Back to School Clothes Shopping
By Nikki Willhite
It's that time of year again when many of us put out money to buy "back to
school" clothes for our children. No matter where or when you buy them, there
are some basic rules to follow to get the most for your money.
Many of the money saving tips regarding
buying clothing for children are the same as for adults. Stick to the classics
on the big pieces and the items worn on the lower half of the body. Keep them in
neutrals, and you can mix and match all of the other items. Here are some more
tips, several of which are exclusive to children.
*Buy primary colors. Many times these
items can be worn both by boys and girls. These items can often be handed down.
Items like T-shirts can be given a fresh look with a little lace for girls, or
an iron on sports emblem for boys.
*Give your children choices when it comes
to color that they will wear near their face. When children reach the age of 5
or 6, they start wanting to make more choices for themselves. It is best when
they are able to choose as many of their own clothes as possible.
You will save money if your children wear
all their clothes with regularity, and not just the few they really like. Color
is part of their preference. It can be very difficult for some parents to let
their children have a say in what color clothes they wear. Often parents are
influenced by the colors that they like.
Here is a story I told in a previous
"I was walking though the clothing section
of a department store a few weeks ago. A little boy around age 6 was shopping
with his mother. He was very attracted to a particular item of clothing. It was
a very warm, snuggly looking fleece vest. It was also bright yellow.
I saw the boy touching and feeling the
vest. You could tell how much he liked it. His mother was having none of it.
They little boy didn't want to move on, so finally the mother just started
When the child tried to express to his
mother his liking for the item, his mother curtly responded that she didn't like
the color yellow.
I looked at the mother and it was pretty
obvious yellow wasn't her color. However, the boy would have looked dynamic in
it. He tried once again, telling her that he liked yellow.
The mother was starting to get very
aggravated. Here rebuttal to this was to tell him that it wasn't even his size.
I knew how much that boy wanted that
article of clothing when he gave it a last shot and asked his mother if she
could find out if they had another one.
At this point, the mother had lost all
patience, and basically yelled at the boy to do it himself if he liked it so
much. Then she hurried on, leaving the little boy to follow after her.
This was not an expensive store I was in.
That mother was going to buy clothing for her son that she liked, and it
wouldn't be any cheaper. By forcing her own preferences on her son, she denied
him the pleasure of enjoying his own clothing per his taste.
I would not be at all surprised if the
vest she eventually bought him becomes "lost" at a friend's house or playing
field, if only out of spite. Can't say I'd blame the child either!"
To continue with the tips:
*Buy socks all the same color. It will be
less aggravating when your washing machine eats one, and you can't find a mate.
*Buy socks and under garments in a color
other than white (like light gray), and you won't have to spend money on bleach.
*Buy solid color clothing items that can
be layered and worn with a variety of other pieces. They can be worn more
frequently without people thinking you are wearing the same item again.
*Avoid trims and other decorative elements
that make the piece of clothing harder to blend with other pieces, and again,
more noticeable when worn.
*When buying knitted items, look for
strength and durability. The fabric should be more dense than loose, and the
stretch should be limited.
*Keep away from trendy items if you want
the piece of clothing to last several years and be passed down to another child.
*Look for clothes that can be enlarged as
your child grows. Generous hems can be let down. Creases in the hemline can be
removed with a little vinegar and a warm iron. The same is true for sleeve
lengths with simple sleeves.
*Elastic in the waistband is easily
adjusted and fits longer. It is also more comfortable. That is why you see most
toddler clothes in this style. Use this when you can on casual clothes for older
children.The same is true for adjustable straps for jumpers,overalls, play
*If you can, buy clothes slightly larger
than your child. They will quickly grow into them and last longer.
*Don't go shopping without a list. Go
through your children's clothes and see what they need. Write it down, and keep
*Consider sewing some pieces. While you
wouldn't want to tackle a pair of jeans, T-shirts, shorts, and pajamas are
beginner projects. You can make simple suits for boys and dresses for girls with
just a little more skill.