This past summer, I struck out on a mission to create a capsule wardrobe for my kids. My motivation? Laundry. I was sick of seeing it pile on the floor. Sick of it being folded and clean in laundry baskets, but not put away. Sick of digging through piles in his drawer to find something that matched.
We were blessed with SO. MUCH. STUFF. when EJ was born. I received tons of boy clothes from a friend at work and from my sister. I can still count on two hands the number of outfits we have purchased for him. And while we greatly appreciated all the generosity, the sheer volume of clothing quickly became overwhelming.
It probably didn’t help that I had never really experienced kid clothing before. The number of shirts that paired with specific bottoms was astounding! Maybe coordinating pants and tops made sense for kids, but it didn’t work for my brain. Adult clothing isn’t sold that way, yet my little one’s clothing was anything but flexible. I needed another way. The solution? A capsule wardrobe for kids!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a mini collection of versatile pieces can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally need to wear.
Capsule Wardrobe Considerations
When creating a capsule wardrobe for kids, here are a few things to consider:
- Kids grow fast, so limit the number of items in a given size. Buying less = saving money.
- Choose high-quality pieces- they will last longer and look better when used as hand-me-downs
- Consider your values- Is organic cotton important to you? Is shopping ethical, fair trade brands important to you?
- Buy clothing from a few go-to brands. This minimizes size variation.
- Consider the ease of use for each item- skip buttons for a toddler learning to dress; choose pajamas with zippers for easy nighttime changes.
- Pick pieces you wouldn’t mind wearing. If you wouldn’t be comfortable in it all day, chances are your kids won’t be either.
- A great capsule wardrobe is flexible. Tops and bottoms can be mixed well with each other.
1. Make a List of Capsule Wardrobe Essentials
To begin, spend some time thinking about your child’s clothing needs. Does he play outside and get dirty a lot? Does she need a specific wardrobe for school? How often will he wear dress clothes? Will you have messy activity clothes for arts and crafts? After considering these needs, make a list of essential items your child will need.
Here is the list I created for EJ:
- 8 shirts
- 5 shorts
- 7 pajamas
- 1 swimsuit
- 5 pairs of socks
- gym shoes, sandals, dress shoes
- light jacket
- one roughing it outfit for the woods
- 8 shirts
- 5 pairs of pants
- 7 pajamas
- 7 pairs of socks
- gym shoes, dress shoes, boots
- winter coat
Now, this list still seems rather generous. I could probably reduce the amount even further, but this is where I am starting. My kiddo is a bit of a mess maker, so I’m opting for a few more items in the event he ruins a piece or two. After living a season or two with our capsule wardrobe, I might opt to minimize further.
2. Take Inventory of Clothing
Now that you know what you need, remove all clothing items from your child’s room so you can assess with a blank canvas. Remember that a capsule wardrobe contains pieces that play well together, so consider a color palette for each season. I like earthy neutrals like navy and maroon for fall/winter and brighter hues like orange and turquoise for spring/summer. After selecting your color palette, consider what neutrals you want to add to the capsule. I chose gray and khaki for EJ’s neutrals.
To compile a capsule wardrobe for kids, put all items of the same type together (shirts, pants, etc). Then, consider which items you will keep. Remember to keep your color palette in mind as you make your selections so that the pieces you choose will work well together. Only keep as many items as you decided on your inventory list you created. Only allow items that fit the criteria you established.
3. Factor in Favorites to a Capsule Wardrobe
EJ isn’t old enough to have favorites yet, so I based his wardrobe on my preferences. However, for older children, it will be important to include them in this process. Let them help select their favorite pieces. After all, they are the ones who will be wearing it. They know which jeans fit best and which hoodie is the most comfortable. Encourage them to be a part of the process. Base their color palettes off of their favorite pieces, as these will be the outfits they want to wear all the time, anyway!
4. Fill in the Blanks
Now that you have organized items into seasonal capsules, and donated or discarded the remains, you might find the capsule lacking an item or two. Now is the time to shop, but do so with caution! After all your hard work, you don’t want to go out and buy more clothes you don’t need! Shop with a plan. You should know what specific items you need to complete the capsule, and what colors to purchase them in. Be methodical. Choose high-quality items that will wear well and last a long time. Do it right, and you have a ready-made capsule to hand down to the next kiddo, cousin, or friend.
If you aren’t sure where to shop, here are a few places to consider:
- Hanna Andersson
- Kid-specific resale shops such as Once Upon A Child
- Yard Sales
- Thrift stores
Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe for Kids
There are so many things to love about a capsule wardrobe for kids! Since minimizing my son’s wardrobe, there is less laundry stress. Getting dressed is now a lot easier because I’m not scouring the drawer for matching pieces. Plus, putting the laundry away has become a lot faster, so I don’t dread it nearly as much. There’s plenty of room to place everything in his drawers now.
Plus, I like knowing that I am teaching EJ to be a mindful consumer. He won’t be overwhelmed with too much clothing and too many choices, which will make everyone happier!
If you have never considered a capsule wardrobe for your child, perhaps it’s time to give it a try. You have nothing to lose….except the clothing stress!
Now that the laundry monster is tamed, tackle the other beast that often befalls a home with kids- toy clutter!