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Building a Capsule Wardrobe for Your Tyke

Building a Capsule Wardrobe for Your Tyke

Emma's capsule wardrobe.

Capsule Wardrobes for Your Tyke

How to live your best eco-chic Mom (or Dad) life, and simplify your children’s wardrobe.

A few years ago I started my journey to simplify and minimize every aspect of my life. With four kids at home, curating wardrobes for my crew, and laundry were two things consuming way too much of my time. Streamlining this was very high on my to-do list! I had already successfully purged and organized my capsule wardrobe and knew how much easier it made my mornings, and my life. So, adapting my new way of shopping, dressing, and storing clothes for my littles was an easy next step.

Before I get into my tips and tricks, what is a capsule wardrobe anyway?

A Capsule Wardrobe is a miniature wardrobe made up of carefully selected pieces that suit your personal style and life. An ideal capsule collection is usually made up of items that you already own and love, along with a few new additions each season to help transition for changes in climate and style. Most capsule wardrobes include about 35-37 pieces of clothing.

Why is it such a great idea?

So many reasons! I'll just start with a few...

First of all, it’s a huge space saver! And for my fellow Hong Kong Moms, you know that anything that can declutter your space is life changing. More space for activities!

Mikey's capsule wardrobe.

On top of that, transitioning your child’s wardrobe into a capsule wardrobe will cut down on laundry like you wouldn’t believe. Even if you’re outsourcing your laundry duties, less laundry is always a good thing. I recently learned that laundry accounts for up to 40% of the overall water consumption inside the typical household of a family of four. That's a lot of water! Water, and the amount of fashion waste piling up in landfills are big reasons for me. It’s such a great thing to make our babes conscious of! Lead by example and show them the way.

Lastly, do you have a strong willed son or daughter that likes to dress themselves? I’ve got a couple of those! Curating a small wardrobe that can easily be mixed and matched will let you rest easy when your toddler wants to choose their ensemble for the day. You can empower them to make those choices, knowing that no matter what they pick, the result will be an instagramable, easy look.

The twins choosing their outfits.

Ready to make the switch? Here are three easy steps to get started:

Step 1:

Think about your child's regular daily activities and what they need to dress for.

My kids wear uniforms to school, so their wardrobes are made up of outfits that can carry them through playdates, family outings, and occasional casual dress up for special events or parties.

Knowing this, I don’t buy more than a few pieces per season that are considered “dressy”, with most of their stuff being simple and comfy.

I love to look for clothing made from organic cotton, and other eco-friendly, natural materials. I also really love to shop secondhand for my kids. One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is to search out the best thrift shops and have a deep dive into the vintage Oshkosh and preowned Polo’s for my baby boy! I’ve also been very fortunate to have discovered Retykle, and have them to thank for most of my kid’s designer pieces. Look for things that will stand the test of time, and can be passed down to younger siblings. Quality over quantity is something that I focus on, and teaching my kids to be mindful of what they bring into their life is so important.

Mikey wears vintage Oshkosh and Oaks of Acorn from Retykle.

Step 2:

Take a look at what they already have.

Go through through your child’s wardrobe and drawers and have a proper purge! Sell or donate anything that doesn’t fit, and repair anything that is damaged and just taking up space. Once you’ve done that, make a list of what’s missing so that you know what you need to add to make a cohesive collection.

My twins’ capsules are made up of tops and bottoms that can all be mixed and matched, with a few dresses, one piece outfits, and layering pieces. I love a neutral cardigan or a great denim jacket to help transition in and out of seasons. Don’t get too fixated on exactly how many pieces a true capsule wardrobe should be made of. The key here is to just not have more than you need. We usually have somewhere between 6-8 different tops, 5-7 bottoms, and 5 or 6 dresses/rompers (one piece outfits). Don’t forget pj’s, but do remember that 3-4 sets is plenty!

All the pieces in the twins' capsule wardrobe.

Step 3:

Pick a color palette.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to limit your kids to a black and white wardrobe like so many brands that focus on being minimal advertise! You can easily mix and match outfits with a colorful wardrobe! Choose 3 or 4 colors that you and your babes love and incorporate those colorful pieces in with the neutral ones. I tend to stay away from busy prints but if that’s your jam, have at it.

My tip here is to shop with one or two brands that have collections filled with pieces in a color palette that you like. You don’t have to do this, but it will make  shopping easier, and you won’t have to try as hard to make sure things go together.

Some of my oldest daughter’s favorite pieces are varying shades of blue, and she loves to create looks mixing those tones. She is also a bit of a wild child and loves a good print every now and then. I’ve realized as she’s gotten older that letting her be creative and have fun with fashion will help her find her true personal style. This way she’ll know what she’s looking for when she’s out shopping on her own one day, instead of being an impulse shopper making purchases based on trends. That is a bad habit that I want to steer all of my girls away from.

Emma and the twins.

Keep things simple and try not to stress over the details. Also, remember that your kids will soon outgrow everything, so if your summer capsule isn’t perfect, you always have next summer to try again. Chances are they’ll grow out of things each season, especially in the first few years. After a few seasons of purging and sourcing new pieces to add in, you’ll be a pro at this capsule wardrobe thing.

A few final tips to help you complete your child’s capsule:

Keep shoes and accessories to a minimum! You might be tempted to buy every shiny slingback gold loafer that fits your daughter’s foot (believe me, I’ve been there) but try to fight the urge. Remember that a sneaker, a dressy shoe, a pool shoe, and a casual fun shoe is really all they NEED. Swap out the open toe shoes for Mary Janes or boots for fall and winter, and that’s it.

The twins' shoe capsule.

Stay away from sales! This one was hard for me in the beginning, but trust - there’s nothing on that sale rack your kids NEED… it’s just the stores way of purging, and you don’t wanna take on their extra baggage! Only go shopping when you are looking for something specific, not when the stores tell you it’s time to stock up.

Don’t feel obligated to buy a new outfit for every special occasion. You’d be surprised how many occasions your daughter can wear a good denim or white cotton dress to! And for boys, a nice pair of chino’s can always be dressed up or down.

Mikey wears Armani Shirt from Retykle.

Finally, find a good stain remover! Probably one of the most important tips I have… Keep those clothes stain free so they can be worn again and again, and remember that treating stains as early as possible will get you the best results! I’ve been known to strip my son down while he’s eating to prevent or treat stains. No shame in my wardrobe game!

I hope this was helpful and will inspire you to take a more conscious look at your children’s wardrobes, and maybe even your own. With little ones at home the days are long, but the years are short! Don’t waste your time at the mall or in the laundry room when you could be out exploring with your squad!

Emma wears Little Marc Jacobs Skirt from Retykle.


Peace and love,


Emily Kelleher is the founder of lifestyle blog where she shares inspirational content on her life in Hong Kong with husband Jack and four adorable tykes, plus, her love of fashion, and minimal living tips for families.

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