How to Put Together a Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe

One term you might have heard in the Minimalist World is the term “Capsule Wardrobe”. You can read some of my posts on Capsule Wardrobes here and here. Today, I’m going to be showing you how to create a Capsule Wardrobe for your kids. Even though it’s not cold yet here, I’m getting prepared for our next season’s wardrobe. I’m doing it now because this was the week of my favorite kids’ consignment sale that only happens twice a year… once in the Spring and once in the Fall. I went through all my kids’ clothing storage, and I’m so glad I did! I actually decided NOT to go to the consignment sale this year, for several reasons, but mostly because I felt like we had enough of a base set of clothes for each child – that it just wasn’t necessary to go.

Now, I’m not super strict about anything when it comes to these capsules for my kids, but you can do this however you want to. Our family relies heavily on hand-me-downs for our kids’ wardrobes, so we work with what we have as best we can. Sure, I’d love to have a great mix-n-match capsule for them and work it like I do my own, but for the most part – my kids’ capsules are made up of simple tops and bottoms or two-piece matching outfits for my girl, and that works for us.

I took a screen shot of this Insta-story Highlight from Kelsey Van Kirk to give me an idea of where to start and about how many of each piece we would need. Of course, she has only girls so ours will differ a little bit. For instance, obviously my boys don’t need dresses, but they are pretty rough on pants sometimes so having more of those for them makes more sense for us. Also, she lives a bit more North than we do so their weather climate might differ a bit from ours as well.

For us in Mississippi, while we are fully embracing the Fall colors and current sales of the Fall/Winter clothing available to us now, it will still be a while before we actually need to fully transition to long pants, long sleeves, and jackets. My kids would burn up if I were to store away their shorts and short-sleeves now. So… with that being said, both sets need to be pretty accessible for us now shorts for now, and long-pants within reach – just in case we have a cold snap. This makes our closet look pretty full which, honestly, isn’t my favorite thing. I had to dig out some more hangers to make it work for us, and there was absolutely no way I was going to fit short and long pants of all three kids in one dresser. I’ll show you our storage and organization for it all in just a bit.

So, let’s go ahead and start from the beginning of the process, and I’ll take you all the way through to the end to show you how we store it all in our family.

Step One: Assess what you already own and what you can continue to use for the upcoming season.
For us, this part of the process included bringing in ALL the kids’ clothes storage boxes and sorting through them to see what we could add in.

When I did this, I found that I had actually missed a box of Spring/Summer hand-me-down clothes that my four year old could’ve been wearing all this time, just because my boxes weren’t properly labelled. So there was something I needed to immediately fix to be better for the next time I go through this process. The second thing I wanted to improve on is to purchase actual storage boxes. I used what I had… diaper boxes and Amazon boxes… to store clothes, and that’s just not the most ideal form of storage. As, it turns out…. we have PLENTY of clothes, and I have very few things that I will need to purchase for this next season for my kids. What a blessing!

A. Bring in boxes from storage. I store hand-me-downs that are given to us for all three children – even in sizes that are too big for them, so it’s really nice to have these to pull out when we need them. We are so thankful for these! 
B. Make labels for different categories as you go. Try to separate them by gender, size, and season if they aren’t already like this. (I even made a category for things to consign that I knew we would no longer need.)

This is the part where you can be a little choosy. It doesn’t matter if it was a gift or it’s just worn out – you get to decide what things you keep and what you need to purge. I also posted two screenshots from Kelsey Van Kirk about this topic, which I agree with 100%. We are super blessed and grateful when we receive these gifts and hand-me-downs, but I don’t feel obligated to keep every single thing – just because it was given to us. I am the manager of my household and ultimately the one who does the laundry each week, so I have to sometimes purge so that it doesn’t become too much for me. It’s an absolutely necessary step for me.
 

C.  If it’s something you think will fit and work for your child(ren) for this next season, add it straight to the hamper to wash. 
D. Once everything is sorted into categories, you can probably stack your newly labelled boxes back up. I wouldn’t put them away just yet. You might have to add something to them if it happens to not fit properly or you find something you missed in the whole process.
E. Wash and properly launder all of the clothes you added to the hamper. Sort them by size and gender again.
F. Have your children try on anything you are unsure about.

Step Two: Working on one child’s wardrobe at a time, take all of the items in a category (For example… bottoms) and lay them all out together so you can see what you have. Use the guide to see if you have enough of the particular item. Think about your lifestyle. Do you need more active-wear for your kids or more dress pants? Go ahead and make a note of what type of things you think you might still need to purchase.

Linkin’s Bottoms (Long Pants)
Lawson’s Bottoms (Long Pants)
Layten’s Bottoms (Long Pants)

Step Three: Do this for every category in the guide. Then, repeat this for each child as well.

Linkin’s Pajamas
Linkin’s Tops (Long-Sleeve)
Linkin’s Jackets
Lawson’s Button Down Shirts (Long Sleeve)
Lawson’s Tops (Long-Sleeve)
Lawson’s Jackets

Step Four: Create mix-n-match outfits like a traditional capsule, or at least make sure everything has something that will match with it. Do you have a pair of navy blue athletic joggers with a lime green stripe down the side? Make sure you have an appropriate top to match with it. Do you need to purchase something to match and make them work, or would it be easier to choose a more neutral-colored pair of joggers that would work better with your other items? These are the kinds of things you should think about when creating a wardrobe. The last thing you want is items that just take up unnecessary space – or worse – that your children try to wear mismatched and embarrass themselves and you. 😉 Kidding, of course, but it’s best to eliminate those types of struggles before they occur. Am I right?

I think with infants, toddlers, girls, and also boutique-style outfits… you might find that you have “sets” or “outfits” that easily go together instead of mix and match items for a traditional capsule. You can see an example of this with Layten’s wardrobe outfits. Most of them are matching sets already, but she also has a few that can mix and match as well… you’ll see that I added multiple options for bottoms that could match some of the tops she has.

Step Five: Take your list of items you still need for all of your children to fill in those gaps, and head out shopping… or shop online! This is the perfect opportunity for you to shop a great kids’ consignment sale, but having that list in hand of what you actually need before you go is going to help you out so much and save you some unnecessary stress.

This may seem like a long list, but all of these things I’ve listed are not “priority” or “must-haves”, but instead they are mostly “would like to haves” so we’ll just add them in as I find them on sale or as it fits in our budget. It’s all about making it work for you. Our base wardrobe is great already – they all have several pairs of pants and tops and even a few jackets to get them started… so I think we’re pretty good with what we have!

Step Six: Once you’ve purchased everything you need, and you’ve filled all of the gaps in your kids’ wardrobes, it’s time to figure out the best way to store everything. If you’ve gone by the guide of suggested amounts, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the appropriate storage for everything, but having kids who share a closet or dresser could present a small challenge… although, it’s nothing that can’t be figured out.

Closet and Shoe Cubby Shelf for Three Kids
Layten’s Drawer with Pajamas and Shorts
Lawson’s Drawer with Socks, Underwear, Undershirts, and Pajama Pants
Linkin’s Drawer with Socks, Underwear, and Pajama Sets
Both Boys’ Drawer for Shorts
  • I like to hang up all jackets, dresses, and tops.
  • We store pants, pajamas, socks, and underwear in dresser drawers. We have one dresser in our kids’ shared bedroom with 4 drawers, and it works perfectly for us.
  • Exception: If there’s a pair of pants that specifically matches a top we have, I like to drape those over the hanger that holds the top so they are stored together. This is the case with a lot of baby/toddler clothes as well as matchy boutique-type outfits that come as sets.
  • We have a cubby shelf in the closet for shoes.
  • And if we’re being honest, I should also admit that we also store several pairs of shoes in the car, unintentionally of course, and my little girl LOVES to try on everyone’s shoes, wear them for a while, and then leave them in various places all over the house – so there’s that.
  • Excess Storage: There was no way that I was going to be able to store everyone’s shorts, long pants, pajamas, socks, and underwear all in one dresser. Our three kids currently share a bedroom, a closet, and a dresser. I’m not interested in adding any more furniture either, so I was determined to make it work. I don’t love the idea of having under-the-bed storage, but I did decide to use these Thirty-one bins to store long pants for now. They’re easily accessible if we need them for church or a sudden cold snap, but I’m not ready to move them to the drawers just yet. As soon as our warm days are mostly over, I’ll transition the shorts and short-sleeves to storage, but for now, I think this will work really well for us.A few things to note:
  • Sometimes it’s hard to know what size your kid is going to be in for the next season. I think this is really just trial and error, and it does seem to get a little easier as they get older. Of course, I’m not sure that we’ve hit those ages with massive growth spurts yet, but so far – it’s always worked out that we have a storage of hand-me-downs for the next size up, which as I’ve mentioned we’ve been super blessed to have. It’s a little more difficult with infants and toddlers, as they seem to change sizes more quickly. Just do your best to make a good guess, and fill in with items you need as necessary.
  • It’s much easier if you prepare ahead of time and have a storage of “the next size up” for each of your children. This can be done by shopping End-of-the-Season sales and of course saving those hand-me-downs. My mom loves to shop sales like this, and she’s usually pretty great about buying the next size up for us to store and wear later when we need it. It’s great!
  • Brands aren’t everything, but sometimes they do really make a difference. There are a few things I try to stay away from… zippered pajamas from some brands tend to change shape when they are washed and dried. I’m sure it was something I was doing wrong with my laundry process, but I don’t have time to take separate steps for separate items like that at this point in my life. I noticed this most in infant sleepers, so I prefer the buttons or top and bottom sets. I also prefer Carter’s brand over anything else we’ve tried for pajama sets because they keep their size and don’t draw up in the wash. It’s super confusing when something says 2T and should fit my petite one year old but doesn’t at all because it’s drawn up in the wash. We also prefer cotton pajamas mostly. Pajamas can also look dingy and old if they are flannel or fleece materials when they are passed down, but of course that’s my personal opinion. It’s just something to think about if you rely on good sales and hand-me-down items like we do.
  • Hand me downs are great for clothes, but be prepared to invest some money into good shoes. These get worn out much more easily, and they aren’t always nice enough to pass on to others.Do you plan ahead for your kids’ seasonal wardrobes? I’d love to know how you plan, shop, and organize the kids’ wardrobes in your family!

     

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