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The Mini Series: Purposeful Apparel


Intro // Part One // Part Two


Purposeful Apparel: The Foundation Of A Timeless Mini Wardrobe


How many clothes do I need for my children’s wardrobe?

Kids don’t need that many clothes…if their wardrobe has purpose!

With both Jude & Zara I had to buy entire wardrobes being that they were the first children and they were opposite genders – but with Cruz and Ever I haven’t had to buy hardly anything! Not only that, I passed all of the girls clothing on to my sister and she has barely had to buy anything for her girls!  A little planning and the girl’s wardrobe was good not only through my two girls, but through both of my sister’s girls also.

I do have a lot more clothes then we really need because I like to shop, and because I find so many irresistible  prices on clothes. But, in general, I think most kids only need 7 regular day-to-day outfits, and 2-3 dressy outfits. 10 outfits total, and if you do the buying right, you’ll have a lot more then that if you mix and match them.

I would consider the above is a complete closet. But let’s break it down even more. We’re going to focus on the foundation of a child’s wardrobe. These pieces are the items that are a must, must, must. You can’t get by without them or else your child will be naked in the streets. (It’s possibly your children will still prefer to be naked, mine do!)

Not that much right?  So here’s the idea: These pieces are extremely valuable assets to your wardrobe – don’t $kimp on them! Because these items set the tone of a wardrobe, and because they need to be high quality to put up with the wear and tear, I suggest spending a little more on them. For the most part, you’ll find that the more you spend the long they will last, and essentially you’ll be spending the same amount as buying several less costly pieces. Just to clarify, I’m not saying go out and pay full price for over priced items. You can still shop sales, wait for sales, and even buy ahead when you see these items on reduced price! But, don’t fall into the “I could have 8 pair of Walmart knit shorts for the price of these pants, which should I buy?!”  Overbuying things you don’t need is murder for your child’s wardrobe (and style, haha!) Choose to buy the one nice pair of pants and be excited that your kid has something nice that you love.

How to make your foundation cohesive:

So, now we know what we are looking for, but let’s talk about how we can make these items flow seamlessly, you need them to match everything. We are only talking about 11 items here, so don’t panic, for these purposeful pieces here’s my 3 rules:

  1. Avoid characters. All characters. No characters.
  2. Solids are your BFF.
  3. Use classic patterns like two tone stripes, or vintage florals that never go out of style.

If you can follow these rules for these 11 items, you will have a closet full of mix + match possibilities, along with a wardrobe that is practical and useful.

Where do you shop?

Ironically, this is the question that my conversations usually start with and we go in a huge circle over everything we just talked about in this post. Or if I’m being lazy I just say, “everywhere.” Luckily, I’m not just going to say “everywhere” today. If there were any doubts as to where you should buy your 11 foundations pieces, doubt no longer, I’m going to go back over the pieces with other guidelines I follow for those items. Keep in mind that I rarely buy things that aren’t (at least) 40% off. Shoes I usually pay full price for, dresses for weddings, etc… but I just wait until sales happen and then buy ahead. J Crew is having their 40% off final sale right at this moment, I bought a few shirts for Jude!


One pair of jeans*: The most consistent item in a wardrobe for most children is generally jeans. The darker the jeans are, the nicer they appear. (You can keep them dark by washing inside out on cold and hanging dry.  It’s a little extra care, but the color will be preserved for much longer and even the knees won’t wear out as fast.)  Choose jeans that don’t have anything too noticeable about them, like flashy pocket stitching, or additional decals on the fronts.  These are your go to pants – they should match everything!

*Some people may not like their baby wearing jeans because they might not be able to find comfortable versions, but for little baby girls you can always do jeggings and for baby boys chambray – both comfortable and chic!

Favorite Jean Brands: Gap. They have sizable elastic waist that allows them to grow with the child. J Crew has some great chambray and 7 for all mankind or Juicy Couture has great baby girls jeggings.


One pair of shorts:  This is really a matter of preference, but I don’t usually do jean shorts for boys unless they are cutoffs from an old pair of jeans, and those would rarely be a main pair of shorts. I like to do a darker tan khaki or black. For girls, it seems there is more options (Zara’s shorts are coral because that is a versatile color within her closet), and denim is a great option too with girls.

Favorite Shorts brands: J. Crew, Gap


Five Shirts: Boy or girl, woven cotton shirts are a simple classic! Knit shirts make up the majority of shirts for children, but they also tend to stretch and become misshapen easily. 100% cotton woven shirts keep their form, and with a little ironing (I use my flat iron all too often!) they look crisp and fresh years after they’ve grown out of them. Try to have a variety of colors & classic patterns that will be versatile (i.e. for boys, short sleeve button up shirt can instantly become dressy with only a bowtie added!)

Favorite Shirts: Ralph Lauren, Gap, Lacoste, Roxy, Ben Sherman, Peek, DKNY


One Dress (for girls): Even if you aren’t a dress wearing woman, you probably own one dress for special occasions – little girls need the same!  Dresses are always a great option, I think, because they will fit for a much longer time then almost anything else in a closet, and they are an entire outfit in one! Really keeps it simple to choose “what to wear” when a dress IS the entire outfit.

Favorite Dresses: Peek, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Little Ella


One pair of slacks (for boys): I’m a huge fan of slacks. First of all, it seems like boys get gypped in the clothing department because they don’t have the options of skirts and dress. It’s either pants or shorts. Pants or shorts. Pants or shorts. Bored yet? You gotta get creative! Slacks can do that for you. ALWAYS choose a flat front (pleats aren’t cute except in rare occasions) and so many companies are doing a fitted skinny slacks for boys that it melts my heart.

Favorite pair of slacks: Gap’s are by far my favorite right now or J. Crew has some nearly as adorable styles too.


One jacket:  I prefer to stick to black, grey or brown coats as they tend to match everything better, but a bright red coat is great if you know you won’t get bored of it! Remember can accessorize black with anything, try not to limit your options by choosing an overpowering color that won’t match shoes and the rest of wardrobe.

Favorite Coats: Zara, Gap, J. Crew


One pair of shoes: Shoes have been a thorn in my flesh for so many reasons! First, kids feet grow so crazy fast. Second, it’s hard to know exactly what size kids are unless you try them on. OR you can also keep up on their size if you just keep buying the same brand of shoes over and over. (I’ve obviously done that as you can tell.)  Shoes are generally very expensive, but again, the more you spend the longer they are likely to last.

Favorite kids shoes: I like for each of my kids to have a leather pair of sandals, nicer tennis shoe and outside shoes. But for the main shoe of their closet I will usual choose Adidas, Minnetonka, or Tom’s.

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  • Annie

    This post was SOO good, how are there not more comments?! Thanks for the advice, it’s super timely for me as we are going through our copious amounts of clothes trying to slim down on the sheer mass of it! I feel like I’m super picky about the clothing I buy my children…but what do you do about the clothes relatives buy? I don’t want to hurt feelings, but sometimes the things are garish (hello kitty) and also we don’t need it all. Is there are way to be kind, but say “no thank you”? Or do we grin and bear it and wear it when we see em? Haha…we have limited closet space, but mostly I’m just a stinker. Hope there’s another installment :)ReplyCancel

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  • Cassie

    Thanks for posting the link to this in your current post. I’ve been wanting to read it. You are so right on about all of this. I do have one question though…what do you do about stains on clothing? Lael ruins about one shirt, um, yeah, just about every day.

    I’m assuming these are also the guidelines you follow for yourself? Not only do my kids need a wardrobe makeover, I do too! Thanks again. :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Purposeful Apparel: The Foundation Of A Timeless Mini Wardrobe […]ReplyCancel

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