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How to downsize your laundry with capsule wardrobes for your kids - Totally the Mom

Downsize your laundry piles with capsule wardrobes for your kids

How to downsize your laundry piles with capsule wardrobes for your kids

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If you’ve ever daydreamed about drawers and closets that easily close, your kiddo in an outfit that actually matches  (even if they’re picky and insist on picking out everything themselves), or not having laundry mountain taking up half your couch, you may want to consider creating a capsule wardrobe for your kids.

What is it?

A capsule wardrobe is simply a reduced collection of quality, coordinating clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a number of different outfits.

You may have seen a number of pins and blog posts about this eco- and wallet-friendly fashion trend for your own closet, but a capsule wardrobe can be a welcome improvement in a kid’s wardrobe too!

Why would you want to create a capsule wardrobe for your kids?       

I’m a huge believer in the “less is more” philosophy and a capsule wardrobe definitely fits the bill. It can:

  • Reduce laundry — When you create a capsule wardrobe, you’ll be reducing the number of individual clothing items to an amount that can easily live in a dresser or closet. Usually just a week (or a little more) worth of outfits, depending on preference.

To make more space in your closet and your life, grab your free decluttering starter guide for busy moms here:


  • Make selecting outfits quicker and easier — A key element of any capsule wardrobe is that the pieces you keep all coordinate in some way. The staples can be rotated with a few accents to create a large number of outfits, but the number of options is limited so kids won’t be stuck with too many choices (which is a form of decision fatigue). No more multi-outfit changes on a rushed school morning.


  • Outfits match — remember that part about elements that all coordinate? Yeah, that’s a big plus when it comes to empowering kids to dress themselves in outfits that don’t make their parents want to post a sign on their backs saying, “he picked this out!”


  • Less waste — When you commit to a capsule wardrobe for your kids, you’re committing to a smaller closet. You’ll be less tempted to buy something if it doesn’t fit within your pre-established parameters. That means no more crazy print leggings that only go with one top taking up space in Mary’s drawer.


  • Budget friendly — As in the example above, you’re not going to be buying all the things. Having a capsule wardrobe means you’ll be mindful of each piece you wish to add to the rotation, and if it doesn’t meet your parameters, you don’t buy it.


  • Helpful for kids with clothing sensory issues — Does your kiddo have extreme preferences when it comes to how clothes feel or fit? Maybe they will only wear cotton shirts without tags, or pants that don’t have buttons. A capsule wardrobe can be built around these preferences so that everything meets their needs and you don’t wind up with a scream fest because the only clean clothes are things they refuse to wear.


  • Less clutter — You knew that would be on the list. Right? 🙂 Paring down your kids’ lot of clothes means everything has a place, is organized and fits where it belongs. No more overflowing closets and drawers. At its core, a capsule wardrobe is just a trendy way to declutter their clothes and keep it that way.

How to create a capsule wardrobe for your kids:

1.       Get a current inventory

Take note of what your kids currently have. Do they have a lot of pants that don’t fit? Shirts that are stained? Things with holes?

You can start to weed out what you know isn’t working anymore and then see what you’ve got left to work with. This will give you an idea of where to start rebuilding their stash and what they DON’T need more of right now.

2.       Take note of what is worn most (and what isn’t)

In the days or weeks leading up to this project, pay attention to what your kids naturally seem to prefer. Notice the clothing style, colors and type. Also notice what usually winds up sitting in their drawers. These are items you don’t want to keep in their capsule wardrobe or use as inspiration to grow their collection.

3.       What needs do you have?

Think about your specific needs/wants. Does your child need or prefer a lot of active gear for sports practices, gym classes or daily wear? Do they often need to dress nicely for church and special occasions? What seasons do you have? Will your child layer, or would cardigans and hoodies just wind up on the floor five seconds after they put them on?

Jot down a few criteria to keep in mind to help you make the most functional choices.

4.       Create your master list of items for each child

How many of each item do they need? You may want to consider making this two columns with one reflecting the current number owned and one reflecting how many you think they will need. Plan for at least a week’s worth of the following items:

  1.      Shirts (long sleeves, t-shirts, button downs, sleeveless…etc.)
  2.      Pants (jeans, legging, dress pants, athletic pants)
  3.      Shorts
  4.      Dresses
  5.      Skirts
  6.      Sweaters/Sweatshirts/Layering
  7.      Socks
  8.      Underwear
  9.      Shoes
  10.      Pajamas

5.       Choose a color Palette for each kid


This step isn’t totally essential, but I find it extremely helpful for ensuring that the items you keep in your child’s wardrobe coordinate and can be easily mixed and matched to create a large variety outfits.

Each kid will have their basic neutrals (jeans, black pants/leggings, khaki, whites and greys..etc). But their whole wardrobe doesn’t need to be neutral and colorless to make it all match. Choose three or even four coordinating accent colors that will be your target when building out their wardrobes.

Pay attention to what your kids naturally seem to gravitate toward and what they already seem to have a lot of in their drawers. For example, my son happens to love orange and green, so his color palette is orange, green and blue.

When sorting through his dresser, it was easier to decide what to keep and what to donate based on this color pallette. And since the colors work well together, it makes the majority of his wardrobe interchangeable.

Does he still have some items that aren’t within that pallette? Of course! He loves Pikachu and Mario and has a few shirts with those characters and their brand colors on them. But the majority of his clothes work the the blue, green, orange family.

Tip: When it’s time to shop to build out their wardrobe, I highly recommend starting with something like Primary. You can shop online by color making it super easy and convenient. Plus, I think they have some really bright, colorful, and adorable options. And none of it features logos or slogans, which I love! 🙂

This can be a gradual process. Don’t feel like you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe right now. Work with what you’ve got and then when the items are outgrown or are ready to be replaced, you can rebuild with more of the coordinating color palette.

6.       Sort!

Now it’s time for the real (and rewarding) work to begin. Work with one child’s wardrobe at a time.

First, take everything out of the dressers and closets and sort it by type, (shirt, pants…etc.). From there, keeping all your criteria in mind (how many of each item do you think they’ll need, colors, activities, seasons…etc.), begin to sort into the following categories:

  • Keep: The best of the best. High quality, in good shape and fits within your already identified criteria
  • Donate (or Sell — re-sale thrift companies like ThredUp make this super easy — just make sure you know their criteria before you try to sell)
  • Trash/Recycle: Anything with holes or stains belongs here.
  • Sentimental/Hand-Me-Downs: Try to limit this to only a few of the best of the best that would serve another sibling or cousin or specific friend. Have a person in mind when you’re making your hand-me-down pile.

Tip: If you want to make a little money from this wardrobe clean-out, consider trying on online consignment shop like ThredUp. They send you a bag, you fill it with items you no longer need. Mail it back (for free) and get paid for whatever is sold. Plus it’s a fun way to get some seriously good discounts on clothing you may need to finish out that new capsule wardrobe. 🙂

7.       Start with what is left  and add on from there to complete the capsule wardrobe

Once you’re done sorting, take a quick inventory.

Fill in your current inventory totals on your list and compare to your ideal totals. This will allow you to quickly see where you might have some gaps that you need to fill (i.e. more pants or t-shirts…etc.). And it will make shopping and restocking that much more efficient.

You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy all new things right away – you can work with what you have and be selective in your future purchases so that they fit within your master inventory list.

Bonus Tips:

  • A great time to start this project is during a change of seasons as you’ll probably need to sort through closets and drawers anyway.
  • Let your kids have input if they’re old enough. They are probably great at letting you know when they don’t love something. I let my oldest help me this summer and was surprised to learn that some of the stuff in her drawers were things she would really only wear if there wasn’t anything else clean. Those were easy to pop into the donate pile. 🙂
  • Pay attention for a few weeks before you start and take note of what isn’t being loved. This will help you get an idea of any style, color and even material preferences your child may have.

For more downsizing and decluttering help, grab your free decluttering starter guide for busy moms here:


Now it’s your turn. Would you ever create a capsule wardrobe with your kids? Why or why not? Leave your answer in the comments below! 🙂