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Clothing Kids for Less: Today’s Fashions at an Affordable Price

Fashion can be an important part of a child’s self-image, and a new wardrobe often comes at a high cost. But with advance planning, your kids can still achieve their look at a price you can afford.

Out with the old? Keep costs down by making the most of your child’s current wardrobe. Eliminate outgrown or outdated articles of clothing, and save basic or classic pieces of clothing that still fit. Inspect these pieces and replace missing buttons, mend seams, patch tears, and remove stains.

If your child’s shoes still fit, increase the lifespan of the shoes by replacing worn heels, broken eyelets, and dingy shoelaces. Then freshen them up with a good shoe cleaner and brightener or polish.

Style is important, so create new fashionable outfits by pairing an older basic shirt with a new pair of jeans and a stylish belt. Or mix a pair of old but good jeans with a shirt in one of this season’s trendy colors.

Determine what garments have something to match and which are incomplete, then carry a list of these needs when you shop.

Second-hand savvy. Today, families in all income brackets are reaping the benefits of secondhand shopping. Depending on your child’s age and personality, you may need to alleviate their fears and objections about secondhand clothing. Be sure your child understands no one will know the clothing is secondhand unless they disclose it. Also, point out the savings could result in a bigger, and possibly better, wardrobe.

When you shop secondhand, inspect clothing thoroughly for stains, tears, broken zippers and snaps, frayed pant cuffs, and other damage. Check for body odor and mildew smells that are unlikely to wash out. And have your child try on the clothing before taking it home, since the clothing may not be returnable.

Secondhand clothing can be found at garage sales, thrift stores, consignment and resale shops, and even online. Prices vary, so explore all the options in your area.

A no-cost option is to form a clothes swap with several friends and neighbors. Each person should label the boxes of clothing according to size. Then get together for the exchange, and watch your child’s new wardrobe grow. 

Ensure the clothes will last.

Make your kid’s new wardrobe last by following these tips:

  • Pay attention to washing instructions, especially for teen girls’ clothing. Some fabrics will shrink beyond recognition if not laundered correctly.

  • Boys are especially hard on knees. Give pants extra wear by sewing a fun patch on each knee (after you make sure your child is okay with it).

  • Unless shopping for the less-choosy younger set, have your kids approve all purchases. Otherwise, the duds will hang in the back of their closet.

  • Purchase articles of clothing, such as rain gear or dress shoes, that will get seldom use one-half to a full size larger to get through an extra season. Regularly-worn shoes should fit properly, though, for the sake of your child’s feet. When selecting rain gear in this manner, choose a style that will not cause your child to trip or obstruct their view.

  • Scout for deals and other retail tips. Before you shop, go over your list and explain the budget to your kids. If designer label battles start, offer your kids the option to pay the difference above what has been budgeted for that particular item.

  • Avoid buying clothing sets, and select versatile pieces instead.

  • Learn about what’s on sale, and compare store prices before heading out.

Kimberly is a parenting and lifestyle freelance writer. She also writes a blog, The Young Gma’s Guide to Parenting, at

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