How To Build A Kids Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank

Kids are expensive! This is a statement I often hear from parents. Yes, raising kids can get expensive. That’s why as a family, we try to save as much as we can on necessary items.

On this post, I share our ideas on how to build a wardrobe for your kids without breaking the bank.

How To Build A Kids Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank | This Family Life We Live

How Big Should Your Kid’s Wardrobe Be?

Daily Clothes

Let’s start off with determining how much clothes your kids should have. Short answer would be, it depends on your lifestyle.

We have determined that our kids need 4 weeks worth of clothing in their wardrobe. This goes for daily clothes like shirts, pants, shorts, underwear, and pajamas.

Why you ask? Because when we go on vacation trips, we usually go for about 2 weeks. As much as I would love to leave the house with no laundry stuck in the laundry bins while were on vacation, that does not always happen. Also, as much as I would like to return from holidays with clean clothes in our suitcases, that never really happens. So for me not to stress out about doing laundry as soon as we get home from a trip, 4 weeks of clothes makes sense. (1 week prior to trip + 2 weeks of trip + 1 week after trip = 4 weeks)

Yes, it usually takes me about 1-2 weeks before I can catch up with laundry after a 2-week trip. LOL

Determining how much clothes your kids’ need in their wardrobe will greatly depend on your lifestyle. If you believe 2 weeks is enough then work with that. If you think 6 weeks is needed, then go with that.

If you’re not sure, I would suggest starting with about 2-3 weeks worth of clothes in their wardrobe and readjusting as needed. There is no perfect formula.

Seasonal Clothing and Outerwear

Determining how much seasonal clothing and outerwear your kids’ need can get tricky. Again, this will greatly depend on your lifestyle and where you live.

For seasonal clothing in our family, we stick to the back-up rule on items that can be laundered.

For example: winter jackets / snow suits – we aim to have 2 per child. This allows our kids to have a backup jacket when their other one is in the wash.

Most winter outerwear can be washed using the handwash cycle of a washing machine but shouldn’t be placed in the dryer. So it takes about a week for the jacket to completely hang dry.

For items that don’t go in the laundry, and that can be cleaned and used again right away, our kids usually have only one. A good example of this would be winter boots.

An exemption to the back up rule for seasonal clothing are swim shorts. Since we live in a lake community, and our kids are in the lake daily during summertime, they have about 5-7 swimming shorts each.

How To Build A Kids Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank | This Family Life We Live

Footwear

When it comes to shoes, I would suggest always having running shoes that your kids wear everyday.

However, having a back-up running shoe that is one size bigger is a good idea. Just so you’re not running to the store last minute and buying an expensive shoe because you didn’t have time to wait for a sale or look for a coupon.

During the school year, kids also need an indoor shoe to keep in school. We almost always end up buying a running shoe for this purpose at it’s comfortable and easy to clean.

For winter, aside from running shoes, our kids also have a pair of real winter boots. I say real because we live in Alberta and our winters are REAL. So a good waterproof winter boot, rated for -35C is a must.

Summertime calls for sandals and flip flops. Having one good pair of sandals that are sturdy and can be easily cleaned is a must. And since we live in a lake community, 2-3 pairs of flip flops per kid are on hand all the time. Because they easily break but they’re cheap, so why not?!

Tips On Shopping For Your Kid’s Clothes

When To Shop

Always shop off season for kids clothes. This allows you to buy good quality clothes at the lowest prices it will go for.

For example: I am writing this post on July 2020. Summer clothes are currently on clearance at most stores. So I am buying Kaeden and Kenzie’s clothes for summer 2021. We also have a plan to go on a tropical vacation in 2021, so I have to account for that too clothing-wise.

When I buy clothes and shoes for Kenzie, it’s usually only to fill gaps in his wardrobe. Most of Kaeden’s clothes that he’s outgrown is passed on to Kenzie. I’ll talk about how I care and store these clothes towards the end of this post.

Disclaimer: Sometimes kids have a growth spurt and they completely jump a size. That is currently happening for Kaeden. LOL But Kenzie can still use the clothes, so it’s not a wasted.

Make sure that you have a checklist and set budget when shopping for kids clothes. This prevents you from going overboard with shopping.

Where To Shop

Online

I recommend shopping online for kids clothes. This saves you from needing to take the kids with you to the store and navigating the clothing department. Online shopping also gives you the opportunity to think about your purchases and prevents impulse buys.

And since we live during the time of Covid-19, it is much safer to do your shopping online.

The best children’s clothes I’ve purchased online are from Old Navy and Gap Kids. Note that we live in Canada, this statement might not apply where you live.

If you shop online and have not signed up for Rakuten (formerly Ebates) then you are missing out on a lot! (Click the link to start getting cash back for your online purchases.)

Rakuten is a website that pays you cash back whenever you shop online. I have been a member since 2012, my lifetime cashback is almost at $1,400! Don’t miss out on free money honey!

Another advantage of shopping online for me is that I don’t have to deal with piles of clothes to find the right size in the color I like. Shopping in-store just gives me anxiety when the clothes are in disarray.

The best perk of online shopping is it is easy to find coupon codes to use. Oftentimes the online stores greet you with the codes in a popup screen when you login. Genius!

Boutique Children’s Clothing Stores

There are a lot of online boutique children’s clothing stores that have popped up lately. Yes, their clothes are high quality and one of a kind, but they are also at premium price.

I typically limit purchases at these stores to just 1 or 2 pieces that can be used for special occasions.

Sometimes one piece from a boutique store can take up a quarter of my budget for kids clothing. So I really have to think about the purchase. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into supporting small businesses, but it has to be within my plan and budget.

Second Hand Stores

Vintage is hip nowadays! 😉

To be honest, I haven’t shopped at second hand stores for children’s clothes. I’ve gone inside several stores and browsed through racks and racks of clothing. However, I feel that most second hand children’s clothes are overpriced.

If I can buy a new shirt on sale for $5, why would I pay $8 for a used one? My rule of thumb is if the clothing item is in excellent condition and it’s being sold for at least half of the SALE price compared to a brand new item, then it can go in my cart.

This is speaking solely based on budget and finances though. If you value sustainability or eco-friendliness then you would probably be okay with paying a premium. To each their own, you do you boo!

How To Care For Your Children’s Clothes

Washing and Steaming

I typically run Kaeden and Kenzie’s clothes through the delicate cycle in the washing machine. When drying, I use the low heat setting. I also use a steamer instead of an iron for wrinkles. These steps keeps the clothes in good condition.

I have trained everyone in the family to use my laundry bin sorting system that makes doing laundry easier for me. There’s a blog post coming up about that so stay tuned.

For stains, I like pre-treating with Oxiclean prior to washing. 😉

Seasonal Purging

When the seasons change, the kid’s wardrobe are adjusted. Wardrobe clean out, purge, and re-stocking is always part of our quarterly home management list.

Clothes that Kaeden have outgrown are washed before storing in vacuum-sealed bags, labelled with the clothing size. We keep the bags on the top shelf in Kenzie’s closet.

While clothes that Kenzie have outgrown are either listed in community buy and sell Facebook page or sent to consignment stores.

Choosing whether to sell via Facebook page or consignment will depend on the condition of the clothes. I also base this on previous experience. I find that shirts, shorts, and pajamas sell fast via Facebook page while outerwear, shoes, and seasonal clothes sell better at consignment stores.

I have tried consigning with several different children’s clothing stores in Calgary, but I haven’t found “the one” yet. If you have recommendations let me know.

My only goal for selling clothes that my kids have outgrown is to not waste them. Specially for clothes that are still in excellent condition. The money we get out of the sale is a bonus. (Bonus = meaning not part of our budget)

Proceeds of the sale go towards “wardrobe treats” for the kids – like that light up shoes that Kaeden has been eyeing for a while. 🙂

How To Build A Kids Wardrobe Without Breaking The Bank | This Family Life We Live

Conclusion

Raising kids can get expensive! But with planning and creating practical rules for your family, raising kids does not have to break the bank. And they can still have an awesome wardrobe to rival any Instagram fashion icon. 😉


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