For our family, slow fashion is one of the meaningful ways we can practice living a conscious lifestyle. It brings a joyful sense of awareness, purpose, simplicity, and ease to our lives as we rally for the sustainable revolution our world so desperately needs.
As a long-time minimalist, I’ve always been drawn toward timeless style, clean lines, and pattern-free essentials that effortlessly pair well together and can be worn again and again. However, now more than ever, our decisions around sustainable fashion feel deeply poignant.
In this time of global awakening, I felt inspired to share my thoughts and experiences around managing a mindful family wardrobe on a practical, day to day level.
Not long after I began my essentialism journey and as part of my long-term dedication to keeping things simple, I discovered the capsule wardrobe. It seriously revolutionized my daily routine and not to mention my then-cluttered mind.
The mental freedom I experienced as a result of creating a more organized, refined way of being was so refreshing and it seems the saying is true—tidy house, tidy mind. When we had children, it quickly occurred to me that the same could be possible for them too.
Composed of a small handful of soft, comfortable, high-quality essentials that can be mixed and matched with ease, a minimalist capsule wardrobe for your children is like a breath of fresh air for our planet and everyone involved.
Why a Minimalist Wardrobe Is Good for Our Children and the World
The truth is that offering fewer (better) choices actually gives our children so much more.
Much like ourselves, it allows more space for their imagination to soar, more freedom to evolve authentically on their journey to self-discovery, and more time to simply focus on the present moment; a capsule wardrobe keeps things simple. It’s gentle on the senses, and it brings a sense of practicality to getting dressed as our children go about their most important work of playing to their heart's content.
When you also explore the glaring implications of fast fashion, you begin to uncover so many loose threads that turning back feels impossible. You can never unlearn the things you now know—and it made me even more resolute in creating a simple, ethical, beautiful, practical, and luxuriously soft (because let’s be honest, that’s what our children love most) capsule of essentials that are good for their health and kind to the environment.
Furthermore, because children grow so quickly, capsule pieces can be loved, mended, and then passed on to siblings, cousins, or friends as instant heirlooms that will stand the test of time. I’ve also noticed that fewer choices make getting dressed fun and empowering for my children nearly every day (and who doesn’t want that?). Let’s face it, the 5-year-old can’t go too far wrong when selecting his own clothes from a gorgeous muted palette.
If you’re also journeying on the slow fashion path and want to create a health-focused, stylish, minimalist wardrobe that your wild-hearted little ones will both love and want to wear over and over, here are the things I have learned.
Set Some Intentions
Whether you’re expecting or your kids are a bit older (or both), setting your intentions helps when it comes to creating the perfect capsule wardrobe for your family.
Here are some of mine:
- Make getting dressed feel easy and fun
- Accentuate my children’s personal style
- Keep waste out of landfills and reduce environmental impact
- Save time and money by investing in a few quality pieces they love
- Ensure everything my children wear is natural and made sustainably
- Provide neutral, pattern-free play clothes that are easy on their senses
- Support brands who go the extra mile to make our world a better place
- Help my child feel healthy, comfortable, and confident in everything they wear
- Assemble a small collection of sophisticated, high-quality, and toxin-free clothing made in fair working conditions (no small challenge)
Creating these guidelines has really helped us to stay on track and deviate away from strong consumer cultural norms. It feels like such a great privilege to model to our children how to live in accordance with our powerful inner guidance systems, and a capsule wardrobe feels aligned with everything I believe and want to create in my life. It brings more peace and tranquility to getting dressed each day and feels like the best possible option for our family.
By going through this exercise and getting clear on your intentions, you can do the same!
Lean on the Basics
Children are incredibly practical beings. They have one objective in their precious lives and that is to learn, discover, and play.
Since basics can be mixed and matched with ease, they’ll carry you far (and most children love them). Timeless onesies, playsuits, and rompers are wonderful for growing babies and older children alike as they can be worn all alone with bare feet in the warmth of summer or layered with socks, tights, and a chunky cardigan for cooler weather.
There’s no set guideline for how many items you need in your capsule as it very much depends on your individual child. I like to aim for the minimum number of articles necessary to accommodate all the different types of experiences each child enjoys, such as snoozing away, coloring for hours, exploring the garden, floating like a fairy, or playing in mud puddles.
Aim for a small assortment of the following that are comfortable and can be easily layered:
- 2-3 essential one-pieces (playsuits, dresses, rompers)
- 2-3 tops
- 2-3 bottoms
- 2-3 pieces of outerwear (if you live in a place where it gets cooler)
- Accessories (hats, headbands, socks, etc.)
Consider Your Child’s Unique Style and Personality
In our family, it’s not uncommon for pajamas to be worn throughout the day with work boots or for a favorite cotton dress to be worn for weeks on end, which is why I love considering my children’s unique styles and personalities when I’m curating their capsules. It’s all about choosing the pieces they really love and want to wear constantly—it even helps to get them involved in the selection process and can be a fun activity together.
Take a deep dive to get really specific on what your kids love (and don’t love) the most. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and your children as you’re building their individual capsule collections:
- What are my child’s favorite things to do? Is he a cuddler? A climber? An explorer? A painter? Does he love to get messy or would he rather stay clean and tidy? Does he like to curl up for naps between periods of play?
How does my child identify? Does she prefer a more masculine, feminine, or gender neutral presentation?
- What feels comfortable for my child? Do they have sensitive skin? Do tight sleeves or waistbands annoy them? Do they get cold often and love to have a cardigan on hand? Are there colors they love or dislike?
- What’s our family lifestyle? Does our family spend more time in an indoor urban setting or an outdoor rural one? What are our hobbies?
When our children feel comfortable, their confidence soars, and I can see this unfolding each day for both of mine. Take stock of their preferences—I promise they’ll help guide the way.
I like to balance gender-neutral pieces with masculine or feminine styles, include bibs or bandanas to keep clothes stain-free, and have a hat or headband on hand for a bit of flair and protection from the sun or cold when needed.
No matter your family’s personal aesthetic or your babes’ styles, having a selection of soft, timeless, quality essentials that are tailored to their individuality and can be worn frequently throughout the season will make getting dressed a simple, welcomed daily activity.
Larissa Leigh (@livingcolorblog), a minimalist mom, slow fashion enthusiast, and kindred spirit has recently shared the joys of winter capsule wardrobes for her children, along with the benefits of building these capsules around her babe’s unique personalities. She found that this approach not only simplified life and saved energy—it also brought her daughters a feeling of independence and a true sense of agency about their options.
Allow for Growth
One thing’s for sure: these precious moments with our children are fleeting. They grow so quickly! If you’re building a capsule wardrobe for your new baby, you’ll likely need to have one in the 0 to 3 month size range, another at the 4 to 8 month range, and another for the 9 to 12 month range. There may, of course, be exceptions to this, but not that many pieces will cover all three size ranges as your little darling grows.
Each size range will require seasonal considerations, but layering clothes is a great solution, along with adding some swaddles and airy blankets for the cooler months. Older children require fewer shopping intervals, yet they do become more opinionated about garments as they grow, which is good to keep in mind.
My advice is to shop for roomy silhouettes and soft, lightweight fabrics that can accommodate them as they grow and adventure out into the world. That way, you can slowly add in two or three pieces each season as you learn about their preferences and purchase the seasonal essentials they need, such as a new jacket, socks, or the perfect hat.
Go for Soft, Organic, and Non-Toxic Fabrics
I don’t mean to generalize as we’re all so unique, but I have yet to meet one child who likes to wear itchy, scratchy, sub-par clothing that doesn’t suit their lifestyle.
Our little ones have busy lives to lead as they learn to walk, talk, run, jump, and bask in the wonder of childhood, so choose fabrics that are practical and healthy for both them and the environment by prioritizing soft, sustainable, and ethically-made fabrics from sources you trust. Sadly, even labels like “100% cotton” can sometimes have hidden nasties woven into their threads. You can read more about the truth about conventional cotton here; it’s certainly eye-opening.
Instead, opt for soft, cozy fabrics that are made from natural materials and processed in a way that’s kind to our environment, such as OEKO-TEX® and GOTS certified organic cotton, linen, muslin, or terry cloth. Tumbled cotton and waffle are also dreamy, eco-friendly fabrics that most children adore as they feel light, airy, and easy to wear as they navigate their world. Cardigans made from knit cotton or wool are treasures because they’ll keep your children warm season after season and often become wonderful heirlooms for younger siblings.
Mix and Match With Coordinating Hues
It’s a miracle: if left totally to their own devices, everything my children pick out for themselves matches effortlessly, inside-out or backwards (more common than you’d think—apparently they prefer some things this way...!). The beautiful thing about a minimalist capsule wardrobe is that you have multiple options that can all be mixed and matched with ease, especially when they all fall within the same color range.
Neutrals and earth-tones are ideal because they’re easy on the senses, pair well together, and are often made with the healthiest non-toxic dyes (or no dye at all). You simply cannot go wrong with muted tones that express your child’s individual spirit and creative styling.
Bold, neon colors are almost always made with synthetic, potentially harmful chemicals that can irritate our children’s skin over time and negatively impact their well-being. What’s more, dyes often end up in our rivers and streams as they’re not always disposed of responsibly. If you can help it, it’s best not to support these types of dyes and overwhelming color tones that aren’t suited for our planet or our children.
Look for garments that carry the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certification in regard to dyes to ensure they’re as health-forward as possible.
Shop Ethical, Slow, and Sustainable
Quality garments often come with a higher price tag because ethical companies use sustainable, lasting fabrics and processes, and work with artisanal partners that consider their environmental and social impact. Furthermore, this means that they normally recognize and reimburse their employees appropriately for the skilled work they perform.
That’s why it’s important to shop slowly. Don’t feel like you need to purchase your capsule all at once—you can build it up over time. As you’re planning, make an agreement with yourself to make purchases with consumerism and the environment in mind.
By becoming incredibly intentional and conscious as you shop and adopting a slow fashion lifestyle, you’re not only creating a wardrobe for today—you’re also voting with your choices on behalf of our planet, and making an ethical, sustainable investment in a quality collection.
With loving care and occasional mending, the pieces you curate can be passed down through the years, and perhaps even multiple generations. The key here again is to slowly shop for well-made garments you can cherish, avoid unnecessary over-washing, and make simple repairs when required. Quality over quantity really is the key.
Personally, I find it makes the most sense to purchase most of all of my capsule items from a single, high-quality, ethical source whose mission resonates with my core values. Tapping a single trusted source makes mixing and matching a whole lot easier—and it minimizes time lost to researching and shopping. It feels especially important to support these small businesses right now.
The Simple Folk Capsule Mission
If you have given it some thought and are looking for a starting place, I’m proud to say that our entire line at The Simple Folk is designed with a capsule wardrobe and minimalist families in mind.
Not only does our whole collection meet the strict OEKO-TEX® standard for safety; all of our organic fabrics are also GOTS certified, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve also rejected traditional retail mark-up to make our garments attainable and to help consumers change their fast fashion habits.
Remember to be patient and kind to yourself. Building a conscious, minimalist wardrobe is a journey like anything else in life: full of learning curves, pivotal moments, and sweet memories with the ones you love.
Embracing a capsule wardrobe has helped our family slow down, simplify, and grow even closer to one another, and has made getting dressed an engaging and positive experience for our whole crew.