How to Create a Kids Capsule Wardrobe

Creating a kids’ capsule wardrobe for our toddlers has simplified our lives in so many ways. Now, we spend less time and money on our kids’ clothing and have more outfits that work together. Here’s how to create a capsule wardrobe for your little boy or girl!

kids capsule wardrobe flatlay closeup with text

Why I Created a Capsule Wardrobe for Our Kids

After creating my first capsule wardrobe last fall and experiencing how it simplified everything from shopping to getting dressed every day, I decided I wanted to do the same for our kids.

I mean, if there’s anyone who needs simplicity when getting dressed, it’s a toddler. Am I right? 

I created capsule wardrobes for our kids because I was spending way too much time on their clothes — shopping, returning, exchanging, washing, drying, folding, coordinating — all of it, and they were wearing pretty much the same thing every day, regardless!

Kids clothing is different from adult clothing in that every season, every size, you’re pretty much starting from scratch. I grew tired of trying to mix and match clothes between brands with drastically different sizing. I can’t tell you how many evenings I’ve spent hovered over my laptop in bed, tabbing back and forth between Gap, Target, Zara, and Carters shopping carts only to “X” out of all of them because I had carts full of clothes, none of which actually went together. 

Now I buy all of the kids’ clothes for the new season in one or two shops, from one or two stores. I spend less money and have more outfits that work together. Plus, getting our babes dressed in the morning takes almost no effort since everything coordinates. 

Benefits of Creating a Kids Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes are perfect for kids! Here are some of the benefits we’ve experienced first-hand.

  • Shopping for your kids’ clothes is way easier.
  • You’ll likely spend less on clothing.
  • Having fewer pieces of clothing minimizes decision fatigue.
  • Kids can choose their own outfits that (almost) always coordinate.
  • Having fewer clothes means smaller, more frequent loads of laundry and less laundry overwhelm.
kids boys capsule wardrobe flatlay

How to Create a Kids Capsule Wardrobe 

Our toddler capsules have simplified our lives in so many ways. Want to simplify your kiddo’s clothing, too? Here’s how to do it:

1. Start with a capsule planning checklist.

Get clear on what you need for the upcoming season before you start shopping. I created some free checklists to help you figure out what you need (and what you don’t) for your kiddo’s next capsule. My free printable checklist will help you determine exactly what you need (and what you don’t). It’s a huge time- and money-saver.

The best time to create a capsule for your kiddos actually need new clothes, either when the seasons change or when they’re about to go up a size. Both seem to happen every three months these days #amiright, mamas? Shop early in the season for the best selection and size options. 

Want those free checklists? Drop your email below and I’ll get them right to ya!

Grab your FREE kids’ capsule wardrobe checklists!

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You’ll also receive my kids’ capsule wardrobe checklists to help you simplify the clothes.

2. Find 1-2 brands that fit your kids, budget, and style.

Kids’ clothing varies dramatically between brands, not only in sizes and cuts but also in color palettes. Buying from one brand often means consistent sizing and colors that work together.

I get almost all of our toddlers’ clothes at Zara. I love the quality, style, and muted color palettes. Their basics are super affordable and comparable to what you’d pay at Target. I’m a fan of H&M for basics and inexpensive fashion shoes and Saucony, Zappos, or Nordstrom Rack for cute, comfortable sneakers. 

Other great brands include GapOld NavyTea CollectionJanie & JackCarter’sCat & Jack (Target), Hannah Anderson (pricey), and The Children’s Place.

3. Pick a color palette.

Let the brands you choose guide you. Neutrals plus 2-3 colors per capsule are plenty. An easy way to pick a color scheme for your capsule is to use the colors in a few “foundation” pieces you love—like a shirt, jacket, or dress.

4. Start with 10-12 pieces of everyday clothing.

Our toddler capsules contain five to six different tops and bottoms — excluding onesies and undershirts. 

When I look at it together, this still doesn’t seem like enough, BUT IT IS. As you might imagine, toddlers rotate through their capsules pretty quickly, so we do a load of laundry almost every day. We don’t let it pile up or spend hours folding on the weekend — it just fits into our daily routine and takes 10-15 minutes tops. 

Here’s our standard kids capsule formula:

  • 5-6 everyday tops
  • 5-6 everyday bottoms
  • 1 nice outfit (dress or romper, button-down & pants/nice shorts, etc.) 
  • 5-6 onesies or undershirts
  • 4-5 shoes (1-2 pairs of “play in the dirt” sneakers, 1 pair of nicer sneakers, 1 pair of fashion sandals or shoes) 
  • 5-6 socks 
  • 5-6 underwear/onesies
  • 1 pair of rain/snow boots
  • 2 coats or jackets 

Kids, especially toddlers, wiggle, run, jump, and climb A LOT. They also love picking out their outfits. Buy pieces they will be comfortable being their busy little selves in and that are complementary in color and style so they look put together even when they dress themselves! 

Pick tops and bottoms that can easily be mixed and matched. I’m a fan of soft cotton tops and joggers or leggings for bottoms.

5. Buy everything in 1-2 shopping “trips.”

Your capsule will be more cohesive, and the one-and-done mindset can help deter you from impulse purchases in the coming weeks and months. I say “trips” because I only shop for my little ones online. It’s just more pleasant for everyone, and try-ons can be done over several days or a week. Look for stores that offer free shipping and returns or with local locations where you can return items in person for free.

girls capsule wardrobe closeup of folded clothing stacked

Other capsule wardrobe posts you might like:

Thanks to our kids’ capsule wardrobes, dressing our toddlers has become a lot more pleasant and less overwhelming. I hope you find it does the same for you and your family.

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kids capsule wardrobe flatlay with text

Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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  • Wow I love this. Relate so much to spending way too much time matching styles, going between tabs etc. definitely going to be doing this going forward! Thank you for your super logical advice!

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful, Joanna! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
      Elle

  • Great information! I sort of figured this type wardrobe out for3 sons 20 plus years ago. I was working 2 jobs as a nurse. Sort of found outdoors and tough play for the little guys impacted the daily getting dressed and then the laundry for the household. Fast forward – now I’m a grandma, but to all girls. Love this! Wishing to be supportive to young families with the clothing and laundry overwhelm. Thanks for what you’ve shared. Very helpful!!!!

  • I love this, I have minimal clothes for my girls anyway tbh but I want to reduce it more and make it more of a capsule wardrobe. Do you have any tips on where to store the clothes that currently are not appropriate for the season, when you live in a really small space? Lol I live in a small flat in the UK (a flat is like an apartment but less fancy lol) and there isn’t much space to store the other clothes. I guess I could use vacuum bags but do you have any other tips at all? Thank you so much for reading and for this blog post!

  • I dream of being able to use a capsule wardrobe, but I have a very finicky 2 year old girl who lately only wants to wear dresses. For the fall and winter, would you simply sub out a dress for tops, and just pair them with bottoms? I dread the day she’s a teenager!!!

    • Yes I would totally do that! Dresses = tops in my book. Leggings and thick tights both work great underneath, as do tank undershirts or a cardigan over for layering when it gets chilly. 🤗

  • I have four kids and I am overwhelmed with the clutter. Clothes, toys, gadgets … everything has become too much for me to handle. I love this approach to their wardrobe. They always seem to wear the same couple of things anyway.

  • How often are you swapping your kids wardrobes? You mention 5-6 every day shirts/pants, so what about summer months vs. fall/winter. Just need a bit more guidance. Thank you.

    • Hi there! I typically do a full swap when the seasons start to change. Where we live this is usually early-to-mid fall and mid-spring. If certain items are worn out or outgrown in between, I replace them as needed, or pull from what I have if I purchased something on sale previously. I hope that helps, but let me know if you want more specifics!