Capsule Wardrobe for Kids

Capsule wardrobes are popular for women right now, but you don’t hear as much about capsule wardrobes for children. I recently minimized my own closet, and I’m in the middle of a year-long clothes shopping ban. I’ve found my clothing needs are still met perfectly, and there’s less time wasted browsing sales racks, choosing what to wear, and rotating seasons. After doing that, it just makes sense to minimize my children’s clothes the same way. After all, I spend way more time messing with their clothes than my own!

Since children grow so fast, they’re great candidates for minimal wardrobes in each size. But because of the vast quantity of cute and irresistible clothes made for kids, it’s easy to end up with more than we need.

The reality of children’s clothing:

You can’t find the outfit you want when you need it.

A couple outfits each season never get worn.

Keeping up with the growth spurts and the changing weather is an ongoing battle.

Piles and piles of laundry that accumulate as a result of the surplus.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Babies are especially difficult because they are given the most (before they are even born) and in reality they require the least.

Toddler outfits are a little harder because older kids are rougher on their clothes. But I still think it’s possible and beneficial to minimize their closets too.

My Strategy:

I’m by no means an expert in this area. I’m just another parent trying to cut down on the clutter and the waste. It is my goal to create a simple capsule wardrobe for each season for each kid. Even when mostly I’m on top of it, I still feel like my kids have too much!

Every time my boys size up, I rework the system and purge as I go. I store my absolute favorites for future children, and I give away the access.

Why give so much of it away? The reality is these clothes will spend more time in storage than actually being worn. It might as well go to someone who can use it. (And who knows if the gender / season will be right for the next child, anyway?)

There’s no reason for me to hang onto a surplus, as I can easily borrow hand-me-downs from friends if the need arises. This is an area where I have some wiggle room. And let’s face it, it’s not the end of the world if my kids wear their pajamas some days!

Kids love to be cozy, so I find the cute but restrictive outfits rarely get worn. If an outfit isn’t comfortable enough for the child, or easy enough for me to put on and take off, it doesn’t matter how cute it is – we’re never wearing it so it might as well be donated.

Here’s a breakdown for a baby and a breakdown for a toddler. I’m not talking about fancy special occasion outfits. A true minimalist doesn’t purchase outfits that will just be worn once (First Christmas outfits can be skipped. Halloween costumes can be borrowed or homemade). I’m just covering the essentials here. I’m also numbering items, but these numbers are variable and depend on your family and the climate where you live.

Also keep in mind that I recommend you have this wardrobe in each size. Each capsule wardrobe can fit in its own storage tote, which can be labeled and switched out when the baby sizes up. Even minimalist children have a lot of clothes… The cool thing is that their mamas rarely have to buy anything new.

The tops and bottoms.
A couple jackets – and a towel.
Sleepers – both seasons. Some are borrowed, which is awesome!

Winter Baby

7-10 long-sleeve tops

7-10 pairs of socks

7-10 pairs of pants

7-10 sleepers (some cotton, some fleece)

3 light jackets

3 fleece blanket sleepers

2 warm hats

1 snowsuit with hood

Summer Baby

7-10 short-sleeve tops

7-10 cotton sleepers with elastic bottoms (my absolute favorites!)

7 pairs of socks

4 pairs of shorts

1 light jacket

1 hat that blocks the sun

(Babies don’t really need swimsuits. If you take them swimming they can just wear a cloth diaper or swimming diaper and a t-shirt.)

This may not sound like a lot, but I know from experience that it will do. Even when there’s spit-up and poopy diapers, this is enough to get you through till the laundry’s done.

Winter Toddler

7-10 pairs of underwear

7-10 pairs of socks

7-10 long-sleeve shirts

7-10 pairs of pants (we have a mixture: 2 jeans, 2 khaki, 2 corduroy, 2 athletic, and leggings)

7 fleece pajamas

3-4 sweaters / hoodies

1 heavy coat, winter hat, pair of gloves

1 pair of sneakers

1 pair of snow boots (optional)

Summer Toddler

7-10 pairs of underwear

7-10 pairs of socks

7-10 T-shirts

7-10 shorts / skirts

7 cotton pajamas

2 light jackets

1 pair of sneakers

1 pair of sandals

1 swimsuit (optional)

My toddler loves to pick out his own clothes. I found that putting all the acceptable tops in one drawer and all the acceptable bottoms in another drawer made it easy for him to put together his own outfits – and look pretty good too!

The beauty of having less is:

The kids actually wear all of their clothes!

You can donate the rest to friends, relatives, or charity so it’s all getting used by someone.

There’s less laundry and less sorting for you.

You can easily access their clothes without having to dig. (I keep my baby clothes in two baskets under the changing table.)

Did I leave anything out? What are your thoughts on how to minimize your kids’ clothes without compromising comfort or style?



Add yours →

  1. When you say “cotton sleeper with elastic bottom” are talking about gowns? I’m trying to plan for my fourth baby, and he/she will be born in June – I’ve never had a summer baby before so I’m not quite sure what I’ll need!! lol We have a lot of clothes but our newborn stuff isn’t summer-friendly (especially not Georgia heat!) so I’ll basically be starting from scratch.

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