How To Capsule Your Kids' Wardrobes

This post is written by Chandler Smith, first-lady of Cladwell.

I have 3 (almost 4!) kids, 5 and under. I love our busy, noisy, happy life, and I’m a big fan the little personalities budding in front of me every day. But the bigger our family grows, the more I want (ahem…NEED!) order and simplicity in our home. If it’s not necessary and bringing joy to our life, then it’s just creating disorder and chaos and we probably don’t need it. (Thank you, KonMari, for teaching us all the art of the purge.)


One of my biggest simplicity game-changers has been creating a capsule wardrobe for each of my children. Instead of having way too many (or too few) clothes, each child has exactly the right number and type of items they need for their little lives. By thoughtfully trimming down their wardrobe, I put one less tedious decision on their plate every morning, which means I put one less decision on my own plate every morning — X3. Capsuling helps me create beauty and order in my home, and that simplicity overflows out of the physical and into every relational dimension of our family. (It also means less laundry. WIN.) 


So get ready. I’m going to share the steps to creating a beautiful, interchangeable, kid wardrobe. Get ready for less laundry and better mornings!

 

6 Steps To Capsuling For Kids: 

 

1. Think about your child’s complexion. What colors do they look good in? Just like adults, there are some colors that make a kid look great, and others that just don’t work for them. If your child has a Spring complexion (think blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes) they probably look great in, well, Spring colors. Think pinks, blues, yellows. The colors of flowers you pick on a May afternoon. If you child has a Winter complexion (think Disney’s Snow White: black hair, fair skin, rosy cheeks), they’ll look best in bright reds, black, deep purples, and burgundies.

(If you’re having trouble pinpointing your child’s best colors, take Cladwell’s color quiz here.)

2. Think about their lifestyle. How does your child play? What activities do they do daily? What can they put on by themselves? Is your baby a crawler? Long baby dresses are adorable, but probably not the best choice for being on your hands and knees. Is your 2-year-old potty training? Double the inventory of undies! Is your 3-year-old always wrestling her big brother? Maybe she only needs one fancy dress. Is your son always running around and overheating? Maybe he only needs one heavy sweatshirt. Think through the unique season your child is in will help you figure out what kinds of pieces to keep in their wardrobe.


3. Think about your child’s tastes. What pieces of clothing do they gravitate towards? Are there fabrics or textures that they choose for themselves day after day? By the time most kids are 2-years-old they begin to develop their own personal taste and style. They are — believe it or not — turning into real people with preferences (O really? A two-year-old with preferences?!). Respect their personhood.


4. Think about your own tastes. Spend some time and think about how you want your kids to dress. For me, I decided that I just don’t like clothing with loud text. (Yes, yes, yes, my baby is “Mommy’s Little Princess”. But if I have to plaster it on everything she owns to convince you of her royalty, then maybe I have a bigger problem). It’s a very personal choice, but you get to decide how you want your kids to look. You’re teaching them how to communicate a first impression to the world. Show them how to communicate purposefully.


5. Think about your environment. This sounds silly, but what season is it? What kind of climate do you live in? As cute as that little baby sundress is, your child won’t wear it in a Midwest winter. But, if you live in the south, she’ll probably make great use of that dress all winter long. Use your brain here and help your child dress for the weather.


6. Think about laundry. How often do you do laundry? How much wiggle room do you want to give yourself in that laundry schedule? I do A LOT of laundry, but I don’t want to be bound to doing laundry every single day. (Believe it or not, there is more going on in life than laundry — some days.) How often you do laundry will affect how many items of clothing your child needs. This number isn’t the same for everyone — decide how often you want to do laundry and then plan for at least that number of clothes for your child.

Ok, lets get started! Here’s an example of all this brainstorming for my toddler.

 

Capsuling for Charleston Jane:

This is Charleston Jane. She’s 3-years-old, loves wrestling with her dad, stuffed animals with huge eyes, “cozy” clothes, The Little Mermaid, climbing on anything, and playing with water. She’s funny, kind, generous (about 80% of the time), and she thinks she does great Star Wars impressions. (She’s doesn’t. It’s hilarious.)


Based on Charleston’s complexion, lifestyle, our combined tastes, the climate, and my laundry schedule, here’s what I know:


1. Complexion: She has a Spring complexion, so she shines in light pinks, blues, yellows, and greens. 


2. Lifestyle: She lives a VERY active lifestyle, so she needs a lot of soft, cotton play shirts and leggings what let her move freely and don’t get in her way. She’s 95% potty-trained but has an occasional accident, so she needs a few backup pairs of underwear just in case.


3. Her Preferences: She loves the color pink, but doesn’t gravitate towards fancy dresses so she probably only needs one or two for special occasions. 


4. My Preferences: I don’t like writing on shirts. Sorry, I guess I’m high-maintenance. 


5. Climate: It’s winter and we live in the Midwest. Even though it’s cold, I want Charleston to be able to play comfortably outside.


6. Laundry: I do laundry 2x a week, so Charleston only needs 3–4 play outfits, plus extras just in case she gets them dirty ahead of my laundry schedule.

Are you still with me? You’re doing great. Let’s keep working. 

 

Closet Cleanout For Kids:

1. Take EVERYTHING out of the closet. Now — this is easier said than done. In our house, there is one load of laundry in the washer or dryer at all times. Do what you’ve got to do to get every piece of clothing out in front of you.

2. Sort each piece of clothing into piles of similar items. Tops, dresses, leggings, pajamas, sweaters, etc. Look at each item as you sort it. Does it have any holes or stains? Is it damaged in any way? If you’re feeling ambitious (and are the kind of parent who keeps a sewing kit handy), then put any torn items in a pile for repair. If you’re like me, put those damaged or stained items in the garbage and say goodbye.

3. As you sort, check to make sure each piece of clothing actually fits your child. I’m always amazed at how many things in my kids’ closet don’t actually fit them at all. If you have younger, same-sex children, put the too-small item in a pile to save for the next lucky hand-me-down recipient. If this child is your youngest, then put the items in a pile to give to a friend or to a second-hand store.

After you’ve separated all the damaged, too-small items, look at what remains. Here’s what Charleston’s capsule looks like, post purge...

Final product:

2 play dresses

2 t-shirts

4 long sleeves play shirts

5 leggings/pants

1 pair of shorts

2 “fancy” dresses

1 sparkly skirt

2 cardigan sweaters

3 pajamas

9 undies

7 socks

2 swimsuits

1 warm winter jacket (not pictured)

 

 

Well done! Now, before you finish, evaluate you child’s trimmed down wardrobe. Is there anything you need to fill in? What specific items do you need to buy? Are there still too many items? 

After evaluating Charleston’s wardrobe I decided that she could use a few more staple items: 1 legging/pant, 1 play dress, 1 play skirt.

(NOTE: In my experience, capsuling is more of an art than a science. Each time I capsule a kid’s wardrobe, I get better at knowing how many and what kind of items they need. There is not a right answer — you need to find what works for your family and child.)

Now, Charleston Jane has a beautiful, interchangeable wardrobe that she looks great in every day. I can send her to get dressed for the day and know that whatever she picks will be a good choice. By thoughtfully paring down her wardrobe, I am giving us both the freedom of one less decision to make every morning. She has more time to do the things she really cares about. Things like playing hide-go-seek, playing with baby dolls, and looking at bugs outside.


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When Did "Busy" Become The Goal?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a great question to ask kids. “Astronaut,” “President of the United States,” “Prima Ballerina,” “Firefighter.” I love seeing how these little people are such big dreamers.

But we quickly forget that as much as kids are dreamers, they are also imitators. Watching their parents and the adults in their lives, they soak up ideas and words and actions like sponges. What if the next time you ask a kindergartner what they want to be when they grow up, the response is, “Busy. I want to be busy. Just like you.”   

 In an article for The Huffington Post, Scott Dannemiller writes,

“Here’s the thing. I wear busyness like a badge of honor. Only there’s no honor to be had. Busy is a sickness.”

Dannemiller cuts to the heart of all of our busyness and reveals the dependency we have upon this word:

“The implication is that if I am not busy doing something, I am somehow less than. Not worthy. Or at least worth less than those who are producing something.”

Do we really think that we can live our lives without saying no to things, without cutting out the clutter of appointments and extra activities, and there won’t be an consequences? There won’t be a whole generation that believes that the dream is a busy life, not a good life?

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist gives practical steps for becoming "unbusy." In fact, the internet is blowing up with articles about decreasing activity and increasing rest.

But, at the end of the day, slowing down is hard. It is a choice. It takes a great amount of courage to live slowly and thoughtfully in a world run at the pace it takes to Google something (that's like 0.67 seconds). But when our courage is running out, and it feels easier to join in on the busy instead of intentionally pursuing the good, we should give a thought for the next generation. We should consider whether we want them to have lives defined by busyness or thoughtfulness. What kind of example are we setting?


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This Year Let's Resolve To Say No

"No" can be a dirty word. I don’t like being the bad guy. I don’t like missing out. But by refusing to say no, I am jeopardizing what is most valuable to me.

For example: we’re well into January at this point, and I simply cannot fathom why my New Year’s resolutions to eat better, exercise more, cure cancer, solve the problem of world hunger, and resolve the national debt haven’t been chugging along…

Okay, okay, so maybe my hyperbole is showing. But, I’m beginning to think there’s a really important theme behind all these failed plans. We simply don’t make room for the practical whens and hows of our resolutions.  

If you’re resolved to exercise more, but aren’t going to bed early enough to wake up in the mornings, how will this exercise happen? If you’re resolved to return to family dinners, but you haven’t cut out some of the Netflix time, when exactly are these family dinners taking place? If you’re resolved to cut the clutter and finally give that closet a cleanout, but you spend your Saturdays at the mall instead of face-to-face with your clutter, who is going to give your wardrobe a restart?

We are resolved to change our lives, but we refuse to change our habits. We do not have the time or space to exercise, to sit down together as a family, to clean a closet, to read a book, to create something new.

If we are resolved to do these things, then we must choose them. Really, actually choose them. And this choosing means saying no. It means saying no to some of the things we are doing to make space in our lives for the things we want to be doing.

3 Practical Suggestions

  1. Create your (short!) list of priorities for the year. These could be anything from reading just three books this year to sitting down for dinner twice a week.

  2. Then create your own “Stop Doing List” – a list of all the things that prohibit you from accomplishing these priorities. 

  3. Then, just say no. It will hurt. But make it a habit. And moment by moment, no by no, you will see your prioritized life take shape.

It’s an idea easily spoken yet hard to live out: every “no” is actually a “yes” to the good things we have chosen to prioritize in our lives. This simple word can help us create a life defined by moments well lived instead of planners well crammed.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last, writes:

"It is the discipline to discard what does not fit — to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort — that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life." 

This year, I’m going to resolve to say no. Not “just because,” but for the sake of the good things I’m actually resolved to do this year, for the sake of the life I hope to lead.


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All the layers and coats: Street Style December Edition

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... and you know what that means? Style on the street looks like beautiful coats, cozy layers, and creative ways to let personality shine through four and a half layers of warmth.

Our Chief Creative Officer Levi is busy working on a top-secret-super-thrilling project that you'll get to see so soon (You excited yet? Cause you should be!). So I thought I'd pass along the picture he's still snapping, pictures of people just like you.

"I think it's cute that people who dress this well act so surprised when I ask to take their photo."
Just after Julia said, "I'm not very photogenic."

Just after Julia said, "I'm not very photogenic."

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 Angela was surprised, but not unprepared.

 Angela was surprised, but not unprepared.

McKenzie wearing a sweater from her great uncle.

McKenzie wearing a sweater from her great uncle.

Reggie said he just "threw it together." Well, Reggie, you did it.

Reggie said he just "threw it together." Well, Reggie, you did it.

Monica curates her wardrobe mostly from thrift shops

Monica curates her wardrobe mostly from thrift shops

Dakotah and Jordan running the streets looking cute and cozy.

Dakotah and Jordan running the streets looking cute and cozy.

Alisha and her amazing muted color palette.

Alisha and her amazing muted color palette.

Brandon was doing some Christmas shopping... maybe for himself.

Brandon was doing some Christmas shopping... maybe for himself.

Amy with the perfect raw frayed hem.

Amy with the perfect raw frayed hem.

If you need even more style inspiration, you can find other street style galleries here and here. Hey, thanks for getting up in the morning and putting on these great ensembles. You inspire us.

Stay classy, Cincinnati.


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The Story Of Cladwell's New Logo

We've all experienced logo changes. Some of them are bad. (cough)Instagram(cough) Some of them are good. (cough)Instagram(cough) And all of them are divisive. (cough)Instagram(cough) Sorry, I’ve been coughing a lot with the cold season and everything. I’ll keep it under control.

Whether we like it or hate it (we like ours), one question always lingers. "Why did they do that?" So we want to walk you through our thought process.

Cladwell-Logo-Full.png

Our new brand mark is equal parts clothing and guidance. At first glance, you see the clothes hanger (hopefully you see an obvious wooden clothes hanger--the best kind of hanger) and then the second, more subtle image of a navigation arrow akin to those found on old maps. Then, the third and almost hidden element is that of a location arrow in the form of the minimal-ized A. Why did we choose these icons?

Humans are constantly seeking validation and affirmation. The clothing industry preys on this fact by trying to tell people what to feel about themselves so they can sell the thing they are convincing people they can’t live without.

Brands deliver positive messages and promises, and tie them directly to a perceived need for their product.

That means it’s hard to navigate the stories that are real and true, and the ones that were designed to make you want to buy something that’s worn by a celebrity on sale for $7.99 in a store surrounded by other things on mannequins.

When the only voice people hear is the one coming from the brand, the brand’s voice is the only one they know to be true. And that sucks.

Cladwell wants to stick a megaphone to the core of who a person is, and let their heart scream at the top of their heart’s lungs the truth that is stuck deep inside that person. The truth: People are valuable, and should be valued.
We do whatever we can to fight against the oppressing forces and negative voices; to elevate our fellow human and distinguish them from who industries say they are.

We created a logo that communicates our motivation for guidance, and our focus on clothing.

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Let's recap where we've been.

Cladwell started with a web app for men. We used the words “empower” and “confidence.” What we now call "ennobling," was then called “empowerment,” and it was our way to fight the fear of failure that men feel when facing fashion decisions. It is a noble cause, and Roadmap lives on.

Then, we recognized a new trend in the fashion industry, and it forced us to look long and hard at ourselves and ask if we were complicit. We woke up to the realization that "Fast Fashion" is killing us. Buying more clothing was actually setting off a chain reaction that hurt people and our planet.

Meanwhile, we were getting an increasing number of women who were asking if we could help them choose their wardrobe.

We created a new web app called "Capsules." It helps women create and curate a seasonal collection of timeless, interchangeable clothing. And when we got into the business of helping women with their clothing, we noticed something: the paralyzing act of making decisions.

Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, magazines... those channels are giving all of us opinions and inspiration. But those channels aren't perfect in helping us connect inspiration with action. Basically: you don’t need someone to paint a picture of the destination, you need someone to walk you there.

That's why we are guides.

When we help someone figure out what to wear, what to keep, and what to add to their closet in such a way that it makes them feel better about their clothing choices AND makes them feel fabulous, then we have ennobled them to be more of themselves. Also, we can help set the stage for a more sustainable clothing industry. And that would be good for people, too.

What does that mean for the way we look?

This is what our logo looked like yesterday.

This is what our logo looked like yesterday.

This is what our logo looks like today.

This is what our logo looks like today.

Our previous brand mark was based on "empowerment" and the power of clothing as it pertains to identity. It originated from the story in the Bible about Adam and Eve and the first piece of clothing. That fig leaf covered the shame they felt, and was a piece of clothing full of purpose. We believe in the empowering purpose of clothing.

And the previous logo was designed based on what we believed about clothing--and we still believe about clothing--but it was too personal only to us, and not relatable enough to you, our audience. As Blake, our co-founder, has put it, “Our logo was in the living room, when it should have been on the front door.” So we made a logo that belongs on the front door.

What's next?

There are a lot of things we have yet to do, as guides. First--admittedly--we need to improve our current products. We have to listen. We also can't stop exploring.

Part of having big ideas is that you have to start somewhere. And where we started isn't where we want to be. Where are we going? I can't say too much, but I will tell you it has something to do with outfits. And it's happening very soon.

Oh gosh I've said too much already.

As always, I love to connect about this kind of stuff. Please feel free to email me directly: levi@cladwell.com or find me on Instagram.


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