Dressing your child on a budget – Part Three: Sales

Budget Clothing sales

Kiddley reader Jen from Semantically Driven submitted her tips for dressing your kids a tight budget. We decided to turn her ideas into topics for a series which has been running over the last few weeks.

In the first week we looked at Hand-me-downs while last week we had lots of great pointers from Jen and other Kiddley readers on buying second hand kids’ clothes. Next week’s article will be about buying and selling kids’ clothes on Ebay and finally making clothes for your kids… If you are interested in submitting your own tips on these future topics please do so. If you have any tips for this week or the first two weeks’ topics please leave them in the comments.

This week we are looking at (one of my personal favourites) Buying clothes on sale at the end of a season.

Jen says:

“There are always sales on at department stores and other shops and you can browse through to find clothing for the next season. Obviously you’ll have to guess what size your child will be but that’s usually fairly easy to gauge.”

Kiddley says:

Personally I love a good excuse to gather huge amounts of clothing in my arms in a department store. Shopping for next year in a size up is something I love to do. As with any sale there often isn’t too much left that will really WOW you or your young clothes horse, but I stick to really cheap, cheap, basic pieces in natural fibres (t-shirts, socks, jeans, shirts and so on) which they must over-stock on and I usually come out feeling satiated by some totally guilt free spending. I also love to pack all the purchases into plastic storage containers and then rediscover them the following year.

My favourite experience was hunting through a Target store in a big country town. It became clear to me that my “city mouse” taste is pretty different from the rural shoppers that had already been through so I found mountains of good stuff including gorgeous things I had eyed off months before in the city at full price and here they were, totally reduced ($2 for a beautiful dress? Heaven!). Perhaps my city taste vs. country taste is a bit of a furphy and it was just a wonderful shopping day for me, but if not, I wonder if this same idea would work for people from the country coming in to the city stores? I am guessing that the city sales are never going to be as good as the country sales.

Another thing I do when I am shopping at sales is that I keep in mind that while the item might be incredibly boring (but cheap!) as it is (plain overalls, plain t-shirt, plain pair of basic pants and so on) I can add embellishments, transfers or appliques to turn something very dull into something quite unique. Stay tuned to our fifth part in this series “Making clothes for kids” in a couple of week’s time for some more ideas in this area.

Good things about buying kids’ clothes at sales: Brand new, basic clothes for sometimes about the same prices as thrift store finds.

Bad things about buying kids’ clothes at sales: Sales are usually busy and almost the worst place on earth to take a child. The number of frantic, clothes flinging people is overwhelming and I am often flabbergasted by how rude and mercenary some shoppers in children’s boutiques suddenly become in the heat of the moment. Most times I decide that finding that extra special child’s poncho on sale for a few measly dollars less is not worth the trouble and I will wait until the sale has been on for a few days or a week. This often means sorting through the leftovers but prices will usually be even further reduced.

Another thing is that sale prices are sometimes pretty pathetic and only a few dollars off the original price. Make sure you are thinking clearly and are not just in a frenzied-sales-mindset which is so easy to get into. Use the tip from last week of asking yourself if your child really needs the piece of clothing and also perhaps ask yourself if you would pay twice the price for it anyway.

The only other negative thing about sale shopping for the following year that comes to mind is that your child will be wearing last season / year’s clothes. Probably not really a major concern for thrifty shoppers but I know that it does matter to some and maybe to those who have picky pre-teens.

Reader suggestions:

Heather writes:

“I stock up on basics, like t-shirts, cardigans, shoes, socks, and leggings at the end of the season sales. I buy the same thing in several sizes ahead and various colors. When something is outgrown, I just go to the closet to get the next size.”

Andi writes:

“A lot of the kids boutiques give discounts when you buy more than a set number of items at the end of season sales. There’s one that gives 75% off their designer wear when you buy 8 pieces or more at the end of the season. I grab what fits my boys (or will fit my boys) and make up the eight with stuff I can sell on ebay. It works out so that I don’t pay anything for the stuff for my kids because I’ve made up the difference selling the other pieces.”

4 Responses to “Dressing your child on a budget – Part Three: Sales”

  1. shannon

    Here in the States, Hanna Anderson is having a big sale. Even their sale prices are high, but, my daugter has dresses from them that she has worn for over 2 years! When I said to her the other day that her Hanna dresses were getting too short to wear she just smiled and said, “I can just wear shorts with them!”

  2. Lotta

    Brilliant. Everyone thinks I spend way too much on kids clothes. But I really just hit the racks of the big dept stores and boutiques. Anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t get worn gets sold on ebay!

  3. Lea R

    I love finding cute things for Baby A at consignment stores, but I’ve made some mistakes along the way–buying things that looked (and are) cute, but inconvenient for me or even uncomfortable for A.

    To wit:

    * bubbles or jumpsuits with button closures in the legs/diaper area. They don’t mix well with wriggly babies or toddlers.

    * big collars…or, really, collars at all. They just tend to need ironing, or to stand up and poke the poor baby in the neck and chin.

    * zippers, embroidery, or appliques on the back, which are uncomfortable in a car seat or for back-sleeping. Same goes for stuff on the front once the baby sleeps on his or her belly.

    These are things I know to watch for now. HTH.

    – LDR

  4. Cathi

    I’m with Lotta, if you don’t end up using it you can always sell it on ebay! My daughter goes to a school which doesn’t have a uniform, and I don’t want her to be scruffily dressed. In Australia, the key is to wait for the post-sale sales. For instance, last winter a major department had 50% off the sale price of everything, plus 75% off the sale price of selected items. I got my daughter a stunning warm winter coat for $20, a nice raincoat for $5, and other basics like hooded zip-up jumpers and nice pants. I think that the key is to go for good-quality basics that won’t date (avoid the current seasons ‘trendy’ styles), or things which are so out there that they won’t date quickly (like Oilily), and to try to know what your child will actually be willing to wear. I managed to resist the temptation to buy jumpers at the sales, because my daughter rarely wears them, even on the coldest of days, she prefers easily removable layers like zip-up knitwear.

    Another suggestion, and this is a good one, only recently possible – when your summer is approaching, buy from the end of season summer sales in a different hemisphere! I once bought my son some gorgeous clothes from the US and UK – they were on sale and heavily reduced, but they were perfect for the season that we were about to start. As more and more stores go online and are willing to sell internationally, this becomes more viable as an option, plus your child may end up with something which looks quite unusual.

    Due to the trans-seasonal nature of a lot of stuff, you can also pick up things in your own country that your kids can wear in the coming season – at the summer sales, I picked up a long-sleeved top and some lightweight pants which my daughter is currently wearing and are her absolute favourites. But they are brands that I probably wouldn’t buy full-price. I’ve also found that it helps to buy tops a bit long (not pants though!) – my daughter has just sadly passed on a top that she has adored for the past 3 years, sleeves were a bit long to begin with but it fit well most of the time…everything was getting a bit short by the time she acknowledged that it should go to a younger friend. But it was a top quality brand and still looks fantastic (why couldn’t I have had two kids the same gender!).

    However, none of this works for my son. Anyone got tips on how to buy for quick-growing tall children? (websites with the inseam measurements for different age groups are what I really need…). My just turned three year old son is tall, normal length legs but wearing the same top size as my nearly 7 year old daughter. I can buy for the coming season by adding a bit of length to my estimates of what he’s currently wearing, but the stuff that I bought him last year on sale mostly ended up being a waste of time. Plus my tastes in children’s clothing have changed! I guess that what I save on my daughter’s clothes can go towards my growing like a weed son.


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