How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Kids

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Capsule Wardrobe for Kids

Do you feel like your kids' clothes are out of control? I did! I'm just being honest, here – I don't want to sound ungrateful. I know we are blessed to have so much, but “so much” turns into too much. This translates into piles of laundry, clothes on the floor, clothes under the beds, clothes on the ceiling fan (kidding…kind of), and, oddly, when it's time to leave the house my kids claim to have nothing to wear. Fortunately, I've found a solution – just like with everything else, I need to be intentional about the clothes we have in our home. I figured out how to create a capsule wardrobe for kids, and it has saved my sanity!

I have 5 kids (4 of them are girls), so that means that my three younger girls all wear hand-me-downs, which we keep in rubbermaid tubs in our basement. My oldest daughter and my son (who is right in the middle of all of those girls – please say a prayer for him if you think of it, lol) get new clothes every season. Sometimes more often if there's a growth spurt one month after we've bought them a bunch of new stuff (that was a real bummer). 

My oldest daughter and son get “new” clothes via hand-me-downs from friends and neighbors, thrift store finds, neighborhood sales, and truly new clothes from Old Navy or Target clearance (I shoot for $3 or under per piece – my favorite finds are under $1 and I try to build their wardrobes on those cheaper pieces). 

This year I decided that we were going to severely limit the number of clothing items in each dresser to cut down on clothing clutter. That means that only 2/3 of the clothes from the tubs in the basement came upstairs for the three little girls, and we bought only a few pieces for my son and oldest daughter. 

We looked at what we already had and bought a few new pieces to fill in the gaps, but before I went shopping, I wanted to form a plan to build a Capsule Wardrobe for the kids. If you haven't heard of a Capsule Wardrobe (I'm not sure if that's supposed to be capitalized or not, but I'm just going for it anyway), it's a small collection of essential clothing pieces that mix-and-match to create a variety of outfits. 

How many pieces should be in a capsule wardrobe? It seems like there is no “right” number, but here is what I settled on for this summer for each kid: 

  • 7 t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie or sweater
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 2 dress shirts
  • 2 dress pairs of pants OR
  • 1 dress and 1 skirt
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • 4 pairs of pajamas
  • One pair of flip flops
  • One pair of tennis shoes
  • One pair of church shoes or sandals 

I have one exception – my baby is an extremely messy eater, and I often have one or more onesie soaking before it's ready to go in the wash. The baby has:

  • 9 onesies (we rock the Pooh Bear look in the summer – pants are optional for babies around here)
  • 8 sleep n' plays, or pajamas (just in case of diaper accidents)
  • 4 shirts
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts (they are adorable little baby shorts that we got from Gymboree)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 8 pairs of socks

This has benefited us SO MUCH because we are saving money on clothes, saving time with laundry and cleaning, and saving energy deciding what to wear! 

A note on laundry: I have five kids, so they are each assigned a day Tuesday-Saturday when they wash their clothes and towel, and every other week they also get their sheets washed. I do my laundry and my husband's laundry, plus our sheets and towels, on Monday, which is also the day I straighten up the laundry room. My two littlest kiddos are too young to even help with laundry (well, my toddler likes to “help”, but she's not able to do really do it yet), so I take care of their laundry on their assigned days. 

How do you keep from getting overwhelmed with kids' clothes? I ‘d love to hear from you in the comments!

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10 Comments

  1. Wow. I was just thinking about paring down my kiddo’s clothes and was trying to figure out what to keep/give away. I’ll definitely use this as a guide. thanks!

    1. Oh good! It is working for us so far this summer – I’m glad now that I kept a few more outfits on the list than some people recommend for a capsule wardrobe because my little boy ends up getting pretty dirty and needs to change outfits a couple of times a week.

  2. Great post! With 5 kids I imagine pieces like denim jackets and stripped shirts make clothes more season-less and easier to pass down to younger siblings.
    My daughters’ closet used to be totally out of control. I started doing an interchangeable capsule wardrobes for my kids, and it’s been a serious game changer! My 3 year old had a 24 item fall capsule (20 clothes + 4 shoes) and we simply added a dress and two extra pairs of tights for the winter. Because everything is mix and match she can even dress herself. Yay!!! You’re welcome to see it at mykidscapsule.com

  3. Hi! I have paired my kids stuff down but I am curious how you do this laundry day system. Let’s say it is your preschooler’s laundry day…. how do you actually find all of her laundry? We have two hampers that they use ( or don’t use) and laundry is often on the floor. In our bathrooom too becuase they use our tub. How do you transition to each child having their own hamper? Sounds hard. What type of hamper is good for only one person and how do you stop toddlers from getting into it and mixing it up?

    1. Hi Breane! So my disclaimer here is that my kids and I don’t stick to this system perfectly, but most of the time we do really well with it. Every night for several weeks I had to physically go with my four-year-old to make sure their dirty clothes got into the hamper. Now I tell them to put their clothes in the hamper, and check to make sure it’s done several times a week. My older kids also help the younger ones.

      I have a three-hamper laundry sorter in my room for my clothes, my husband’s, and my 2-year-old’s. That way when we help her get her pajamas on we can hand her the dirty clothes and ask her to put them in the hamper right in front of us. She loves “helping,” so she thinks it’s fun. I have three girls in one bedroom, and they use another three-hamper laundry sorter. (I use this one: http://amzn.to/2qObF8a).

      Once we spent the initial time teaching them how to do it, it got easier and easier. My 8-year-old son is generally a clean kid, but he has a hard time with laundry so it’s something we have to continually go over with him. We use a waterproof one like this in his room: http://amzn.to/2rtuy38 .

      I hope that helps!

  4. I have 7 kids and honestly have never had them do their own laundry. The times I’ve tried their clothes are in my way, either hanging, in dryer or washing machine. We have 4 bins (dark, white, lights and extra) that we sort all laundry into everyday. If bin is full we wash it. Usually 2-3 loads a day and we hang all pants shirts and anything else that may shrink. I have a laundry helper or 2 that sorts first thing, folds all the hanging laundry and anything in dryer. They also start the first load. Takes about 20 min total a day for me to continue. My oldest 2 do their own but late at night. Its our best system. They are responsible to get it to hampers but our youngest brings hampers down every morning.

    1. I love it; thank you for sharing your wisdom! It really just has to be whatever works for you and your family!

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