Buying kids clothes that are durable and cute while on a tight budget can be a challenge. It has become all the more challenging for me when I decided to take a minimalist approach to my kids wardrobe (and mine too in case you were wondering ;). In my pre minimalist life, I used to save almost all the clothes that could be passed down to the younger one. This was a great frugal tactic but I had too much clothes to sort through and many stacked boxes to tackle- frugal? yes, clutter free? No. And since my kids were born in two different seasons, it took a lot of time to match the seasons with the clothes. I wouldn’t have to worry about the clutter if I had given away all the clothes from kid#1 . But buying new clothes when you have great condition used clothes is so not frugal.
So here is what I have learned over the years to have a kids’ simple, frugal wardrobe, from storing to buying-
1. Know your kids’ style and comfort level–
You get to know your child better and save money when you know what kind of clothes your child/ren enjoys wearing. Every child is different when it comes to outfitting himself, it could be a tactile issue or a matter of preference for kids. Once you figure it out you will not purchase a skirt for the girl who loves to wear pants and save yourself a lot of stress and money in the long run. There will be fewer (or no) conflicts and tears when it comes to pick out an outfit.
2. Quality over quantity–
Try not to settle for trendy and cheap price when it comes to buying clothes for kids. Durable clothes cost more upfront but last for a long time, remains in good shape after many wears and washes. Some of our clothes get passed down 2-3 times and still look good enough to be donated. And if you want to sell these clothes at a consignment store, you will get a better price than the cheap/poorly made ones.
I take inventory of my kids clothes twice a year, during spring and fall season. I go through their closet/dresser with them and take note of what’s needed for next season/year. I get rid of clothes that didn’t get worn or if we have too many of the same item (mostly t-shirts/ leggings etc). It takes a little bit of planning and effort but then I don’t have to worry about their clothes until the next season rolls in. It also saves me money since I know exactly which clothes they need and I don’t buy too many of the same item.
4. Buy in advance-
I like to buy my kids clothes in advance. Whenever I’m out for shopping, I keep and eye out for things they can use later, using my notes from taking inventory. You can take a picture of your notes on your phone if you are list averse. I have bought good quality clothes, 2-4 years in advance that I found at a great bargain. This frugal strategy works great for younger kids but may backfire if you buy 3 years ahead for your 10-year-old. Buying clothes for teens needs its own blog post.
5. Save the classics and the basics-
Saving the classics (dresses, cardigans, ballet flats etc) and the basics (t-shirt, denims, pants, sandals/slippers etc) saves you money and time. The clothes that are trendy now will likely lose it’s charm by the time they are handed down to the next kid get, specially if there is a big age gap between the siblings.
6. Store clothes well-
I like to store my kids clothes in stackable plastic bins. The transparent containers work better since you can see though them but the non transparent ones will do as well. I store clothes by size. I would label a box size 10-12 for example that would store winter clothes stacked on one side and summer clothes one the other. You want to make sure the clothes are mended as needed, stains treated, washed and dried well before you store them. Make sure the lids and closed shut to prevent any bug issues later. Label them well and stack in clean, dry place.
7. End of season sale–
The stores offer great discounts at the end of each season. You can score great deals, up to 90% off of retail price if you shop end of season sales. I purchase dresses and shoes for the next year or 2-3 years in advance from end of season sales. I keep my eyes peeled for a great deal wherever I go for shopping.
Clearance racks are a great place to get amazing deals. I buy timeless items such as T-shirts, yoga pants, cardigans etc from clearance racks. Sometimes I buy a few colors of the same item like yoga pants, t-shirts etc. Target has kids’ clothes on a deeper discount on Mondays.
9. Thrift Stores–
Thrift stores and consignment stores can be a frugal resource for quality clothes. But only buy items that you need and don’t buy it just because it’s cheap. You want to check collars, cuffs, and knees for signs of wear. Be sure that all zippers, snaps and buttons are intact and work well. I have purchased costumes, dress up clothes, and cardigans from thrift stores.
10. Online stores–
I love online bargains from L.L Bean, Lands’ End and Boden kids etc. I check their website from time to time for special offers, super sales and free shipping. I love L.L Bean- dresses, shoes, Lands End- everything, from leggings to backpacks. Lands End swim suits are wonderful, specially if you’re looking for long sleeve modest ones. Lands’ End offers a great return policy, If an item doesn’t work, you can return it for a full refund or replacement.
You can use coupons and discounts and use them during sales to save even more. You can stack these discounts and get a really good deal while shopping at Gymboree, Crazy 8, Children’s Place, Macy’s and Kohl’s. I add the coupons to my phone before I go for shopping so I have access to them when I’m about to check out.
Save your receipts when you purchase an item for easy and hassle free returns and for full refunds. Keep the tags on until you’re sure you want to keep the clothes and if it doesn’t work out for you return them as soon as you can. Some stores offer the lowest price on items if not returned in time. Be sure check store policies on refund and returns before you make a purchase.
Buying good quality clothes for your kids doesn’t have to cost your an arm and leg. I hope you can shop frugally for your kids using these tips and build a simple yet fabulous wardrobe while on a budget.
Disclaimer– All opinions are my own, I am not affiliated with any of the stores that are mentioned in this post.