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Back to School Shopping Blues

After spending nearly $100 on back to school supplies (fortunately ordered from <a href="http://www.schoolhousesupplies.org/">Schoolhouse Supplies</a>, it hit me that I know have to start thinking about shopping for clothes. It's the thing I face with dread with two school aged boys that are fairly picky about what they wear. The younger ones lives in shorts and t-shirts; and refuses wearing any jackets that he considers bulky. This is a source of frustration during the 9 months of the year when it is cold and rainy. He will also wear through and stink up a pair of sneakers in a matter of months. The older one will only wear skinny jeans; and rips the knees in a matter of weeks. So while it is great to have a brood of boys, after a certain age hand-me downs are few and far in between as a result of the wear and tear, or personal preference.

School starts in a matter of weeks and I need to take inventory of wearable clothes and supplementing with a few new pieces and a new pair of shoes. I know some moms limit their kids to a certain number of items of clothing, but to be honest, I've never been that organized. In reality, they boys probably cycle through a certain number of their favorites. I am curious, what's your strategy for back to school shopping? Do you participate in the ritual? Or do you replace items when needed?



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We buy long pants as part of back to school. Our son is still growing several inches a year so in the summer we let him wear shorts or too-short long pants. When school swings back around we reinvest in jeans and other long pants (which will likely be too short somewhere around Christmas break.)

We used to get hand-me-downs from a sewing mom who reinforced the knees of all of her son's jeans before he started wearing them. I imagine it was a significant time investment, but they were great hand-me-downs!

I think my child has small feet because we don't need a pair of shoes yearly... I buy all coats 2nd hand because he rarely wears them. He does rip through all pants- which we then patch and he wears until they become too short. At that point, the next size up will still be too long and he'll pick the outgrown ones first :)

Exactly once did I buy a big fall batch... as the older he gets, the more he can use from year to year because it's not outgrown so we never need a full new wardrobe- nor does he usually want new items.

uniforms! 5 pants, 5 shirts, a few sweatshirts, done. I watch for sales on the few things I need so price-wise it comes in pretty cheap. Because there is a clear line between play and school clothes, I get to pass down most school things to the younger one due to less wear and tear. And because of how we all approach uniforms, by spring most kids are wearing pants that are too short, but it doesn't matter because they all are. And I'm with spottie, my kids don't seem to grow that fast because I get away with shoes that last the school year and a coat that lasts 2 winters. Play clothes get replaced as needed and with an eye to clearance items.

I like the shopping part, because my girls love fashion are get joy out of picking out new clothes. I love seeing what they pick as they develop their own styles. My son even likes picking out his clothes, even though all he really wants to wear is soccer jerseys.

What I dread is the bill, because with three elementary aged kids who burn through clothes quickly (stain, ruin, outgrow) any clothes shopping gets expensive.

And, what I am really excited about it the back to school part... 26 days and counting!

I don't do back to school shopping (except if there's a great sale). My strategy is to replace items as needed and keep my eye open year round for stuff on sale that will fit next year or even a couple of years down the road.

I have two boys also. Pants are a lost cause for passing down, as they blow out the knees (which I then patch), but my younger kid's shirts are almost all ones his older brother wore.

I try to get as much as I can from consignments stores and Goodwill. (I get a lot of great fleeces and sweaters from Goodwill and strike it lucky with pants occasionally.) But now that they are 10 and 13 I need to buy pants new, because they're so hard to find, especially for my oldest, who's very skinny. My boys used to live in the Lands End climber pants, but the quality has gone way downhill. Last year I found pants that fit at Gap online and bought a bunch that were on sale in larger sizes for a few seasons ahead.

Not a lot for older boys at the Sunnyside Back to School Clothing Swap (coming up August 26), but I've gotten lucky now and then - and it's a goldmine for baby and toddler clothes.


I noticed that St. Mark's Lutheran on Powell and 60th-ish is having a rummage sale this Saturday. I might hit that for my back to school shopping. I stopped buying nice clothes for my kids a long time ago because they get everything so incredibly dirty, and I am not interested in pre-treating every item of clothing with stain remover.

I'll probably also buy a giant pack of socks for my boy from Old Navy. And I will buy a pack of leggings so my daughter can wear her summer dresses through the winter, with a sweater.

The only thing I will spend real money on is shoes. In this area, it seems that you get what you pay for. Each kid will get one pair of tennis shoes and a new pair of rubber boots.

Fall consignment events!

@SJ, St Mark's is at 54th and Powell---and they do their clothing closet twice a month, as well, I believe. BTW---if you have a girl, you might luck out there. I live nearby, cleaned out my upstairs closet and donated bags and bags of stuff (they practically invited me to sit on their board and I'm not even Lutheran!)---all excellent brands (like American Girl, in excellent condition).

Meanwhile, back to shopping:

I like Schoolhouse's goals, but I hate their prices and quality. If you purchase your supplies by following Fred's "Price Blasters" throughout August---you'll spend (my hand to God) like $20 and have supplies enough for three kids. Even better----use your Rewards $$$ and get the stuff for "free".

Likewise, on to clothes....I loooove shopping, as does my daughter. But I'm also an expert shopper and NEVER even approach paying retail (unless there's something that is "THE" item, etc)....

How? I buy end of season (go a size up, if you're worried), troll the sales, stack coupons and do a LOT of my shopping online (boscovs.com has amazing sales and national, quality brands).

Unless back to school clothes are on sale in August, I wait until October to buy (they won't wear fall stuff in September, anyway)---particularly coats (if I didn't buy them for almost free in April or May, that is...).

But I just bought almost everyone but my immediate family's Christmas gifts a couple of weeks ago, sooooo that should give you an idea of my methods.

For shoes, Famous Footwear is currently BOGO, with (again) stackable coupons. And always join rewards programs!!!

We are in a similar boat over here... My daughter despises pants and will only wear leggings. I think that we are about to out grow the consignment circuit in another year as well :( Thinking ahead I have tried to pull her spring clothes ( that were all bought big) and plan to mix them back into circulation for school and try to pawn them off as NEW! I have also resorted to online consignment such as Threadup.com which has nearly new clothing thru jr sizes for as little as 2.99. Lastly I wait for a sale and take my kiddo to pick out one or two low priced items; I feel like this way she has something nice for the infamous first day of school!

Growing up we did a huge annual shopping trips. But that was before the days of internet shopping and our town was an hour away from the nearest mall so my teacher mom would set aside a day before she got too caught up in her back to school lesson plans to take us shopping. Anything that we forgot to get would be filled in with Christmas gifts from grandma.

I *hated* those shopping days. Everyone was stressed, there were far too many decisions to be made, I was always a difficult to fit size that small regional malls in the 80's didn't cater to, spending that much money at once put my mom in a bad mood, and food at the mall sucked. Thankfully it was only once a year!

Living in Portland I can't imagine trying to fit it in one big shopping trip. We have a mix of sources for clothes: hand-me downs from neighbors, consignment shops, traditional retail, packages from my mom who looks back nostalgically on those shopping trips, etc.

I'm waiting for oldest to have that growth spurt, darn it!! I have 4 pair of jeans that are too long/big... so we headed to our closest Goodwill and luckily found 4 pairs to get the school year started :-) If he doesn't tear them up we'll keep them for the next child. I used to be able to buy him what I found, but he's a bit more particular these days and it's not worth fighting or having him refuse to wear it (how the clothes feel/fit he's not a brand snob- thank goodness) !!!

We did our annual dump out the closet and drawers, sort it all and toss that which is too small, stained or unloved and were happy to discover that all we needed were to restock on were socks (always!), undies and undershirts. We did discover that my tiny-footed daughter finally grew a size in shoes, so we got new sneaks, boots and flats for the year. I probably shelled out more than I should have on shoes, but since we didn't need to buy any clothes this year, I splurged. We get a lot of hand-me-downs from friends, since my daughter is uber-petite, so by the time the end of the year rolls around, we usually end up with far more clothes than we needed to begin with. Even better, she's learning to sew. I may never buy a skirt again!

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