How to turn your kids overstuffed closet into a capsule wardrobe.
A practical approach to simplifying your life and laundry situation by decluttering your kids overstuffed closet and turning it into a kids capsule wardrobe.
Where did ALL These Clothes come from?
How did she have so many clothes?!
I was folding yet another load of Emi’s laundry and suddenly became hyper-aware of just how much of it there was.
Drawers were overflowing, there weren’t enough hangers, and most of it wasn’t even that cute.
We had been super blessed and received lots of hand-me-downs from friends and family throughout Emi’s life. I thought I had been brutal when sorting through it, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, but apparently not.
She had too many clothes and they were bogging down my laundry routine and consuming time that could have been better spent elsewhere.
Right then and there I decided we needed to downsize.
I knew Emi had some good clothes. Clothes I thought she looked adorable in, that she liked to wear, and that were good quality. There was already 95% of a capsule wardrobe hiding amid all that clutter, the trick was going to be finding it.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
At its core a capsule wardrobe is a strategic wardrobe.
Instead of shopping and buying on a whim, you go with a plan usually looking for specific colors or items to fill a gap in your wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobes are meant to maximize each article of clothing and its wearability by coordinating it with everything else in your closet.
For example, a blush blouse that can be worn with jeans as well as a black pencil skirt AND those navy capris would be a great addition to a capsule wardrobe.
By filling your closet with versatile, coordinated items you can achieve many different looks and endlessly mix and match.
Adapting a capsule wardrobe for kids
Capsule wardrobes can be as strict or relaxed as you like. As with anything, you want the change to enhance your life, not make it harder, or leave you feeling restricted.
I think for kids especially it’s important to leave yourself some wiggle room. Kids can be hard on their clothes and easily go through two outfits a day, sometimes three. Don’t get rid of too much.
Also, kids clothing tends to be bright and colorful. While an adult capsule wardrobe may stick to a strict color scheme, I recommend embracing a variety of colors in your kid’s capsule wardrobe.
guidelines for a Kids capsule wardrobe
The first question I had to answer was how I would decide what to keep, and what we could part with. In other words, what rules would govern Emi’s capsule wardrobe?
Before you run off thinking that girl is so silly and vain just hold on and let me explain!
As a photographer I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about what does and does not photograph well. Everything from fabrics to colors and patterns make a HUGE difference to the camera.
It felt ridiculous to then take pictures of our daily family activities and end up disappointed with the end result by not follow similar guidelines. When I’d go to edit all I could see was the Disney princess on Emi’s shirt. SO DISTRACTING!
The pictures were still precious but they could have been better and more focused on our family and our story if I’d taken my own advice.
So this is rule #1 but it’s also a guiding principle for all the others.
2. No characters
I hinted at this with rule #1, but in case you missed it the cardinal rule of photogenic clothes is no characters. No Disney princesses, no unicorns, no dinosaurs or trucks. It doesn’t matter if its a trademarked character or a generic one, throw them all out.
Clothes with characters tend to look cheap and fade more rapidly in the wash. They can also make clothes difficult to match.
That said, I did keep one dress and one shirt with unicorns on them that had recently been gifted to Emi because Emi loves them and they were almost brand new. Like I said, keep it loose and do what makes the most sense and works best for you.
3. Solids and simple patterns
Because I wanted Emi’s wardrobe to be easy to mix and match I chose to focus mostly on solid colors and simple patterns.
After I sorted through Emi’s closet, most of her shirts are now simple feminine tee’s in white, black, pink, and yellow that she can easily pair with jeans, tan, black, or olive pants and shorts, also already in her closet.
We also kept a fun pair of magenta shorts since summer was coming up, they’re super cute and still match with many of her shirts.
Simple patterns include stripes, polka-dots, and florals, all of which you’ll find on a selection of dresses and skirts in her wardrobe.
I am definitely a comfort over fashion kind of girl. Even if Emi doesn’t seem to mind wearing something, I have a hard time dressing her in it if I wouldn’t enjoy wearing it all day.
The opposite is true too. You can love fashion but if your kid absolutely refuses to wear it, there is no point in keeping it.
5. In Good condition and of a good quality
The clothes we kept in Emi’s wardrobe had to be good quality and able to keep up with the life of a toddler.
We threw away anything that was flimsy, fraying, or stained. No point in maintaining something that has already surpassed its life span.
Fill the gaps in your kids capsule wardrobe
Once you’ve got your kids’ closet decluttered and pared down to a capsule wardrobe make sure there aren’t any holes. You want to make sure they have all the necessities and enough to get them between laundry days.
If you got a little excited and threw out all their shorts you may want to salvage one or two pairs from the throw-away pile before hauling it out to the trash. Or, decide exactly what you need and pick up those items, and only those items from the store.
After I finished going through Emi’s clothes, I decided she needed one or two blouses for special occasions where a tee shirt wouldn’t cut it. Shopping was so much easier because I knew exactly what I was looking for and didn’t get distracted by all the cute things.
Don’t forget to leave less-used items like swim suits and a good number of pajamas and other lounge wear for those stay home kind of days.
Welcome to a world with less laundry
Ever since I purged Emi’s closet a huge weight has been lifted on my shoulders, one I didn’t even know was there.
Now, when I help Emi get dressed in the morning I don’t get frustrated pawing through mountains of clothes, all while feeling like she has nothing to wear.
We don’t wash clean clothes over and over again because they end up on the floor instead of hung up or put away in drawers.
Now, I can fold a basket of Emi’s laundry in 5 minutes, instead of 15.
Now, when I take pictures of our family, her clothes are always cute and not distracting.
And we didn’t have to spend a lot of money totally redoing her wardrobe. Her capsule wardrobe already existed, it just needed to be freed from her overstuffed closet.
Life is better.
I challenge you to find the capsule wardrobe hiding in your kids’ closet, then come back and tell us how it has changed your life!