Shopping for Clothes

Buying clothes for your family is not an easy task. Kids grow so sporadically, some sizes get worn for a year and some barely get worn at all. A few things I do make buying clothes easier and cheaper.


How I prepare

First of all, you need to be prepared, and this means knowing what sizes you need. I keep in my phone a list for each family member that says:

  • Husband: t-shirts- L, button-up- 17″ collar, pants 36×38, shoes-13, etc.
  • 3-year-old: tops- 4T, bottoms- 5T, shoes- 11
  • 1-year-old: 18-24 months, shoes- 4

That way I always know what size I need, even if they aren’t around me.

Second, you need to know what you already have. I buy lots of things in advance (for my toddlers, I have some clothes going all the way up to sizes 8-10). I buy in advance, because I buy what is cheap. See How I Shop below. To keep track of what I already have, I have 2 lists: 1 for boys’ clothes and one for girls’ clothes. Each list looks like this:

  • Size 2T- Have: swimsuit, long sleeve tops, pants, snowsuit, pajamas, shorts; Need: t-shirts, shorts
  • Size 3T- Have: t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, pants, shorts; Need: swimsuit, pajamas

And this list goes on for each size in each gender. This way, when I am out shopping and I see a great deal on T-shirts, I know whether or not I need them, and if so, what size to buy. Because even a great deal isn’t great if the clothes never get worn.

How I shop

I try to do the bulk of my shopping for kids clothes at garage sales. Many times, items are priced at $1-$2 dollars, but I don’t like to spend that much. My technique is this: If I notice that there are a lot of clothes in the size/gender that I am looking for, I will say “How much for all the girls’ clothes?” The seller will usually then say something like $10 or $20. When I get home I wash and sort the clothes, and after I count the items, they often only cost me $.05-$.15 a piece! The seller does this because they would rather just get rid of it all at once then spend all day trying to sell each individual piece. Doing this, they know they make that $10 or $20. So it’s win/win for everyone.

I don’t, however buy ALL my kids clothes at garage sales. I occasionally visit secondhand stores (like Goodwill), but their prices are often more than I’d like to pay. I also watch the clearance racks at stores like Walmart and Target. Sometimes they have $3 shirts marked 75% off, so that’s less than $1 an item.

I don’t shop much online for kids’ clothes, because there aren’t many really good deals out there. On eBay, there are tons of kids’ items, but when you take shipping into account, it’s usually not worth it, unless they are selling a lot of clothes in one auction.

When it comes to shopping for myself and my husband, we don’t really buy clothes much. I will buy jeans and tops at garage sales and thrift shops. Sometimes I get shirts for $3-4 at JC Penney or Old Navy (with sales & coupons). But I try really hard not to spend much on clothes. My clothes last me a really long time (some I’ve had since high school), and I don’t replace them unless I need to. I’ve never really been the kind of person to follow trends anyway. I like what fits and what flatters me, and I stick to it. As for my husband, he’s kind of the same way (many of his t-shirts are from high school and college, too). When he tells me he needs something, I spend a week or two looking for the best deal I can find, and I get it. It’s not as big a deal spending more on our clothes, because we will wear these for years, if not a decade. I don’t want to spend the same amount on a shirt that my son will wear 4 times the summer he is 5.


{Click here for a FREE printable yard sale/clearance rack chart for kids clothes shopping!} 

4 thoughts on “Shopping for Clothes

  1. I see for your husband you listed pants as size 36×38. My hubby is 38×38, and we have a very hard time finding pants that length, not to mention at a decent price! Do you have any tips, stores, websites, etc for finding a great deal on pants in that size range? Working in maintenance, he unfortunately wears out his pants pretty quickly.

    • Katie, I do usually buy clothes for my husband at a store, rather than yard sales. Like you said, it’s difficult to find things in his size (he is 6’5″ and lean). If you know you need a specific item, spend a month or two watching sale ads for stores like Kohl’s, JC Penney, etc. Watch for sales on men’s jeans (or khakis, or whatever you need). Then at the same time, watch the internet for coupons. If an event like his birthday, Father’s Day, or Christmas falls in this timeframe, you can also let people (i.e. his parents) know that he’d love a gift card for a certain store for his gift this year.

      When combining sales and coupons, I am often able to get things very cheaply. For men’s jeans, I consider “cheap” to be $15. That’s not bad when the list price is usually $45 or so. These are also high-quality jeans that last 10-15 years.

      Also, I mend pants LOTS of times before finally replacing them. Little holes (sometimes even big holes) can be fixed with iron-on patches on the inside of the pants.

      Hope this helps!

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