Best Brands for Boys

Best Brands for Boys: Clothes that won't break the bank

Once upon a time, I would spend hours combing through clearance racks, hunting down the absolute best deal, then whipping out a coupon to make the savings even bigger. This sort of shopping tactic takes a lot of time, and as such I no longer spend Saturdays at the mall. Oh, shifting priorities.

To streamline the clothes-buying process, I have a list of stores that I can count on for well-made, reasonably priced clothes. Considerations include fun and unique tops, durability and elastic-waist pants with a relaxed fit . (What is it with stores making skinny pants for boys? Could you please tell me how they are supposed to climb trees and jump off of things in those?? It’s nuts, people. It needs to stop.)

Without further adieu, here are my top picks and how to get the best deals!

Hanna Andersson: Those Scandinavians know how to make clothes. The Nordic sweaters and matching family outfits are not really up our alley, but you would be hard pressed to find more durable pants, whether it be jeans, sweats or chinos. I’ve had pretty good luck finding this brand at area consignment shops, but have purchased from their store and website a few times as well. A 20% off sale is typically the best I’ve seen, though their outlet stores occasionally have additional savings. It’s worth signing up for their emails so you stay abreast of sales. This is also a good brand to scout out on Ebay if you are familiar with their sizing (sizing goes 60, 70, 80, 90, etc. . .). Free shipping is a little hard to come by, but they do allow free in-store pick up. If you are in their retail store (or outlet) and they don’t have the size you need, they’ll ship it to your home for free and honor any in-store discounts. I was able to pick up a pair of their carefree jeans for $24 (originally $39) that way!

Baby Gap: This is where I get the bulk of Alex and Charlie’s clothing. The price is right, and you can get cute staple pieces. I have not had great luck with their pants — they trend toward slimmer children than my chunky monkeys — but I love their tops and I am a super big fan of their pajamas. They wash well, come in adorable prints and they all survived Alex abuse so Charlie will be able to wear them, too. I would be remiss if I did not mention their ridiculously cute winter hats for babies. Buy those early because they tend to sell out fast (you will not regret the bear ears, I promise). Sales happen constantly. I get one email from them a day announcing some sort of discount. Hold out for the 30-40% off sales for sure. If you’re not opposed to a new credit card, I’ve done well reward-wise with their store card. You also get additional discounts when you use a Gap card. Shipping is free after $50, and return shipping is also free. I actually find the online experience to be better than their stores, which don’t have the full selection, and can be a little on the messy side sometimes.

Mini Boden: This brand is one of personal favorites for its whimsical-cute tops, fun accessories and good-quality bottoms. But it’s definitely a splurge, so I stick to just a few purchases (assuming I can control myself — their baby clothes are ridiculous in the best possible way). This is a British brand, and a fun one at that — my packages usually have a sheet of stickers in them, and the catalog comes with a little tear-out activity. Tops feature animals doing funny things (I just got a shirt for Charlie with a pigeon riding a scooter), big prints and an expanded color palette. In terms of sales, 20% is pretty standard. Occasionally you see 30%, but it’s rare. I do recommend keeping an eye out for offers for a $50 Boden credit for $35. These occasionally show up on Plum District and Rue La La, and can be combined with coupon codes. Shipping is almost always free except during clearance sales, and you can often get return shipping free as well. Just pay attention to the coupon code details. I usually pay between $14-$22 for tops, and have paid as much as $40 for a pair of jeans, but they were really awesome pants, and I vowed to never do it again (it was at a time Alex was in a pants crisis. Nothing was fitting this kid in the waist without being 2 feet too long. Darn chocolate milk belly). Anyway, do yourself a favor and check out the cuteness.

LL Bean: I can’t speak highly enough about LL Bean’s outerwear for toddlers. Talk about getting what you pay for. Their rain gear is especially great, and I plan to get it in every size for pretty much the rest of time. Alex can lie down in a puddle (don’t ask) and thanks to their rain pants and coat, he comes in the house with dry clothes. It’s amazing. They have great fleece coats, too. Wait for a 15% sale to get the best deal! I do have their store card but it takes forever to get rewards, so I wouldn’t necessarily bother with it. If you have younger kids, you can count on being able to pass down what you buy, and a lot of the colors are gender neutral, so it doesn’t matter if it’s going to a boy or girl.

Alex's clothes

Honorable mentions:

Lands End has a decent collection of toddler boys clothes. You can return anything that doesn’t work out at their Sears retail locations.

I check out Diapers.com for deals on Hatley apparel, like this “Master of Disaster” shirt. Hatley also makes super adorable rain coats and boots. It’s best to buy these when Diapers.com offers a 20% off apparel coupon code. Returns are always free! Diapers.com is just generally awesome for any of your baby/toddler purchases, I highly recommend them.

Gymboree has great pajamas. I like that they call them Gymmies.

Zappos has a million and one shoes to choose from. Sales are sort of non-existent, but they ship overnight for free and offer free returns, so it’s great in a pinch or if you’re looking for something specific (I love the Native shoes I bought from them — they’re similar to Crocs but styled more like sneakers).

If you’re looking for a deal on shoes, I highly recommend their sister site, 6pm.com.

In case you missed it, read my tips on saving money on children’s clothes!

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