. You may have an arsenal of cute clothes in a different area that you rotate through their wardrobe. However, reasonable, limited choice works best with the youngest children. Older children are able to navigate more choices. When seasons are changing, have appropriate clothing for different kinds of weather in the wardrobe. Discuss the weather with your child, so that they may choose appropriate clothing for the day. Informed choices help children feel empowered and in control of their environment.

Is a Montessori Wardrobe Expensive?

Montessori wardrobes are not meant to be cost prohibitive. In fact, depending on your house, you may be able to start one with few additions or adjustments. The Montessori style recommends wooden furniture for children, but beyond this you can use your creativity to keep the cost down! In terms of clothes and shoes, your child doesn't need extravagant clothing or expensive shoes to be a successful Montessori child. Allowing them to freely explore their style while also teaching them the importance of being financially responsible is a great thing.

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