My friends often call me frugal, especially when it comes to my kids’ clothes. My son was born when my daughter was 15 months old, as was my quest for figuring ways to pass clothes between them. As soon as I learned that baby #2 would be a boy, I began purchasing gender-neutral pajamas, socks and shoes. Now I’m on baby #3 (also a boy) and I am happily still reusing some pjs and items from baby #1! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to get the most life out of my children’s clothes, mostly by using hand-me-downs:
It’s important to have a “hand-me-downs attitude” when clothes shopping. That frilly party dress will look adorable on your daughter, but she probably won’t wear it more than once, and chances are your sons will never wear it! Monogrammed clothing and one-time fancy outfits for pictures and holidays will limit the life of your clothes. Consider asking a friend to borrow those items or ask for them as gifts. Whenever possible, visit local consignment stores for those one-time wear items.
Remember that gender-neutral can still be cute and stylish. So instead of baby pinks and blues, shop for unisex colors like orange, purple, green and yellow.
Buying cheap clothes just because they are “play” clothes won’t cut it. Instead, visit stores that sell high-quality clothes for kids and purchase larger sizes when they are on final sale.
If you think that all clothes are made equal, I suggest taking the “cotton” test. Purchase two identical color t-shirts from two different stores, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat. After the first wash cycle, seeing if the piece shrinks, or if the color fades and wears can tell you a lot about the brand.
I purchase quality jeans, jackets, and cotton clothes from my favorite brands nearly always on sale. I’ve purchased incredible jeans and khaki pants for my sons for $1.97! Pay attention to in-store sales by asking the manager to put you on their local email list.
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STORE OUTGROWN CLOTHES THE RIGHT WAY
How clothes are treated when they’re not being worn can have an impact on their durability. Consider where your clothing will be stored. Is it going to be stored in an attic or basement? What are the conditions like there? I made the mistake of storing some of my daughter’s clothes in a large garbage bag in our hot attic and a year later they had yellow stains! The clothes I stored in large plastic containers smelled moldy.
What is the solution for long-term storage? Hands down, those vacuum-sealed space bags. I have an empty one in each of my kid’s closets and when they outgrow something I store it clean, directly in the bag. When the bag fills up, I label it by size and gender for the future, and I suction out the air and store it in a cool, dry place. Next time I open the space bags, the clothes are just as I packed them.
Remember that whenever possible, you should purchase ahead on clearance and using coupons, stick to high-quality brands and store clothes with an organized, long-term solution.