One area that has the potential for being very expensive is kids’ clothes. You can’t keep kids from growing — nor would the Eco Women want to — and they constantly need new sneakers, jeans, socks, and more.
Before you go clothes shopping, shop your own house first. Have your kids clean out their closets and dressers and try on everything from last year. Make lists of what they have and what they need. (For example, Recycla’s younger daughter must have two dozen t-shirts in her dresser, so there’s no need to buy new ones.) If you have younger kids who can use the clothes, great. If you don’t, pass along the old stuff to someone who can use them, whether it’s a younger cousin or friend or a local non-profit. For more ideas on what to do with those old clothes, see this post that Enviro Girl wrote last year.
After you’ve cleaned our your child’s closet and dresser, take a look at that list you made and think about the gaps that need filling. (For example: One of Recycla’s daughters is down to just one pair of jeans, so she needs to get another pair or two.) And think about the amounts of clothes that you buy. Don’t just go shopping blindly; instead, decide how many pairs of jeans will be sufficient for your child. The numbers on your list will be determined not only by your budget, but also how often your child will wear the clothes and how often you do laundry. So, if your child wears a uniform to school, the fact is, she won’t need quite so many non-uniform shirts and pants.
For those of you with kids who wear uniforms to school, find out if your school offers a uniform swap so that parents can pass along the clothes their children have outgrown and also look for larger sizes that fit. And even if your child doesn’t wear a uniform to school, you might check with other parents to see if anyone has clothes they can swap with you. For more information on clothing swaps, check out Enviro Girl’s helpful post.
Your lists are made and you’re ready to go shopping, now what? The easiest thing is to just head to your closest mall and start spending money, but if you are really looking to keep things within a certain budget, you’ll want to take a look at your local consignment shops, of which the Eco Women are big fans, and also thrift stores, such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill. You might not find everything on your list, but the chances are you’ll find some things, such as jeans, which always seem to be in good supply.
If you have some time and energy, you should also check out local garage sales (also known as tag sales, yard sales, and/or rummage sales) because those are always a good source of kids’ clothes, particularly in the smaller sizes.
Another place to shop is eBay. Some sellers will offer kids clothes in lots, such as all of a particular Gymboree girls’ line in size 5, which is a great way to maximize your dollar and your time. Recycla has also had good luck finding good winter coats for her daughters on eBay, including a last year, when she found a classic wool winter coat that originally retailed for around $300 and which Recycla got for well under $100, including shipping.
As you shop, you will want to think about quality vs. quantity. For example, Recycla doesn’t spend a lot on kids’ underwear and socks because those are items that end up in tatters or lost and don’t get handed down. For her girls’ bigger ticket items, such as winter coats, she wants quality, as those coats will be what keep her girls warm for months at a time.
One final thing to consider: In spite of what the ads might suggest, your child does not need a full fall/winter wardrobe in order to start school. With schools starting in August and September, most kids will need either their summer wardrobes or their school uniforms, not sweaters and coats. Hold off on buying those items and wait to see if any sales crop up in September and October. The chances are, they will.
Tell the Eco Women: How do you save money on clothes shopping — for kids or adults?