One Girl's Summer Capsule Wardrobe

First things first, you should ALL know what a capsule wardrobe is, but if for some tragic reason you do not, read up on my favorite style blog, Un-Fancy.

Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a set of clothing that can all be interchanged and work well together, reducing the number of items in your wardrobe. (I.e. you don't have that one shirt that goes with that one pair of pants.) I've been using a "loose" capsule for myself for a while mainly because I love neutrals and I tend to buy everything in black, brown, gray or if I'm feeling daring, blue.  I got really interested in capsule wardrobes a couple of years ago after I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. My little family strives to be environmentalists and also minimalists, and while we miss the mark on both, we keep trying. The problem is, I love clothes.  I also REALLY love kids clothes. I can over buy a kid's wardrobe in about 5 minutes, complete with accessories.  This isn't good for my savings account, my house, the planet, or my kids.  The twins are becoming very particular about what they wear and so I no longer have the authority when they come down the stairs in a red shirt and green pants to break it to them that those are Christmas colors and ask them to pick something else.  They began refusing, so now I let them wear the garish outfits, because what the hell, who am I to stifle their self expression?  I then curse myself for spending too much on a wardrobe that only looks put together 25% of the time.

Enter the capsule wardrobe -

I've been trying for a couple of years to get all my kids into capsule wardrobes.  I wanted to make everything easier and also be able to buy less clothes but higher quality. Bonus, they can get dressed by themselves and have a pretty good chance of matching.  Easier and less expensive while also being better for the environment while also maybe matching most days is enough for me to try this.  The first mistake I made was trying to do all three kids' wardrobes at once.  If you have multiple kids, don't try to fix their wardrobes all at once, it's too much to keep track of. Mistake number 2 was not keeping good track of what we already had, and that's mainly because at any given time, around 3/4 of their wardrobes were in the laundry.  I'm slowly getting more organized and finding more time to get laundry done. I also do laundry almost every day now instead of saving it up.  This has helped a ton.

Anyways, as I was getting out the summer clothes from last year, I noticed that Georgia had practically nothing.  She shot up a bit over the year and her shorts were looking like hot pants so I saw an opportunity to try for the capsule again.  At first I considered doing all three kids, but the boys both have a million tee shirts and some shorts left over from last year, so I decided to just fill their wardrobes in with neutrals and primary colors and call it a day.  I guess they are still kind of capsules, but not in the true sense. For the record, Henry has his own opinions on his clothes and wants nothing to do with this experiment.

First, you should know that I like nice clothes.  One, they look nice, and I'm a visual, creative type, so this pleases me.  Two, I like my kids to be comfortable and that usually means nice thick cottons that don't pill.  Three, and most importantly, I like to get a lot of use out of something and pass it on. I hate throwing away a shirt because it has holes or donating it because it shrank up into a square belly shirt. Most of the clothing that is donated is not re-sellable and ends up being sold to textile recycling firms.  I won't even bring up the horrible labor conditions that lots of these cheap clothing companies provide their workers.  There is a documentary called The True Cost that you should definitely check out if you are addicted to fast fashion, or aren't convinced buying cheap clothing is bad for the world.

Long story short, I prefer quality over quantity.  Also know that we are not the Rockefellers so I have to be creative.

Ok, so let's talk about Georgia's first capsule wardrobe. I follow a lot of mom fashion blogger types on Instagram and I stumbled upon Wildly a year or so ago and immediately fell in love.  It's a mom run company that sells full capsule wardrobes and the pieces are all made in the US!  Plus they are cute little hipster-y clothes and that is right up my alley. Unfortunately, there were two downsides. One was cost.  Quality isn't cheap, and I fully recognize the need to charge enough to pay workers a living wage and to pay for good materials, but the capsules wouldn't really be full capsules for us since I decided I wanted kids capsules to be a week's worth of clothes. The "full" capsules are around $229, so I'd be over $300 for one kid, one season, maybe closer to $400 considering shoes, swim suits, miscellaneous accessories. I considered that I would need to spend a bit more than I usually do, but a lot of the pieces could carry into Fall, so I looked into them anyways. However, there was another problem, their summer capsules aren't out yet!  I know we technically have until the end of June until summer starts, but shorts weather starts at the end of May here. Plus I needed time to try sizes since Georgia is a string bean.  I had to rule out Wildly this go round, but I'm hoping to try them in the Fall. I may order a couple of sale pieces so I can check out the sizing and quality.  If you can wait, I'm betting their capsules will be adorable this summer. If anyone tries them out, let me know!

Next I remembered a company called Primary that I had seen all over Facebook. They make basics in a rainbow of colors and they are all under $25.  Their clothes are not made in the US but they seem to use good manufacturing practices. I took their word for it on their website and did not do my due diligence because they seem like a trustworthy company.  I don't know, don't trust me with large sums of money or anything.  

So first things first for capsule wardrobes, you need a color palette. Georgia picked yellow, (her favorite color), aqua and pink.  We didn't end up with much pink because we kept picking out everything in yellow and "pool."

Second, decide on how many pieces you need.  I decided to start I wanted 8 days worth of clothes. A week and an extra day.  I do laundry more often than that but just in case.  There are some moms that say their kids can re-wear their clothes a couple of times.  I don't live in that world.  My kids are rough on their clothes and they are outside a lot so we pretty much wash everything besides pajamas after one wear. I am not too sure I have the right amount of clothes for G, but I also didn't put too much pressure on myself to get it exactly right this first time. Plus I stayed within my budget, so I declare this a win. I got lucky and had a 20% off code for Primary, and I think they give it to all first time shoppers so keep your eyes peeled. I purchased 11 pieces for $94!  That's less than $10 a piece and there is a dress and a hoodie in there you guys!  (They have certain items for less money if you buy 3 or more, so of course I did that.) The shipping was free & fast, and the quality of the clothes seems great.  I want to see how it washes but I think I will be ordering more from Primary when we need to fill in. (PS they have a program where you can refer a friend and you both get a free pair of pajamas when the friend completes a purchase. So if you are thinking of ordering, email me and I'll give you my code!)

We purchased almost everything else second hand, which makes me very happy because not only am I getting great brands for less money, but again, it's better for the environment. I shop Poshmark and our local consignment store.  I've purchased great Mini Boden pieces on eBay in the past and I know lots of people who are happy with Thred Up.  I haven't found anything there that my kids need in the brands we like so I can't vouch for them.  I did order a bag to send in some stuff we are done with, so I'll try to order a few things soon and report back.

Finally, onto the wardrobe!

This is not a complete capsule.  The dress at the top isn't really an every day dress, and Georgia asked for a yellow dress like the gray one (from Primary) so I think I'll get her one more. Hopefully the shorts are enough but I will get one more pair if we need them.  She also has a pair of black leggings that I cannot currently locate, but I don't think she will wear the pants much, those are more for transitioning from Spring to Summer.

This is also not a perfect capsule.  The flowered puffy pants and the cute chambray shirt is a carry over from last year that still fits so we are fitting it in.  It's not too hideous with the rest of it, but I wouldn't have bought those pieces if I was starting from scratch and sticking with the color scheme.

  • Solid color items are all from Primary. tank tops / tee shirts / dress / shorts / hoodie
  • Blue and pink dress: Crewcuts; seersucker dress is Land's End, and the polka dot skirt is Mini Boden, all purchased second hand.
  • Shortalls with Hearts: Gap Kids (we have a Banana Republic card and get really great deals.  I never pay more than 60% of retail on anything at Gap and it tends to hold up pretty well.)
  • Harem pants: These were overstock from a children's boutique that ended up at a consignment shop.  Both G and I love them.  The brand is Rag Dolls and Rockets.
  • Chambray shorts: Tea Collection
  • Chambray dotted shirt and flower pants: Tea Collection last summer (I couldn't find anything similar)
  • Girl Power Shirt: Savage Seeds
  • Have fun Every Day shirt (On Georgia) Wildling Kids
  • Yellow striped leggings (On Georgia) Gap kids, purchased second hand

The main brands I buy for my kids are Tea Collection, Zara, Gap Kids, Crewcuts and Mini Boden.  I don't ever pay full price for any of these brands, and the stuff that makes it through a season or two can usually be sold on eBay or Poshmark. They also have nice sales a fewtimes a year so I try to watch for those and stock up on what we need.  There is always a coupon code for Mini Boden (I try to hold out for the 30%!) and Tea Collection often has them as well. These are brands that fit my kids and last at least a season.  Hanna Andersson is a great quality brand, just not really my style and their clothes are not cut for really skinny kids. I'm sad my kids don't really like their pajamas anymore, they have organic pj's that go on super sale a couple of times a year. Janie and Jack has great little girl's swim suits that they clearance out mid summer, and I've also got durable Speedo suits from Costco. I'm always on the look out for USA made quality clothing, and I try to at least make sure the companies we buy from have decent track record on worker rights and their manufacturing process. Some in my list are not the greatest and I am actively trying to shop those brands less and less.

I'd say I get 75% of the kids shoes at Nordstrom Rack, and the other quarter I get from Amazon. We like Keens in the summer, Saltwater sandals for G, and Reef flip flops. (They have the soft toe thong (?) thingy that don't give you blisters.)

Here are a few blogs that helped me figure out how to capsule for kids.

My Kid's Capsule

Wellness Mama

The Minimalist Mom (She's one of my favorite minimalist bloggers)

I think I covered everything.  I obviously love talking about this topic so if you have any questions, either leave a comment or email me, I'm the best at vicariously shopping through others.