Image Credit: Bessi
Having kids is really expensive! There is so much to buy, and the trouble with clothes is that kids grow so quickly – you buy them something new then, of course, the next thing that happens is that they have a growth spurt!
Even if you are really disciplined and only buy basics they can soon add up – underwear, coats, t-shirts, trousers, dresses, school clothes – never mind if they need an outfit for a special occasion like a wedding.
Here are my 17 proven tactics for saving money on children’s clothing – these are all things that I have done and still do to save money on my own and my kids clothing, so I can promise that they are all thoroughly road-tested!
Buy classic basics is a piece of advice that you will read in every fashion magazine from Vogue to Elle to Look. And it is just as applicable to kids clothing as to your own wardrobe. Jeans, chinos, basic t-shirts and sweaters will be the mainstays of your kid’s wardrobe and mean that you get the maximum wear for your money. They will always have something they can wear with their new can’t-live-without-it t-shirt, trousers or skirt.
It is inevitable that from the day you announce your pregnancy there will be somebody who will have a cupboard full of clothes they want to de-clutter! Accept all donations gratefully – you never know when the day will arrive when your kid grows seemingly overnight and has nothing that fits them, or the washing machine breaks down and you have nothing clean to put them in.
Image Credit: pedrojperez
The biggest way of saving money when buying children’s clothing is to go second-hand and the first place you should try is your local charity shop. Clothing in charity shops will, in general, have been checked over so that it should be in pretty good condition (no crusty lumps of food or worrying brown stains….).
It is also not unusual to find unworn items still with the tags on along with party dresses, wedding outfits and boys suits that have only been worn once. You may also find quality brands and designer kids clothing in excellent condition for a fraction of their original cost. Quality clothes that are made to last are always a good second-hand buy as they tend to wash better than cheap brands and will still look good enough to pass down to another child when they are outgrown.
Charity Shops are also good for dressing up costumes which will also have only been used maybe once so a visit before World Book Day is always a good idea! Here are 7 secrets of successful charity shopping for kids.
Car Boot Sales are a uniquely British phenomenon; drive your car into a field at an unearthly hour of the morning to sell you unwanted items or root out bargains. The quality and condition of the goods can be variable so check everything well before handing over your cash. However you might be able to get a bumper bundle of kid’s clothes for next to nothing.
Jumble sales are another excellent source of second-hand clothing for children, if they still happen where you live (they are almost extinct where I live, but are still common in much of the UK). Like a car-boot sale, quality and cleanliness may be variable, so check all items carefully, and remember, a jumble sale is for charity, so no haggling OK?
eBay is always my go-to when I need a particular item, perhaps for a school play or themed costume day. I have also sold good quality outgrown items on there, which means that I can get back some of the money I’ve spent.
The NCT's Nearly New Sales are great for baby clothes as well as equipment and toys. Prices are a little higher but the condition of items tends to be higher than at a jumble sale or car boot as they are more selective about what they sell.
An excellent way to save money is to look after your clothes so that they last longer. Always follow the washing instructions, and wash clothes with spills or leaks on they immediately. Besides, finding a mouldy, crusty bib at the bottom of the wash basket is not nice…. (been there, done that).
You may have never learned any basic sewing techniques, but now is the time to find out how to sew on a button (here is a good video explanation) and deal with a dropped hem (use iron-on hemming tape if you are allergic to needle and thread). Google for a tutorial or search You Tube if you are a more visual learner.
If you are lucky enough to go to a school that sells used uniform items, snap them up. You usually have to move fast as items tend to go quite quickly in regular sizes, but if you have a particularly small child you could do really well.
Stocking up in the sales may be obvious, but it is possible to get brilliant bargains or waste a lot of money if you buy unnecessary stuff. Just use the same criteria that you would buying full price clothing – is there growing room, will it get lots of use, will it fit them in the correct season?
Buying gender neutral clothing is a more long term plan. If you buy clothes in gender neutral colours such as navy, cream, white, red, green and yellow rather than overdosing on pink or baby blue, you will be able to use the clothes for future children and they will be useful to friends and family for future children of either gender.
If your kids will only need an outfit for one special occasion, consider hiring the outfit. This is pretty easy to find for skiwear and boys wedding outfits but a bit more difficult for girl’s dresses. You can even hire a kilt, or if you need a costume most costume hire shops will have a collection of child sized garments.
If your child has a tendency to go through the knees of trouser (I have two boys, this happens a lot) those trousers can still have a long and useful life as a pair of shorts. Casual trousers such as jeans and sweatpants can be cut off above the damaged area and left un-hemmed if you are not handy with a needle.
Smarter styles can be cut off and hemmed by hand or machine whichever you prefer. Here is a good basic how-to for turning your trousers into shorts and there are lots of tutorials out there for adding decorative cuffs if you are feeling more adventurous.
Children do not need shoes until they can walk confidently and are ready to walk out of doors.
OK, so I know they are really cute, but putting children in shoes before they can walk can even discourage them from walking and delay their development. Save your money by not buying them at all. 5 things you should never buy for a baby.
Babies don’t remember what presents they have been given and many kids get far more presents than they actually play with, so ask for gifts of clothing of anything they need.
Bonus points if you ask you family to buy second-hand where possible.
Now I don’t think it is a good idea to pass footwear down to other people, but looking after shoes to extend their life is a good idea. That way you don’t have to throw them out while they still fit at least! Cleaning up leather shoes and polishing them from time to time will keep them looking smart, waterproof and extend their life.
Finally, it is a good idea to stash any outgrown clothes that are still in good condition if you are planning to have more children. If not, donate them to your favourite charity shop, sell them or pass them on to other new parents who will be grateful to receive them.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.