There are many so called “rules” around creating a wardrobe capsule, but if you’re looking how to make a toddler capsule wardrobe, your goal is probably to make things simpler NOT harder.
So I’ve eliminated all of the “shoulds” around toddler capsule creation for you, and given you a simple, bare bones skeleton for you to simply, cheaply and efficiently make a capsule wardrobe for a toddler. 5 tops, 5 bottoms, 3 sweaters, 3 pyjamas, 10 socks + underwear, 1 jacket, 1 footwear, 1 swimwear. DONE.
As a mom of 6, all born within 7 years, I have asked this question MANY times.
And because I’ve asked so many times, I have also been able to tweak and refine my minimalist approach merged with the capsule wardrobe approach to make a kid’s capsule wardrobe that will be comfortable, affordable, manageable, efficient and…(the most important thing)..cute!
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My own capsule wardrobe journey
When I had my first baby, I bought him so many clothing pieces and was gifted so many clothing pieces. He had a closet full of clothes (wall to wall), and I often put clothing on him just out of principle that it needed to be worn “at least once”.
It was a lot of washing and storing and organizing. I also had the energy for it all, being on maternity leave and having just the 1 babe to care for.
Not too long after that I became pregnant with my second son, and not too long after that my third.
I also went to school to work in health care after my first son, so the responsibilities of motherhood and life quickly added up, and it soon became overwhelming to tend to EVERYTHING that needed me…and that’s even with having a partner who is very present, helpful and supportive.
We started narrowing down our wardrobes to save time and money, and I eventually came across the concept of minimalism and toddler boy capsule wardrobes and I jumped all the way in.
It was so nice to have less worry over my inability to keep up with the mountains of clothing, and as our family grew we had less and less extra space, so this made sense to us.
I was also cultivating a deeper sense of personal responsibility around that time around how my choices impacted the earth, and how I could choose to live differently to support the health of our environment, and to focus more time and energy on the things and people that I love.
So, my own capsule wardrobe journey was born out of desperation, which I can look back on NOW and chuckle, and has picked up speed because of my own shifts in values and consciousness.
What about you?
Benefits of choosing a capsule wardrobe
-less laundry (Because you have fewer pieces of clothing- it will just need to be done more frequently)
-decrease decision fatigue in getting dressed
-exercise creativity in thinking of different ways to style and wear a small number of versatile pieces
-give your toddler opportunity to practice choosing clothing and getting dressed
-with each new “round” of clothing that is bought, you can accommodate your growing toddler’s new or changing clothing preferences
-spend less money by only purchasing clothing that you like, and wearing it until it is worn out or outgrown
-significantly less time spent on shopping
by getting to know which stores and brands are your favourite, you can take the guess work out of building future toddler capsule wardrobes
Toddler daily activities: Practicalities to consider when building a capsule wardrobe
Considering what your daily life and daily activities include is a very important step in the capsule wardrobe creation process because you want to make sure that your clothes are not only aesthetically cute, but also fully functional.
*if you have a little girl who loves to climb and hang upside down, perhaps some bummies or extra shorts to wear under dresses and skirts will be necessary
*if you have a toddler who prefers sleeveless shirts over short sleeve shirts (my own toddler does)
*if you have a toddler who tends to wear out the knees on their pants, look for pants that have reinforced knees OR purchase from somewhere that has a clothing guarantee (like Walmart)
*if your toddler is currently potty training, you will likely need clothing that will be easy to pull up and down
*any nuances or specifics in your toddler’s regular life that might require accommodation by their clothing
When to shop for a toddler capsule wardrobe
The best time to shop for a toddler capsule wardrobe is when they are at the end of their current size (and their clothing is nearly too small), or when the season is changing and they will need clothing for a different outside climate.
Because toddlers tend to grow so quickly, typically you won’t need to keep any of the clothes from their previous wardrobe, because by time you circle back to that season your toddler will have outgrown all of the clothes from that last same season!
By shopping at the beginning of the season, you can often snag good deals, as well as have the best selection to choose from.
Things to consider before you start planning your toddler capsule wardrobe
Your reason for wanting a toddler capsule wardrobe
Shopping for someone and accumulating new items has a certain psychological component to it, which is why people sometimes find themselves shopping when they are stressed.
In order to create, and maintain a toddler capsule wardrobe, you need to yourself be clear on why you are choosing to go this route with your toddler’s wardrobe.
Those clearance deals and hand-me-downs are always so tempting, so having a clear “why” regarding your toddler capsule wardrobe will help you to stick to your plan and not accumulate extra clothing.
This is a question of values. What do YOU value? What are you hoping to gain from this choice? This is probably the least often addressed when it comes to capsule wardrobes for kids or baby clothes, and is perhaps one of the most important things to consider!
Some common reasons for wanting a toddler capsule wardrobe are:
sustainability: to be more eco-friendly and become conscious consumers in their purchasing habits
to decrease the amount of time they spend on laundry in order to have more time for XYZ
by only shopping for clothing once per season (or a few times per year), money is saved
by having a toddler capsule wardrobe, decision fatigue is decreased, as is the visual stimulation of having a whole closet full of clothing to choose from
even tiny toddler clothing, when accumulated can take up a ton of space! This is especially something to consider if you don’t have a lot of extra storage space or your toddler shares a bedroom with a younger siblings or older siblings.
Purchasing fewer items opens up the budget to have the option of purchasing higher quality pieces (which have better resale value and can be passed on after)
Favourite stores and brands
My personal favourite stores to shop at for toddler clothes are Target, H&M (some of their options are made with organic cotton), Old Navy, Walmart and Wooland. For toddler boots, I always use Bogs because they have a great resale value and are year round- meaning they are good for rain AND snow! (Plus, they have built in handles, so even my 2 year old could put them on himself!)
We also use Keen’s sandals in the summer for our toddlers because they have the openness and airflow of sandals, but the bottoms of them are well formed and made for climbing, jumping, running, rolling and any other rambunctious toddler activity.
They also come in a great selection of colours and have great resale value too! (Look on Marketplace, I always check there first when we need some and often find good second hand pairs.)
Ideally, you would choose 1-2 different stores that you really like and purchase your new clothes completely in 1-2 shopping trips so that it’s over and done with in the easiest way possible, and you can move on with your merry life.
Sizing is sometimes different with different brands, and also some stores tend to sell clothing items that shrink after their first wash, so by choosing just a couple stores, you can eliminate that hassle and guesswork.
Beyond that, there is the question of style preferences. So, by choosing just 1 or 2 stores to purchase the bulk of your toddler capsule wardrobe items at, you will be able to facilitate the coordination that you have selected in your colour scheme (because most stores stock clothing in the “in” colours of that year and season), and make the entire process quicker and easier.
Most stores have rewards and loyalty programs, so its always a great idea to just do a quick search online to see if they currently have any big sales or coupon codes that you can apply.
I often buy my toddler boy clothes from H&M and enjoy that they have a rewards program where I can earn money off my purchase. I also really like Wooland (they have a great Merino Wool dress challenge where you can get your next toddler dress FREE!) and Old Navy for good quality leggings for my girl and pants for my boys.
Walmart is excellent because of their child clothing guarantee (if the clothing wears out before it is outgrown they will replace it for free), and I have many times brought back pants with holes in the knees and gotten brand new ones.
When deciding where to purchase the items for your toddler capsule wardrobe, we always consider price, style and convenience. Another important thing to consider is what are your values? What types of businesses do you want to support? Are you happy with the way that the stores your spend money at treat their employees and take responsibility for their role in the world and economy?
This is always something that is worth considering, and by giving your money to businesses that are ethical, you are giving them a “vote”.
What your laundry routine will look like
This is important to consider because with fewer items to rotate through, you will need to do laundry more often (even though in the long run you will definitely have less laundry to do!)
In my own experience, and in conversing with others who use a similar approach, doing a small load of laundry every single day has been the best way to manage clothing for a capsule wardrobe.
Of course that load likely won’t contain ONLY the toddler’s clothes (since there are other people who live the house), so house linens and clothing from other people can make up the rest of the load.
Getting into the habit of doing laundry every day will take some practice, and on a positive note you will likely notice that even with spending a handful of minutes each day doing laundry, you are likely spending less time overall.
How you will store your toddler’s clothing
This point seems obvious, however in our own lives our clothes storage changed as we embraced capsule wardrobes for the whole family. Of course for starters we needed far less room! Beyond that, because there was less clothing, I wanted the items to be viewable and accessible for my toddlers so that they could practice getting dressed and choosing clothes.
For this reason, baskets (these are so cute and come in a 3 pack) on a shelf were the best option for us, along with a small child’s closet with shirts hung up.
Dressers are also another great option, as are under-the-bed storage totes. (I’m redoing my older boys’ bedroom and plan to get them these ones with wheels)
What you already have, and what you still need to purchase
Most people tend to have more toddler clothing than they need because of gifts, hand-me-downs and impulse buys during great sales.
If you are someone who is attached to your toddler’s clothing, determining what to keep and what to donate/ sell/ trash could be more challenging.
One of the ways you can determine what pieces you will keep is to think about the color scheme or color palette that you would like for your toddler capsule wardrobe. The pieces that fall outside of that realm can be donated or sold (you can get cash for them at Thred-Up).
What you will do with any (extra) toddler clothing that you already own
I have many a times seen toddler’s gifted clothing a couple sizes too big so that they can “grow into them”.
Depending on your situation, you may have a lot of extra clothes in storage, waiting for your toddler to reach that specific size. (When I had my twin boys, I was given clothing in a bunch of different sizes from 3m-4 years. This was great, I felt SO blessed.
Also, in retrospect, I really spent a lot of time organizing, sorting, storing, labeling etc. (I now understand that I had a hard time saying no, because I was feeling scarcity about our situation…So I would not choose to accept that much clothing again…)
If you are someone who owns some toddler clothing pieces like this, you will need to consider if you will keep them and work them into your wardrobe plan (and how you’ll store them until they fit!), or get rid of them.
How you will respond moving forward when offered hand-me-downs
If you are a mom, chances are there is someone close to you (or your own older children) who has or will in the future offer you hand-me-downs. It’s a good idea to consider beforehand whether or not you would like to gather new outfits that are handed down (and store them for later), or would prefer to decline such offerings and just start fresh with each new wardrobe.
In my own life, I have enjoyed the process of choosing new toddler capsule wardrobes, and also had certain clothing preferences, so I have chosen not to accept hand-me-downs moving forwards.
There is no right or wrong answer, whatever works best for you!
How to make a capsule wardrobe for a toddler
Making a capsule wardrobe for a toddler does not need to be daunting or time consuming. Make a basic plan, follow these simple steps, then go on and enjoy less laundry piles and more time for what you need and love!
- Get very clear about what your needs are (seasonal, daily living, special events etc), including which clothing pieces you already have. This is an important step because it will help you to make sure you have enough clothes, and also be able to eliminate anything that is extra or unnecessary. This is the whole point of a capsule wardrobe. (You can use this free planning checklist to plan it out)
- Determine what size your toddler is now (so you’re certain you purchase the right size clothing), and plan to buy your kid’s clothes in larger sizes (1 size up is good) to accommodate growth in the coming months.
- Determine the brands that best work for your preferences and budget. If you are thrifting, determine your preferred styles and fabrics, and the largest thrift store or stores you can access.
- Choose your color scheme/ colour palette OR decide on neutral colours and complementary colors/ accent colours that you will steer towards
- Purchase your everyday items (in a single trip to 1 or 2 stores) and your outerwear all in the same shopping day.
- Determine how you will store your items, and when you will hit the laundry room to ensure your toddler has clean clothes all the time. (In my experience, daily or every other day works best!)
What To Include In A Toddler’s Capsule Wardrobe
Here are some guidelines to help you structure your children’s wardrobe. Remember, these are guidelines NOT rules. Determine what your family needs, and tweak as necessary.
This list includes items for both summer and winter, so depending on the season that you are shopping for you can eliminate the unnecessary items.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions?
If you cannot find an answer to your question in our FAQ, you can always leave a comment or send a message and we’ll do our best to get you an answer as soon as we can!
For so long dressing my kiddos was a huge hassle and I HATED doing laundry…mostly because I was almost always behind on it. Embracing a capsule wardrobe approach has made this part of motherhood and life so much easier.
My biggest regret is not doing it sooner, because life is short and I don’t want to spend it looking for clean pants for my kid or feeling like crap because there are piles of clothing (is it clean? or not? I guess everything needs to be rewashed?!) everywhere.
Your life, your choice.
Whatever you need to do today to pivot, and bring joy back to your life, I hope you muster up the courage to do it.
Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.