Today, I am welcoming Angela St. Cyril from Setting My Intention to share with you ideas on how to create a children’s capsule wardrobe to simplify your back to school shopping for clothes. So often, I find with my kids and myself, I wear a few “favorite” clothes and have too many that just never get used. A children’s capsule wardrobe will help you get just the right clothing items each of your kids needs and will love to wear. Even if your kids wear uniforms to school, these are great tips to know.
Back to School Tip: Start a Children’s Capsule Wardrobe
If you’re looking to simplify going back to school this Fall, consider starting a capsule wardrobe for your children. A children’s capsule wardrobe is an intentional number of pieces of clothing that your children already love and will wear with joy. Capsule wardrobes are usually for one season. Project 333 is a popular website that encourages people to pick 33 items to wear for 3 months, and then switch the 33 items for the next 3 months.
You may love or hate back to school shopping. I happen to fall into the “hate” category. I really don’t enjoy shopping for clothes – my own or for my children. I started a capsule wardrobe for myself this past year and it’s been freeing to have less clothes, not more. Regardless of whether you love or hate shopping, people who try capsule wardrobes usually love it!
Before we get into the five steps to create a capsule wardrobe for your child, let’s talk about the benefits of a capsule wardrobe:
- less overwhelm for your child and yourself. When you can see all of your clothing at once, it’s easier to decide what you want to wear that day
- less laundry – a definite perk for any parent! I don’t know about you, but when my boys are digging through their drawers for their “favorite” t-shirt, they end up dumping things on the floor and leaving it there. Then when they need to clean up their room, all the perfectly clean clothes get picked up and put in the dirty hamper (not back in their drawer!)
- the habit of decluttering. When you rotate your clothes seasonally, it becomes clear what you love to wear and what you don’t. It’s a built-in opportunity to declutter your clothing 2-4 times a year.
I have three sons who are 15, 13, and 7 years old. I’m planning on starting a children’s capsule wardrobe for them this year. This post is going to be all about boys’ clothing, but the steps will be helpful regardless of whether you have boys or girls.
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Step 1: Observe and grow in awareness of what they naturally choose to wear
If your kids are anything like mine, they love to wear certain things or types of things.
My oldest son wore uniforms until last year and he’s been picking his own clothes. He tends to like casual clothes that are cotton – joggers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and athletic shorts.
My middle son wears dark jeans and dark t-shirts. He doesn’t wear shorts (no matter how hot it is) and he doesn’t wear light or bright shirts. He’s definitely got the “uniform” concept down.
My youngest tends to choose clothing similar to my oldest – athletic shorts or pants and t-shirts. He’ll wear jeans or pants on occasion, but only if he has to.
Step 2: Separate your child’s clothes by season
I did this with my own clothing but instead of separating into four seasons, I separated into two – Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. You may choose to combine the seasons or not. It’s helpful to put away the season or seasons that you’re not using in order to really see what you have and what you like to wear.
For Fall/Winter (in the Northeast), it would be long pants and long sleeve shirts as well as sweaters and sweatshirts. For Spring/Summer, that mainly consists of short sleeve shirts and shorts.
Since we’re heading into Fall, pull out the things that you have for Fall and Winter and separate them even further by category. You need to know exactly how many long sleeve shirts, pants, sweaters, etc. you have for each child.
Step 3: Think of how many you need in each category for the season.
My older sons are really different in their approach to clothing. My oldest will wear a pair of pants more than once and feel fine with that. My middle son, however, will only wear a pair of jeans once before he puts it in his hamper to be washed. He also knows exactly how many pairs of jeans he wants. He wants seven, one for each day of the week.
My youngest son is going from wearing uniforms five days a week to a new school where they get to wear whatever they want. It’s a progressive school where they will be outside every day regardless of the weather. I’m anticipating needing to keep more clothes on hand since he’s at that age where holes in the knees are guaranteed to appear sooner rather than later.
Think through what you’re child’s seasonal needs will be. How many items of clothing does your child need for one week?
Step 4: Go through the different categories with your child
Depending on the child’s age, you may want to involve them as you go through the pile of shirts, pants, skirts, or dresses. I personally tried the Konmari Method with my clothing and felt clearer about what didn’t spark joy rather than what actually sparked joy.
I think you’ll find that children are different. I’ve had my sons go through their clothes before and they’ve been very sure of what they want to keep and what they’re willing to give away. They know what clothing items bring them joy.
If your child wants to keep ALL the clothes, or you’re not really sure about going down to a week or two worth of outfits – approach it with curiosity and grace. Try a certain number that feels good to you, and then store the rest away in a closet. You’ll have them on hand in case you need them.
Step 5: Donate or sell the unused clothes at the end of the season
By the end of the season, you’ll have a good idea what your child gravitates towards and loves to wear. You will also have a good idea of how many items you will need for the following year. Keep that amount in mind – write it down if you find it helpful.
Donate or sell the clothes that they didn’t wear before switching clothes for the season, unless you’re holding on to them for a younger child. This is a great habit to do each season so that clothes don’t pile up in bins unnecessarily.
The next step would be fill out your capsule wardrobe with items that you’re lacking. Given what I said in the beginning about my relationship with shopping, I’m going to leave this to your discretion. I think most of us in the United States will fall on the side of having too much clothing rather than not enough. If you do need any items, I would encourage you to ask friends with older children first, hold a clothing swap, or shop second hand before purchasing new.