Why a minimal wardrobe?
Honestly, the main reason for my wanting to create a minimal wardrobe for my kids is that I have always spent too much money and time on their clothes.
Ask almost any parent who they shop for more – themselves or their kids, and I can pretty much guarantee that they would answer the latter.
I love shopping for Lily (and now Theo) in a way I simply don’t enjoy shopping for myself. Part of that links into my own self-esteem and body confidence issues. But it’s also because kid’s clothes are just so damn cute.
Not to mention they tend to be significantly cheaper than adult’s clothing. I used to have a bad habit of picking up little bits here and there for Lily every single time I went shopping.
I’d go out to get myself a new pair of jeans and come back with three t-shirts for her instead. Or I’d add a lovely dress for her to my trolley when doing the food shop in Tesco.
Sometimes I’d fall in love with the cutest tiny pair of sparkly boots and conveniently forget that they would match nothing else in her wardrobe. Or I’d find a gorgeous outfit and she’d wear it a few times but then I’d realise I had no way of mixing and matching it with other items. I’d get bored of it on its own and so she wouldn’t get more wear out of it.
I was generating waste and that is something that we as a family are really conscious of not doing. And so I stopped.
I haven’t of course just decided not to buy her clothes at all, however, this year I decided to try something new. I’ve already downsized my wardrobe significantly and am building myself a minimal ‘capsule’ style wardrobe. So it made sense to do the same for Lily too.
Also with my expecting our second baby, space is going to be even tighter in our tiny flat and so it’s even more essential for us to own less.
Creating a Minimal Wardrobe
My daughter can be a bit of a girly girl but she also loves to be comfortable.
Whilst she might pick out a flouncy lacy dress in the shop, or glittery tights, I can almost guarantee that she won’t want to wear them.
She’ll complain that the tights itch, or that she can’t run and climb the climbing frame in the dress.
And so whilst I do like to let her have choices when it comes to her wardrobe I am culling what she has access to choose from. That way I have been able to put together a minimal wardrobe – containing only items that she will actually wear.
When it comes to babies I am all for comfort. I hate to see a tiny newborn in something that looks irritating to wear – stiff jeans or a scratchy tutu for example. So this baby will have plenty of cosy, colourful baby-gros and sleepsuits with the occasional soft outfit for special days out.
One thing I’ve always had a bad habit of doing is to buy a whole new wardrobe every season.
At the start of last year, I stopped doing that. In fact in the Summer Lily pretty much only wore the same things she did the year before – with the addition of a new pair of shorts and sandals.
All of her dresses from Summer 16′ still fitted, as did her t-shirts and cardigans. Her shorts had got a little too short and her sandals were too small and so I replaced those but on the whole, I didn’t shop for her last summer. And quite a few of those pieces will likely still fit her this year (she’s very petite!) unless she has a huge growth spurt!
It made life so much simpler to have that minimal summer wardrobe – everything just went together easily and I saved money too!
I have also started to pick items that cover the different seasons. Not just things that would only work for a few months of the year.
The denim shorts from the summer for example. Of course, they worked well in the warmer months with a t-shirt and sandals. However, they work just as well in the winter paired with tights and a sweater.
That’s going to be a little trickier this year with the new baby as they grow so quickly but once he is a little older I’ll do the same thing.
Pick a ‘theme’ or colour scheme
One of the simplest ways to start a minimal wardrobe for children is to pick a ‘theme’ or colour scheme. I have always loved Lily in Red, white and Blue, especially Navy. However now she is at school she wears a navy uniform every day so I’ve had to step away from using that colour as much. Instead, the blue in her wardrobe comes from her denim basics and paler blue pieces.
Her favourite colour is yellow so this year I have added a few yellow pieces (and plan to buy a couple more) that she will love.
For baby Theo I have built up a wardrobe of white, grey and navy with pops of red or mustard to add some colour.
I love babies in white – it always looks cute. He will spend most of his first 6 months in sleepsuits or baby-gros with soft leggings.
Getting the ‘basics’ right – bottoms
My daughter likes to wear either leggings and plain tops or dresses and so I have stuck to mainly those items. Lily doesn’t find jeans very comfortable and so I’ve only got one pair in her wardrobe.
She also has her denim shorts and a denim dress.
These are all pieces that can be easily mixed and matched with other items in her wardrobe. A key part of getting a minimal wardrobe right is to make sure that the basics are covered.
Just as when creating a minimal wardrobe for an adult it’s important to choose classic pieces. I like to stick to simple items that can be layered up and worn in different ways.
Getting the ‘basics’ right -tops
When it comes to tops I have stuck to basics pieces. For the most part, she has plain short and long-sleeve t-shirts in white, blue and grey.
There are a few ‘random’ tops mixed in with alternative colours – mainly stripes, pink or yellow which still go with her other pieces. Most of these are ones from last year which still fit and so I have worked them into her minimal wardrobe.
As well as the t-shirts she has a couple of cardigans and three sweaters that can be mixed and matched with her other pieces on colder days.
Shoes & Tights
One thing I find that I always have to make sure Lily has enough of in her wardrobe are tights. I stick to grey for the most part as they go with pretty much everything.
We have always had way too many morning arguments around shoes – Lily will always pick the least practical pair. If she does pick a practical pair then you can guarantee they won’t match her outfit.
My husband had enough of the constant morning row and so decided that she should have three pairs of shoes that go with everything. And actually, this has made our mornings so much easier.
Lily now has a pair of silver sandals, white converse and pink hi-tops that go with everything.
In the winter she had a pair of tan boots, a pair of black boots and some black converse.
Of course, she also has her school shoes and trainers but they are only for school.
Adding the ‘fun’ bits
As well as the basic tops I listed out above I also added a few more ‘statement’ tops such as this pretty white, blue and yellow design from Joules and a broderie anglaise blouse from Zara.
Both of these pieces look great teamed with shorts, tights and boots, with leggings or with denim shorts. They are a bit dressier than a regular t-shirt so look good for an evening out as well as everyday wear. I like adding pieces that are versatile in that way.
As I mentioned above, Lily is quite the girly girl. One thing that she loves to do is to accessorize her outfits. Of course, having tonnes of accessories doesn’t really fit with having a minimal wardrobe.
And so for accessories this year she was allowed to choose two bags and some hair accessories.
I bought this robot bag in Accessorize last year but have never actually used it and so gladly passed it onto her. She also picked a small rucksack for when we go out on weekends.
We added some hair accessories too – just simple hairbands and Alice-bands in colours that coordinate with her clothes.
Are you tempted to try out a minimal wardrobe for your children? I know it can seem a bit disappointing not to always be buying new pieces for our children *the struggle is real*. However think of how much more time you’ll have as you won’t be constantly washing, ironing and folding excess clothes!
Here are my tips for starting a minimal wardrobe for your kids:
- Pick a theme
- Have a good clear out
- Build up from the basics
- Add key interest pieces
- Choose classic designs
Let me know how it goes!
You can see the video of Lily’s current Spring/Summer wardrobe below: