Do you buy your kids clothes ahead of time when on sale, or wait till you need them? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been shopping sales and stocking up on all the winter clothes for the kids (I had all that bought last spring when they were on clearance) and have also found all their spring/summer stuff for next year. It's really not a ton of stuff, but going through the boys' box a few weeks ago I noticed that they probably have a little more than they need. When I'm buying I'm just thinking about what a great deal I'm getting.

BUT, when winter comes around and I find that ds hasn't grown as much as I thought he would, for example, are half the pants going to sit unused in the box? Or when we get out dd's clothes will I find that she has grown so tall that the pants won't actually fit her at all?

When you take away the clothes that end up not working, they aren't such a great deal after all, are they?

Would it be better to wait until each season is starting, take an inventory, and THEN go buy what we need, even though it's not on sale? (Actually, I've noticed that it's usually only a few weeks into a season before they start putting things on sale, so I guess I could find deals). For the boys we usually end up just doing denim and khaki (jeans or shorts, depending on season) and then a bunch of shirts. I'm thinking that just waiting and getting what we need would actually end up being cheaper than all this miscellaneous bargain-hunting shopping I do. At the Goodwill while on vacation a couple of months ago I think I bought 10 pairs of little boy jeans/pants in the 24 mo to 3T range. Which is fine if all 10 pairs fit one boy or the other, but if half of them don't fit what's the point?

Ok, enough rambling. How do you all handle the clothes shopping?
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#2 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 03:29 PM
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We usually buy stuff when we need it -- and it seems like there is ALWAYS a sale! There's the "preseason sale," the middle-of-the-season "special," or the end of the season clearance going on pretty much continuously.

We try to buy when the weather changes (not necessarily when the stores think it should), and under-buy because the in-laws love to send her clothes as presents, so know there will be some nice outfits coming from them.

I don't tend to "stock up" for the reasons you've mentioned -- it's hard to know if it will fit when the time comes.
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#3 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 05:21 PM
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my mother always bought off season with my sister and i. i still buy off season. lol!

but, my family (just DH and I right now) are trying to streamline down to only a few items of clothing--that seven items concept. we want to do this with our children as well.

part of the reason why is because this is the way i was raised (we always had mix and match clothes), and because when my parents were finally financially established, the way that they did spend money made me terribly uncomfortable. Each year, my mother donates $1000s of clothing that she bought and never wore. it's unbelieveable.
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#4 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 05:22 PM
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If it is a larger size that he will grow into than I go ahead and buy it while it is on sale, and save a few bucks. But usually I buy on an as needed basis.
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#5 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 05:36 PM
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I used to do that and ended up wasting money and time. Either it wouldn't fit, or I would forget I had it or the kids taste would change (like not wanting to wear tights anymore or pants or whatever).

*Something* is always on sale and there are always consignment shops, thrift shops or just plain buy it retail.

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#6 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 06:43 PM
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I buy any nice clothing that I find for an unbelievable price (as in, I just bought 3 bags at a rummage sale that had kids clothes for 25 cents a piece and everything was half off!) that is remotely near my kid's sizes. I'll go like three or four sizes bigger, but we have a ton of storage space in our house, too. When we had fewer closets, I bought less. I figure since I don't buy character (media-related) clothing, things like plain colored pants and striped shirts are not going to look "funny" in two or three years, and even if my kids don't need them at the time (they grow out of the size in the wrong season, etc.) I figure I will be led to someone who does need them at that time. It's nice when the weather is unseasonable, to not have to go looking in stores for a coat, or shorts, or whathaveyou, because you know there's something in a box downstairs you can use.
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#7 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 07:27 PM
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I usually buy on an as need basis as well. I'm not good at sizing and I don't have a lot of storage space. It amazes me sometimes those who can buy off season and have clothes fit when needed.
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#8 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 09:14 PM
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I absolutely do this! : The best time to buy swim trunks is in Aug/Sept and the best time to buy a winter coat is in Feb/March. :

I have it easy, though, because I have a little boy who could give a care about what's in his closet. I have his closet organized into size chunks (2T, 3T, 4T, 5T), so I can see at a glance what holes need to be filled and what I can quit looking for.
Plus, the only real "summer" clothes he has are shorts....and the only real "winter" clothes he has are his snow boots and coat. Everything else is just pants and shirts.

I have his clothing blocks organized with long-sleeve shirts, dress shirts (long and short sleeve), polo shirts, t-shirts, jammies, and pants. It's been working pretty well so far. When he gets into that in-between stage (right now, he's between 2T and 3T), I can either get more mileage out of the 2T stuff, or I can tap into the 3T reserve.

The best thing is that I regularly shop the clearance racks at Nordstrom, Gap, Children's Place, Gymbo, etc. On those, you'll find something that's just one left and you'll find it for 90% off sometimes! Okay, if it's 3 sizes too big....who cares!! By the time he fits into it, it'll still be a good quality shirt that he'll look adorable in.

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#9 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 09:21 PM
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I do this a bit...I like to have a few things in the next size so I'm not scrambling around because dd doesn't fit into anything. I don't have much storage space so it's just a few things like tshirts, jeans, etc. I do keep my eyes open for big ticket items though & then buy ahead. I found a Hanna Andersson snowsuit for $12 in a consignment store. I bought it & figured if it fit, it fit, & I wasn't spending $75. Something like a rain coat I'll buy a size bigger & she can wear it for longer.

I agree with a pp who said it doesn't really workout economically, unless you have the storage space and are super organized.
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#10 of 53 Old 08-21-2006, 10:16 PM
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I tend to boy my sons clothes seasonally and buy items here and there if and when needed
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#11 of 53 Old 08-22-2006, 05:13 PM
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I buy ahead. I usually get things really cheap at garage sales or from Gymboree. If you shop clearance there the deals are great. That's what I pick up at garage sales too. Anyway, I've never had anything be too small. And if I find I have to much I either eBay it or sell it at the consignment shop.

Clothes are definitely my weak point though.....

Liz~A wife and homeschooling mother to two gifts from God!
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#12 of 53 Old 08-22-2006, 05:20 PM
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i totally buy off-season at dept stores, kid stores etc and sidewalk sales for boutiques (also off season) we have a local boutique w/ beatiful clothinfg that has a 2wice a year sale at 70% off. i usually just geusstimate for sizes and there have been a few thigs that are too big come time but I'm handing w/ a sewing machine and beleieve in cuffing pants and sleeves

I admit my kids clothes is a weakness for me but... my children do have beautiful clothing. because I bargain hunt like mad. I've been known to find a $150. sundress for $11. also I have very generous friends who hand down beautiful clothes and we sometimes hit good will too.

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#13 of 53 Old 08-22-2006, 11:58 PM
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Like Mamabear I am a bargain hunter. I basically don't buy anything that's not deeply discounted, unless we really really need it RIGHT now. My kids have nice clothes because I buy off season at 50% off last marked down price which was already 70% off.
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#14 of 53 Old 08-23-2006, 12:42 AM
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I used to buy ahead but I have found that like you said, the clothes don't fit, I forgot I had them, they are juts odd mix and match pieces...

From now on I am sticking to buying just what I need..I feel this should help with my clothing clutter as well...
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#15 of 53 Old 08-23-2006, 04:07 PM
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it all depends on space, and how critical the fit is: I have just bought 4 t shirts for dd for next summer - they're a size 3-4 and they were $3 each brand new at a *very* pricey store that I never normally shop in. Dd will turn 3 next summer, and given her height/weight curve I'm confident that if anything these will still have lots of room in them. Also, I have the room to store them as I have just cleaned out her stuff!

Other things, like pants etc I buy when she needs them; as I am only buying them from consignment stores I have to be prepared to get them at the beginning of the season, and not buy ahead. I would not gamble on things like snowsuits etc as they are bulky to store, and possibly an expensive mistake too.

So in short, I guess my answer is that it depends....
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#16 of 53 Old 08-23-2006, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mamabearsoblessed
I admit my kids clothes is a weakness for me but... my children do have beautiful clothing. because I bargain hunt like mad. I've been known to find a $150. sundress for $11.
Yup, that's me too!

I started out buying ahead (as advised by friends) but really got burned when my dd wasn't in that size the next season. So I was stuck with a lot of clothes she couldn't wear the next season and had to buy a whole new wardrobe for that season and store the one I had. I also found that there were things she didn't wear because she had SO MANY clothes. So I've toned it down a bit and still will buy a few things ahead of time, but am trying to time the purchasing of clothes for the seasonal change closer to when she will need them and buy some things as she needs them. In the past, my dd has been able to wear things from the previous year as she is a peanut. But since last season, she's grown 4 inches! I will start picking up things soon.

I will say that I have a big bin of hand-me-downs from dd's closest in age cousin who is 7. I've been getting them for a few years and every season I go through it and we're able to pull out a few things that fit. Most of the stuff is a couple of sizes or more bigger than my dd, but eventually she'll reach a size 5 or 6!

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#17 of 53 Old 08-23-2006, 07:09 PM
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I use to buy ahead but by the time dd was 3 it wasn't working out as well. dd went through a overall only stage, a dress stage, and currently a no snap on jeans stage. As far a coats, dd insists all jackets must have a hood as it works better with the hooks at school. dd is still going through 3-4 shoes sizes a year so I can't buy ahead either.
I also find most places have ongoing sales.

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#18 of 53 Old 08-23-2006, 08:40 PM
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It kind of depends on how picky your kids are. At age six, my son really doesn't care what he wears, but if his tastes needed to be factored in things would be harder. With four kids, I'd think that SOMEONE would end up fitting into whatever you bought at some point; I'd focus on unisex clothes and buy a lot more for your eldest so there'll be plenty of hand-me-downs!

We don't really buy ahead (we usually get enough hand-me-downs that we don't need to buy much, though that's ending now as my son is getting older) but we do have YEARS worth of too-big clothes. There's only one for my son, but my daughter is four years younger and I have big boxes marked with each size up 'til my son's current size. Anything I get is distributed appropriately.
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#19 of 53 Old 08-24-2006, 03:40 AM
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i buy on clearance for the next year. it will fit someone eventually
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#20 of 53 Old 08-24-2006, 08:45 AM
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Buying ahead works for us. I have large plastic totes stored in my son's closet, labeled by size going up to three sizes larger than his current size. I have been doing this practically since he was born--he's about a 3T now. I focus on getting basic good-quality wardobe staples at the best price. So I will get jeans, khakis, solid color long-sleeved shirts, a jacket and coat, around February or March during department store sales and not pay more than $4-5 each (maybe up to $10 for a really nice coat). In August I stock up on neutral shorts, solid color short-sleeve shirts, and swimwear, again usually around $3-5 each. This is for pretty nice quality clothing, a step above Target or Sears. When I am shopping consignment/yard sales I look for cuter stuff to fill out his wardrobe--you know, the Gap, Gymboree type clothing. I haven't had much luck shopping clearance for those because at least for me even on the clearance rack at Gymboree it seems like a pair of pants will be $10-15. That's just too much for me to pay when $4 pants from Dillard's are equally good quality and will work just as well. But I will buy Gymboree/Gap stuff if it's a reasonable price at a consignment store, because I do think it's usually pretty cute.

This system has worked really well for us so far. I haven't run into a problem of things not fitting when he needs them -- everything fits eventually. I guess if your child grew more than one clothing size over the year it could be a problem but my son has been running pretty true to his size for age (he's quite tall but very lean, which I think helps--things "fit" for a long time). I have found this system very convenient because when I need to change out my son's wardrobe each spring and fall (his dresser is only big enough for one season's worth of clothes at a time), I already have everything he needs and don't have to run out right then to make a big shopping trip. I guess you have to be "organized" to do it this way but it doesn't feel like a lot of work to me.

Outgrown clothes go back into totes labeled by size and season and are stored in my MIL's basement for the next child. If I had to store all that on-site at my home it would take over a LOT of space so I am glad I can store it elsewhere.
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#21 of 53 Old 08-24-2006, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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On this subject, do any of you keep a written inventory of what you have stored, so that when you are shopping you don't overbuy? I used to do that when it was just dd but haven't since I had the boys.

I just went through the box of winter stuff I have already bought for my 2 boys, and by coincidence it worked out perfect. They both have between 5 and 7 casual shirts, 2 or 3 church shirts, and several pairs of jeans/khakis. They will both still fit in their jackets from last year. So they are all set. I also found about 6 pairs of pants that I thought would fit ds1 this year (he just turned 3 and they are a size 3T) but they are HUGE on him, so those will have to wait another year! (This is the kid who is still wearing 18 month shorts right now; the 24 mo and 2 T are way too big!).

I need to go through dd's box and see what she has.

Maybe that's what I really need to concentrate on; don't worry about storing stuff since we do have the closet space; just make sure I keep good records so I don't go crazy and end up with 20 shirts for one person!
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#22 of 53 Old 08-24-2006, 12:14 PM
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I have three girls so what might not work with one could work for the next. we also never know what we will have left for hand-me downs. My 3 and 6 year old are pretty darn close to the same size. especially in Gap clothes. go figure. also when I say clearance sale I am talking clearance sale at Once Upon a Child. So really $1-$3 each item which beats an in season sale any time.

we kinda hit it from all sides. I buy more stuff on clearance for my oldest because she always needs stuff and if it ends up not working it will work for one of the other two.

we also get handme dopwns from about 4 families.

then once the season is here we drag it all out, try it all on, hand around and thin down. then we pass the rest on. if we end up needing something in the middle of the season then we buy it then but that is usually just a special occaision, special uniform of pants for terror child who can put holes in the knees of anything.

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#23 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 12:02 AM
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I always buy 1 size up. He has mainly jeans and shirts anyways so I know that he will be able to wear them. I buy his shoes 1/2 size bigger. I have went through 3 sizes of shoes in the last 6 months. He has enough clothes for 10 days and that is it. When I buy jeans, I also find a shirt that will go with it. I make outfits so it is easier for him to get dressed.

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#24 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 05:54 AM
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I am a huge bargin hunter, but I really like my kids to look nice. Although what I call a bargin I think would be more expensive then some people would want to pay. I tend to buy Pumpkin patch brand or your American gymboree brand when it's on sale for good clothes. Gymboree boys clothes are so much nicer then anything over here. I just orderd some Gymboree on special. A 2T shirt was 9.99 (13.99 after the exchange rate) new full price from Pumpkin patch is about $25 so that to me was a good bargin. I'm also kind of picky with colours, necklines etc so I seem to spend all year perusing online shops. I buy up at sale times, then bits here and there. I simply put my daughters larger clothes in her bottum draw and my sons in a large upright box that fits the cupboard. I seem to remember pretty well what I have bought, have only forgoten a couple of items. I just went through there clothes for this coming season. I have my dd try them all on and see what will fit. What will fit goes into the second from the bottum draw, those still too big back to the bottum draw. Then I have an idea how much more i need to get. Very rarly has anything been too small. If I am unsure when I am buying I will buy a size larger then I think I will need. It's a bit of a bummer when some nice clothes don't fit but they will in a folowing year so it still works out. Sometimes I might buy too many shirts. I already have 6 long sleeve t shirt tops for ds for next winter (thats next year over here) which I know dh would think is too many. Lol I just don't say anything!
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#25 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 07:05 AM
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i buy ahead, but even then, i don't buy new. in my kids bedroom, they each have a 4 drawer dresser... the bottom drawer is jammies that they currently wear (bottom drawer is easiest for them to reach), and then the other 3 drawers contain clothes in the next 3 sizes up, one size per drawer. anything bigger than that gets stored in storage bins under the beds.

since we buy pretty gender neutral or plain clothes ('cause my dd wears all of her bro's hand me downs), our system works well. we stay away from charcter print clothes too. we only ever get 100% cotton as well (ds has skin issues). at least once a year, my mom takes me used clothes shopping for the kids (the kid of place where you fill a garbage bag with clothes for $10), and pays for it all, so sometimes we get clothes that are wayyyy too big. i figure if some clothes don't fit properly, i can always sell it, save it for the next kid, or lend it out to a friend.

then for bdays, christmas, etc, if they want something special (ds went thru a major dinosaur shirt addiction), then they can put it on thier wish lists, and grandma and grandpa usually get it for them.

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#26 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 04:06 PM
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I don't have kids yet, but I do buy ahead of time. If I see a nice practical peice of clothing for less than a dollar that is in very good condition, I buy it. I even have some clothes that are up to 2T size. Another thing I will buy is expensive brand childrens shoes like Robeez or other soft soled type shoes. I can't stand the little runners they put babies in with thick hard plastic soles.
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#27 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 06:30 PM
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Now that I have 2 girls, I can save stuff for dd2. I saved all coats and boots, sweaters etc from dd1 and passed on other stuff- too much to store and we had no idea when dd2 would come or that she was a girl.

But, my parents live in FL in the winter months and we usually visit them. So I buy at the end of season the next size up a few outfits for dd1 to have. My mom also picks up stuff there from the outlets for us so she has clothing. Now w two, I will plan around that again.

I buy way too much so I am going to tone it down this year. After dd2 wears the stuff, I will do a consignment sale a local church does twice a year- fall clothing and then again in Spring for that season. Some stuff I sell here or on ebay already.

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#28 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 08:41 PM
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I tend to buy shirts for ds and dresses for dd on off-season sales. I find these don't have to fit as exactly so there's more wiggle room for what fits. If a shirt or a dress is a little big it doesn't matter much.

I don't really buy pants/shorts for ds until he needs them. They need to fit more exactly and he's tall and skinny so the fit really depends on the cut of each item.

Dd is a big dress/skirt person so she doesn't wear many pants, just leggings, tights, or bike shorts under her dress.

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#29 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 08:59 PM
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I buy shirts a season ahead when on clearance. I can't do the same with pants because it's harder to predict what size DS will be wearing.

Dani, wife to Cullen - 9/2002, mom to CJ 11/2004, Billy 12/2007 and Nora 7/2009
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#30 of 53 Old 08-25-2006, 09:01 PM
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I don't have to be concerned so much about cold weather clothing (rarely gets below freezing here) but I do tend to constantly be on the lookout for clothes for my oldest daughter. She has very particular taste and some sensory issues, so whenever I find something that meets her approval I snatch it up. Otherwise she would wear the same thing over and over.

My youngest wears everything the oldest wouldn't.
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