As we pack our house to move, I am astonished by the sheer amount of shit my kids have collected over the past couple of years (lol). It’s obviously in no way their fault – they don’t have the means to purchase any of it (lol again) so I’m unsure of how it’s happened to be honest. Other than an overwhelming amount of toys – they also have a ton of clothes. This is probably exemplified by the fact that Miss 3.6 is in a phase of getting changed 900 times a day… and leaving her discarded outfits on the floor. 

To counteract the amount of clothes we have accumulated, I am going to get back into having a capsule wardrobe for the kids (as well as myself). Read on to find out just how to do this for your daughter.

Before

Up until now, I’ve taken a few approaches to clothes with my kids. We definitely started off with no plan, bought what we liked (often cheap to keep prices down, but with no plan) and had a huge wardrobe for Miss 3.6. Let’s be honest, girls have the most adorable clothes so it’s super easy to get carried away buying things. I notice now, after purchasing a lot for our new house – I have swiftly moved back into a consumerist mindset and am looking at everything like “ooh, that’s cute, I’ll get it, it’s only $35” … my logic has presided though and I have managed to stop myself numerous times with “get a grip Amy, it’s only $35 now but it’ll add up to $200 (or more) before you know it!”

Last year, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to buy my kids any summer clothes. (This was aside from one pair of shorts each as I didn’t have any shorts in either of their sizes.) Crazy huh? Miss 3.6 has her birthday at the beginning of December (start of Summer here in NZ) and then there’s obviously Christmas. So my plan was to very specifically ask for their gifts from their Grandparents and Great Grandma including some clothes – I also banked on the fact that family will turn up at some point in the holiday period and likely bring them a little something (we don’t ask for presents, in fact we explicitly ask for no presents but people often like to turn up with a little something, and it is generally a noisy toy or a piece of clothing lol).

Did it work? Did it ever! I literally spent no more than $10 on each of their summer wardrobes. And somehow they managed to accumulate dresses, togs, shorts and t-shirts, shoes and more! This approach hasn’t worked well for Winter since none of the kids birthdays are around that time haha.

Myths Holding You Back from Trying a Capsule Closet:

  1. Capsule Wardrobes are just for minimalists.

Truth: You don’t have to define yourself to have a capsule wardrobe. While someone who does take the label of ‘minimalist’ might work at really having a minimal wardrobe, a capsule closet is purely a closet of clothes where each item works with every other item. You should feel confident knowing that if your child dirties their top, there’s another top (or 5) in the cupboard that will go perfectly with their pair of pants. They shouldn’t have to change their entire outfit they’ve been wearing to help you with chores, in order for them to play at the park, or for you to go out for dinner as a family. A capsule wardrobe works seamlessly together.

  1. My kids word dirty their entire wardrobe in one day

Truth: Yep, kids are messy – and so they should be! And yes, you may have a Miss 3.5 who loves putting on every piece of clothing. But this doesn’t mean that they’re going to get mud and food and goodness knows what else over each piece of clothing in a 24 hour time period. Even my toddlers, who are the messiest of kids – might go through two outfits a day at most. This would still leave another 10 tops for them to mess through. I think it would be quite an achievement if they managed this in a day!

  1. I don’t have time to do all the laundry

Truth: How often do you do laundry now? We do laundry daily as we have three kids under four. But to be honest, with huge wardrobes the laundry is more. How can that be? Well, it has the ability to back up (and probably multiply while it waits for its turn in the washing machine…). So laundry can sit there, and I can ignore it for a day (or two) and then it’s even bigger. Having less in their wardrobe does mean more frequent washing for some – but no more than a daily wash. And the benefit? Well you don’t have 18 piles of laundry waiting to be washed, or hung out, or folded, or to be put away!

  1. But what about gifts and hand me downs?

Truth: This is where we come unstuck a little too. Baby #3 is 6 weeks old today and we were blessed enough to be gifted some hand me downs from a friend. We have been swimming in clothes – but for a baby I think that’s okay as they spill and have nappy explosions etc etc. For the older kids though, we approach this in a couple of ways: for gifts, we are very specific at  asking for what we need. Some may find this awkward, and I would suggest to ditch that feeling. I think anyone who is wanting to buy a present would appreciate knowing what to get (if they don’t know already). The other way, in relation to hand me downs, is to accept them and take what you need before passing the rest on – or you could have a messy clothes draw for things like messy play, painting, sports etc.

Why would you want a capsule closet for your child?

I’ve written more about the benefits of a capsule wardrobe (for adults) here and honestly, the same benefits apply to kids. 

If you think about small children, they get to about 3 years old and suddenly have this huge interest in wanting to select their own outfit (and like Miss 3.6, get changed 724 times a day). When their wardrobe is packed full of clothes, they have way too many options; too much choice is not always a good thing! Miss 3.6 has been choosing her own outfit since before she was two, and saying “do you want this t-shirt or that one?” is much less stressful and less pressure on her than saying “here, pick a top” and point towards a wardrobe with 50 options.

Also, from a parents point of view – there’s a lot less mess when the clothes aren’t put back into their closet + less cleaning in terms of quantity! 

baby clothes arranged on bed
There are so many benefits to using a capsule wardrobe for your children.

What to Include

There’s no magic number for a kid’s capsule wardrobe – it is totally dependent on your family’s lifestyle and needs. Anyone can utilise a capsule wardrobe – you don’t have to class yourself as a die hard ‘minimalist’. The key is that every item should work with one another. 

Here is a rough master list for a child’s capsule closet, but if you had double, triple or more than this that is perfectly fine – as long as it’s working for you and reducing the stress and work rather than adding to it!

  • 12 tops
  • 2 sweaters
  • Rain jacket
  • Coat
  • 6 bottoms (mix of jeans, pants)
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 togs
  • 2 PJs
  • Socks & underwear
  • Shoes: sneakers, sandals, dress shoes, boots, slippers

I would look at this master list as a year wide wardrobe – so if we’re thinking seasonally (just Winter and Summer) then you’d be looking at 6 long sleeve tops and 6 short sleeve tops. Again, you might have a couple of different items depending on your family needs. If you spend a lot of time in the water with swimming lessons, or going to the beach then you might have more togs and also include a wetsuit. There is no right or wrong, it’s more about becoming intentional with what your purchasing – aligning it with what you truly need.

Three Tips to Building a Capsule Wardrobe

  • Stocktake
    Make sure that you do a decent check of what you already have – what is in good condition, what needs mending, what is too small and so on. Use this to write a list of what you need to add to your wardrobe. 
  • Theme It!
    Buy staples in black, white and grey and then select two accent colours to theme your wardrobe around. This assists each item working with the next and prevents it looking like a rainbow threw up into their wardrobe (unless that’s your kids thing, like with Miss 3.5 haha, she would be all about that!)
  • Don’t Delete their Style!
    Miss 3.5’s favourite t-shirt is bright pink with yellow diggers on it. Reducing her clothes to a capsule wardrobe doesn’t mean getting rid of her favourites so that she fits into a pastel mould. Empower your child and roll with what they like! If it’s bright colours, build these in!

Would you attempt a capsule closet for your kids? If not, what puts you off? Check back in next month for some sample capsule closets for both booths and girls.

Related:

It’s True Kids Can Be Minimalists Too

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