Tween Girl Capsule Wardrobe

Posted by in Kids' Capsule Wardrobes

Shopping for a tween girl isn’t an easy task for a number of reasons.  I can tell you that setting up a capsule wardrobe for your tween will likely save you a few headaches and meltdowns along the way.  Today, I will walk you through how I set up and shop with and for a tween girl capsule wardrobe. Tween Girl Capsule
Tween Girl Challenges:
1.  Rapid Growth.  Jade outgrew her Back to School capsule wardrobe by October – about 6 weeks into the school year.
2. Awkward sizing.  Along with rapid growth comes one of the reasons the term “tween” is so appropriate – she falls somewhere in between the Children’s Department and the Juniors.
3. Opinions.  All I will say that she is definitely starting to take more of an interest in fashion and what image her clothes reflect.
4. Emotions.  Something she loved not fitting right (right back to that whole awkward sizing thing) made shopping a little bit of a roller-coaster.

Tween Girl Solutions: 
First, let me tell you that setting boundaries for your tween with a Capsule Wardrobe is extremely helpful.  Here is what we did – albeit I wasn’t following steps at the time just my mama’s instinct.

Step 1: Assessment & Inventory:

We first assessed what large events, special activities or commitments we have this season (I follow the fashion seasons of “fall” and “spring” for both my and my kids’ capsules).  For us that was Easter, Exhibition Presentation and Graduation.

Other things to consider:  General activities, her interests.  So I know that we have swim lessons this summer and that Jade is ever increasingly incorporating the title of “artist” into her identity.

Then after that we looked at what she already had in her capsule that still fit or would meet any of those needs.  I already had a coral lace dress hanging in the closet that I had purchased years ago that was perfect for Easter.  Then her floral Ted Baker dress (thrifted) that I purchased for her for around Christmas (it was a little big then) will work really well for Graduation.  That left a “professional dress” outfit for her Exhibition Presentation.  She still has a blue knit blazer and a white button down with black hearts that fits from her initial Back to School capsule, as well as a juniors XS Hufflepuff t-shirt.  The blazer and the button down should work for her presentation and the Hufflepuff shirt is a fun piece that will get carried forward.

I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to try to find special outfits for her – possibly at full retail.


Step 2: Boundaries & Budget

I always try to have a minimum of 7 outfits with one or two extras for special occasions thrown in.   Usually, this comes out to around 25 pieces (including shoes).  I decided to allow extra wiggle room this time around and set the cap at 30 items.  Why?  Because with tween girls you pick your wardrobe battles carefully.  Amount, color, patterns I can be flexible with.  Condition, budget, and shortness of shorts I will be less flexible on.   I generally set a generic budget depending on time of year and how much we are likely to have to buy new at retail.  I set a budget of $200 for her clothes this capsule.  That is high for us.  I have so far spent about $130 of that (mostly on shoes).  Budgeting for capsule wardrobes (kids and adults) is something I plan to discuss in a lot more detail in a future post.


Step 3: Shopping not to buy but just to be silly/crazy.

How do you cut down on some of the tween emotions surrounding clothes not fitting and having to pass up on some lovely things that just won’t work or are too expensive?  My best advice is to take the pressure off of both of you and having a be silly and try on everything that you want to try no matter how big, silly, ugly, weird, funky, etc.  Carve out a couple hours to just be goofy with your tween.  What good does this do?

Well, first it helps you see what does fit, what she likes and dislikes, what she thinks is too little kid and what “is for old people.”  The benefit to her is even better though.  It gives me the opportunity to point out that clothing manufacturers sizing isn’t uniform and that that is on the manufacturers and is in no way tied to her body. She and her body are normal – its the manufacturer’s and their sizing that is flawed.  Never.ever.ever miss an opportunity to build up her body image.

This crazy/silly shopping excursion did result in a number of purchases which leads me right into Step 4.


Step 4: Find a cornerstone (or two) to build off of.

She found an adorable floral top that she fell in love with.  It is light blue with a peter-pan collar piped in navy trim and a small red, pink and yellow floral pattern.  It is a little preppy and a little sweet and 100% who Jade is at this moment.  So I bought it along with a black and white striped shirt and a white on black patterned pair of shorts.   Those became our cornerstones.

What do I mean by a cornerstone? Well they are the pieces that most everything should coordinate with.


Step 5: Shopping List or Storyboard

I generally make a storyboard.  Partially because I am a visual person and partially because it makes it easier for Jade to see what the heck I am talking about.
Tween Girl Capsule WardrobeOff the cornerstone pieces (similar but not exact to those pictured) that we picked up at the thrift store, I decided the colors of both would be our color story.  That would be Light Blue, Black, White, Navy, Red, Pink and Yellow.  Whew, that is a lot of color.  I decided that Denim would be our main neutral and that Red and Pink would be the colors most easily used for mix and match.  For spring and summer I want pieces that will hold up (not show a lot of wear/dirt) and be flexible enough to wear out.

Jade doesn’t wear jeans but she will wear denim shorts so I picked up three pair (only two are shown above) because they are durable. The black shorts should hold up well because they are black so I knew I needed a few items to mix in some personality.  I decided to hunt up some red shorts, a multi-colored striped or dotted skirt and some tie-dyed shorts.  My girl loves dresses so I found two knit dresses (one maxi and one midi) that will be great for church.  She can top them with the chambray or the short-sleeved sweater I picked up.

I purchased 90% of her clothes through second-hand resources – thrift, consignment and a couple hand-me-downs.

Things I still need to buy.  Flip-flops/sandals, tote-bag (because the girl carries a sketch book, pencils and book with her everywhere she goes), sunglasses and swim gear.  I prefer to buy swimsuits and sandals new and am on the look out for some heart glasses and a striped tote second-hand.


Step 6: Looking Forward.

There are a couple pieces that, if they aren’t completely worn out or she doesn’t grow another 2 inches in a matter of months, have the potential to move forward into fall.  The coral midi dress, chambray button down, Ted Baker dress and uniform skirt.

Next school year our capsule wardrobe(s) will be very different as the kids will be going to a school that requires uniforms. The little plaid skirt is one I purchased to see what the sizing looks like on her.  Either way we will still need non-school clothes so it will impact our capsules but not eliminate them entirely.

Step 7:  Organization and filling in gaps as they arise – I will talk about this in an upcoming post and share pictures of both of my kids’ closets.

Until then do you have any tween shopping tips?

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