How to Build a Back-to-School Capsule Wardrobe That's Trendy and Affordable

You want your kids to have clothes they both love to wear and that didn't cost an arm and a leg to buy. Especially as kids get older, they tend to want the latest trends to help them fit in, but that isn't always compatible with your budget. So, how do you balance trendy fashion and affordability? Helping your child build a capsule wardrobe is the perfect solution! (See also: 8 Essential Pieces for Your Capsule Wardrobe)

A capsule wardrobe is made up of a few essential clothing items that can be paired with seasonal pieces. When it comes to dressing your kids, planning a capsule wardrobe that fits into each season can help you make sure they have the clothes they need year-round while sticking to your budget.

Check your inventory

Before you go out shopping, take inventory of what's in your child's closet. Have them decide on a number and go through the items together or with their friends for help. Place items they'll no longer wear in a discard or donate pile. Hang up the final keeper items in the closet and see what you've got. Decide together what type of clothes your child needs to finish their capsule wardrobe for each season that year, such as shorts, skirts, or warmer jackets.

In order to keep on top of your child's wardrobe, and not have to suffer through last-minute shopping when you realize that they don't have a quality jacket that fits for winter, it's important to write down each type of clothing they will need and which season it can be used for. This way you can shop for specific pieces when you can get the best prices. Keep in mind the majority of their capsule wardrobe should remain the same with only select seasonal pieces switching out as the weather changes.

Tweens and teens who are allowed to have a smartphone may benefit from adding virtual closet apps that show each piece and outfits available in their closet, such as Stylitics, or Closet. These apps also suggest randomized outfits in the mornings.

Choose the basics

The capsule wardrobe is all about combining reliable, affordable clothing plus a few trendy, seasonal pieces each year. Typically, this number for a full wardrobe is around 30 pieces, but your child should be free to pick a reasonable number that makes them comfortable. Overall, your child's capsule wardrobe should mean less clothes overall, which will save you money.

The pieces can be interchangeable and layered to create completely new outfit selections. The total number of items could easily double the number of outfits to choose from in the closet. Included in the capsule are day-to-day looks and matching shoes, but pajamas, workout clothes, snow clothes, and accessories don't count. Basic starter pieces in a fall capsule for a girl could include:

  • Four pairs of jeans or khakis.
  • One pair of black dress pants.
  • Three solid color undershirts.
  • Three overshirts or cardigans.
  • Five dressy tops of choice.
  • Three dressy skirts of choice.
  • Three dresses.
  • Shoes: a pair of street shoes, formal shoes, and ballerina flats.

Or, your child's capsule may be simpler, with six tops and five pairs of pants. A go-to hoodie or jean jacket is a great option to consider as an extra staple. Aside from smart basics that are easy to interchange, and are comfortable and appropriate for school, your child may add in whatever else makes them feel confident. Try to find pieces that your child can grow into as well so the item can last for a year or (or perhaps two) within the capsule wardrobe. (See also: 6 Smart Ways Parents Can Save on Back-to-School Clothes)

Plan for the seasons

Most likely, the majority of your child's capsule wardrobe will flow from season-to-season. You may add a few cardigans or jackets to layer over the summer tank tops. You'll also want to switch out the shorts for warmer pants or thick leggings.

Allow for one big splurge on an item that's trendy or is clearly loved by your kid, such as a pair of purple pants or boots. Remember, for every item that you pull out of storage or purchase new, remove an item to keep the total number in the closet the same.

Get creative, sell, or reuse outgrown pieces

Don't be afraid to get creative to stay trendy and on-budget. Moms and dads will have '90s items their children may love to wear or repurpose. T-shirts can easily be upcycled into dresses, tanks, and more, while old jeans may be cut down into shorts and secured by sewing or fashion tape. Have your kids invite friends over to do a clothing swap, complete with a pizza party or sleepover.

Used clothing boutiques or sites like thredUP or LetGo are also great ways to get rid of clothes that don't fit and can cover at least some of the cost of adding new items to the existing capsule wardrobe. It's cheaper to replace just a few items than to buy them a full new wardrobe as they grow or as the seasons change.

Back-to-school shopping doesn't mean you have to break the bank or disappoint your kids with less than fashionable clothes. Creating a kid's capsule wardrobe is the perfect solution to keep the budget in check while letting your child have control of their fashion choices, remain trendy, and actually wear the clothes in their closet.

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How to Build a Back-to-School Capsule Wardrobe That's Trendy and Affordable

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