Sunday, February 28, 2010

Living for less: Clothes

I was putting away laundry today (or just about any day). But, today inspired me to write a post about how we save money on clothes. I love clothes. Especially kid clothes. When Isaac was born I went way overboard buying him clothes. I've learned a few lessons since then, so I thought I would share them with you.

Know your clothes.
Know what you have and what you need. One of the biggest mistakes I made was buying too many of something and not enough of something else. Since I buy out of season (we'll talk about that in a minute) I have to keep track of what I have and need to make this work. If I realize I have 15 T shirts for next summer I don't need to buy more. Even if it is a really good deal.

Keep in mind what you need for your lifestyle. I am a stay at home mom when I buy clothes for myself I have to keep in mind my profession. It doesn't make sense for me to have all dry clean only blouses when I will be covered in snot and puke by noon. (sorry for the visual) So I stay on the look out for cotton T's and lots of them. I go through a lot of shirts so if I can find a really good deal I snatch it up. Our church does not dress up for our weekend gatherings. I like to have nice clothes, but we are not in need of suits for the boys or lots of dresses for me. My husband, however, wears shirts and ties to work with dress pants so I watch for those things for him.

You have to know what works for you. For my boys I like to have variety. I usually have around 7 pair of jeans and 15 play shirts, 4-6 dress outfits (Khakis and polos or sweaters), some really gross play clothes for painting or muddy days, and of course sweat pants and comfy clothes.

Buying ahead

Saving money on clothes is not hard, but it requires some planning. Watch clearance aisles for  off season merchandise. Typically a child will be in a size for a full year (2T and up). If your child seems to grow quickly take that into account.

This is where knowing what you have and need comes into play. If you are just getting started have a good idea of the types of clothes you need in a wardrobe. If you are just filling in blank spots  have an idea of how many of each item you need. Also, keep in mind color. Do you want all pink or all blue? I try to have some bright colors for when we are out in public. (It's easier to see my kid at a play ground if they are in neon. )

Coat, swimsuits, backpacks, and other seasonal items are especially good to find at the end of each season. These items can get pricey, but drop dramatically when on clearance because they want to move them out quickly.

Also, keep in mind special events. Asher is going to be a ringbearer in his Aunt's wedding. So you better believe after Easter I will be at those clearance racks looking for a suit or tux for cheap. I also try to buy Easter and Christmas outfit after each holiday. Watch for sets because sometimes they are super cheap and you can break them down into pieces you may use more often. One year I found sets at JC Penney's for $6. They had dress pants, dress shirts, and dress coats. Isaac wore his wool peacoat today to church.

Some of my fave places to catch sales are:
Children's Place- There stuff goes from the floor to clearance very quickly. Plus they have lots of coupons floating around to sweeten the deal. If you have one close check out the outlets. I have found some amazing deals there. Bonus, super super cute.

JCPenney- Not going to lie, this is my fave place for me. I find some really good deal on clearance here. Again, lots of coupons. Their kids section is also great. If you need play clothes. Watch the okie dokie brand I find it under $1 frequently.

Target- I love just about anything at Target. Some of the sales are awesome, some not so much. Really watch what discount you are getting. They do switch through things quickly though so if you love it. Grab it. It may not be there next time.

Hand me down happiness. 

This may be a no brainer, but accept hand me downs!  I'm fairly picky, but we have been given some great stuff secondhand. Spread the word that you are happy to take handmedowns. A lot of people would rather pass on out grown goodies then send it to Goodwill. I have been surprised by who it is that has given us stuff. We have been given entire wardrobes for a full size. What a blessing. Plus, if you get a lot for free it gives you more freedom to splurge on something you LOVE that isn't on sale.

Don't underestimate the wonder of a garage sale. Holy cow, I have found some great stuff at a garage sale. Just remember to really look at an item. Is it torn, stained or damaged? If you wouldn't buy it in a store don't buy it at a garage sale. Just becase it is cheap doesn't mean you have to take it home. Remember to know what you need and stick with that.

Thrift stores are honestly a great way to save, but my least favorite. I hate taking the time to sort through everything, and honestly I have found better deals on clearance racks some times. Don't get me wrong. There are deals to be had. And lots of them. Just be aware it may take more time to find what you are looking for.

How do you save money on clothes? Do you have any great tips? I'd love to hear how others keep this end of their budget down.

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