The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Building A Kids Capsule Wardrobe

Welcome to the complete beginner’s guide to building a kids capsule wardrobe.

Today, we're going to tackle exactly how I switch out my kids wardrobe’s and build super simple capsule wardrobes for them. In this specific blog I will be walking you through the process of how I did this for my youngest two kids who are 8 months and 2 years old. 

Revised in 2024. I still use this process, and my older kids who are now teens use this process as well on their own clothing. 

You and I know capsule wardrobes can seem vast and complicated, and to be honest boring and even unrealistic for most families. However, I will do my best to make the rigidity of capsule wardrobes accessible and doable. In fact, I even prefer to just call them workable wardrobes. Because that’s what they are. They are clothes that meet our needs, personal styles AND makes it easy for us all to keep up on our laundry and keep our closets pretty clean, most days. Without having to obsess over colors or having exact numbers of each clothing item. No, no, we are making this SIMPLE. 

In this step-by-step guide, I’m going to show you how to declutter your excess clothing, build a capsule wardrobe with the clothes you already have, and then fill in the gaps on a budget. And I will show you how to do it in a way that is completely doable, without sticking to boring color palettes, styles or spending a lot of money on clothes your kids will outgrow quickly so you can declutter the excess and have all your clothing needs and wants met.

Once you’re done with this guide, you will be able to give your family the clothes they need, and want, without spending a lot of money or contributing to landfills, so you can start getting (and staying) caught up on laundry, while still looking cute and stylish. 

If you have any questions as you’re going through it, you can ask them here in the Motherhood Simplified Facebook group. 

Click here to get the Clothes Decluttering & Wardrobe Building course now >>

Overview of what a kids capsule wardrobe:

What is a capsule wardrobe exactly? Well for me, and I think for most moms, a better term is a “workable wardrobe”. 

You may be coming from my blog post on laundry routines over here but found yourself pretty lost and needing to declutter the excess first. And still need to declutter while still keeping the clothes you need.

You've come to the right place because I’m about to break things down. I'll make it clear and understandable when it comes to clothes decluttering and building capsule wardrobes that work for your family.

In the most basic terms, a capsule wardobe is having enough clothes that can mostly be mixed and matched. Without having too much. Got it so far?

Let's kick that up a slight notch; it is coordinating pieces of clothing just enough to make a cohesive set of clothing you can use on an everyday basis.

We can take it up to an even higher level a capsule wardrobe is a minimalist collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways to cover a variety of outfits and occasions. 

Do you see how they all serve the purpose of having enough structure to meet your needs, but also still have flexibility in what you can wear?

An example of this would be  3 pair of jeans, 1 classic skirt, 2 leggings, and 1 short PLUS 3 knit sweaters, 3 layering tank tops, and 2 blouses. Ideally all with colors and styles that can be worn and mixed and matched together. 

Still with me? Let's move on to the steps that will get you on your way.

3 Beginner Steps to building a kids capsule wardrobe success

The definition of a capsule wardrobe for kids showed you where you're going. But now it's time to get out the map and point you in the right direction.

Step #1. Take an inventory

An essential first step in building a capsule wardrobe is to take an inventory of what you currently have].

This is because you need to know what you already have. Most people already have at least one workable wardrobe, or simple capsule wardrobe in their homes and don’t actually need more clothing. But many want to just let it all go and start over because it feels easier. I promise this way of taking an inventory first is better in the long run.

Without taking an inventory, you are in danger of never really getting to the root of your clutter or learning how to have an amount of clothes that meets your need, and is not too much to manage. Which means you will never get out of the never-ending laundry cycle. 

It is also essential that you know what you currently have so that you can simply and quickly build your most current capsule wardrobe. If you don’t know what you have you will end up buying more than you need, and even duplicates or triplicates. This will waste your time, money, and space in the short and long run. 

There are a ton of stories over on this page from moms like you who have used this system, starting with the inventory and show how this first step will get you out from under your laundry piles.

Some key things that will help you with taking your inventory:

  • Choose one person or child’s wardrobe and gather all their clothes in one place
  • Declutter the outgrown, outworn and broken, stained or ruined clothing
  • Choose a place to keep your inventory list and count how many of each item your have ie how many pants, shirts, etc. 

Do you know how to take an accurate inventory now? Time to pat yourself on the back; you're on your way to becoming a capsule wardrobe building superstar!

Step #2. Build your capsule wardrobe

Everything feels easier after your first step because that is the most daunting part, and to be honest, least fun.

Next up, you have to build the current workable wardrobe you will be using.

That will give you a better idea of what actually goes into building and maintaining your capsule wardrobes for your whole family.

For example: 

Once you take an inventory of what you have and declutter you realize how you have truly been living with more clothes than your family needs, and way more clothing than you can even keep up with. And that’s why you’re behind on laundry – not because you’re bad at routines, or housekeeping or any of that. 

Here’s another example from a mom like you who followed these steps and realized she previously had too many clothes, and then decluttered them. You can get extra help with these steps inside of my Clothes Decluttering Course right here.

Here’s an excerpt from the original version of this blog where I outlined how I did this for my baby and toddler. 

Step two – create a plan for what's needed next

This is from the original version of this blog from 2021. It is me documenting my wardrobe building process.

Next I start creating my plan for what's needed next. Right now it is Spring in the Midwest which means that this afternoon it is sunny, dry and shorts weather. Tomorrow it is projected to be windy, rainy, and just above freezing. So I plan for that.

When I did my toddler's inventory she still had five pair of long pants with a lot of life left in them and that still fit. So I know that I didn't need to buy more long pants. What she needed was skirts and shorts, so I got three of each! Easy peasy.

We also need hoodies and short sleeves. Based on the inventory I took I knew she needed a whole new set of t-shirts. She wears a 2t in bottoms but her shirt size is a 3t and she had none that fit. So I got her I think 8-10 t-shirts. We are in quarantine right now so I had to do my shopping online which is hard for me – and I don't remember how many came in a pack or exactly how many I got. Just keeping it real, not perfect ;). 

Of course I like to have fun with their clothes as well so I got her a new baby shark hoodie

(she's famous for her baby shark costume she wore every day for six months. And by famous I mean.. that's how I will remember her second year of life). I also got them matching leopard hoodies and pants because I just can't resist an adorable matching sister set. 

Below are photos of the new items I got her so you can see how I pick a general color palette and make it so everything can be mixed and matched. 

When I say I create a base wardrobe of about 10 outfits this is what it looks like. 

5 long pants

3-6 shorts and skirts

10 t-shirts

3 hoodies

This covers all of the potential weather needs as I can layer her up as needed. Plus socks, her outdoor jacket, hat, gloves, boots, etc. We're covered – and I'm not drowning in laundry or hemorrhaging the clothing budget.

kaylee pants
kaylee dresses
kaylee clothes 1
kaylee shorts
kaylee hoodies
kaylee shirts and skirts

Step #3. Put it all away

At this point in learning how to build a capsule wardrobe, you have an idea about how to get rid of your excess clothing and build a simple workable wardrobe. What's left for you to do? 

I know you're probably ready to just be done and throw it all into a basket and call it a day.

I completely understand but there are still a few more steps, and you want to go all the way so hang in there with me. 

The next step is to actually put the clothes away, and get rid of the rest.

Here's how to do wrap this all up:

  • Decide where you will keep daily clothes and how you will store them. Then put them away. This might be hanging them all in a closet or folding into drawers.
  • Decide where you will be taking the excess. Donating? Textile recycling? Consignment? And then take them there, or schedule in the time that you will take them there so that the clothes don’t stay in “to go piles” indefinitely. 
  • Decide if you will be keeping any clothing for future children or later seasons or sizes. If you choose to do this it must be with strong intention and strategy. I teach you how to do this right here in this clothes course. 

You’re probably wondering, is this really everything I need to successfully build a capsule wardrobe for my kids? 

Yes and no, young padawan, these steps are a perfect way to get you on your way to building a capsule wardrobe, but we are missing out on a few key ideas, including:

  • How exactly to piece together wardrobes that match colors and aesthetic
  • How exactly to build wardrobes that meet all of your variable weather and lifestyle needs
  • How and even if you should be saving and storing clothes for future kids, seasons or sizes
  • How to shop intentionally and accurately (it’s nearly impossible to predict what size your kids will be in when buying clothes on sale, let alone remembering what you have at the right time). 

Key Takeaways 

I hope this complete beginner's guide to building a capsule wardobre will allow you to skip trawling the internet for hours to get all the critical information you need.

You now have all the info in one place and can get back to it quickly.

As you saw here, taking an inventory of what you currently have can make or break your capsule wardrobe efforts, but that doesn't mean you need to force yourself to count every single item of clothing you have or obsess over making your wardrobe all perfect and matchy-matchy.

As Oscar De la Renta puts it, “Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of balance and good sense”. Meaning we can all relax and stop trying to do our capsule wardrobes “right” and just keep it simple and whatever works for us. 

From here on in, you can build your very own capsule wardrobes for you or any of your kids, and finally keep up on laundry.

I created the Clothes Decluttering Course as a resource for moms trying to peak Mount Washmore (you know, that pile of clothes that lives perpetually in your home). And I’ve been able to keep my kids clothed in all climates and weather that we have lived in (Alaska, Florida, Idaho, SoCal, and the Midwest) using some of the tips you can find in this beginner's guide to build a capsule wardrobe. You can find the rest of the tips and full system right here!

Do you want to learn more about building a capsule wardrobe for your kids?

Join my Clothes Course, where I walk you through each of these steps in more detail and show you exactly how I do this for my family. 

Click here to learn more about the Clothes Course >>

I created this course to help you build capsules wardrobes, that are actually just simple, workable wardrobes for your whole family.

Enroll in this course now >>

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