Raise your hand if you feel like you’re drowning in laundry? I know I do sometimes!
Several years ago I shared my dirty little secret about washing all of our laundry together without separating which helps a ton. But the single most effective way to maintain laundry sanity is to limit the amount of clothes we have.
Once I started doing a capsule wardrobe for myself, it was a no-brainer to start doing one for my kids.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of a few versatile clothing pieces. There’s no hard and fast rule for an exact number of items, and for each of my children I usually end up with a different number. I aim for 4-7 bottoms, 6-8 tops, a dress for girls, one dressier outfit, and 3-4 pairs of shoes (tennis shoes, boots, water shoes, sandals).
The key is to choose clothing with intention with a goal of finding a sweet spot with just the right amount of clothes.
When I look for clothes for my children, I’m no longer just picking out what looks cute on the rack. I look at the big picture and build a capsule wardrobe that is affordable, easy, and flexible.
My favorite way to add clothes to our capsule wardrobes doesn’t even require stepping into a store. Hand-me-downs are so awesome in so many ways! Not only can you dress your family for free, but secondhand clothing is the most eco-friendly and sustainable way to shop.
I’ll never say no to hand-me-downs, and I’m so thankful to have some friends and family who pass along their gently used items. Even though I don’t want a ton of clothes, I can usually go through hand-me-downs and pick out several pieces that will work for us. Then I get to keep spreading the love, and donate the rest.
If I can’t get it free, I shop secondhand. I love shopping at Goodwill, local thrift stores, and children’s resale shops. It can be more challenging to find exactly what I want at these stores. I usually shop one season ahead so that I can slowly collect the items for each capsule over time.
I want my kids’ clothes to be easy.
I want them to be easy put on, especially for toddlers who are still working on dressing themselves. That means I avoid tops that have buttons on the back. I choose snaps instead of buttons on pants and opt for elastic waistbands whenever possible. I will never have clothing with special washing instructions.
I also take into account my kids’ preferences. My oldest didn’t wear a pair of jeans until she was 6. She just didn’t like the feel of them so we stuck with mostly leggings. My three year old doesn’t love collared shirts so we stick with mostly T-shirts.
Clothing shouldn’t be a battle. Getting dressed should be one of the easiest parts of our day.
Each of my children has a general color scheme for their capsule wardrobe. As they get older, they have more personal preferences. That means the colors have changed some and aren’t as consistent, but I still try to make sure each piece of clothing can be worn at least a few different ways.
To make sure the clothing pieces in a capsule wardrobe can mix and match, you’ll see that most pieces are solid colors or have more subtle geometric prints. I try to steer clear of character T-shirts or graphic T’s with sayings on them. I also avoid bold prints or hard-to-match colors.
In general, I prefer to have more solid colors than prints. When my kids get dressed, they know that if they pick out a printed top or bottom, the matching piece needs to be a solid.
We live in South Texas where we don’t have four distinct seasons. Our seasons roll into one another which means there can be a lot of overlap in our clothing. Children grow so fast that I want to get as much use out of a piece of clothing as I possibly can. I love summer tops that will look good with a cardigan for fall, or a fall dress that we can add leggings to for winter.
It’s Ok to break the rules
There are no capsule wardrobe police. I used to get hung up on doing it “right,” but this is real life, and we do what works.
I would never buy a shirt with a slogan on it, but my grandma gifted a cute T-shirt to my three year old for Christmas that says, “My Future is Bright.” I might be an aspiring minimalist, but I’m a gracious one. So he can keep it. It’s adorable, the colors work with the rest of his clothes, and it won’t fit for long!
Additionally, we also have a couple of extra pieces of clothing on hand that I don’t count in our capsule. We have a few big T-shirts when I can predict we’re about to have a super fun, messy time, especially with paint!
I also keep a spare change of clothes in the car in case someone gets wet or muddy or has an accident. If we use the spare outfit, I wash it and put it back in the car.
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, I thought I’d share one of our spring capsule wardrobes.
Spring Capsule Wardrobe for a Toddler Girl
My youngest is 16 months old, and not quite walking yet. I like to take my children’s personalities and abilities into consideration when choosing clothes. I’d love for her to have a bunch of spring dresses, but she’s still mostly crawling so that doesn’t work for us.
I’d also love to have her in all creamy neutrals because that’s my style, but we’re an outdoor family, and we get dirty! I do still have some white/ivory pieces and a bit of stain spray to pretreat and prompt washing usually gets all of our stains out.
Babies at this age grow so fast. She will likely need an almost complete overhaul for her summer wardrobe, though bigger kids can usually reuse pieces from one season to the next.
This capsule consists of:
- 6 tops
- 3 leggings
- 4 shorts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2 rompers/onesies
I’m going to link to these pieces or similar ones only because I know many people will ask if I don’t. BUT…I encourage you to ask around for hand-me-downs or shop secondhand first!
- Chambray top (similar)
- White peplum top (similar)
- Ruffle T-shirt
- Flutter T-shirt
- Ivory tunic (similar)
- Embroidered hi-lo top
- Tutu dress
- Swiss dot onesie
- Embroidered chambray romper (similar)
- Palm tree shorts
- Yellow twill shorts
- Coral twill shorts
- Coral leggings
- Ivory leggings
- Floral leggings
- Dark wash jeggings (similar)
I didn’t include any shoes in this capsule because she’s not walking yet. The only shoes we own that she wears when it is chilly are these gorgeous handmade leather moccasins from Sun and Lace.
And now you’re all set to get your children’s capsule wardrobe ready! I’ll post my 6 year old girl and 3 year old boy spring wardrobes next week so be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my emails to keep in touch!