Back to school shopping. Kids get so excited about the new stuff. And parents everywhere cringe and worry about the cost! With four kids to clothe (ages 2 to 14 years), I know the stress of shopping for kid’s clothes. But I’ve gathered up some great ideas and hacks along the way that help me stick to my budget. Check out my 7 budget tips and back to school clothing hacks.
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Back to School Clothing
#1: Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Seriously, your child doesn’t need an entirely new wardrobe unless they grew 5″ over summer and have nothing to wear except pajamas. Pick and choose the pieces that are must-have.
#2: Give the kids a choice. Let them have some input on what they’d like to wear. This really helps minimize stressful mornings when anxiety about school kicks in. Getting dressed and feeling awkward has a lot to do with that stress.
#3: Aim for comfort. However you don’t have to sacrifice cute! I’ve been purchasing from Gymboree for 14 years. I love the coordinating lines, how easy the clothing washes up and of course, how adorable my kids look in them.
Keep reading for my back to school clothing hacks and budgeting tips for shopping!
1. Give Them No Reason to Say, “I Have Nothing to Wear!”
Before you hear those words, go through the closets and dressers piece by piece. Have your child try things on to verify fit. Too small? Have a donation box handy. Not in season? Put it in a storage bin under the bed for later. Once you have cleared out the old, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to purchase.
Pre-Shopping Tip: There always seems to be that one piece of clothing that doesn’t match anything. My daughter had the cutest patterned pair of pants but she never wore them because she didn’t have a top that matched the colors. Decide whether you’ll let that piece go or try and find the coordinating item to wear with it.
2. Layer Summer over Winter
What’s in the closet that can continue to be worn, even in the chillier months? My daughter had the cutest chambray jumper dress from Gymboree that she wore all-year round. When weather was warm she wore the dress alone. When weather was cool, she wore it over a turtleneck and leggings.
For boys, lightweight button-up shirts can be layered over long pants and long sleeved tees.
Pre-Shopping Tip: Look in the closet and see what items can be layered during the winter. Keep that tip in mind when purchasing new items.
3. Prep the Night Before
To ease the morning-of-school stress, make it a habit to prep as much as possible the night before. This means getting backpack and homework organized and placing shoes (with socks!) by the front door.
I choose my outfit the day before and encourage my kids to do the same. This way they can decide what they want to wear with a little more time. And they’re fresh and ready to get dressed in the morning!
Pre-Shopping Tip: Does your preschooler still struggle with getting himself dressed? If buttons and zippers are slowing him down, purchase easy, quick-on clothing styles like rib-neck tees and elastic waist pants.
4. Stock Up on Layering Pieces
Long sleeved tees and turtlenecks that can be worn under coordinating shirts or sweaters can really extend the wardrobe. Cardigans, fleece hoodies and pullover sweaters are nice to layer over tees or button-up shirts.
For girls, leggings are perfect for layering under skirts and dresses when the weather is cool. Consider capri length for fall, full length and fuzzy lined for winter.
Pre-Shopping Tip: In the case of layering tees, I like to choose classic colors that coordinate with many other items in the closet. Think navy blue, white and black for the best versatility.
5. Choose Practical Shoes That Go with Everything
Have only a few styles of shoes in colors that coordinate with many different outfits. I recommend altering days to allow shoes to dry and air-out inside (helping to eliminate odors).
Pre-Shopping Tip: If you’re trying to expedite the morning routine, choose easy-on styles like slip on shoes or Velcro instead of laces.
6. Shop Out of Season
This is one of my tried and true budget shopping tips. Shop NOW for next year! When I see that clothes are up to 70% off at Gymboree, I jump on that sale! I’ll purchase items for my kids, knowing that I’ll be putting them away for another season.
I recently purchased shorts in a few sizes larger for my toddler to wear next summer. They were $5.59 (already a fantastic price!). But when I paired that with my Gymbucks redemption, the cost went down to $2.80 and you CAN’T beat that kind of bargain!
Pre-Shopping Tip: If you want to buy ahead but aren’t sure what size your child would be, consider the style first. Opt for elastic or drawstring waist shorts and pants, or loose dresses instead of form-fitting or “skinny” styles.
7. Don’t Need Full Outfits? Just Add Accessories!
One of my favorite ways to jazz up an “old” outfit is by adding cool new accessories. A fun pair of tights, belt, purse, coordinating socks or a hair accessory adds just a bit of spark to an outfit on a budget.
Pre-Shopping Tip: Don’t forget the underwear! I have to remind my older kids to let me know when their underpants are getting too small so I can reorder new ones! We’ve always purchased Gymboree because the elastic holds up so well and the designs don’t fade.