We always think we need more than we do, and somehow with kids that is even more true. Here’s how to create a capsule wardrobe for toddlers without feeling like they have nothing to wear!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe consists of clothing that can be used interchangeably to create the greatest number of outfit combinations with the fewest number of items. Generally when people talk about a capsule wardrobe they are not including undergarments or accessories and shoes, but some people do include this in their concept of a capsule wardrobe.
It is common to attempt to create capsule wardrobes for multiple reasons ranging from minimalism to space confines or style challenges. Depending on your reason for creating a capsule wardrobe, your principles may vary.
Some of the common threads within capsule wardrobe discussions include how many pieces is considered a capsule wardrobe, which attire counts or doesn’t count, and whether or not a capsule wardrobe is a year-round wardrobe versus being seasonal.
For our purposes, we’re attempting to maintain a capsule wardrobe as we pursue minimalism and try to shrug off the sense of consumerism that is so prevalent. We’re also trying to maximize on limited space because our home doesn’t have any storage space like a basement or spacious garage or attic, so all clothing items are stored in individual bedrooms.
For most people, beginning a capsule wardrobe is the hardest part of the process, so hopefully we can shed some light on that problem right here!
Why should you create a capsule wardrobe for toddlers?
We mentioned that we are trying to pursue greater minimalism and avoid consumerism, while maximizing our available living space. But there are other great reasons to create a capsule wardrobe for toddlers.
One reason is so that your kids can grow up with the same values that you hold dear. If minimalism is important to you, then teaching your kids about it from an early age is helpful so that you aren’t fighting them to teach it at a later age when they have stronger opinions they’ve formed on their own. Of course, these discussions will continue as they grow up, and that is a good thing! But laying the foundation at a young age can be very helpful in this regard.
Another reason we want to create a capsule wardrobe for our toddlers is because they simply do not need much at this age, so it is a good time to save ourselves money and dig into good habits now.
It also should be said that children and toddlers develop and grow better when they are not surrounded by clutter. Having fewer choices and fewer options oftentimes removes anxiety and decision fatigue, just as it does for adults.
Simplifying a child’s room, from clothing to toys, also helps maintain a clear thinking space. In the same way that we don’t think as well when surrounded by a mess, we don’t think as well when surrounded by too many things. Reducing the “noise” of a toddler’s surroundings helps them to process their environment better.
There are so many different reasons that creating a capsule wardrobe for a toddler can help with their development, it really just depends on your circumstances and other parenting choices.
Concerns about creating a capsule wardrobe for toddlers
Some parents may find themselves worried that they are depriving their children of things they want or need by creating a capsule wardrobe. If you feel this way, step back and discern what your child really needs, and meet that need.
The idea of a capsule wardrobe is not supposed to stifle one’s style or inhibit freedom of choice in attire, but rather it can enhance creativity in choosing an outfit arrangement that hasn’t been achieved before. For toddlers, you will often find that they just don’t care that much about what they wear. And if they do – they have a whole closet of matching items they can choose from!
If your toddler does activities that require certain attire, be sure to factor that in, just as you would for an older child or for yourself. Uniforms, costumes, and the like can all be worked out fairly simply. You can either choose to keep those items aside from whatever the capsule wardrobe includes, or you can find ways to make it work within the system.
Either way, don’t be afraid to try out the capsule wardrobe system and see if you can make it work for your situation. You can even set aside non-capsule items in a bag or box and wait a month or two to see how you get on without it before getting rid of it if you are worried that you will miss that item long term.
How to create a capsule wardrobe for toddlers
One of the most basic principles of creating a capsule wardrobe is to have items that are easily matched with everything else so they can be combined into multiple outfits.
An easy way to achieve this is by choosing a color palette that works well for your child’s preferences, and your own. From there, choose items that both match the palette and go well with each other. That means that many pieces will have to be a solid color rather than patterned, so that they can go with the few patterned items, or be used with color blocking to reach a satisfactory appearance.
Narrowing down children’s clothes in this manner may seem very limiting, and depending on the types of kids’ clothes you own, it can be difficult. We try to only have clothing without words, logos, or movie characters partly for this reason. A pretty flower print or stripes is often easier to pair a skirt, pants, or leggings with at the end of the day.
I like to keep the patterned pieces as tops and have solid color bottoms that go with everything. My girls also absolutely love to wear dresses, so that ends up being a one piece outfit and is even better!
Your climate and seasons will play a big part in what you keep as well. If you live in a northern climate that changes seasonally, it would be prudent to either have pieces that can be worn alone for summer and layered in the winter, or have a “cold weather vs warm weather” wardrobe that you swap out half way through the year. This is generally how we choose to do it.
Keep in mind that younger kids grow out of sizes more often than older kids. Babies, for instance, have huge growth spurts between being born and hitting one and two years old, so you’ll have to have a slightly greater variety if your toddler is still actually a baby and is growing at a faster rate. Once your child is two years old, they typically begin to have one real growth spurt a year, leading to needing fewer items.
Many people have children with spaced out ages, but if your children are close in age, sometimes this works in your benefit with the capsule wardrobe because what one child outgrows can immediately be passed to the next child if the season allows. Our first two girls are 15 months apart, so now that they’re one and a half, and 2 and a half, it’s surprising how quickly the younger one is wearing something the older one just grew out of! This has made it relatively easy to create a capsule wardrobe for toddlers in our home.
Minimalist tips for toddlers and children
A few additional tips for maintaining a minimalist wardrobe for kids:
- Discard pieces that are torn, stained, or unwearable
- If you have a few pieces you LOVE and can’t live without, begin there and base the colors and patterns and solids around those pieces
- Pare down to a level you’re comfortable with, even if most people wouldn’t consider it a capsule wardrobe, and then consider minimizing further once you’re more comfortable with having less – or just stop wherever you are happy!
- Allow children to help choose pieces to keep if they are interested in helping – this can be a lesson in colors, matching, and general skills surrounding getting dressed!
- If you also have a capsule wardrobe for yourself, consider showing you kids how your wardrobe works and explaining that that is what you’ll be doing with their clothing too.
- Show your kids that the clothing you’re getting rid of (that’s in decent condition) is being sold for money and share it with them, or, if you’re donating it, explain to them that someone else who doesn’t have enough clothes will have the chance to use those you don’t need
- Capsules can be used for more than just clothing – capsule toy boxes, capsule kitchens, and capsule activities are all great ways to minimize all the extras that cause clutter around our homes!
I suppose these tips are more than just for minimalist wardrobes and strayed more towards minimalist living in general, but hopefully they are helpful for your family to begin to embrace simple living and minimalism in a fun and functional way that rids the home of stress instead of adding in more stress.
If this was helpful you may also be interested in reading or sharing a Minimalist Baby Registry that breaks down the true necessities when you’re about to have a new baby and your head is spinning from all the “needs” and “wants” advertisers throw at you during your pregnancy.
Share these posts with a friend who is looking to downsize, and let me know in the comments if you have additional tips for creating a capsule wardrobe for toddlers!
8 Replies to “How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Toddlers”
I wish I had been better at creating capsule wardrobes for my toddlers lol. I’m still terrible at it. Toddler clothes are just so stinking cute. I always end up with like twice as many clothes as they need at the end of the season when I’m finally purging. This is a really helpful resource, thank you!
I struggle with it too, Julie! That’s why I had to come up with a system just to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed by it so often. I am so glad it was helpful!
These are great tips! While we now have capsular wardrobes for our three kids, I wish I had started this practice in the toddler years. I overbought for my first child and had a ton of hand me downs for the next two kids to the point that we were drowning in clothes. It ended up creating more work and stress than having a streamlined wardrobe!
I hear ya! We have so many hand me downs from friends and family that I “couldn’t” get rid of because they were in such great condition. But I got real with myself over how stressful it was and now we very happily have less than half, and some other kid’s got the nice clothing we donated. Win-win!
It’s so true…the fewer clothes in my child’s wardrobe, the easier it is to find something for her to wear! Plus, I usually end up picking the same couple of outfits I love over and over again. Definitely agree that it helps to pare things down! Thanks for these tips!
Exactly! Even when they pick their own clothes they have a handful of favorites and don’t want to wear anything else. So why keep it? Purging has been so freeing!
Keeping toddler clothes to a minimum has been a sanity saver. I know only keep what I know my little one will wear and I make sure it fits all within one large drawer. Makes picking out clothes quick and easy especially when packing for a trip.
Thank you for the ideas!