Having three small children means that we also need to keep three small bodies clothed. It could get expensive. But it hasn't so far. With the surplus of thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, Ebay, and awesome clearance closeouts I am able to keep my children well dressed for a fraction of what most mamas spend on just one child's wardrobe. It takes a little shopping around and often shopping out of season and a year or two in advance but having a bin or closet full of clothes to go to instead of running to the department stores with each change of season is well worth it.
For example, yesterday and today I went to several garage sales and returned home with a pile of clothing for my five year old and several outfits for my toddler for close to $20, which is what the price of one of the Gymboree outfits I bought my daughter would have cost new. The best part is that I am often able to sell the clothing (at a consignment shop or garage sale) after my children outgrow it for more than what I paid in the first place so their cost of clothing, in the end, is virtually zero.
(Some clothing I bought at a recent garage sale)
Some tips for keeping your little ones in designer clothes on a limited budget are:
*Shop garage sales and try to get there around the time they open. The good stuff goes quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes if someone starts grabbing up all of one size. Search the paper each week to see the garage sale listings in your area. City-wide garage sales are often advertised a week or two in advance and are the best way to hit several sales in certain areas.
*Search your local consignment and thrift stores. Learn when they have their clearance sales and get there early.
*Watch for online sales. Often websites will have fantastic sales on out of season clothing. Search for online codes or free shipping codes to get an even better deal. Sign up for their e-mails to get first notice of their clearance sales.
*Buy a year or two in advance. If you see a cute outfit for your child that is a size or two too big buy it and put it away for when it will fit them. I store up to two years ahead.
*Use storage totes or an empty closet to organize clothing by size and sex. Label everything properly...there's nothing more frustrating than finding a pile of clothing that you had put away for your child that you forgot about and is already too small.
*Keep your clothing in good condition and try selling all outgrown clothing at a garage sale or ask your consignment shop what their consigning terms are. You can often make your money back when you bring in clean designer clothing in the newer styles.
It doesn't have to cost a fortune to keep your children in clothes!