For busy WAHMs (work at home moms) like me, capsule wardrobes make life significantly easier. Since I work from home, I have little need for office clothes and corporate cocktail wear. My daily uniform consists of slacks in neutral colors (mostly greys and blacks and a few navy blues), and comfortable tops in subdued hues and patterns. Yeah, I know, pretty dullsville, but hey, I have a home based job and I do housekeeping on a daily basis.
However, I came to realize that capsule wardrobes for little girls are an altogether different thing. I have a five year old daughter named Isabel, and yes, she can be quite the little princess when it comes to dressing up. She has recently started preschool, and up until the time we get her to a school with uniforms, my husband John and I were able to see some of Isabel’s interesting fashion statements. Over breakfast she suddenly declared that she wants jurisdiction over putting together her own outfits for school. We were initially delighted at this welcome display of independence from our little girl, until she emerged one morning wearing her bubblegum pink tutu matched with rainbow striped socks and (le gasp!) my high heeled baby-pink party shoes. (I blame Ballerina Barbie crossed with Tacky 80s Aerobics Barbie for this one.)
Needless to say it was a sticky situation that morning, which included plenty of cajoling on my part about how adult-sized shoes can hurt her little feet, and my husband declaring that Isabel looked like a mini-bag lady. Okay, there was a fist-eating tantrum involved as well; the kind I don’t look forward to going through every school day. So I came up with a system to provide Isabel with her own capsule wardrobe for preschool; one that does not include any of mommy’s footwear and layers of tulle preferably.
Color coordinate tops, bottoms, and accessories in separate drawers for easy mixing and matching
I discovered that this is an easy step to make when creating Isabel’s capsule wardrobe. When it comes to little-girl clothing, color coordination characteristically means segregating the pink items from the non-pink items. Pretty simple, really. The variety of pink my daughter’s clothes come in (from pale to bubble gum through to neon) renders this color a neutral, but it makes sense given her age. So when I fold pink tops in one drawer and khaki, denim, and cotton trousers, skirts, and other bottoms by color in others, it simplified things. Now every morning we can simply mix and match according to design, pattern, and cut. It’s safe to say that pink tops and neutral-colored bottoms have become Isabel’s current preschool uniform (and we’re not complaining). I hate to admit it, but on little girls, pink goes with anything! Wish I were as lucky.
Store and hide clothes that are not in season (including costumes!)
In order to discourage my daughter’s penchant for theatrical apparel, we’ve learned to hide her Halloween costumes, outlandish outfits (courtesy of aunts, uncles, and grandparents with overactive imaginations), seasonal clothes, and swimming gear. I mean, with Lady Gaga being omnipresent and all, I wouldn’t be surprised if Isabel suddenly appears wearing an outfit she pieced together from trick-or-treating clothing odds and ends mixed with a bikini bottom and something she crafted from a plastic gumball machine, topped with a trapper’s cap with earflaps…but I digress.
Storing clothes not suitable for daily wear has made Isabel focus on what she can pick out and put on for school and other times we go out. Doing this also allowed her to see occasions for dressing up in costumes, such as for Halloween and special school programs, extra special and worth waiting for.
Invest more in children’s clothes with classic cuts and design, and less in trendy ones
My most recent trip to the children’s clothing section at our local department store got me cross-eyed from the shimmer and glimmer. I mean, since when did Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington design clothes for little girls? Kidding aside, these are definitely not the kind of outfits I see my little girl wearing at school or anywhere else for that matter. Not only do the clothes look too ostentatious for preschool-aged kids, but they also have impractical trimmings that could get caught on things and hurt them.
I stick to the tried, tested and tasteful. I gave allowances for current trends in kiddie fashion with a bit of shiny trim here and there, but never something that will get Isabel mistaken for an early warning traffic device. Hence, her mix and match outfits are typically cut in a classic style and have simple but cute designs on them.
Always go for comfort before style
Playgrounds mean clothes that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, so a big no-no to tutus for sure. Isabel’s capsule wardrobe includes a lot of outfits made from sturdy, stretchy fabrics. She is by no means a rough and tumble girl, but even the most reserved kid can get stains and marks on their clothes during playtime. Ditto for school activities that can get messy, including arts and crafts with all those paints and pigments. In the latter case, clothes that are machine-washable and stain resistant are a big bonus.
Also, always go for sensible and comfy shoes
Mommy’s pale pink party shoes are not sensible (and okay, I admit, not comfy either) shoes. Isabel’s sneakers, Velcro-fastened Mary Janes and espadrilles are sensible and comfy shoes. For perfectly mixed and matched clothes, complementary footwear is a must. Taking playtime into consideration is also important, so we make sure to get the best quality shoes we can afford for Isabel to have fun at the playground (and elsewhere) without hurting her feet.