How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Kids

Please join me in welcoming another one of my newest regular contributors, Emily R. from the fantastic blog My Love For Words.

As a mom of four, I usually feel like I’m drowning in laundry. For the longest time I thought the solution to less clothing chaos was more hangers, baskets, and closet organizers, but nothing I tried seemed to work.

My kids had enough clothes to wear something new everyday for months, and there was a constant pile of laundry that needed attention. Eventually, when I was knee deep in laundry for the millionth time and completely sick of having to wash, fold, and put away so many little pieces, I realized that what we really needed was fewer clothes.

Having trouble keeping your kids' clothes organized?  Find out how to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Kids at I'm an Organizing Junkie

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of pieces that can easily mix and match to create many different outfits. It seemed like the perfect solution to our problem so I emptied all of their closets and drawers and got to work.

This was the intimidating pile I started with. It easily measured about six feet wide and two and a half feet high at its peak. (Yes, our clothing pile had a peak!)

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I sorted through the pile in a couple phases. First, I went through the pile as quickly as possible based on what we did and didn’t like. Half the clothes ended up in the giveaway pile simply because we either no longer liked the clothes or they were worn out beyond repair.

When I found a piece I did want to keep, I checked the size to see if it was something our kids can currently wear or if it has to go to storage for a while. I couldn’t believe how many clothes the kids had already outgrown. Those will be stored until the younger kids can wear them, and sorting those will be a whole new adventure, I’m sure.

Next, I went through the keep pile of clothes that are in the currently worn sizes and carefully considered what we had. If we had a lot of similar items, I chose my favorite few and the rest went to the donate pile. I chose pieces that my kids love and can easily be mixed and matched. This is what I was left with.

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Not bad, especially considering the mountain I started with! The closet (which is shared by three of my children) went from an unused mess like this…

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to this…

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The former retail employee in me is beyond thrilled to have a closet that looks like a store, but what really surprised me in this whole process was how excited my kids were when I was finished! Both my three and six year old have told me over and over again how much they like their closet now and that I did a lot of work. I knew they’d see a difference, but I didn’t expect them to really appreciate their new tidy space.

Tips for creating a capsule wardrobe for kids:

1. Choose Neutrals.

Having a good mix of neutrals will make it easy to mix and match your wardrobe. For my kids, I tended to stick to neutral bottoms (khakis, grays, blacks, and blues) and keep more colorful, fun shirts. I did keep a couple of colorful bottoms, but too many of those would really limit how much we could mix and match the various pieces in their wardrobes.

2. Stick to a color scheme

As much as I would love to wear beiges and elegant taupes, those just don’t look good on me. We all have certain colors that suit us more than others, and sticking with colors in that range will make it a lot easier to form new outfits because everything will coordinate.

3. Get rid of high maintenance clothes

Some clothes look great in the store, but immediately go down hill after the first wear or wash. The green shirt below is an example of a piece that I loved but had to get rid of. My daughter only wore it once because after the first wash every single ruffle because a wrinkly mess, and I don’t have the time or energy to constantly iron this sucker. Lesson learned: no more ruffly clothing and think carefully about how something will handle being throw in the wash.

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I usually don’t bother with clothes that need to be dry cleaned either. Basically, any piece that can’t be throw into the washing machine with a bunch of other stuff probably won’t be staying in our house because ain’t no body got time fo dat! (Sorry, some things never get old to me.) :)

4. Keep favorites

Kids tend to have a few favorite pieces that they love to wear over and over again. Despite having the Mt. Everest of clothing, my kids probably only wore 25% of what was cluttering up their (now empty!) drawers and closets. I’d buy things I thought were really cute only to have my little fashionistas refuse to wear them. I’d rather my kids have a small but loved wardrobe than a large collection of unworn clutter so non-favorites had to go.

I am absolutely thrilled with how this turned out, and I know it’s just the beginning of simplifying our entire home.

I’d love to know if you’ve ever made a capsule wardrobe? Are there any other tips you can think of that would help the decision making process?

Emily R

Emily is a wife and stay-at-home mom to her four children. She’s currently sharing the good, bad, and ugly in her journey to creating an organized and decluttered home on her blog My Love for Words. She also shares recipes, crafts, home decor ideas, and thoughts on life and motherhood. When she isn’t blogging, she can be found reading, cooking, or homeschooling her kids.

Filed under: Before and After, Closets, Emily R., Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff

Comments

13 Responses to How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Kids

  1. 1
    Kristina Duke says

    This is great! You want less laundry issues you need to go to the source of the problem, the wardrobe. Less clothes = less laundry.

  2. 2
    Alanna says

    I’m currently working on this exact project right now for my 1 year old.
    How many items of each did you end up with (ie how many tops, bottoms, pjs, etc)?

    • 2.1
      Shannon B says

      I know for me personally, I buy about 10 pants and 10 shirts for my 6 year old son. That’s enough to get through the week, plus extra just in case there’s an accident. He usually ends up with more because other people end up donating clothes or buying him shirts, but as far as myself buying, I limit to 10.

  3. 3
    HelloKitty4-9 says

    LOL! That green shirt……been there, done that. You’re right, “Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!”

  4. 4
    Anna says

    How many bottoms and tops did you keep per kid?

  5. 5
    Becca says

    You inspired me. Well, it was partly your post, partly me wanting to buy two new, bigger dressers for the kids and my husband complaining about the cost. So instead I went through their clothes and edited. I realised about a year ago that I was buying too many clothes for my kids. They wear a school uniform 200 days of the year. They don’t need their school uniforms, plus tons of other clothes, particularly since their school uniform pants are very casual (my daughter wears black leggings, my son wears navy or blue sweatpants.) I’ve bought very little for them over the past year; so when I edited their clothes down today, by getting rid of the things that are just plain worn out, the things they’ve outgrown, and the things they’ve yet to grow into (like, why was I keeping 4 size 12 t-shirts for my daughter, who wears a size 8, in her drawers?) they actually have a decent amount of clothes – enough to keep from running around naked but not so much that the drawers don’t shut. Anything too small has gone into the back of my car to be dropped at the op shop; everything too big has been sorted and is in storage for when they grow into it.

    Three big bonuses: First, as Kristina Duke says, less clothes = less laundry. Second, the amount of clothes is actually manageable for the kids, so things are more likely to stay tidy. Third, we just saved $400 because we don’t need to buy two new dressers.

  6. 6
    Sarah says

    Amazing! ive been wanting to do this for so long. Ive (so far) also sorted out winter/summer clothes. But the summer clothes is overflowing….thanks for this!

  7. 7
    VIJAYA R says

    Very simple and Handy idea.Thank you

  8. 8
    Marcia Francois says

    I love that you did this and your cupboards make me drool :)

    My twins wear a school uniform so they only need clothes for afternoons and holidays (vacations).

    Currently, and I’ve just realised I’m much better at capsuling winter clothes (maybe because they’re more expensive?), they have about 3 sets of “afterschool clothes” and about 4 sets of weekend clothes (the nicer stuff).

    I’m going to think about this seriously when we go into summer again though.

  9. 9
    Sal says

    thanks! I am about to do this for my daughter as I have been reading about adult capsule wardrobes and wondered if anyone had done it for children. I found a lot of posts that were simply selling affiliate services and yours was one of 2 sensible and helpful posts! Can’t wait to do this and get rid of the junk other people have landed on us!

  10. 10
    Heidi Fox says

    This is such a great idea! I have recently started my own capsul wardrobe and thought my 6 year old daughter would also benefit. My plan, not yet executed, is to put every item in her closet into a closet curating app called Mirrow (it’s free, I’ll be using the more expensive one for myself) so she can track what she likes to wear a lot and use the Dress Me feature to pair together outfits for herself. I will then be able to have her entire wardrobe saved in my phone so any time I’m shopping and I find a good deal I can check before I spend money on yet another pink tank top.

  11. 11
    Homeschool Diva says

    I just started this project with my 4 kids! We started with my oldest (the pre-teen fashionista), and so far she’s been very pleased with her choices. I think she’ll be even more pleased when she sees how much time she’ll save on doing her own laundry.

    Of course, I’ve had to stop myself from looking at cute tops and dresses in her current size. No shopping at all until Christmas dressy attire!

  12. 12
    Kirsten says

    Love this! As a moma to 5 kiddos (and 1 on the way), we have also had to limit clothing. My approach was similar to yours…donate the dingy/worn out items first, then I let my kids choose their favorite 5 shirts and 5 pants (or shorts depending on the season). We do laundry every weekday so 5 of each is plenty. I don’t really care if their choices match as we are mostly home since we homeschool. The nicer stuff I put up high where they can’t reach and those are saved for church or the occasional restaurant etc. My kids were just as relieved as I was to have a smaller amount of clothes that fit and that they like wearing. Everyone wins with this approach!

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