I shot a birth this weekend.
That was fun.
I took my girls shopping for new pants.
That was not fun.
When my kids were babies and toddlers it was easy to find them cute, quality clothing at affordable prices. I shopped garage sales in the summer and consignment stores all year round. I checked out sales at our favorite stores. It was easy and fun. When you have a three-month-old baby, anything bigger than their current size will eventually fit. Not only that but consignment stores are filled with baby and toddler clothes. When Adalia and Judah were five and six I made a horrible discovery, it was no longer easy to find used quality clothing. It’s not that I couldn’t find it…it’s just it was no longer easy or a given. That meant I needed to find new strategies for saving money on kids clothes.
Here are my best tips on how to save money on kids’ clothes.
Know Your Stores/Know Your Prices
I still love to shop at consignment stores, it’s just that I can no longer go there and be guaranteed that I will find what I need. Becuase of this I have come up with other great strategies for saving money on kids’ clothes. One thing I do is know my stores and know my prices. Old Navy has kids’ jeans go on sale for $10 every few months. Because I know this, I try to wait until they are on sale, and stock up then. This is so much easier for the boys. I know exactly what size they wear (and what their next size will be) so it is easy.
Now that my girls are all getting figures, this is harder and I actually have to take them to try to the clothes on. Because we were in a pinch, I had to pay $14 per pair yesterday for Old Navy jeans, instead of $10. Not terrible, but not as good as it could have been.
Quality vs. Quantity
When Adalia was a year old, I was thrilled to find outfits on sale at a local discount store. Shirts and pants sets for $5! I bought five and proudly brought them home to show Chuck. For $25 I had just updated Adalia’s entire wardrobe. Chuck was just as happy as I was…until she wore them and I washed them. The outfits pilled after one washing, faded within weeks and the seams were coming loose. Turns out those five dollar outfits were worth about five bucks. Lesson learned.
Not long after, I started shopping through Land’s End catalogs. They sold the play dresses and tights we loved as well as quality Squall Jackets. After our first order, we started shopping their overstock section. We would buy coats and clothing at heavily discounted prices and store them away until they fit.
I remember talking to a friend who said she couldn’t afford their “expensive coats” so bought a $25 jacket for her daughter at a discount store. Chuck and I had just paid $39.50 for a Land’s End squall jacket that went on to be worn by five kids…then passed along to friends. This year I bought Avi two swimsuits from Land’s End for $10 each!
For years we bought each child one pair of Lands End fleece pajamas. They were expensive but lasted year after year. Many of these went through six kids before they wore out. Our kids have fond memories of the day they got to pick out their new winter pair.
See the polar bear pajamas Kalina is wearing? Those were originally Judah’s…it wasn’t until child number four wearing them that we needed to cut off the feet…and they still got several years of wear after that.
My current favorite clothing company is Primary. Primary sells clothing in a huge variety of colors that are perfect for mixing and matching. Primary clothing has no logos, no words, no pictures. They are simple, classic, kids’ clothing. You can read my full review of Primary clothing here.
Know when to Spend More
One key to knowing how to save money on kids’ clothes is to know when to spend more and when to go the cheaper route. Undershirts and underwear? As much as I love this adorable underwear, I’m not spending $10 a pair on my kids. Same for undershirts and cotton pajamas for the summer. (We heat with a woodstove, so we do invest in expensive pajamas for the winter). I have personally found brand name socks last longer than generic.
This basically refers to the know your stores and know your prices. Don’t get stuck having to buy three girls new jeans all at once! When you are in a pinch, you sometimes have to spend more money.
Skip the School Clothes Shopping
I don’t mean skipping school clothes shopping altogether, I have found great deals on the basics (socks and underwear) at back to school sales. What I mean is don’t feel obligated to buy your children all new wardrobes or even a new outfit just because they are going back to school. I find it more economical to shop as each child outgrows things and spreading it out like this is easier on our budget.
I buy everything from Pull-Ups to my favorite organizing bins on Amazon. One thing that didn’t occur to me until recently was to buy shoes on Amazon. Earlier this year I had to buy three of the kids new shoes and ouch was it expensive.
Here is my strategy for buying shoes on Amazon for shoes:
I typed in “boy’s running shoes” and clicked the category “clothing shoes & jewelry”
Then clicked “prime”.
Then in the price box, I typed $0-$30.
Here is where it takes a bit of sleuthing. The shoes are often different prices depending on the color. I clicked on color after color until I found ones that were in my price range and let the kids pick from there. For Jubilee and Hezekiah’s PE shoes (that are only going to be worn a couple of hours a per week) I just bought the shoes without consulting them. This isn’t a fashion statement, they are PE shoes.
When Tucker needed new shoes recently I did the same thing. I ended up spending $38 on Keen shoes that were on sale (the same shoe in a different color is selling for $51.99 right now and in pink for only $27!). Since I know my stores and know my prices, I knew this was a good deal and that boy is active and hard on his shoes.
What are your tips for saving money on kids’ clothes? I’d love to hear them. And if you are worried about stockpiling clothes, read my post Six Steps to Managing Kids’ Clothes.