Planning out kids’ wardrobes is so fun for me, but it can also be overwhelming! As each new season approaches, I start a new Pinterest board and build a little capsule wardrobe based off of what my kids’ need. With back-to-school and fall right around the corner, I wanted to share how I go about building a simple and thoughtful wardrobe for Rosie and Dax. This post has a lot of information, but I wanted to create one resource on this topic for when I get questions.
Over the last four years of buying kids clothes and adding another gender, I’ve come up with a little system that works so well for us. I hope this system we’ve worked to figure out can help some of you mamas streamline, save money, and most importantly, save time! I get a lot of questions about our kids’ clothes whenever they pop up on social media, so here are my favorite go-to brands and how I think about shopping for kids’ clothes.
- Buy less – my goal is to buy as little as possible for cost reasons, but also for simplifying the “getting dressed” chaos everyday. Simple takes out the guess work. I look at what the kids have from previous seasons that still fits. I look at hand-me-downs from cousins and then I fill in with key pieces. I make sure they all coordinate well so that a few pieces can make a lot of different combinations.
- Make a list – I make my list of “HOW MANY” things we need of each category before I start looking so that I don’t fall in love with six dresses when Rosie only needs two new ones. And then I try to stick to my needed amounts.
- Mix & Match – I try to go with mainly plain pieces so that they all mix and match. There’ll often be a print or two thrown in, but one that coordinates with the other pieces. If all items are printed, they go with less and you end up needing more to coordinate. The brands I’ve fallen in love with use earth tones in high-quality fabrics, which I love because they all mix and match really well.
- Gender Neutral – Having two different genders, I try to buy as much as I can that’s gender neutral and can be passed down. Obviously, Rosie is going to wear a lot of dresses and I want her to have some pink things because she loves it. But wherever I can (especially with more expensive staples), they’re going to be a neutral color.
- Ethically-made – I try to buy ethically-made wherever I can. It’s been a process for us to get here, but for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the slow fashion movement, check out the True Cost documentary on Netflix. It’s a great start. My favorite way to buy ethically and sustainably is second hand. I do that wherever I can, especially for home goods! There are some big kids’ second-hand sales I want to try, but thrifting for kids clothes hasn’t worked out well for me personally. I’ve gone to so many spots and found one thing or nothing, so I’ve built my favorite brand list and it is just easier! But if you have the time to hunt, that can be a great way to find some good kids’ staples!
- High-quality – my mantra used to be to buy as cheap as I could find and the clothes wouldn’t last the season. I’m a firm believer that kids are going to play hard in their clothes, but I’ve also found that buying higher quality lasts. While I buy more expensive pieces now, I buy way less than I used to. That alone means I’m spending the same or even less overall. But, I also am buying things that I know are going to last through all of my kids, so if it costs a bit more but four vs. one child can wear it (hypothetical number 😉 ), then overall, I’m spending less.
It’s simplified my planning and buying process so much to find a handful of awesome brands I love that fit my goals and standards. There are so many great kids’ clothing brands out there that put so much thought into the production, quality, and style of their clothes. But I’ve narrowed it down to three that I go to for planning. Every now and then, I’ll branch out for a specific need, but it helps to just check my three when they launch their new seasonal collection or have a sale, plan the wardrobe and buy the needs, and then STOP LOOKING. I could look forever (and spend forever) because kids clothes are so freakin’ cute!
MY TOP THREE BRANDS
- Lulu & Roo – this is always my first stop. We’ve worn Lulu & Roo for three years now and I LOVE them. They’re made in the USA and are great, thick quality. What I love most about them is that they have stylish lines and fabrics that all mix and match, but are made out of sweatshirt-like material. So they’re incredibly comfortable for play and aren’t fussy! They do a new launch each season and I’m always so excited to see what they have in store. Probably my favorite thing about them is their Reward program – I’ve gotten great discounts through that!
- Jamie Kay – Jamie Kay is an Australian brand I discovered that has great style, especially for dressier pieces. I love their color palettes that are all nature-inspired and simple. They mix and match so well. One thing that works out well for me is that they’re a season ahead, so I can often buy my kids’ upcoming season clothes on their end of season sale!
- Alice and Ames – Alice and Ames is a favorite for their ballet dresses. Rosie loves how these dresses twirl, so I love adding in one or two for her play dresses. But they’re special enough to wear for most occasions too! They do a seasonal launch with a lot of different colors and prints in this basic style.
Okay, who wants to see how this works in action? I put together mood boards for y’all to see examples of what I buy for the kids and what can get passed between genders! These boards aren’t an exact representation of their wardrobes, though they’re pretty close! They do have a few t-shirts and things from places in town or that were given to them we wear. But this is a great look into how we approach wardrobe-building.
Play dresses: Lulu & Roo | Alice & Ames | Alice & Ames | Lulu & Roo ; Layering Pieces: Jamie Kay | Lulu & Roo | Jamie Kay; Dressier Pieces: All Jamie Kay ; Sweaters & Coats: Jamie Kay (both sweaters) | Patagonia Coat; Shoes: Mary Janes | Hunter Boots
Dresses (Play & Dressier) – Rosie would only wear dresses if she had her way, so that is the bulk of her wardrobe. I usually do four play dresses that’re casual, but still cute enough for church or school. And then, I usually do one or two that are more special. These are dresses that aren’t fancy, but we probably aren’t going to wear to play in the backyard. We don’t do anything too dressy, so these cover all the bases she’ll need. With dresses too, I’ve found with Lulu & Roo and Jamie Kay that I can go up a size without it being oversized and she can get two years out of it. Then, the third year, it can be a shirt with leggings because it’s usually just a bit too short.
Layering Pieces – Rosie gets a few leggings in earth tones and a few plain long-sleeve shirts. My goal with these are play outfits she can wear by themselves, but also leggings or long-sleeves she could layer with dresses and skirts. I love Jamie Kay’s organic ribbed cotton basics collection, so always check there. And I also love Lulu & Roo’s basic shirts that have a little special detailing. For these, Dax also wears these henleys and leggings, so I try to go mainly gender neutral in color, but often throw in a pink or purple so she isn’t only wearing neutrals. My biggest goal here is that the colors of these basics go with most or all of her other pieces for layering. In winter, she wears these leggings everyday with her dresses and we also make some summer dresses go through winter by putting long sleeves underneath.
Sweaters – I used to buy so many cute sweaters for Rosie and then realized it didn’t all really go together and it was excessive! Now, each child gets two sweaters and one coat. For the sweaters, I love Jamie Kay’s knitwear collection. And again, they’re a season ahead, so I buy these on their end of season sale before our fall hits. I try to go mainly gender neutral with sweaters because they’re simple, such good quality and last. Ours from last year don’t look worn at all! So all kids can wear them. I did find this year’s on such a good sale, that I got Rosie an extra blush one too. Always try to throw in a little extra girly where I can!
Coat – I used to buy several different style coats. One for winter weather, one for dressier occasions, something in between. I realized that some weren’t getting worn but maybe once or twice a season and some were wearing out long before the end of season. And while I got them “cheaply,” when you buy four it ain’t cheap! I absolutely love Patagonia’s transparency and quality standards. They’re really leading the industry in ethical production and a lot of bigger brands are now following their example! I love it! While it is a more expensive kids’ coat, it’s only about twice what I spent before on one and I’m saving a ton from what I used to spend! I bought the kids their coats last year in one size up. They had room, but weren’t too big. And they’ll likely work for two more years! I have friends with the same coat who said they got three years out of each size. It’s really high quality, so they’ll last for multiple seasons and then through all our kids. So this is a space where I’d love to buy Rosie a cute pink one, but all my kids need to wear it AND it needs to match all her clothes. So, gender neutral coats for the win!
Shoes – Rosie gets a pair of tan Mary Janes that will go with every single thing in her closet. Each gets a pair of tennis shoes. And then each has a pair of Hunter Boots. I’ve had some parents ask how I splurge so much on rain boots that my kids will only wear a few times. Y’all, these are not rain boots for us. These are play in the yard, tromp in the woods, wear nearly every single day boots. These are heavy-duty and hold up to all the things. And you literally just spray them with a hose to clean. My kids wore theirs last year nearly every single day of fall and winter. And they last! So while I’d love to get Rosie a pink pair, this is another spot we go gender neutral. I love the navy, olive, and dark red (not bright and glossy) for both genders, so we’ll likely cycle between those. And Rosie is totally happy with that!
Cute & Casual Shirts: Lulu & Roo | Lulu & Roo | Jamie Kay | Jamie Kay | Lulu & Roo; Pants: Lulu & Roo | Lulu & Roo | Gap | Gap | Gap; Nicer Shirts & Layering Pieces: Gap | Lulu & Roo | Gap; Sweaters & Coats: Jamie Kay | Patagonia; Shoes: Native Shoes | Hunter Boots
Dax’s wardrobe feels a bit simpler because it’s really just pants and shirts!
Cute & Casual Shirts: Dax usually gets 5-6 cute and casual shirts. These are play shirts that can also be nice. And I make sure that every one pretty much matches all five pants, so that we have a lot of mix and match options.
Pants: I usually go with five pairs of pants. I like to have a variety, so there are usually several pairs of Lulu & Roo joggers in there. These are slim and look so stylish, but they are so comfortable and soft! He rotates and wears these about 90% of days. This year, he also has some different pairs that are dressier for certain days. He has older boy cousins who give us hand-me-downs (hallelujah!) , so they actually gave us those exact pants above: one camo, one jean, and one khaki. So I found similar options above to show how we’re mixing and matching.
Nice Shirt & Layering Pieces: In addition to the casual shirts, I like for Dax to have a nicer button-down or two. He can wear this to church, but he can also layer it open over his casual shirts. We got these handed down as well, but here are similar options to what we have. And then, I love this sweatshirt cardigan from Lulu & Roo for layering. It adds warmth, but also a little style to the casual shirts, which I love.
Sweater & Coat: Dax has two sweaters this year: navy and gray. Theyr’e simple, can be worn by any future little brothers or sisters, and go with all his pieces. Just like Rosie, he has a Patagonia coat from last year that still fits perfectly in a gender-neutral color.
Shoes: Dax gets a pair of tennis shoes. I love Native brand for kids shoes – great production standards! And I love the style and quality too. He’ll be wearing Rosie’s olive Hunter boots from last year that still look pretty new despite all her wear and tear. And I think this year, I may also add a tan leather boot or slightly nicer shoe to mix and match with the tennis shoe if I can find it.
WHEW! I told you it was a lot of info! But I’ve been planning on writing all of this down in one spot for so long with all of the questions I’ve gotten. I’ll do a follow-up post come spring and summer when the pieces are a little different, but the thought is the same. I can actually buy a lot less then because you need less layers!
Drop any questions you guys have in the comments below! I’m no expert, just a mama who’s tried to figure out what is important for us in buying and how can we meet those goals as reasonably as possible! And if you have any expertise, nuggets of wisdom, or favorite brands to share, PLEASE DO! I’m still learning and I know we’d all love to learn from what you guys do for your families.