Challenge Accepted!: Cute boys clothes on a budget

Boys clothing on a budget

Alex (at age 1) sporting a Baby Gap windbreaker and jeans, courtesy of consignment shopping.

It has been my personal mission to dress my boys in cute, yet age-appropriate clothing (I made a promise to myself not to dress them in adorable animal characters, or anything embroidered on the bum, past the point of appropriateness. You’re welcome, Alex and Charlie.) I love the thrill of a good deal, and I really enjoy the hunt for something other than your traditional striped shirt. It’s pretty easy to find adorable clothing for girls – I mean, leggings, headbands and ruffle-bum tights are AWESOME. Hopefully someone else in the family has a girl, or else I’m in for a long wait for a granddaughter. But in the meantime, I’m going to pour all of my crazy shopping energy into two boys who, thankfully, wear what I purchase without complaint.

This will be a two-post series in the interest of breaking up my deep and personal thoughts on this very important matter.

To start, here are the two most important things I’ve learned to date:

1.) Don’t buy ahead. I know, it’s tempting. All of those summer things are super marked down, it seems like the way to go. But I have been burned more than once doing things this way. At least for this baby to toddler stage, I have not been able to accurately predict growth. So we may never actually get to wear the thing I bought last year, because by the time the season came around again, it’s either too big or too small. Already. Most of what I bought ahead ended up getting consigned.

This is specific to New Englanders, but the spring/summer/fall weather can fluctuate so much. This year the summer weather was seriously late to the party. I ended up having to buy Alex extra long sleeve tops to get him through. Extended summer weather or an early fall could also effect your wardrobe plans. Long story short, sometimes it’s just not size that’s hard to predict. Maybe pick up a few pieces if you really like something. But know there are other affordable options for next year. (I’ll get to that in a moment!)

2.) Don’t panic. I have a tendency to freak out the first day there is unseasonably warm or cool weather. I launch into new wardrobe mode and overbuy or overspend or pick things I don’t really care for that much, all so Alex can have a weather-appropriate wardrobe for the one week before the weather changes again. Part of this panic comes from the craziness that is retail seasons. Fall clothes showed up in July, and now I’m getting catalogs with winter coats in August. It’s insane. But that also means that it can be hard to find a sun hat in September, even though it’s still 80 degrees out, because retailers clear out the past seasons’s inventory. The take home message here is to do your best to get seasonally appropriate accessories on the early side, but for everything else, you can get by. No one is going to overheat or freeze in one day, or even one week. You’ll be happier with your wardrobe choices if you buy when you see something you really like, or even better, when it’s on sale.

In the next post, I’m going to talk about my favorite brands for boys clothing, and how to get the best deals, but for now, let’s talk consignment stores and sales. Consignment stores carry clothing for babies and kids that local parents bring in to resell. Typically the store takes 40-50% of the sale for prepping and displaying your clothes, and you get the rest of the sales price when the item sells. Clothes are in new or excellent condition, and you can pick up tops, pants, outerwear and accessories at 50% or more off of retail prices. Every store is different so you have to visit them to see what the selection is like. Some stores specialize in high-end brands, others are less picky. Once you find a good place, you can count on being able to pick up at least a few pieces to start your wardrobe building each season.

Consignment sales, which are typically weekend-long events, are a new and growing trend that I LOVE. I participate in at least one sale every fall and spring, and can make anywhere from $75-$200 depending on how much of the past season’s clothes and gear I have to get rid of. This type of sale is held at a temporary retail location rented out for the duration of the sale. Seller’s price and tag their own merchandise. Because you don’t have the overhead that a traditional consignment store would have, prices tend to be lower. Expect to see brands like Carters for under $5, Gymboree and Baby Gap in the $5-$7 range and Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden or other higher-end brands at $8 and up. These sales usually run Friday-Saturday, with a half-price event on Sunday (or whatever the last day of the sale is). You may not find the top brands on the last day, but you can definitely get good deals on basics, like jeans, t-shirts and button-down shirts.

For both consignment stores and sale events, you can find local options just by doing a Google search. Consignment Mommies is also an excellent resource.

You might also ask around to see if there are any Facebook groups in your area for selling kid’s clothes (sometimes you can find them just by searching on Facebook, others are by invitation only), and you can also try Craigslist or Ebay. These methods are a little more hit-or-miss and can be time-consuming, so I don’t use them as often. If you’re looking for something specific and don’t need it right away, I do recommend setting up an Ebay search – you can choose to get new listings that match your search emailed to you. This is nice if you know the size and brand you want. I was able to get Alex Hanna Andersson snowpants this way last year (they were awesome, and cost nowhere near the $69 list price!).

Have any tips you’d like to add? I would love to hear it! With two boys now the budget is a bit more slim.

Next time: My favorite brands and when to pull the trigger on ordering.


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