I’m a HUGE fan of school uniforms. While they’re often expensive to pay for in the initial outlay, they save massive amounts of money in the long run.
My daughter is still wearing her uniform (two sets) that we bought her at the start of last year, as is my son. Two sets of school uniform apiece keeps both kids dressed through five days of the week, which we can onsell once they’re outgrown? Brilliant!
Apart from school uniform, kids really don’t need much in the way of clothes, and I think it is foolhardy to buy them a lot.
More clothes just means more maintenance – more washing, sorting, storing and, eventually, passing on – and all this without even taking into account the initial cost of the stuff.
So what do kids really need in their wardrobes? Here’s my list:
Son, age 9
Two sets of school uniform
Warm winter hat
Crocs (we buy the nameless brand at the discount store)
Two pair long trousers
Two pair shorts
Two jackets / hoodies
One warm jacket
Two pair light pyjamas
Daughter, age 7
Same as above apart from the addition of one summer dress.
Everyone’s lists will vary depending on climate and needs etc., but kids really don’t need a lot. Most of the items in the lists, as I’ll explain below, last several seasons if you buy them right.
I use a few tricks to save money with kids clothing…
Buy large to last more than one season. I tend to buy on the large side, to get a couple of seasons (or more) out of each item. This pretty much cuts clothing costs in half. About the only thing I can’t do this with is shoes (although gumboots I can), but shoes don’t tend to last more than a few months anyway.
Pass items on through children where possible. Most of my daughter’s school uniform, being unisex, has come from her brother. We then sell it secondhand on to another family through the school. She has also inherited various t-shirts, onesies and hoodies from time to time.
Buy unisex items that can cross genders in your kids and be passed on. BUT – be cautious with crossing genders – clothing is so gendered these days that only a few items for sale are genuinely unisex. Great places to shop for unisex t-shirts include Etsy, Snorg T-shirts and Headline T-shirts.
Buy onesies to stretch pyjama wear. I bought very oversized warm onsesies for the kids to wear in bed over their pyjamas in winter. That way, they can wear the same pyjamas all year round while staying warm, and they don’t need dressing gowns, as the onesies keep them warm while they’re watching TV or playing computer games on weekend mornings.
Buy basics at discount stores, and t-shirts that are more “designer”. Other kids don’t notice where my kids’ trousers come from, but they’re already fashion-savvy enough to pick a designer t-shirt. So I buy discount jeans and trousers, and designer / trendy t-shirts. I buy the designer / trendy stuff at end-of-season sales, or ask grandparents to buy for gifts.
Ugg boots (from discount stores) work better for kids than slippers. And crocs work better than flip flops. Ugg boots really keep my kids’ feet warm in winter – they wear them all around the house, and are less likely to slip over. Same for crocs – they’re a much better choice for summer footwear than flip flops, and come in some really cute styles for kids.
Crocs (or mock crocs) also triple up as beach shoes, shoes for the swimming pool and shoes for the playground. They’re really adaptable, and so much safer than flip flops. I’m a big fan.
Cut off jeans into shorts. Turn winter’s outgrown jeans into summer’s shorts – cut them off. For girls’ styles, turn the edges over and stitch, for boys’ styles just leave them to get ragged and grunge looking.
Can you think of other ways to keep kid clothing simple and affordable?