I have 6 children, and 5 of them are boys, and have been using the capsule wardrobe approach for going on 7 years now. So, needless to say I have my own personal experience and have learned a lot over the years. I’ve gained a ton of wisdom about how to manage, organize kids’ clothing and build wardrobes that work well for each family member, and for our family collectively.
A toddler boy capsule wardrobe is a complete wardrobe of carefully and intentionally picked clothing items that are used to meet all of your toddler boy’s clothing needs. This capsule wardrobe typically contains matching or coordinating everyday wear items (typically 12-14 capsule items), footwear, outerwear, dress up clothes and pyjamas.
*Note: The number of items in a wardrobe is not a rule, rather a guideline to ensure that only what is needed is purchased.
The purpose of creating this wardrobe is to facilitate ease of getting dress and eliminate the barrage that happens to both tiny humans and adults alike when there are too many choices.
If you’re interested in building your first capsule wardrobe (or a subsequent one) for your toddler boy, I come bearing good news!
You can grab your free “Toddler Boy Capsule Wardrobe checklist and planner” here, which is a complete step-by-step guide to creating your kid’s capsule wardrobe. It’s full of options and space/ ideas to help you plan out a toddler boy capsule wardrobe that will work perfectly for your situation.
Benefits to having a toddler boy capsule wardrobe
Help your toddler learn about getting dressed.
Most toddlers are learning about how to dress themselves, and having a kids capsule wardrobe is a great way to support that learning!
By having the clothes in kid’s closets stored in a simple and visual way, they can easily see what their options are.
One of the benefits of having a small wardrobe for a small child is that there is much less overwhelm in getting dressed. If they only have 5 shirts to choose from, it makes it a lot easier for them to (help) decide what to wear that day!
Besides the ease of selection, you will be able to see what pieces of clothing your toddler favours or what their favorite colors are, which will be a big help when it comes time to get new clothing in bigger sizes.
The costs for clothing can add up very quickly, especially with toddlers who are growing rapidly and moving into different sizes often. One of the great benefits of having a toddler boy capsule ward are the money savings.
Because you are only buying what your toddler will wear and use, you will spend less money and save on having items that don’t get much use (how often do you find thrift store toddler clothes that are brand new?). Besides that, money will be saved because you won’t be spending any gas to drive to stores to browse or pick up extras, or making several trips to donate too-small clothes.
When you commit to purchasing only the items necessary for your toddler boy capsule wardrobe, you will also eliminate the extra cost of impulse buys that are so easy to grab our wallets and attentions. “It’s only $3, why not!?”. Well, those small purchases add up! (Ask me how I know…)
Sustainable and eco friendly.
The amount of clothing that ends up as waste and in landfills is atrocious, and most of us don’t see it so it is very easy to ignore. Recent studies show that approximately 81.5 lbs of textiles are wasted per person, per year in the United States alone. (Source)
This is shocking when we consider the other side of this conversation, which is the enormous need in the world- even in the face of all of this waste.
Having a capsule wardrobe is a great way to become conscious consumers and decrease each of our contributions to this huge waste problem. By intentionally purchasing fewer clothes for our toddler boys that will get worn, and used as long as possible, we are making a dent in that textile waste.
This also means that when we are gifted an excess of toddler boy items, we can feel good about passing them on or donating them, knowing that less clothing will need to be produced in the long run.
You can be even more eco friendly by choosing to buy the most sustainable fabrics, like organic cotton, merino wool and linen.
Use Less Space
With my first son, we had WAY more than enough clothes. Like, a LOT. A full closet’s worth of baby clothes and kids’ clothes from wall to wall, and of course he didn’t wear most of them. And I spent far too much time organizing them.
Lots of days I would get him up and dressed in his fancy little pieces out of principle that he needed to wear them all “at least once”.
In retrospect, however, having him in onesies and pyjamas was more comfortable all around and a lot easier for the frequent diaper changes.
As the years went by and our family grew, we began having our children share bedrooms, which meant less time shopping and less space for that enormous amount of clothing. (And obviously less time for never ending laundry.)
As we slowly moved into capsule wardrobes for everyone, it became apparent that actually we didn’t need more dressers or extra clothes hanging racks. By paring down our toddler boys clothes, we used up far less space for clothing, and that extra space became available for other storage. (We chose to use that space for season items and bedroom toys.)
The extra space that was freed up was also a good choice for us because it allowed for us to have our other belongings put away, which created a more minimal and less stimulating environment in our bedrooms.
As a parent, one of the things that I’ve very quickly come to terms with is that cute kids clothes does not always equal comfortable kids clothes.
Those little toddler suits with dress pants, suspenders and bow ties are oh-so-cute, however they often get ripped off intermittently throughout the day and left around the house. Yes, they are all the way adorable but they are not comfortable, and therefore not practical.
By thinking about your lifestyle and the types of fabric and clothing that will support that lifestyle, you are able to make clothing choices that will be practical and also comfortable for you and your toddler (while also maintaining the cute standard).
One of the worst things is sitting down exhausted at the end of the day, and remembering that you have a pile of clothing by the washer that needs stain removing.
Or, going to sit down and having a pile of laundry on the couch that needs to be moved.
Or, having a bin of clean laundry and having your toddler dump it all on the floor and throw it in the air like confetti.
Or spending a mountain of time organizing bins and having a toddler ransack that room, ripping off all your nicely printed labels and disorganizing all your work.
Or leaving a bin of clean clothes unattended and coming back to find them all mixed up with the dirty clothes and now everything needs to be rewashed.
They are ALL the worst, if you know you know!
By having a toddler boy capsule wardrobe, you can eliminate the copious amounts of laundry that can so quickly and easily pile up. It seems counter-intuitive, but less clothes does in fact equal less laundry.
Yes, you will have less days worth of clothes and therefore need to do it more often, however you will have a lot less of it and it will be a lot easier to keep track of.
A benefit that I did not expect of having a toddler boy capsule wardrobe is that my toddler boys like their clothing (because I know what they like and geared that way while shopping), and now they take better care of their clothing. They want it put away. They want to point into the closet and select their shirts for the day. They know the Mickey shirt is theirs, and enjoy the task of getting dressed.
More time to spend on what you value.
Motherhood is busy! There are so many things that demand much time, energy and attention, and because you are human, those resources have limits.
Building a toddler boy capsule wardrobe is one of the ways that you can build a system in your life so that you don’t have to use any of your “bandwidth” on getting your littles dressed.
Really, this is a question of values, and this is a really great way to hone in on and understand your own values.
By looking at where it is that you choose to purchase your items (the stores you shop at are an indication of your values), the budget that you choose to attribute to your toddler boy wardrobe, and what you do with the time and money you save, you are learning a ton about what it most important to you in your life.
Things to consider for your toddler boy capsule wardrobe
Depending on where you are, you may have the same weather all year round, have 4 distinct seasons, or any mix of those 2. When deciding what to put in your toddler boy capsule wardrobe, consider the seasons that you will be going through. If possible, choose items that can be used for more than 1 season.
Where we live, we have 4 seasons. Summer and Spring tend to be warmer, while Autumn and Winter tend to be cooler. For us, what works best is buying clothes in 2 batches: for Summer and Spring, and then for Autumn and Winter.
We try our best to buy items that can work for multiple seasons, especially outerwear.
denim jackets (these are our favourite brand, that tend to last for years) are great for spring and summer, and in the fall they get layered with sweaters for warmth. They also look great in photos and are comfortable for playing in since they are typically made with stretch fabric.
Bogs boots are great because they are both waterproof and good for up to -30 degrees. This means that they are both rain boots and snow boots. Bogs are also amazing for toddlers because they are built with 2 “hand holes” on either side of each boot, which means that toddlers can easily pull their own boots off and on. Bogs have great resale value too!
3-in-1 jackets (we love these, because this store always has free shipping, great sales and an excellent return policy). 3 in 1 jackets are waterproof, and they come with an inner sweater that zips in and out. This means that they can wear the inner sweater in the winter when it’s cold, they can wear just the shell when it’s raining out, and in the spring and fall they can wear just the inner sweater when the weather is mild. These are our most favourite jackets for toddlers and and older kids, we try to get them whenever we need to buy new outerwear.
Besides that, getting pieces that can be layered is a great way to accommodate changes in temperature. By making sure that there are long pant/ short sleeve and long sleeve options for each season, you will ensure that your toddler boy has a good variety of clothing to layer with.
How much you choose to spend on your toddler boy’s capsule wardrobe depends on a lot of things. When determining your budget, consider if there are any stores that you want to support because you love what they stand for (for me Wooland is one of those stores. They’ve also got great community and challenges for kids and adults where you get store credits for wearing their items for X number of days in a row).
Typically, those are more premium stores (often time handmade shops fall in this category), where the items that you get are higher in both cost and quality. This means that when the purchased items are outgrown, they can be sold if they are still in decent condition.
Thrift stores or consignment stores are also a great way to go. If you are choosing to go this route, I recommend that you identify the largest ones in your area (so that you have more options to choose from), and then see if they have any rewards systems that you can sign up to for discounts. Value Village gives a 20% discount on purchases whenever you donate anything (and I do mean ANYTHING).
If you are purchasing from thrift stores to save money (versus for sustainability reasons) it’s a good idea to know what the baseline clothing prices are at the “regular” stores around you. There have been many times where I have seen brand new clothing cheaper at Walmart than used clothing at thrift stores.
Toddler Preferences and Personality
Some toddlers are very easy going and will wear whatever you put on them. Others are adamant that they want to choose, so it’s important to know where your toddler boy falls in that regard.
Toddlerhood is an interesting developmental time in that your little one is beginning to explore the world and understand who they are, and how they are separate from everything else in it.
If you have a toddler who will wear whatever you choose, it makes it easier for you to just select what you want to see them in.
If, on the other hand, you have a toddler who wants to have a say in their clothing, it is very important to take their preferences into consideration so that you don’t have a battle every day when it’s time to get dressed.
When building your toddler boy capsule wardrobe, it’s important to consider if there are specific images that they would appreciate (currently, my toddler boys like dinosaurs and monsters), if they have colour preferences, if they have sensory issues (like tags sticking out or fabrics they don’t like) and if there any other style elements that they do or don’t like. (For example, one of my toddlers doesn’t like long sleeves and always pulls them up.)
Your own aesthetic values
There are many streams of thought when it comes to our appearance and how we- and our children- show up in the world.
Some people feel that looking “put together”, matching or coordinated and in line with social order is very important. In this situation, creating a capsule wardrobe with more neutrals and within a specific color palette would be a great option for you.
Others feel that creative expression, being unique and bringing “razzle dazzle” into the world is very important. In this instance, going with whatever you feel drawn to, or whatever you know would catch the eye of your toddler would be a good way to go about building a capsule wardrobe. Matching and coordinating doesn’t need to be such a big deal for you. I, myself, fall into this category and enjoy having my toddlers and children wear whatever they want (as long as it’s clean and free of holes).
Of course many others fall within the spectrum of those 2 polarities and there is no right or wrong answer in this, other than what your values are.
Having fewer pieces of clothing means that the clothing that your toddler boy does have will get worn a lot more often. For this reason, it’s best to choose items that will be able to stand up to being washed often, won’t give immediately when someone falls on their knees, and can withhold the rigours of toddlerhood.
A good thing to do is to check the weight of the fabrics that you are buying. Some pants are made with thicker and more durable fabric (heavy weight vs. light weight cottons, for instance) and will last longer for that reason. Old Navy makes great pants for toddler boys that are easy to move around in and tend to last. I like to get pants for my older children there too!
It’s always a good idea to know the return and quality guarantee policies of the stores where you intend to invest in your toddler boy capsule wardrobe. In this way, you can determine which places work the best for you and your family to shop at and then that takes more of the guesswork out of clothes shopping.
Alternatively, if you know that your toddler boy is very rough on his clothing, you can opt to buy his capsule wardrobe from a store like Walmart that has a child clothing guarantee. We love Walmart because they guarantee that their clothing items will last until the child outgrows them- or they are replaced for free.
Our toddler boys are always climbing, jumping, and breaking holes in the knees of their pants. So, for pants, I like to opt for the cotton Walmart ones (they cost 4$/ pair and come in several colors). I place all of my receipts and clothing tags in a marked envelope, and if their pants need to be replaced I just bring them back and get new ones for free.
If you are into wool, Merino wool is a great option because it is thermo regulating and antibacterial. This means that it helps the wearer to maintain a comfortable body temperature, and also doesn’t need to be washed unless it’s soiled. I personally own some Wooland pieces and love them for this! They have a 100 day challenge for adults and children that proves the durability of merino wool.
Potty training typically happens during the toddler years and is an important part of their growing in independence.
In order to ensure that your toddler is not hindered by their clothing during potty training, make sure to invest in clothing options- bottoms especially- that will be quick and easy to pull down and or remove.
Consider also that you, or your childcare providers, will be the ones to redress your toddler after each washroom break, so it’s a great idea to buy items for your toddler boy capsule wardrobe that won’t require a lot of fussing or patience to wear.
Clothing items to avoid in your toddle boy capsule wardrobe during potty training:
-overalls with front clips
-jeans or other pants that need to be unbuttoned
-rompers or 1 piece outfits that do up in the back
-clothing items with crotch snaps
-anything fussy that takes lots of time to put on or take off
While most families don’t wear dress clothes everyday, some families like to dress up for church on Sunday or to have a nicer outfit to wear to special occasions.
It’s a great idea to select at least one set of dress clothes for your toddler boy capsule wardrobe. Typically, this set would include a nice pair of paints (Old Navy has great chinos that can also be worn everyday), and a dress shirt or polo shirt. My own toddlers like to wear bow ties (like their older brothers) so we have included that as a part of their dress clothes outfit in their capsule wardrobes.
Some people don’t include pyjamas as a part of their toddler boy capsule wardrobes. In our family, if it needs to get laundered it is considered to be a part of the wardrobe.
3-4 pairs of pyjamas is a good number for toddlers because they can be re worn (since they are only being slept in), and also will get replenished often since capsule wardrobes require laundry to be done regularly. Having 3-4 pairs is a good idea in case of food or drink spills, accidents or bedwetting.
Toddler boy wardrobe capsule for spring and summer
For a spring and summer toddler boy capsule wardrobe, remember to include these clothing items :
1 each pairs of shoes/ sandals, motorcycle jacket or denim jacket, 1 dress outfit, 5 short sleeve top or sleeveless shirts, 5 pairs of shorts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of pants, 1 sweater, a hat and swimwear, 10 pairs socks, 10 pairs of underwear and 3-4 sets pyjamas
Here’s an example of a toddler boy capsule wardrobe for spring and summer.
Denim Jacket / Chillin’ with my peeps tee / boombox Run DMC graphic tee / black henley tee/ dinosaur graphic tee / Black cardigan with stripes / Camel dress shirt with tie / starfish sleeveless shirt / denim shorts 2 pack / red and camel shorts 2 pack / camel long sleeve tee / soft camp green chino dress pants / green joggers / rash guard with swim trunks / 10 pack of socks / pyjamas 3 pack / keen sandal shoes
Toddler boy capsule wardrobe for fall and winter
For a fall and winter toddler boy capsule wardrobe, remember to include:
1 pair running shoes, 1 pair snow boots if necessary, 1 winter jacket, snow pants, hat, mittens, neck warmer, 5 pairs of pants, 5 long sleeve shirts, 1-2 short sleeve shirts, 1 dress outfit, 2-3 sweaters, 1o pairs socks, 10 pairs underwear and 3-4 sets of pyjamas.
3-in-1 winter/fall/spring/ summer reversible jacket / reversible red beanie / Bogs toddler all season boots / green striped long sleeve tee / blue striped long sleeve tee, 3 pack grey/ white henley shirts / black dress shirt with tie / red and grey mittens / denim overalls, cotton twill joggers / cargo joggers / linen button up long sleeve shirt / camp green chino pants / 3 pack grey and green joggers / jersey animal pyjamas (3 pairs) / playday short sleeve tee, yellow hoodie / 10 pack socks
Reminder: The number of items in a wardrobe is not a rule, rather a guideline to ensure that only what is needed is purchased.
Outdoor clothing for toddler boy capsule wardrobe
-Jackets for winter/ fall and spring/ summer (I recommend the 3-in-1 option from The Children’s Place)
-Denim jackets are great because they can be layered, and purchased a size or 2 bigger and last for a couple years. They also are great for family photos and look a bit dressier to go with dress up clothes.
-Winter hat (wool hats are great because they are so warm and can be used for a couple years. Also, have great resale or thrift value)
-Summer hat (for sun protection)
-Mitts (mitten strings are so good for these! Then they won’t get lost)
-Snow pants (I prefer snow pants with separate jackets so that they can wear their jackets without the snow pants when it’s warmer out. The 3 piece jackets work well for this. These can also be purchased 1-2 sizes bigger so that they can last for a few winters)
-Neckwarmer (if you do a lot of outside play in the winter)
Toddler Capsule wardrobe footwear
-Boots for snow and rain (I recommend Bogs because they work for both!)
-Running shoes for outside play (I like to make sure they are running shoes vs. sneakers which don’t have the arch support that is needed for running, jumping and climbing)
-Sandals for the hot months (I like to get Keens because they have the openness of sandals, and also have great arch support and traction for playing and have excellent resale value).
-Water shoes (these are optional, and are sometimes nice for rocky beaches or splash parks where you want to be extra careful. I often just buy them from the dollar store since they are worn so infrequently in our family.)
What to do with clothing from your toddler boy capsule wardrobe when it no longer fits
When your toddler outgrows their clothing, there are a few considerations that you need to make in order to know what the best thing to do with those clothing items are. Here are some guidelines for deciding:
Reuse: Clothing that can be used for the next season, still fits your toddler well and is in good condition can be kept for the next season’s capsule wardrobe.
Trash: Throw out clothing that is ripped and has large stains.
Donate or sell: Clothing that is in good enough condition but no longer fits your toddler.
Optional: You also have the option of saving clothes that no longer fit your toddler, but will fit a younger family member who is close in age. In general, I do not recommend this option as children’s clothing preference tends to differ, and keeping clothes that you are not using means that you now have more items to label, pack, store and maintain.
In my own experience, unpacking and organizing clothing that has been stored has taken more time and effort (which is a resource, just like money) than taking a quick trip to the thrift store and gathering enough toddler clothes for that 1 season.
Best places to shop for toddler boy capsule wardrobe
I often go to and highly recommend the following places for purchasing clothing for a toddler boy capsule wardrobe. These places have worked the best for us because of the variety of clothing that they have, the moderate price range and the quality of items. (These recommendations are for those who are choosing not to use thrift stores.)
For me, even simple things like amount of clothing and where we choose to buy our clothes comes down to our values: that is, what we value most.
And WHO. WHO I value most, and consequently, how much of my time I’m able to spend with them.
Building the dream,
I hope you are too, whatever that looks like for you.
How many items do I need for a toddler capsule wardrobe?
A toddler capsule wardrobe typically contains approximately 20-25 pieces. This includes 14-15 everyday wear outfits, a dress outfit, undergarments, footwear and outwear.
How many pyjamas does a toddler need?
A toddler needs 3-4 pairs of pyjamas within their capsule wardrobe. In the instance of not having a capsule wardrobe, 6-7 pairs of pyjamas is needed in order to ensure there is a pair to be worn for each day of the week.
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.