For parents, children’s wardrobes can be overwhelming – the constant cycles of out-growing pieces and buying new clothes, dealing with cluttered and overflowing drawers, and trying find matching outfits. The solution? A capsule wardrobe – a seasonal curated collection of essential, versatile, and stylish garments that can be mixed and matched (even by the kiddos) to create countless outfits.
Capsule wardrobes create a organized and clutter-free closet where you can put outfits together with minimal thought, because decision-fatigue is very real as a parent. It also typically it means you only need to shop for new clothes 2-4 times per year, which really adds up in time saved.
I’ve been doing a capsule wardrobe for my daughter since she was a baby and it’s the perfect concept for growing kids! Allowing us to not only be more sustainable but also save money and prevent clutter.
So how do you build a capsule wardrobe for kids? Here are 8 steps to follow:
1. Take Inventory
The first step is to see what you already have in their wardrobe or maybe in storage – what still fits for the upcoming season? Do you have any gifts or hand-me-downs that are the right size? This is a good base to build your capsule around.
The seasonal change is the perfect time to clear out anything that no longer fits and pack away out-of-season items, like shorts or winter coats, so they’re not taking up space and adding unnecessary clutter.
2. Plan for the Weather
The temperature and weather is of course key to what clothing you’ll need. Will you need long or short sleeves and pants? What kind of outerwear will they need? You also need to decide if you’re doing 4 seasonal capsules or combined spring/summer and fall/winter capsules.
Don’t forget about layering options, especially if you live in a climate with fluctuating temperatures. Spring and fall in particular are the most important for having layers – cardigans, lightweight jackets, and hoodies are excellent for layering and adapting the wardrobe to seasonal changes.
3. Assess Your Child’s Needs
Consider your child’s lifestyle and upcoming activities. Think about how much time they spend outside, what activities do they regularly/frequently participate in, and are there any specific clothing requirements? This might include things like:
- Clothes that are okay getting dirty/stained
- Outerwear for specific activities (such as rainwear or snowsuits)
- Reinforced “play” clothes if they regularly damage items
- Formal clothes for regular events/gatherings
4. Decide on a General Color Palette
Pick your neutrals and have an idea of the colors you’d like for a cohesive capsule palette.
Your colors will likely will be guided by the clothing you already have, and maybe pieces your child loves. Therefore think about what additional colors or neutrals can best tie the existing colors together to give you lots of combinations.
Remember though that not everything needs to go together and match, but having a color palette will make shopping easier.
For examples check out some of my daughter’s capsule wardrobes.
Where do you want the Color and Prints?
Where the colors will primarily be is also important to consider. The easiest way to build a capsule wardrobe is by only having colorful tops/dresses and going for neutral bottoms and neutrals in other areas. Although you can of course mix color in different categories, it just requires some extra planning.
When going for prints, try to choose prints and patterns that incorporate a few of your colours so they can go with a lot of items, and again keep prints in one category (eg. tops/dresses or bottoms) to make mixing and matching easy.
5. Incorporate Signature Pieces & their Personal Style
Plan for a few statement pieces or colors to infuse personality into your child’s capsule wardrobe. This could include favorite graphic t-shirts, a fun dress, or unique layers. This is a great opportunity to get older children involved in the process if they like having a say in their clothes/style. Have them pick out some colors or select items and then build the capsule to incorporate and maximize those pieces.
These signature garments can add personalty and make the process more fun while still being versatile enough to mix and match.
6. Determine How Many Items
This will depend primarily on how often you do laundry and how often your kids require a change of clothes – is it daily or more frequently? We do laundry about once a week so I plan for my daughter to have at least 7 outfits, plus at least 3 extra because typically 1-2 times a week she may get dirty and need an outfit change. I also like to have at least 1 “fancier” option for events.
I also should note that I always have an emergency change of clothes in my bag which isn’t part of my preschooler’s capsule wardrobe and rotation of clothes, but old clothes for just in case.
Then create a list of how many tops, bottoms, layers, dresses, or other items you still need to get.
7. Go Shopping
Now it’s time to get any remaining pieces to complete your capsule wardrobe. We love secondhand shopping for kids, both for budget and sustainability reasons.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a children’s capsule wardrobe:
Quality and Durability
The idea is the clothes will get a lot of use. So look for well-made, durable garments that can withstand the wear and tear of active children. Look for quality fabrics that are easy to clean and maintain, ensuring longevity for the clothes in your child’s wardrobe.
Comfort should always be a top priority when selecting clothes for children – if they’re not comfortable they won’t want to wear them. Opt for soft, breathable, natural fabrics that allow freedom of movement.
Children can grow fast so try and find clothes that will last at least the whole season. Look for clothes that allow for growth and flexibility, and consider sizing up if it makes sense and won’t compromise comfort.
8. Organize and Maintain
Finally, after you’ve assembled the capsule wardrobe pieces, organize them in a way that makes getting dressed a breeze. Clear out any unnecessary items and designate spaces for each category of clothing. Encourage your child to take part in maintaining the wardrobe, putting clean items into their places and teaching them about organization.
Is it a lot of work?
After reading this you may be thinking; this sounds like more work! A common reason people have for not doing a capsule wardrobe the the work of putting it together. But here’s the thing, if you look at an entire year it’s actually way less work than constantly having to shop for and replace items, never mind the clutter and stressful times getting dressed. It is more work to plan a capsule but you only need to do it 2-4 times per year!
In my opinion, the amount a capsule wardrobe has improved my own and my family’s life and decision fatigue makes the extra work a few times a year well worth it.
Building a capsule wardrobe for children can revolutionize the way you approach dressing your little ones, and helping them dress themselves. By focusing on essential, versatile pieces, you’ll save time, money, closet space, and have a lighter impact on the planet, all while ensuring your child is comfortable and stylish. Remember, the key is to create a collection that suits your child’s needs, reflects their personal style, and provides endless mix-and-match possibilities. With a well-curated capsule wardrobe, getting dressed will become a stress-free experience.