It is finally spring here in the midwest, and although I am not counting out another cold snap coming through, we can go outside most days now to play, and spring fever is in the air. I’ve been doing my traditional “switch over the season’s clothes” in my children’s closets, and I’ve found that they have both outgrown a vast amount of their clothing in the past few months, and there is some shopping on my horizon, unless I want to do laundry every single day or send them out half-clothed. Since my kids are 2 and 4, this wasn’t a big surprise to me, but I’m still not going to run out to the closest department store and empty my wallet to fill their closets. here are some of the things I do, year round, to make the seasonal clothing crunch less painful for all of us.
1. Shop ahead a season. This isn’t something you can do if you need the item right now, but you can still be shopping right now for next season. Right now is when clothes for winter (and some spring) are being clearanced, so keep an eye on the clearance racks of your favorite stores and stock up for next year. Part of my process this spring was taking out all the clothes I’d bought last year on clearance for spring and summer this year. made the list of “must-haves” much shorter than it could have been. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for winter PJs for my son for next year, something he’s in short supply of now.
2. Make a list, as detailed as possible. I have been guilty too many times in the past of buying something just because it was a bargain and I thought my kids would need it, only to find when I got home that i already had enough of whatever that item was. So I make lists. As I put the winter clothes away, I make lists of what is needed for next winter. As I take the spring and summer clothes out and do an inventory, I make lists of what is missing. We need a lot of socks, and my son needs 2-3 pais of jeans. So I won’t buy him t-shirts (which he has plenty of) instead, I make a list.
3. Orchestrate a trade with friends or family if possible. Sometimes you know someone that has kids who are a little older or bigger than yous that you might be able to trade clothing with. I have a friend who has kids the same age as mine, but the girl is the older one and the boy is the younger, so we’ve been able to trade a lot of her outgrown girl clothes for our outgrown boy clothes. Subsequently, my daughter needs very little this year, if anything at all. Except shoes.
4. Hit up local consignment stores and other gently used options. I am a huge fan of Goodwill for this, but it varies by locality and area. If you have places that sell gently used clothing, check them out. It might be overpriced, but you might find some bargains too.
5. Plan out trips to yard sales carefully. I love going to yard sales but with the hit and miss nature, the gas to drive to them, and the time spent, it isn’t always worth it. When I decide to hit up the yard sales, I plan my yard sale trips to be when there are a number of them in a close location (we have neighborhood association yard sales here which work well) and in affluent yet child-friendly areas of our city where I’ll get the most bang for my buck. I make an event out of it, and spend saturday morning walking about the neighborhood I’ve chosen browsing the goods.
6. Clearance racks can still be your friend this season, too. Some things get classified as a certain season but really, are multi-season. My son needs jeans. I can find jeans on clearance they were selling in the winter that will work just as well for spring and fall as well.
7. Look for sales and other discounts. Sometimes, you need things that you can’t easily get used. Both my kids need socks. Socks are not a frequent used find (because well, they get *used*, and not gently.) So I watch the local department stores and shoe stores for clearance sales, seasonal sales, or just… sales. I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of great socks for my kids at the price I’d pay for cheap offbrand socks (or less) by paying attention.
Adding to anyone’s wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank. I mostly shop for my kids, because my spouse and I don’t tend to grow as quickly , but I’ve used a number of these strategies to add to my husband’s work wardrobe as well. With planning and perseverence, clothes shopping doesn’t have to break the bank.