As soon as my daughters entered an organized school environment, they had opinions about their clothes and were easily influenced by what their friends were wearing. Yes, it starts at age 4! I have now come to the conclusion that the girls need to be fully part of the shopping process so I don’t waste money on things they don’t want. If you’re facing a similar dilemma with your kids, below are my 5 tips for making it through the shopping season. How do you shop for your kids? I would love to know the routines you go through as well.
- Establish a routine going into the fall of what you will buy for your kids. It could be that you purchase 1-2 outfits for school and then, once the school gets started, your child can see what their friends are wearing and what some of the trends are for some additional purchases (within a limited budget). Remember that it’s still pretty warm through most of September and some of October and your children can still wear summer clothing. If your child is old enough to earn their own money through babysitting or mowing the lawn, then let them pay for some things too. It’ll teach them (hopefully) some financial responsibility.
- Another good habit to get into is a Save It, Toss It, Want It process throughout the summer. Make the Back to School shopping adventure an opportunity to clear out the closet and give to charity as well. See what doesn’t fit, what he/she doesn’t like and will never wear, etc, and pack that up for Good Will. If you have younger siblings of the same gender, see what can be passed down to save money (it’s like new to them anyway). And then take notes on what your kid needs and what they WANT. The Want list could be something you have a set budget for and then they can wait and see until the school year starts to see if they still want it (or if it’s something ALL of their friends have). You also need to see what’s required for activities as well (gym clothes, sports, activities, school colors, etc)
- Set standards of decency. This should already be implied through your parenting and house rules already, but make sure your kids are aware of what is acceptable and what’s not. This is a good process for the parent as well: you might need to learn to accept that certain trends that are completely appropriate for their age level might just be something you don’t like. Not liking something is different from thinking it’s not acceptable. You want your kids to be comfortable in their clothes both physically and socially. You want them to express their personality and style, but within limits. Things like ripped jeans, too-high skirts, visible bra straps, saggy pants, etc., are perfectly fine to make part of your standard or decency. However, if your kid likes a color, print or image that you don’t, you need to be flexible in that area.
- Purchase layers and separates that can be worn with other items already in the closet. Get coordinating colors, neutral bottoms & long-sleeved tops, etc. Clothing like tunics, tank tops and shorts can be worn in all seasons with layers as well.
- Finally, ask your child if he/she has an example of an outfit they like. Perhaps it’s a celebrity style they try to model after. This will help in the planning process and you can get a better idea of what they like. Don’t waste your money guessing on clothes they want. It’ll be a battle not worth fighting when it comes time to get dressed in the morning. There are other things like homework, grades, and oh yeah, social issues, that are way more important to deal with. Open communication with your kid might just start with clothes and can lead to a good relationship in other areas of your life. Think about it!
Outfit pictured is from FabKids: Skirt- Color Tiered Tutu, $7.99