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Buying children's clothes ahead of time, how to do it frugally?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I always buy my children's clothes on clearance at the end of season for next year. I hate to pay full price for anything, so I stock up when given the chance.
But, I end up with duplicates because I can't remember exactly what I have already, or with clothes that my children won't wear because they don't like them -- either the fabric is too scratchy, or not comfortable enough or whatever reason...Also, it's a bit of a gamble sizing wise...
I came to realize that it's no longer frugal what I do because I spend money on stuff that doesn't get worn and I can't take back. I can sell them twice a year at a mom's club semi-annual sale, but I don't make my money back.
Money is very tight this year and I would like to take advantage of the sales ( i have gymbucks to redeem from gymboree as well) but I don't know anymore how to do it really frugally. Should I just give up on clearance sale and buy less as the need arise? I really, really hate to pay full price though.
I feel I should be able to figure out this myself but my brain is failing me at the moment...
Any thoughts?
post #2 of 30
We buy basics at the sales. Only plain fabrics, jeans, and shirts. Things that you really can't have too many of. The other thing that we do is if something doesn't work for DS we put it in the gift pile. I keep all of the tags on everything and just wait. It works well for those last minute Christmas presents, but i am not sure if that would work for you. We also keep everything in one place and I will check what I have before we are heading out to Kohls, CP, or carters because we are heading there for sales etc.
post #3 of 30
You can get name brand clothing in good condition at resale/goodwill shops.There is usually one day a week when cloths is half off or 50 cents per item. I have seen some that load up on cloths,and turn around and resell them.

Unfortunately more people are shoping at thrifts and I see those prices going up.My mom swears by Kohls and JCpenny for good clearance options.

I only buy at regular stores/regular price if we REALLY need it....like a coat or boots.With all the resale shopping we do I feel it is OK to buy new once in a while.

Ebay is getting pricey with all their charges,but you can still get a decent amount on craigslist when selling things.
post #4 of 30
Well...how old are your kids? If they're older than about 4, they can probably be in on the choosing of the clothes. Size wise, you just have to be as careful as you can. It involves work, like knowing how different sizes run in different stores/brands.
Or, alternatively, you could pick one place and just pertty much shop from there.
I got dd's entire summer wardrobe for next year from a childrens palce sale last summer. Sicne it bought it all at once, iknew exactly what was there.
I actually think you should probably buy less, regardless of when you buy. Chances are, you buy too many clothes, especially if there are so many you forget about them.
There are 7 days in a week. If your child has more than 7 outfits...why? There are some reason why of course..a potty training toddler might go througha number of pants ina day, you might need ot have a set of "school" clothes or uniforms, and a set of play clothes, as well as a couple oif dresses or "church" clothes, but in general, there is absolutely NO reason, none whatsoever, to have more than about 10 changes of clothes, there just isn't.

I actually found that simply by reframing my mind to THAT mentailty....itmade things so much easie. I no longer HAD ot shop around fo rth "best deal", but could buy things at a reasonable price, because when you only need just a few outfits, you can spend a tad more.
post #5 of 30
I shop thrift stores and garage sales for the bulk of my son's clothing. I can get much better quality and brand names then if I were to buy new. Plus, if they don't fit right or whatever, it's not a big deal to sell them at a garage sale or give them away. Plus, buying used fits in with my compacting philosophy. There's so much good used stuff out there, may as well use it.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
I actually think you should probably buy less, regardless of when you buy. Chances are, you buy too many clothes, especially if there are so many you forget about them.
There are 7 days in a week. If your child has more than 7 outfits...why? There are some reason why of course..a potty training toddler might go througha number of pants ina day, you might need ot have a set of "school" clothes or uniforms, and a set of play clothes, as well as a couple oif dresses or "church" clothes, but in general, there is absolutely NO reason, none whatsoever, to have more than about 10 changes of clothes, there just isn't.

I actually found that simply by reframing my mind to THAT mentailty....itmade things so much easie. I no longer HAD ot shop around fo rth "best deal", but could buy things at a reasonable price, because when you only need just a few outfits, you can spend a tad more.

This. I cannot seem to be successful in buying clearance ahead of time. I keep DS wardrobe to an absolute minimum. I rarely pay full price, but I no longer attempt to stock up for an upcoming season. I just can't predict what size he will need. Basics, like t-shirts and leggings, I will buy ahead and in larger sizes. But other than that, I get things pretty much as needed.
post #7 of 30
This is my method.

1) I keep one plastic storage box of clothes per kid. That's it. But, I only have two kids, and they are different sexes.

2) I let my relatives know that I love thrift store/garage sale/hand me down finds. Consequently, I get boxes of stuff mailed to me at least once a year, by my mom, my SIL, and an aunt.

3) I create outfits. DD and DS share a super tiny closet and a tiny dresser, so this system was born out of desperation. All that goes in the dresser are socks, undies, and pjs. Everything else gets hung up in complete outfits- shirt, pants, sweater or dress, tights, for example. Each complete outfit exists on a single hanger. This saves time getting them dressed and TONS of closet space. It takes a little, but not much, longer to put laundry away.

4) When I have my size five boxes of magical mail clothes for DD, I sort thru, create my outfits, and see what's left over. Last box from SIL contained a black tank top with sparkly pink and white rhinestone skulls on it. DD loved it, but had nothing to go with it. So I went to the thrift store (we have 8 on fairly regular rotation) and bought her a long sleeved black T shirt and pink jeans for a total of $2.50. To complete her fall/winter wardrobe, I also bought a yellow sweatshirt ($1), two pairs of jeans ($3), a pair of pink snowpants ($5) and a new pair of waterproof mittens with clips ($7). So that's under $20 for clothes, including outerwear.

5) If there's anything left over that I cannot create an outfit for, or just don't like, I donate it. This happens quite a bit, but it's no big deal. My kids always have tons of clothes.

6) I do shoes separately. Because shoes are more expensive, I buy further ahead. I pay between $1 and $5 for kids shoes. I'm more inclined to shop retail sales for shoes, as well. I've established a shoe wardrobe for DD (DS isn't walking yet): dress shoes, loafers, tennis shoes, rubber boots, sandals, and snow boots. Right now, DD is a size 10 or 10.5, so I am buying size 11 shoes and boots. I've found tennis shoes and rubber boots for $1 a pair, and it'll be awhile until she's in an 11, so I have lots of time to look around for the other four pairs.

ETA: 7) We just buy socks and underwear retail, though my relatives sometimes include them in their magical mail clothes boxes.
post #8 of 30
I agree with the "creating outfits" method. I used this until this winter. Now almost all of his tops go with all of his bottoms, so there is less need to do this.

The method works well for seasons where you have to choose short-or-long sleeves, pants-or-shorts each day. In the winter, DS wears the same type of athletic pants and long-sleeved top each day, so very little choosing. (and very little decision making when I buy, too!)
post #9 of 30
I buy only certain color groups so all of DS clothes will go together. So he has 2 sweatshirts that still fit from last year that match this years stuff and 2 larger sweatshirts that will follow into next year.

He can pick out what he wants to wear and it always goes together.

This saves me money since I dont just pick up cute things that are a good deal. If the dont cordinate they dont get purchased.

I use to find I was buying that cute whatever casue it was only a coule of bucks and it might never get worn

I use the tub method and I keep a list on the outside of the tub pants summer shirts, winter shirts, jammies,shoes and shorts.
post #10 of 30
I made a spreadsheet of a complete wardrobe in each kid's next size, keep it in my wallet, and mark off when I get things.
post #11 of 30
I would stick with only the basics when you hit the clearance sales. Pants can be tricky to fit- you can't just "buy big" because then they're unwearable and dangerous. Also, your child might need a husky or a slim next year, even if they're not wearing that now (what if your kid shoots up in height but doesnt' gain much in the waist or hips?) I'd suggest waiting with pants and then buy them closer to when they're actually going to be worn. Exceptions to this rule are leggings and thermal underwear style pajama pants- those CAN be worn big.

Tops you can definitely buy ahead. Whatever size your kid is wearing now, go up a size or two for next year (for ages 3 and up- baby and toddler sizes change too unpredictably for this to work.) Shirts can be a bit too big and still work, and "exact fit" just isn't as important as with pants. And I'd stick to basics- no turtlenecks or itchy designs, but basic solid (or simple prings) crewnecks or henleys shouldn't go to waste. I also woudln't buy more than 3 or 4 shirts per size. Dresses and pajamas generally fit like tops- those things are OK to buy ahead.

If you buy socks and/or underwear in the next size, they'll be used eventually, even if they're still too big next year (and even if they're needed BEFORE next winter.)

Maybe make up a small notebook of what clothes you already have in what sizes, so you can keep the list with you when you're out shopping.

I don't recomend buying ahead for infants or preteens, especially not adolescent girls. IT's really hard to predict how fast babies will grow, and there's a real risk of winter clothes fitting the summer before OR after you planned on using them. With pubescent girls, their bodies change shape from month to month, and it's nearly impossible to plan for a full year ahead (not even with underwear.) A girl wearing a size 12 might need a girls' 14 next year, or she might need a junior's small/ women's XS, or she might even jump two or three sizes (in either girls OR women's.) Besides, many girls are very picky about their clothes and want to pick them out themselves long before rapid size changes become an issue.
post #12 of 30
I only have one kid, which makes it a bit easier . . .

What I generally do is, just before the clearance sales are about to start, I go through the closet and pull out everything I already have, and organize it. Like right now, I have various piles of 4T, 5, and 6 clothing (my child is just about to grow out of 3T height-wise). I'll probably head over to Old Navy to shop seasonal clearance this weekend, so on Friday I should pull out the 4/4T and 5 sized clothing and see what I have, see what I need.

Generally what I like to have per season is 7-8 pairs of bottoms, 10-12 tops. A winter jacket, a pair of boots, snowpants and a couple of pairs of hats+mittens for winter. A couple of sweaters/hoodies/sweat shirts per size. 3-4 pairs of nightwear. 2 pairs of shoes per size, something tennis-shoe like and something a bit nicer (generally, Lands End all-weather mocs). 1 pair of sandals per summer.

I tend to purchase simple things clothing-wise. Basic striped shirts, basic solid shirts. My child currently refuses to wear jeans of any sort and has for over a year, so say for next winter I'll probably want 4-5 pairs of sweats and/or flannel pants, 1-2 pairs of khaki-type "dressier" pants, and 1 pair of jeans if I can find one really damn cheap (in case he decides he will wear them over the next year . . . .)

I know I don't need winter jackets for the next two or so winters, because my neighbor gave me several high-quality size 4, 5, and 6 winter jackets.

Now that I think about it, I think I'm almost there in size 4 anyhow. Target had sweatpants and flannel pants on clearance for $2-3 a week or so ago, and I bought 5 pairs. I also bought 4 long-sleeve shirts that were about $2/each as well. Along with the stuff I've inherited from neighbors and other stuff I've bought, I may have a full size 4 wardrobe.

But I'll organize it all, and decide if I even need.
post #13 of 30
I've been doing this ever since my first was born. (In fact, she's got some jeans that are four sizes bigger than she's wearing now, in a storage container down in the garage.) One of our local thrift stores does 30%/50%/70% off every day on particular colors of tags. If I see something generic like jeans, neutral sweaters, or basic shirts/shorts, and they are 50% or more off the thrift store price, I buy them. When it's $1 or $2, it makes no sense - to me - NOT to buy them. There also tends to be a run on seasonal clothes right when the cold/warm weather comes in, and you'll be out of luck if you're looking for jeans at the thrift store after the first good cold front comes in for the season, for instance.

I also shop yard sales, but will generally only buy one or two sizes larger at those. Also, if basics like underwear or socks go on sale for buy one get one free, or clearance, at a big box store, I usually go ahead and pick them up as well.

Kohls and JCPenney do have great clearance sales. I also buy winter coats 1-2 sizes larger when they go on clearance in the spring...my kids are wearing $50+ coats right now that I bought for $10 at Old Navy after Easter last year. I wouldn't be able to afford two $50 coats for a few months' of wear.

That said, I'm also working on coming up with a worksheet-type system for my purse, since my DS somehow ended up with seven pairs of jeans, when I went to pull everything out for the winter. (Some were hand me downs, but the rest just got accumulated somehow!) I also agree that the kids' wardrobes get out of hand sometimes, and I'm looking to pare down to 10 outfits each. Life is so much simpler that way.
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks ladies for all the ideas. My kids are 6 and 4, boy and girl, in school full time, so they need clothes for school (one outfit per day I find, with them playing outside everyday and being clumsy and with all sorts of accidents), clothes for around the house and couple of nicer outfits for church and such.

I realize now my biggest problem is storage. It's a really PITA to access the stored clothes to see what needs buying and what not. Also, outfits, thanks for those who suggested those, specially for my DD. I would find some cute top but with no bottoms to match or vice-versa. From now on, outfits is the word .
I also need to realize that my kids are not growing as fast as they used to and also they tend to have fewer accidents as before.

Thrift stores in my area (Belgium) are ridiculously expensive for the quality. I get better deals online from US, specially with the rate exchange in favor of the euro.

So many things changed from last year to this year, so the need for clothes as well. For instance, we moved to another area, another school and in the new school is warmer than in the old one. So, many warmer tops are left unworned as a result. Or my DS deciding that he likes better hoodies with zippers than sweaters. Etc, etc

Thanks again ladies, it's been helpful!
post #15 of 30
I just keep an eye out for deals and steals and I figure that makes up for when I do feel like buying something new. Baby Gap had tshirts for .97 and then I was able to buy a really cute VDay shirt for my son, full price from Gymboree with no guilt. I wanted it NOW not after Valentines Day, YKWIM?
post #16 of 30
We keep wardrobes simple. 8 shirts, 3 pants/shorts, if dd wants dresses or skirts, that replaces items accordingly. This way, it's easy for me to track what I find ahead of time. I did not buy things early when the kids were babies, though. I just couldn't estimate their growth.
post #17 of 30
Im somewhat of a clothes snob when it comes to the boys. i only buy new clothing for them unless its a designer/coutre type item than I might buy used if its in really great condition. me, im still wearing yoga pants from 5 yrs ago

I buy staples on sale. For instance TCP had their summer items on sale and I bought literally 10 pairs of knit shorts for $1.50 as opposed to full price. I know the boys will use them and frankly because they are "play" clothes they get dingy and worn out quite quickly. But I feel better that a $2 short gets ruined than say a nicer pair of walking shorts. My boys do have "play" clothes though and "other" (church,school,outings)

My kids are pretty predictable when it comes to sizes. I dont however pre buy anything that is somewhat fitted. For instance we only buy carpenter style jeans (little roomier imo) that have those elastic inner drawstrings (I could kiss the inventor of those) because it allows me to pass down the clothing from one kid to anothr. For instance my oldest is a little skiny compared to the brother down from him yet they both wore the same pr of jeans.

I guess because I have boys some things are little easier. I only buy solid colored bottoms. Khaki,navy,black,brown or olive pretty much go with anything. If I see something that I like i might look for a bottom to match it because it will be easier then to find a matching item with that seasons "collection" than say the next yr.

there have been a few items that I have misjudged. For instance I bought some pants that tag wise were the right size but once they should have fit I foudn out the cut was too small. so knowing brand sizing is important but sometimes sizes even within a company might not match. I try to sell to neighbor or at my youngest school. Usually Im able to get waht i paid for it if not more due to the brand name.

I sort my items in tub labeled with sizes. Shoes are in a seperate bin moreaccessible since were constantly diggeing out "new" shoes.
post #18 of 30
my friend always buys tons of stuff on clearance and really ends up with TOO MUCH! This past summer she gave me 5 t shirts and 5 pairs of shorts for my son- these were EXTRA! It works out for me but she certainly isn't saving any money. I have generally found that when I do this- the thing ends up being the wrong size or something. I do better just buying LESS
post #19 of 30
I have three girls so I buy anything that is cute and cheap in a size range that includes what my youngest wears through one size larger then my oldest wears. So, currently I'll buy 6-12. I also second the matching up outfits suggestion. I have done that since they were babies and it seems to work out better than a bunch of seperate pieces that may or may not match. I also like to shop at garage sales and thrift stores. Like a previous poster I participate in a bi-annual clothing consignment sale but it is worth my while as I at least break even between what I sell and what I buy, and I get a pre-sale pass to shop before it's open to the general public.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olma View Post
I realize now my biggest problem is storage. It's a really PITA to access the stored clothes to see what needs buying and what not.
What about under the bed storage? I know they make some plastic bins that slide under the bed. Maybe get 1 of those for each kid and slide it under their beds?
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