Having a Spring and Summer capsule wardrobe for each of my kids has saved me time, money and made laundry MUCH more manageable! A capsule wardrobe isn’t just a trendy idea, its a time saving tactic. Don’t forget to grab your free seasonal checklist at the end of this post!
I have a confession to make: I LOVE shopping. I could seriously spend all day shopping clearance racks and thrift stores for cute clothing for my kids. So much more fun than shopping for adults, right? And you know what, I have done just that.
Flash back to when my first two girls were toddlers, and their closets were jam packed with the sweetest little dresses and tiny skirts, bonnets, and stockings that I had found for a couple dollars each at garage sales. So many little things that my girls hardly ever wore! Why? Because I had a few favorites that I kept reaching for when I would dress them each day. And as they got older, they would always pick the same 3 outfits day in and day out.
As our family grew, and I had less and less time to spend scouring sale racks, and less room in my house for storing bins and bins of little clothes. It was time to come up with a plan! I wrote down a list with each type of clothing they wore and numbered each one, that way I had a goal set that helped me limit how many outfits I could buy and it helped me to make sure everyone had what they needed each Season.
My kid’s closets are packed to the brim anymore. They have a few cute and quality items that they love and wear on repeat. I spend less time doing laundry, and less money in the long run!
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing items that work well together, and when layered different ways can create different looks and outfits. It is usually made up of a limited number of basic pieces with classic colors and patterns.
So how does this work with kids’ clothing since they are constantly growing from one size to the next? The same way it works for adults, but maybe with some extra fun colors involved! Since kids are constantly growing and changing sizes, its really helpful to have less to keep track of and less to buy each season and size!
Here are some great tips on starting an adult Spring capsule wardrobe!
What are the Benefits to Having Kids Capsule Wardrobes in a Big Family?
- Less Laundry. Need I say more Mamas? Laundry is supposed to be this thing that nobody can keep up with, right? Well I’m here to tell you that having less clothing in your home, leads to less laundry. Its that simple!
- Less time spent keeping track of clothing, and less time sorting clothes for the changing seasons. Much less time spent picking up clothes when the toddler decides to dump out every drawer for the 20th time in a week!
- Less space taken up in your home. The less clothing you own, the less room needed. Fewer bins in the basement and less crowded closets! (see my simple clothes storage plan here)
- The less clothes you allow yourself to buy for your kids, the better for your budget. When you’ve filled out your capsule wardrobe checklist, that’s it! It kind of gives you a cut off that you can’t exceed.
- Hand me downs are much easier to keep track of.
- We can afford to buy better quality clothing that will last through more than one child.
How Do You Start a Spring and Summer Kids Capsule Wardrobe
1. Figure out how many outfits each child needs
The easiest way to do this, is to figure out a maintainable laundry routine. If you wash laundry every other day, that’s 3 days worth of clothes each of your kids needs to make it through that time.
Now you might be thinking, 3 outfits?! Well not quite. Age and gender have a lot to do with how many outfits your child needs for 3 days. Think like you’re packing for vacation. And then add an extra outfit for “just in case”. The older your kids get, the more choices they will probably want, so the numbers will need to reflect that. Here’s what this looks like for my kids:
Now this list doesn’t include dressy clothing for church and special occasions or apparel for specific sports. Each of my kids has 2 dressy outfits for their Spring and Summer capsule wardrobe plus an Easter dress for each of my girls. This is plenty for them to have a couple of options to choose from each Sunday but it keeps decision making easy.
For pajamas the amount your kids will need will depend on how many days it takes for you to get your laundry washed and dried. For our family, since it takes 3 days at most for laundry to get from the dirty laundry basket back to the dresser drawers, my kids each need 3 pairs of PJs. Little babies will need 5 or 6 since they sometimes need to be changed in the middle of the night (those little diapers just don’t seem to do the job).
2. Make a checklist list of each type of clothing your child wears
This list will vary by season, age and gender. I’ve included a free printable kids capsule wardrobe checklist to help you get started right away! All you have to do is fill in the number of items your child needs to make the number of outfits you planned out in step 1.
3. Use this list to declutter the clothing you already own
This is not the fun part. You just have to go for it though! Make a pile of everything your child currently fits. Then make piles of each article of clothing. Using your list, make sure you are only keeping the number of items you have “allowed”. So say your list says your 3 year old needs 6 pairs of shorts for the Summer. Make sure you’re keeping the 6 pairs of shorts that you and your child reach for the most.
4. Use this list when buying for the next season or the next size
This is the fun part. You might think that having a list to stick to feels limiting. But, I like the freedom to be able to spend a little more on a couple of good quality items that my kids can pass from one to the other and its nice to get to be pickier about colors and prints!
Spring and Summer Kids Capsule Wardrobe Tips:
The best time to start is right before you switching seasons
When you’re about to store the clothes that your kids are wearing now and its time to start buying for the next season.
Notice what brands wear the best and last the whole season and stick to them
What styles do your kids find the comfiest? I’ve noticed my kids always reach for the outfits that feel the best over the ones that look a certain way. I mean, I do the same for myself most days!
Keep patterns and prints to either the accessories or the outfits themselves
Leopard print is classic and fun, so are bold stripes! But a leopard print dress and striped cardigan is going to look a little crazy. And is those two things are in your kid’s closet that’s probably the combination they’ll come downstairs wearing when you’re about to head out the door to Church!
How Many Pairs of Shoes Do Kids Need for a Spring and Summer capsule wardrobe?
Think about how many types of activities your children have in this Spring and Summer Season:
- Playing in the mud and rain: mud boots
- Going to Church and Special Events: church shoes
- Playing Soccer: cleats
- Playing outside, being wild: play shoes that are waterproof
- Going to the grocery store, or a friends house: casual shoes that are nicer than the waterproof ones.
The number of shoes is going to depend on your family’s needs and lifestyle. Maybe you don’t have any sports in the Summer, so skip the cleats. Maybe you think your kids are fine to wear the play shoes to the grocery store and in the yard. Its up to you!
The goal for a minimal kids capsule wardrobe is to choose quality over quantity, and to choose styles and colors that are multifunctional. I look for clear jellies for my girls because they are classic, match everything and are waterproof.
Brown leather church shoes are my go to because they match everything and will last through all of my 4 girls. (they also work well in Winter which is an added bonus!)
I pick neutral colored rainboots so that my girls and boys can wear the same ones. Saves me buying the boys new ones when they get to that age!
Be intentional. Don’t just buy the rainbow sneakers because they were on clearance. Think about ow many outfits they will actually match in your kids capsule wardrobe and what purpose they will serve your child.
How to Save Money on a Summer Kids Capsule Wardrobe
Buying your kids’ clothing used or second hand is a great way to cut costs. Half of the clothing pictured in this post was bought second hand! Sign up for notifications about consignment sales in your area, check out thrift stores, eBay, online consignment websites, join Facebook Buy Sell Trade pages for brands your family loves!
Just keep in mind that limit you’ve set for your self when buying used since you will come across a lot of good deals and might be tempted to over buy! Also remember to look for items that will be able to match much of your child’s wardrobe.
Shop Clearance Sales
The end of the Summer is a great time to keep an eye out for next year’s capsule wardrobe! Its also a time when its easy to accumulate too much. Be very selective so that you won’t be having to declutter what you’re finding on clearance the following Season. I like to shop for things like rain boots, jelly sandals, swimwear, things I know for sure my kids will need! The best time to do this is usually mid to late September.
Resell Items you are Decluttering
As you go through your kid’s clothing, try and make a pile of items that are still in great condition and try to get back some of what you paid by reselling them to people who can use them. I’m part of a local Facebook Garage Sale page where I’ve been able to resell hundreds of dollars worth of clothing my kids didn’t need in the first place (before I started using this capsule wardrobe system).
My sister puts some of her kid’s clothing that they don’t need into a local consignment sale, and uses her earnings to buy clothes for the next season! There is no shame in being frugal, right? Right!
Commonly Asked Questions About Having a Kids Capsule Wardrobe:
Do You Have to Have a Color Scheme?
You definitely could! But buying for more than one child, thats going to be hard to maintain and keep track of. I find the best way to do it, is start with a few items you really like color wise and base the rest of the wardrobe off of that.
For example: If you found some really cute green striped shorts for your little boy you are going to want to avoid tops that will clash with that. So you would buy solid colored tops and then buy more playful and colorful shorts to finish out the wardrobe.
Keep your fun patterns to one type of clothing in the wardrobe. Maybe you keep your girl’s dresses solid colors and get her fun bows and tights as accessories. Or the other way around. Remember the goal here is to make everything as inter changeable as possible to make it easy for your kids to dress themselves each day.
One pieces and rompers are my favorite since they can be fun patterns and there’s no need to make sure tops and bottoms will match.
How Do You Know How Many of Each Clothing Type Each Kid Needs?
I went over this earlier in this post, but the best way is to have a real laundry routine, and then keep track of how many times a day your child seems to need a change of clothes. Babies definitely need several outfits a day, whereas an 8 year old could probably wear the same outfit 2 days in a row!
Think outfits instead of articles of clothing in the beginning. 5 outfits might end up being 10 articles of clothing depending on whether your child wears separates of one pieces.
The older your kids get the more choices they will want when they get dressed. But they also are slower to go through sizes, so having a few extra outfits in their closet is worth it.
How Do You Keep Clothes From Getting Ruined When You Have a Small Amount?
I’ve been asked this question a lot and the answer is, the same way you do when you have a larger wardrobe! We take care of the clothes we have and if one item gets ruined, we can replace it if we need to. Usually by the end of the season some of my kids’ clothes are worn through, so they go to the trash can, and we don’t have to figure out where to store them or where to donate them.
Does it Cost a Lot to Get Started with a Kids Capsule Wardrobe?
It doesn’t have to! Start by decluttering what you have, sticking to the number of outfits you’ve decided each child needs for the stage they’re at. Then when it comes time for them to go up to the next size of clothing or time to buy for the next season, just keep your kids capsule wardrobe goal in mind, being more intentional about the number and types of items you are purchasing. You will most likely end up saving money because you will have put limits on the amount you are “allowed” to buy.
How To Deal With Clothes that are Given to You?
This is another commonly asked question that is tricky to answer. The best way I have found to deal with this personally is to be open to family about our goal to declutter. You don’t have to bring this up at the time someone gives you something, but just bringing it up casually at other times. If we are still given things we don’t necessarily love or need, I let the kids keep them for as long as they are interested.
For example: My daughter has been gifted fancy dresses that aren’t really “my style”. Rather than get rid of them, I put them in her closet, and she wears them for a while. If she stays enamored with the sequin studded dresses, of course she can keep them! If they end up just hanging in her closet for a few weeks on end, I’ll donate them.
Think of it how you would want someone else to deal with a gift you gave them that they didn’t necessarily love, and is not in line with a plan they are trying to follow to better their life. Of course you would understand if after a bit, they gave it away to someone who really loved it!
Now, what if the person is very sensitive and asks about the gift later on? Its probably just in your best interest to be very open about how having a more minimalist home helps you in so many ways and how you are keeping the clutter at bay.
Is it a Lot of Work to Keep Track of a Kids Capsule Wardrobe?
It can take a little time to get started and get the hang of it, but its really a time saver in the long run for me since I know exactly what I’m looking for when I go shopping for each season (no more wasted time browsing without a focus) and its definitely saved me time when switching seasons of hand me downs!
Since we don’t have a lot in each size, its as easy as pulling out the next size up tote of clothing, filling the drawers and taking note of what I need to shop for to fill in the gaps of each kids capsule wardrobe!
Don’t forget to grab your free printable checklist to get started!
More Organizing and Decluttering Posts
- Minimalist Newborn Capsule Wardrobe
- How to Declutter and Organize a Small Bathroom
- How to Store and Organize Your Kids Clothes
- Fall and Winter Kids Capsule Wardrobe
- How To Declutter Your Kids Toys
I hope you found this post helpful in starting a capsule wardrobe for your kids! Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions in the comments below.