A capsule wardrobe is the ultimate way to feel confident that your child will have clothes that look and feel great without having an overflowing closet full of clothes that never get worn. The key to building an effective capsule wardrobe for kids, however, isn’t simply how many items you include, but what types of items you incorporate. Here are some tips to help you build a successful capsule wardrobe for kids of all ages.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is one that consists of a limited number of clothing items designed to work together and last over an extended period of time. It typically contains 20-30 core pieces, which can be selected from interchangeable tops, bottoms, outerwear and footwear/accessories. By working with such a narrow selection of clothing, every piece becomes more valuable; adding versatility as well as providing quick opportunities for switching up your look.

Why do I need a capsule wardrobe?

Getting kids into clothes that you actually want them to wear is hard! There are dozens of reasons why your child may not want to wear his or her nice clothes, from itchy fabric to impractical fastenings. A few simple rules and design tweaks can help guarantee clothing that gets worn because it's comfortable—and looks good! Having a separate capsule wardrobe will also prevent fashion fatigue when it comes time to pair an outfit together, ensuring that an outfit doesn't look all too similar each time your kid goes out. 

How can I keep track of all the pieces?

A capsule wardrobe can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. If you’re having trouble keeping track of all your kids’ clothing, label or print up some wardrobe tags. Then you can use them to keep track of everything in their closet by attaching them with clothespins to an oversized corkboard or sheet of bulletin board paper on which you’ve plotted out where each piece goes and which season it belongs in. You could also simply create one large spreadsheet or file on your computer—whatever works best for you! The important thing is that you make sure everything has its own place so that putting together outfits is quick and easy.

What should I do if my child grows too fast?

As we mentioned above, since wardrobe capsules are meant to last about six months, if you notice that your child is growing faster than usual (or much slower), consider using smaller sizes rather than bigger ones so that their clothes will last longer. You can also just purchase items in larger sizes and roll up or fold down sleeves or pant legs as needed. Additionally, don’t be afraid to let your kids wear things they’ve already worn before—as long as they’re clean and presentable!


How many pieces should I include in each capsule?

You can make a wardrobe capsule as big or small as you want it to be—you might even want one for each season! That said, we’ve found that about 20-25 pieces is a good number to aim for. If you have more than one child, consider making separate capsules. For example, if your son has 10 t-shirts and your daughter has 8 dresses, then they’ll both need their own wardrobe capsules. If your kids are very different sizes and/or ages, then consider making two different capsules so that you can keep track of everything better.

What about special occasions?

The key difference between building a capsule wardrobe for kids and adults is that you should consider special occasions. If your child is going to be in several important photo ops during the year (birthdays, holidays, etc.), you may want to plan an outfit around those events—including non-capsule pieces like your child’s favorite t-shirt, sunglasses or sneakers. Keep these exceptions in mind while building your kid’s capsule and they’ll thank you later! The core purpose of the capsule wardrobe is to make every day dressing more manageable. Supplementing with non-capsule items is best for special occasions.

Can I mix and match a capsule wardrobe?

So many kids’ clothes aren’t made of basic, gender-neutral fabrics. They tend to be printed or cut with details—bows, buttons, ruffles, patterns—that don’t match up. If you are building a capsule wardrobe for kids, consider choosing items that mix and match well. There is no reason they can’t pair their sweatshirt with different pants or dresses (in fact, it makes dressing easier). Consider picking up pieces in solid colors in addition to patterned ones so your child can have a little fun mixing things up. You’ll have fewer pieces, but what you do have will work together beautifully.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe for Less

The term capsule wardrobe refers to a small selection of clothing that contains everything you need to wear. When working with a limited amount of clothing, it forces you to focus on versatility and quality. You might be surprised at how few items your kids really need. If you follow these steps and save money along the way, you will have stylish, quality outfits without spending too much money. Here’s how to build a capsule wardrobe for kids for less. 

1. Clean Out Your Closet

Get your kids involved! Have your child go through their closet and pick out the clothes that don't fit. Create three piles - give to a friend, sell, and donate. Through this process you'll reduce clutter, help others, and maybe generate a few extra dollars.

2. Inventory Your Clothing

After cleaning out your closet, take inventory of what is left. Keep items that still fit and are in good condition. These can serve as great transitional pieces until your child outgrows them. If your child is like mine, odds are he/she went through a growth spurt and will need a significant number of new/thrifted items as well. 

3. Create a Color Palette

Embrace your child's favorite color. If all he/she wears is blue, buy colors that will easily pair with blue. We try to stick with a nature inspired palette with earthy blues, greens, and reds as the centerpieces. In theory, if it is a natural color it should always match, right? You don't ever look outside and think, "Wow, nature got it all wrong. This scenery looks terrible."

4. Build with Basic Comfortable Styles

If it is not comfortable, chances are that your child will not wear it. Start with super comfy underwear (i.e., Crann Underwear). We wash our kids clothes twice a week, so 5-6 pairs is plenty. Then, add 3-5 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants. Choose classic styles made with natural fibers. Kids grow so quickly that it is crucial that your child wear clothing over and over while clothes still fit. We buy our children enough to get through one week, then wash, and repeat. 

5. Add a Few Trendy Pieces for Fun

We love basics, but our children want to fit in too. If you wait to buy school clothes until after school starts, your child will know what is "cool". And, chances are that these trendy pieces will be on sale soon. We like to buy "fun" items that our kids can wear multiple times a week. Some examples might include a dragon print sweatshirt, princess crown, or baseball cap featuring their favorite sports team.

Where should I shop for my child's first (minimalist) clothing items?

When shopping for kids' clothing, remember that you want items that are functional and flexible (and hopefully look good too). While it's tempting to make sure your son or daughter is dressed head-to-toe in designer clothes, there's an argument to be made that investing in a few key pieces can be better than buying trendy pieces of clothing. Be thoughtful about what you invest in and consider things like your child's future growth spurts and how appropriate those items will be next year. 
July 15, 2022 — Karly Hiser

Leave a comment