Tips for Buying Kids’ Clothes

I recently did some shopping for the girls’ spring/summer wardrobes. “But it’s still January!” I hear you saying. That is certainly true but I shop consignment. I like to do my shopping for the upcoming season as soon as the items are on the racks and the selection is the greatest.

My local children’s consignment shop is in an upscale neighbourhood which means great brands, trendy items and less wear-and-tear on many items. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have bought an item that still had its original tags! A brand new item plus a super low price? Yes, please!

Here is my takeaway from my most recent shopping adventure:

  • 2 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 vests
  • 7 tops
  • A bathing suit
My most recent second-hand score

My most recent second-hand score

The best part?  I paid $60!

Here are the reasons why I love shopping consignment:

1. Low prices
The numbers don’t lie. My most recent trip scored me 17 items for $60.50. That works out to about $3.56 per item. I purchased a pair of GAP shorts for $3.50. A visit to their website showed brand new shorts selling for $14.95-$29.95. Even with the cheapest pair, that is still more than 75% less! I could buy 4 pairs of used shorts for the same price as the new pair and still have money left over for a popsicle. That’s being frugal!

2. Increased value
While low cost is important, so is high value. While there are many ways to determine value, I use a simple cost/use ratio. Using the above example of the $14.95 GAP shorts, if they are worn 20 times, the cost per use is about $0.75. Not bad but when considering the $3.50 shorts (with 20 wears), the cost per use is under $0.18!

3. Excitement of the challenge
I love the thrill of the hunt. I truly enjoy searching through the racks to discover great finds.

4. Bragging rights
When I do find something great, I love sharing the news with others. In fact, this blog post came out of wanting to share my most recent consignment shopping success!

5. Environmentally friendly
Buying second-hand is a form of recycling. By purchasing used items, I am keeping them out of the landfill (and even more when I use them with both girls and then pass them along to a friend or relative!) Additionally, the items have a reduced carbon footprint because resources aren’t required to manufacture new items.

Here are some tips for clothes shopping for the kiddos. Although these tips have come from my experiences with consignment shopping, many of them also work when buying new too!

1. Make a list – Just like grocery shopping: take inventory of what you currently have and what you actually need. There is no point in buying another pink cardigan if your child already has 2 just because the price is right.

2. Consider colours – Make note of the colour staples in your child’s wardrobe and purchase new items with this information in mind. It may no longer be a bargain if you need to buy entire outfits rather than individual pieces to mix and match with your existing items. Before buying an item, I ensure I can pair it with at least 4 items that my daughters already have.

3. Buy bigger – Kids grow quickly so buy things bigger to ensure the most use. Nothing wrong with a few rolled cuffs! You can also get creative to ensure long wear. For example, what started as a dress for my daughter turned into a tunic (cute with leggings) and is now a shirt that can be worn with jeans. We’re going on almost 2 years of use! Also, stretchy leggings can be used as capris the next year if the waist still fits.

4. Watch for duplicates – In my experience with consignment shopping, occasionally you will find 2 of the exact same item. When this is the case, check the prices because they may not be the same. With my most recent shopping adventure, I found 2 pairs of shorts with a price difference of $2 even though they were the same brand, size and colour. This has happened more than once for me.

5. Buy across seasons – Buy items which can easily transition from one season to the next. For example, a t-shirt can be worn in the summer as is or with a cardigan in the winter. A pair of tights easily transforms summer skirts into winter wear.

6. Buy early – The early bird gets the worm! Shopping early (although often out of season) will provide you with the best selection to choose from.

7. Check out the end of season sales – When new stock is coming in, stores are eager to get rid of old items and put them on clearance. Take advantage of this and buy for next year! My local consignment store offers a clearance sale twice a year which allows you to stuff a bag full of marked down items for only $10. Sign up for newsletters or listservs to get the inside scoop on deals.

8. Look for quality – You want to ensure you are going to get quite a few wears out of any item you buy so make sure the item is going to last (especially if shopping second-hand when someone else has worn the item prior). Look for loose buttons, falling hems and fabric that is fraying, thinning or pilling.

9. Consider the cost/wear ratio – As mentioned above, make sure you are going to get value out of an item. Even though an item may be cheap, if your child is only going to wear it once, this will yield a high cost per wear.

10. Pay it forward – Consider selling your still in good condition items consignment (or passing them along to a friend or relative) when you are done with them. You’ll be doing your part for the environment and creating the opportunity for someone else to benefit from second-hand shopping.

Whew! That is my longest post to date! I hope you found the information useful and let me know if you have any helpful shopping tips!

5 thoughts on “Tips for Buying Kids’ Clothes

  1. Pingback: Buy ‘n’ Brag: Clothes for the Kiddos | The ELM Life

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