2 Super Simple Ways We Save on Kid’s Clothing

posted by Andrea | 06/2/2017
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When it comes to kids’ clothing, I’m about as relaxed as you can get.

I get almost every piece of our kids’ clothing used, I refuse to fight about clothing choices, I don’t designate separate “play clothes”, I don’t spot treat or sort any of their laundry, I don’t try to resell their clothing, and I truly don’t care what they wear 90% of the time (as long as it’s weather appropriate).

That all might be somewhat shocking to many of you… but it’s the honest truth.

For some reason, kids’ clothing just isn’t a “thing” for me. I don’t care about it, I don’t spend much time or energy thinking about it, and I certainly don’t spend a lot of money buying it.

Maybe this will change as my children get older, but for now, I feel like our kids’ clothing situation is very manageable, my kids seem to like their clothing, I like that we rarely ever fight about “what to wear”, and I love the fact that I spend very little money on my kids’ clothing!

Since I’m often asked for good money-saving tips, I thought I’d share 2 of the simplest ways we save on kids clothing. They don’t involve scouring garage sales or thrift stores, they don’t involve using coupons or reselling things at consignment stores, and they don’t involve wearing grubby rags either. They are both much easier than all of that!

I know my ideas and tips won’t work for every family… but they’ve been working really well for us for the past 6 years!

1. We Skip Every Other Size

This works particularly well for infants and young toddlers, but I’ve been surprised to find that it is still working well for Nora and Simon too.

Basically, I just buy clothing in every OTHER size — skipping one size in between and saving boatloads of space and money in the process.

For example, I’ll buy 0-3 months clothing, skip the 3-6 month stuff, and go straight to the 6-9 month clothes. I have my babies wear the 0-3 month things until they are quite snug, and then I switch them directly to the 6-9 month things. Yes, they are a little too big at first, but they grow into them so quickly that it hardly seems to matter.

Right now, Nora’s 5T leggings are all getting too short (just in time for summer) so I found a handful of size 7 leggings on Thredup (all the same brand and style, just different colors) and purchased them for this coming Fall. They are slightly long right now, but I have a feeling the size 6 or 6x would have been too short by Christmas. Now, she can wear too long pants for summer (if she even needs pants during the summer) and have pants that actually still fit next spring. And I don’t need to buy her any new pants for another year!

2. We Cut Pants into Shorts or Capris

And speaking of Nora’s leggings… we recently cut all her too-short size 5T leggings into capris and biking shorts (to wear under skirts and dresses).

I hemmed some of them, but others, I just left the raw edge since the fabric doesn’t fray. It literally took me less than 30 minutes to transform her too-small winter leggings into capris and shorts that will fit perfectly all spring and summer long.

I also hemmed a few pairs of Simon’s 2T pants that are definitely too short and made them into nice long shorts. And I picked up some 4T items from my cousin — most of which will only be slightly too big in the fall.

I realize you would need access to a sewing machine and some knowledge of sewing to hem the pants, but if you’re just going to cut them off and leave the raw edges, it only requires a scissors and about 10 minutes of your time! It’s seriously SO simple!

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Again, I know these tips are more geared for younger children and probably won’t work for teens 😉

That said, if you have any simple money-saving tips on teen’s (or children’s) clothing, please share them in the comments! I know others will find them useful — and I can tuck them away for a few years down the road!

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26 comments

  1. wendalette

    06/08/2017

    My kiddo wears leggings more often than pants, but since she’s so slim–she just gets taller!–I let her keep wearing them until they are Capri length on her (no cutting), usually under her dresses. And speaking of dresses, many are of a design that lets her keep wearing those until they are tunics! Which means that at almost 5, she’s still wearing some of the things she wore at 2 or 3!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Nora ONLY wears leggings — and yes, I can relate to growing taller but not getting any “fatter”! Lucky kids!
    Nora also has some dresses that are size 3T and 4T that she wears for shirts now — so fun!

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  2. Katie

    06/03/2017

    I actually love to shop for my kids (mostly clearance and sales, yard sales too!) so one thing I do is to own less. I do laundry 3 times per week so I’ve found that my kids don’t really need that much. It cuts down a lot on how much we buy, and then later on, what we have to get rid of.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I don’t have a problem with “over shopping”! I try to buy as little as I can, but even still, I’m positive we could get by with less.
    This is a good tip for everyone to read again. LESS clothing means less to store, less to wash, less to fold, less to pick up, less to hang, less to organize, and less to purge. All good things in my book!

    Thanks for the reminder Katie!

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  3. Organize 365

    06/03/2017

    Oh my goodness! Why didn’t I ever think to skip sizes?!

    Brilliant!

    🙂
    Lisa

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha thanks! I’m surprised you never thought of this yourself!!

    [Reply]

  4. Amy

    06/02/2017

    I accept all hand-me-downs from anyone willing to share. I keep what works for us and pass the rest on to others. When my kids outgrow clothes, I pass them down to another family who has children about a year behind mine. I don’t have to sort (much) and another family enjoys our items.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we always take hand-me-downs too — and I always sort through them immediately and pass along anything that won’t work for us. I’ve never been one to “hoard” clothing “just in case”.

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  5. Debbie

    06/02/2017

    Your kids always look great in the clothes they wear! You’d never know if they were expensive or cheap, worn out or new, at least in pictures 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, at least in the pictures (where you can’t see the holes and stains so close up!)

    [Reply]

  6. Karen

    06/02/2017

    My daughter is 11 now, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. When she was little, I would buy 1-2 sizes bigger at the end of every season. So when winter clothes went on clearance (March-ish), I would buy for the following winter. If in doubt, size up – it will fit eventually. I would also stick to color families so mixing and matching would be easy (hot pink, turquoise, purple). And anytime I saw a deal on basics (plain shirts, leggings, etc, I would buy several sizes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this is essentially what my mom did every year and it worked wonderfully for our family of ALL girls 🙂

    However, I just can not seem to “guess” the right size or season and when I tried doing the buy-ahead method earlier in Nora’s life, I got burned too many times by clothing that was too small or too big for that season. Now, I just get a few new-to-us” items for each kids about a month before the next season starts. I hardly spend any money, I don’t need to store the clothing for a year, and I don’t “mess up” on the sizes anymore.

    That said, I do LOVE your tip about buying only coordinating colors. Nora wears mostly purple and pink (with grey and navy) but I like the idea of just sticking with 3 main colors and only buying things that go with those colors. Thanks!!

    [Reply]

    Karen Reply:

    You’re welcome!

    [Reply]

  7. Sarah

    06/02/2017

    Love these! I just started cutting all of my boys’ jeans with holes in the knees into shorts. They’re all borderline too short, not fit to be hand-me-downs and fully solve our shorts needs for the summer!

    At 4 and 5, every-other-size isn’t working so well for jeans due to the holes-in-the-knees factor, but it’s still working fantastic for everything else!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    The pants-to-shorts is such a great way to save. Even with Simon and James — Simon is so much “thicker” than James’ very petite frame, so the same types of pants don’t pass down very well. So I often cut their pants into shorts about this time every year, and I’m fairly confident we actually get more wear out of our clothes than we would if I passed them down to the next kid, only to realize they didn’t fit right or during the proper season of the year.

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  8. Olga

    06/02/2017

    There is a thing called “fabric fuse” looks like paper tape with thin layer of glue. I measure how much i need, unroll and attach it to inside edge of clothing piece that needs to be hemmed, peel off the paper part, and carefully fold it.
    Makes hemming a breeze, i use it for skirts, pants and even little “sewing” projects with my daughter when we make clothes for her doll.

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    Great idea for those of us who don’t sew!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good to know — I’ve actually never used this before, but glad to know it exists!

    [Reply]

  9. Ruth

    06/02/2017

    My kids were little at a time when I didn’t have the internet (so no Craigslist or used things) and I was the first to have kids so no hand me downs. I bought everything on sale and would buy ahead in sizes. I also did not overbuy and never bought fancy one- time wear items.

    My oldest is a girl and when I had twin boys next, there was no way I was going to buy baby clothes just because of the color or design, esp cause they outgrow them so fast. So I bought them a couple of boy outfits to wear outside but for daily home clothing (we were home a lot) my boys wore their sister’s things. In most of their baby pictures, they are wearing pink and/or flowers! lol!!

    (no, they do not mind, they think it is funny and they know it was how we saved money and it is consistent with how we live now)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the internet is amazing for finding deals on kids things — young families are very fortunate in that aspect. Of course, there are other downsides of the internet too — but Craigslist sure has saved us a bunch of money over the years!

    [Reply]

  10. Jane

    06/02/2017

    I did something similar with baby/toddler clothes. I bought 9 months then 2T then 5T. I would roll up sleeves and pants when the clothes were too big until they grew into them, and they may have worn slightly small clothes until I bought the next size of clothes. The kids were home with dad so it didn’t matter if it looked a little silly. We also bought sweat pants/sweat shirt sets for winter and shorts/t-shirt sets for summer. After night time baths the kids would put on a clean set of clothes and as long as there were no overnight accidents they would wear them the next day. I never had to buy “pj’s” and didn’t have to do as much laundry either. We saved a ton of money buying clothes that way. I have two boys so I was able to pass down all the clothes. I also did not worry about stains or keeping nice clothes from play clothes. I quickly saw that after both boys used the clothes there was no way I could donate, sell or give away the clothes so I cut them and use them for rags.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I know lots of people who put their kids to bed in the clothes they will wear the next day. I’ve thought of this, but the kids LOVE wearing their PJ’s so I just don’t fight it. Plus, Nora usually wants to wear a skirt and Simon almost always wants to wear jeans — neither of which are great for sleeping in!!

    [Reply]

  11. Carrie

    06/02/2017

    Another thing with little girls is letting the dresses turn into tunic style shirts. My girls have been skinny so there’s a lot of room left in their dresses, even after they become too short. Pair them with leggings and we can get at least another year of wear out of them!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup! Nora has always been a “skirt” girl more than a “dress” girl and we can also get MANY years of wear out of skirts with capris or leggings under them!!

    [Reply]

  12. Pamela

    06/02/2017

    I (mostly) try to dress my 2 year old in a “uniform” of jean-like bottoms and cute tops. I started doing this because she’s in daycare and if she needs to be changed, her teachers don’t necessarily have time to rummage through her extra clothes to find something that matches. It drove me crazy to pick her up and find her in mis-matched outfits, so I started doing the jean thing. However, I think because I limit her wardrobe this way, she needs fewer outfits. Plus it makes shopping super easy and the transitions for seasons are easier. I’m really fortunate that she doesn’t care what she wears so that helps too! We have some great kids’ resale shops in my area so I buy the vast majority of her clothes there, and since her wardrobe is pretty simple, clothing gifts from grandparents are easily integrated 🙂

    I love the idea of skipping sizes – may have to try that!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, this is basically when I do too — just with leggings instead of jeans (Nora has refused to wear jeans since she was an infant). We buy the same exact pair of leggings in a bunch of solid colors (pink, purple, grey, black) and then I get her shirts that will go with almost all the colors. It seems boring to me but she loves it!

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