How My Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe Simplified My Life (& Laundry)

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How Creating Kids Capsule Wardrobes Simplified My Life and Laundry
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I must admit… when the capsule wardrobe trend took over Pinterest, I was mostly uninterested. As a mom, I based my wardrobe much more on function and flexibility. Times like pregnancy and nursing required certain types of clothes and limited my options. Then, I discovered the concept of a kids’ capsule wardrobe. Freedom from endless laundry, shopping, and the great seasonal switch-out? Yes please!

I can honestly say, this is one “mommy hack” that changed my life.

The Great Laundry Monster

Based on the amount of laundry that I doI used to joke that based on the amount of laundry I was doing, there must be people living in my house that I hadn’t even met.

Then I figured out the real problem:

Kids’ clothing apparently has the ability to reproduce. That was the only answer that made sense. I’d buy a couple pairs of jeans and a few dresses for the girls and suddenly the clothing monster was peeking out of every closet and drawer.

Of course, their clothes weren’t actually reproducing, but the kids were constantly getting t-shirts from community activities and hand-me-downs from friends and I’d keep everything “in case they could use it one day.”

Does This Bring Me Joy?

I’ll also admit that I rolled my eyes more than once while reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s a great book, but the idea of talking to clothing seemed a little unusual. I also realized that the great majority of things that are necessary to my daily life don’t bring me joy (laundry, kids’ toys, etc). I figured the KonMari system just must not work for moms…

But I was wrong to write it off so quickly.

It wasn’t until I was helping my kids deep clean their rooms at the change of seasons that I realized the value of the KonMari system. Their clothes may not bring me joy, but they loved certain items and were only wearing those items the majority of the time anyway.

I was sorting through piles of clothing from all seasons. It all fit in the drawers so I left it there in case they needed it (because where we live, you really can have all the seasons in one week!). But they were choosing the same 5 outfits most of the time and they were stressed out with all the clothes.

And I was stressed out with all the laundry. Something needed to change.

Switching to a Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe

I realized that all of the things that made a capsule wardrobe difficult for a pregnant/nursing mom made it perfect for kids!

  • They changed sizes and needed new clothes at least once a year anyway.
  • They choose the same outfits over and over.
  • Having too many clothes was completely overwhelming them.

How We Switched

I decided to do a combination of the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge and Project 333 to pare down all of the kids’ clothes. Rather than going through stuff and seeing which items to get rid of (always tougher), I took everything out of all their rooms (very KonMari of me) and only allowed the things in that we were keeping.

Step 1: Make a List and Check It Twice

Instead of just looking through clothes and deciding if they liked an item or not as a criteria for keeping it, I made a list of what each wardrobe would contain. If something didn’t fit into that list, it didn’t stay. In other words, they kept two pairs of jeans for the spring and summer wardrobe. I let them pick their two favorite pairs of jeans and the rest were donated.

This list will certainly vary based on your own lifestyle, kids’ ages, school (uniform or not), etc., but this is what worked best for our family…

The Capsule Wardrobe Master List for each child included:

  • 10-12 shirts
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 4-6 pairs of shorts
  • 2-3 swimsuits
  • 2 pajamas
  • 2-3 dresses for the girls
  • 6 pairs of socks (more on my sock system soon)
  • sneakers
  • dress shoes
  • sandals
  • slip on shoes
  • 10 pairs underwear
  • 1 light jacket or sweatshirt

Full disclosure: I also kept a handful of other items that they can still fit into for a fall/winter wardrobe. I also kept a few items that aren’t worn regularly: a suit for the boys, wetsuits, snow suits, camo gear, jujutsu gi, and two pairs of much older clothes for camping.

Step 2: Choose a Color Palette

My kids typically chose to wear their 2-3 favorite colors 90% of the time. I focused their wardrobes on these colors. The boys both chose blue and red so I built around these and added neutrals like gray and white.

The girls all chose pink and aqua so I built around this with neutrals like gray and white. They also had a few dresses that matched the color palette. These could be worn alone or with leggings and a cardigan for cold weather.

Step 3: Get Rid of the Extra

If clothes didn’t fit into the master list, they were gone. This was the toughest part. Especially because it meant donating a lot of clothes before I’d filled in the gaps. But as soon as the extra clothes were gone, it was like the weight of the world (or at least the laundry) had been lifted off my shoulders and theirs.

I did this at the changing of the seasons last year (this is round two of seasonal wardrobes for us) and it was magical. I sorted the clothes into piles:

  1. Keep pile – Smallest pile
  2. Donate pile – This was by far the biggest pile. I only donated the clothing that was nice enough that I’d still want my kids to wear it.
  3. Reuse pile – Second smallest pile. I still have trouble throwing things away and wasting. We reused the clothing that wasn’t nice enough to donate or wear. We cut it into cleaning cloths, paint rags, and other household items.
  4. Sentimental pile – This was actually a small bin in our attic where I kept the few items that were sentimental to me. These included the baby outfits all the kids wore (that weren’t good enough to donate anyway), clothes I wore as a kid that they wore too (3 items total), and a few other small clothing items. This bin will stay in our attic and I’ll probably eventually turn these items into a quilt when my kids get older.

Step 4: Fill in the Gaps

This part was the most fun! Looking at the master list for each child, I made a list of all the items I still needed for each of them. I checked a local consignment store first and then turned to online shopping for the remaining items. The list kept me from buying extra clothes we didn’t need and made it easy to find the clothes we did.

Step 5: Kid-Friendly Folding

There is heated debate about if kids clothing should be hung up or folded. Obviously, this is based on personal preference. My kids prefer folding to hanging clothes up, so that is what we did.

These kids’ capsule wardrobes fit into a single drawer easily. I taught the kids the “KonMari” method of folding… or at least my interpretation of it based on her description. It basically means folding clothes and stacking them horizontally in a drawer instead of in piles. This lets the kids see every item so clothes don’t get lost at the bottom of the drawer. It also seems to be easier for them to put clothes away with this system.

Shopping Tips

I found secondhand and consignment clothes locally for many items. I also used three main online sources that for filling in gaps in the capsule wardrobes. They are:

  1. Primary: Hands down my favorite online resource for kids. They carry only high quality staples in solid colors and most are gender neutral. They have pretty good prices and were perfect for solid color shirts, shorts, leggings, etc. TIP: Use the code “AFF20PCT” to get 20% off and free shipping on a first order.
  2. Hanna Andersson: More expensive than Primary but I love that they have organic clothes for many items. Their leggings last forever and my girls love their jeggings over regular jeans. I get underwear, undershirts, and PJs for all of the kids here since this reduces their exposure to non-organic clothing by at least half. Their clothes also last a long time. I’ve had friends have their items last over a decade and for multiple children.
  3. Thred Up: An online secondhand store that is searchable. I’ve found great deals on some name brands on this website. This link will give you a $10 discount on your first order.

Benefits of a Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe

My only regret is that I didn’t start doing this sooner. Having these capsule wardrobes for kids have greatly simplified our life and laundry routine. This type of minimalist wardrobe is perfect for kids because:

It Tames the Laundry and Bedroom Messes

I’m not sure how the kid clothes managed to multiply and take over their rooms and the laundry, but they did. Since switching, this hasn’t been a problem at all. I’m washing much less laundry and the kids aren’t overwhelmed when putting clothes away.

More on my laundry routine soon, but I also found that keeping one laundry basket in each of the kids rooms simplified laundry. Now, the girls bring their clothes down, I wash it in one load and they take it back up and put away. Same with the boys. Their wardrobes don’t contain any white clothing (this was intentional) except underwear and undershirts. Because of this, I can wash all girls’ clothes together and all boys’ clothes together. There is no need for color sorting and it saves a lot of time!

I fact, it took me more time to photograph and write this capsule wardrobe post than it does to do my laundry now!

It Makes the Seasonal Clothing Changes Much Easier

I used to dread switching clothes with the seasons. I had to pull everything out of the attic, sort it, fold it, and it took hours. Now, I just evaluate which clothes will still work in the next season and add the items we need. Usually jeans, undershirts, underwear, and short-sleeved shirts can move into the next season if they still fit. With kids, we have to change out clothing every season anyway (or as they out grow it) but I actually look forward to it now.

It Simplifies Picking Outfits

My kids used to somehow always pick clothes that didn’t really go together. They’d end up with a red shirt and orange shorts or patters that didn’t mix. Now, everything coordinates and picking outfits is so much easier. The only rule they have to know is to pick one solid color and one pattern for each outfit or two solid colors. Jeans go with everything. (Secret bonus: I like all of the items in their wardrobes too so I don’t cringe like I did when they always seemed to pick the one shirt that I didn’t like and wear it constantly.)

We Have So Much More Space!

The kids’ favorite part about the new system? They can put their clothes away in under ten minutes and they have so much more space. Our girls’ room has a big closet that was always full of clothes. They always wanted to turn it into a playhouse and play in there but it always ended up a mess with clothes falling off hangers. Now, the closet is a playhouse and their capsule toys (more on that soon) are in there. They happily play in their new-found play space for hours.

Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe: The Bottom Line

I absolutely love this system and found the method that works perfectly for us. The specifics of our system won’t work for everyone, but the basic idea will:

  • Choose clothes intentionally and of high quality.
  • Absolutely use hand-me-downs and secondhand items when possible but pass on the ones you don’t need.
  • Fill in any gaps with high quality items that you and your child both love and that can last and be passed down to other children.

Check out the details of our kids’ spring and summer wardrobes here:

Final Tips for Kids’ Capsule Wardrobes

I learned these tips the hard way and they won’t work for everyone, but I’d personally recommend:

  1. Not including white in kids’ wardrobes except for dress clothes. Totally personal preference but it simplified my laundry with my tribe of tree-climbers and fort-makers.
  2. Spending a little more on high quality items that last. I used to keep all hand-me-downs and buy everything secondhand to save money. Except my stress level was through the roof and nothing matched. Now, I find we spend the same or less on staple clothing items that last longer and that the kids love.
  3. Use online discounts and sales to save money. I wait for sales from our favorite shops and combine with discount codes to get most clothing at 20% or more off retail (sometimes as much as 50%!). Our favorite shops are Primary (use this affiliate link to get 20% off as a new customer), Hanna Andersson, and Thred Up (use this link to get $10 off a first order).

Also, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fashion designer or anywhere close. I don’t claim to have made perfectly fashionable wardrobes for my kids. These are just their capsule wardrobes that they like and feel comfortable in. I’m not giving fashion advice, just sharing what worked for me!

Whew – your turn! How do you handle kids’ clothing? Share your best tips for others in the comments!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


87 responses to “How My Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe Simplified My Life (& Laundry)”

  1. Stefeni Avatar

    I did this a month ago and before reading your article. I am amazed by how little time I spend in the laundry room now. I also did toys. My daughter always played with the same toys but you could walk into her room so we thinned out her favorites, donated all the ones she didn’t play with and now her room is clean. She can easily put her toys in 3 totes they go under her bed and clothes are all hung (she prefers hanging them). I enjoyed your article I am going to look at the organic clothes. I am a true believer of quality not quantity.

  2. Sommer Avatar

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been wanting to start implementing a capsule for my kiddos. Luckily, they are requiring bigger sizes anyhow. Of course I’ll have to adjust a few of those numbers based off where we live and what works best for us- less swimsuits, and more sweaters?- but having a base guideline makes it so much easier!
    I can’t wrap my mind around how they only have 2 pajamas! How many wears between washes? My kids are still in diapers so I’ll probably need more in that department, too. Thanks again!

  3. Staucia Kosoff Avatar
    Staucia Kosoff

    I was also wondering about where to shop for organic adult clothing. I have looked into it a little but would love to get your opinion and insight.

  4. Zenurez Avatar

    About a week before reading this I actually pared my wardrobe down to a capsule wardrobe in my current size and a capsule wardrobe one size larger (nursing has kept me unusually thin right now).

    Since I currently live in a a single bedroom with my new baby girl and her father, I found trying to store and access all the clothing I used to have when I lived in a 5 bedroom house to be extremely stressful. Especially when I pretty much just wear the same few blouses and my JaLo jeans day in and day out. I kept special clothes like my suits, taekwobdo uniform, hiking clothes and wetsuit as well as a pair of old clothes for “yard work”.

    Now I’m trying to apply this concept to my baby who is in an entirely new size wardrobe every month or so. I was really excited to see your post on baby wardrobe capsules. Thanks!

  5. KIm Avatar

    I would love to read about your sock system! Have you written that post yet and I just can’t find it? Also, here’s a question….Are these also the clothes that your kids run and play in outside? My kids are known for getting muddy so I was just wondering if you have designated “play clothes” in addition to your capsule. Love this post! I have 5 kids and am SO overwhelmed with laundry…going through their clothes now! 🙂

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      The sock post is in the works 🙂 They use these clothes as play clothes. But with six kids, I definitely have laundry going every day, so it doesn’t matter so much if an outfit gets muddy. Hope this helps!

  6. Rachel Avatar

    Do you know of a place that is essentially Primary for adults? I love the selection and prices of Primary, but I know for a fact that nothing on there is big enough for me (I can sometimes fit into a XXL or a large XL in shirts, but they don’t appear to carry any that size, let alone bottoms in the women’s S-M range). Also eagerly awaiting the fall/winter versions of the kids’ wardrobes, as well as all 4 seasons of your own… waiting patiently for that post. 😉

      1. Rachel Avatar

        I’ve been keeping my eyes out for the winter wardrobe lists, and I saw just today that you had updated the baby one to include the winter stuff. Will the rest of them be coming soon? Just patiently eager.

  7. Stephanie Avatar

    Brilliant! Would you mind linking to the socks you purchase? I think I read somewhere they were “gold toe” brand?

  8. Stephanie Avatar

    HI Katie! I LOVED this post! Can you comment about your sock system? I was hoping it was going to be a featured article this week … matching and finding socks is doubling my laundry time! Thanks!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      We have all basic white socks that are the exact same kind, but two types, one larger type for the older kids and one smaller type for the younger kids. Socks don’t get matched, I just put them all in the drawer (one drawer for larger and one drawer for smaller) and the kids can pick them out of the drawer when they need them since they’ll all match anyway.

  9. DaNae Avatar

    Thank you so much for writing these amazing posts on capsule wardwrobes!! I really appreciate it! I finally dove in and made a capsule wardrobe for my daughter. This is my second time reading this. You packed so much information in here. Now on to do my son’s. Thank you again!

  10. Faith Avatar

    My girls had the same problem. Too many clothes, messy closet, added stress. So we went through their clothes and have a box of things they wanted to keep. Every month they get to choose 5 school outfits (Shirt and bottoms), 2 play outfits (t-shirt and bottoms that can get dirty), one church outfit, 1 pajama, 1 bathing suit and 7 pairs of underwear. Oh and 2 pairs of shoes. (We live in a hot climate so weather doesn’t affect our wardrobe much). But at the beginning of each month they can choose to change things out of the box if they like. If after three months an item hasn’t been chosen then it gets donated. It is a little time consuming once a month to sort and make outfits (which we hang up as outfits on one hanger), but laundry is easier, the closet stays neater and mama is happier!

  11. Hannah Avatar

    Hi Katie ,
    I’m a longtime reader of your blog! I love seeing how it’s grown over the years .
    My favorite is the new clickable links in the blog .?
    I really appreciate the tips . And I just want to say it’s wonderful that you take the time out to do this for others because being a mother takes sacrifice enough but when you go the extra mile to help others then it really makes a difference so thank you !
    I will have to look in to this because
    I have been thinking About this for the kids clothes for a while but just keep putting it off .
    They have something called “Pureple” closet app that I have used for my clothes to choose outfits .
    But for kids I haven’t found something yet and this looks very promising if you can do it then it should be easy for me .
    Yes I would also love for you to post about shoes as well because I have heard the light up shoes have mercury for example , My kids have never owned a pair but growing feet are so important .
    Thanks again for all the wonderful tips .

  12. Laurie Avatar

    Have you done girls capsule wardrobes for Winter yet? We live where it gets COLD, and yes I could modify the list but why reinvent the wheel?

  13. Jacqie Muscha Avatar
    Jacqie Muscha

    What I don’t understand is that you said your kids had all these clothes but were wearing only a few of the items over and over again because those were their favorites. Then how come there was so much laundry if they were only wearing the same outfits over and over again? I realize you had to get rid of the items they weren’t wearing, but if they weren’t wearing them then you wouldn’t have to be cleaning them, right. Unless I’m missing something here.

  14. Amber Avatar

    Thanks for this awesome post! So much great information! I’ve been doing similar things but you have so many new ideas here as well and I love that you’ve put it all together in one place!
    I have also found that jeans work really well for our boys, and durable athletic clothes as well.
    I actually haven’t been buying pajamas for our boys but have been letting them wear their soft athletic clothes to bed. But I’m starting to like the idea of picking up a pair or two of cute pjs for them to wear to bed.
    I really enjoyed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up! We have been hanging the boys clothes up until now but the fact that your kids fold their clothing in KonMari fashion is super inspiring to me! Gonna try practicing that with the boys soon! They do have their own hamper and are good about bringing their laundry when it’s time for washing and help with putting it away, our oldest at least lol.
    We also stay away from white and I like to find patterns or stripes and textures that are good for hiding stains!
    Thanks again for the great info! Can’t wait to read more!

  15. tori Avatar

    I’m also all for the simplification, but don’t see how this would reduce laundry… the kids still have to be wearing the exact same number of outfits, I would think.
    Kate: I am finding that as the kids get older, I don’t get to do less laundry, even though I am not changing them several times a day…I think because their clothes of course are bigger as well and therefore take up more space in the wash.
    And I personally do laundry almost every day of the week. I don’t know where people who do their laundry once or twice a week put all of the dirty clothes (maybe in small families this works?).

  16. Rachel Avatar

    We have done something similar for the last couple of years. I would like to downsize their capsules even more though. How do you handle church clothes? Especially for boys. I can keep a couple of “nicer” dresses for the girls but I find it hard to know what to keep around for the boys dressier clothing.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      The boys both have khaki pants and wear either their polo shirts or dress shirt. They do also each have a suit for really special occasions. They never seem to mind always just putting on khakis for church.

  17. Janet Fazio Avatar
    Janet Fazio

    I totally missed this trend, but I can’t tell you how much I love this idea! What a great way to get rid of closet clutter and get a handle on what I already own. I’m guilty of buying the same things twice because I forgot I had it.

  18. Rachael Avatar

    I have four kids sharing one closet, so I had to be creative. We use hanging shelf organizers and a basket. Although it is a constant battle I try to keep it to 6 tops, 4-6 bottoms, 2 pjs and 2 dress outfits. And one ‘grungy’ outfit for gardening etc. With a basket for socks and underwear. We wash their laundry twice a week.
    I also agree with washing all the clothes together. I switched to doing that about 5 years ago and now wonder why I ever bothered sorting lights and darks.

  19. Tierney Avatar

    Just want to add that Hanna Andersson has the BEST return policy and customer service. Even if your kids wear something all season and you think it just doesn’t last like it should, they will take it back and refund you, no questions asked. Or if you order something and change your mind or realize your kids haven’t worn it 4 months later, because it happens to us all! It’s pretty much a fail-safe place to shop because you can change your mind at any point about an outfit or item and not be stuck, which is especially nice because their items are pricier than other brands.

  20. Ari Avatar

    This is so cool! I actually just did something similar with my kids’ clothes. My SIL told me she has a cube organizer with 10 cubbies and an outfit rolled together in each one and those are the only clothes (besides church clothes and swimsuits) her 5 yr old and 2 1/2 yr old have. They can mix and match if they want but that’s it, and it helped cut down on her laundry, so I decided to try something similar. I couldnt bring myself to do that few but I did limit the number of clothes each child had, and did pretty much what this said where there’s a certain number of shirts, pants, etc. (and I’d never even heard of a capsule wardrobe). It has been wonderful and I’ve gotten rid of 2 trash bags of clothes so far (a lot when it’s all baby clothes)! I love it!

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