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Surviving Back to School Shopping :: School Clothes Edition

back to school; school clothes shopping

I love back to school. Not just the fact that my kids leave the house for more than 15 minutes of backyard play, but the adventure of back to school. Each year is a new adventure and I can’t wait to see what they do. One part, I am slightly less excited for, is shopping for school clothes. All of those “needs” can add up and drain my wallet and my patience. In my house it can be both time consuming and frustrating. Here is how our family not only survives but looks forward to each season!

Shop the Closet:

As a suggestion from my friend Megan , whether you have boys or girls, have them do a fashion show with their current clothes. Try everything on, does it pass the arms up (belly) and fingtertip (length) test? Keep what passes the test. Save seasonal items for next spring, and then donate or sell the rest – just make sure to get “the rest” out of the closet. Many of my girls’ tank style shirts and dresses will stay in the closet as long as we own a cardigan or sweater that will go with it. For the boys, shorts can usually be worn for a few summers (when you get elastic waist and long to start).

Make a List:

make a list

Seriously, get out your pen and paper and write stuff down. If you are minimizing or stocking up, knowing what you have will help you know what you need! When I write it down, I am actively thinking about what is in their closet and drawers. We have 5 kids here and buying underpants can be the one thing I forget to buy for everyone (and the one reason I’m doing a Kohls pickup 2 weeks into school at 11PM).

Make a Budget:

Now that you have your list of who needs what, you can break it down! It’s not always equal dollars per kid at my house…for example, buying for a teen who needs 29×36 pants is a lot harder to find (although, thank you Amazon)! And indulging my pre-teen daughter’s budding interest in fashion will be a bit more than my little’s who still don’t care. A very important step here, is to share the budget with your kiddos! My oldest does his own shopping for school clothes. He is given a budget, and whatever he gets must last him. If HE forgets the socks, he has to use his own money to get them. My 11-year-old is getting her first real taste of holding the purse this year, and she is a bargain shopping master already. Even my 8 year old son can use the calculator to add up what he is getting! Get the kids involved – it’s almost like a game! But they’re learning valuable skills. 


So we’ve done our fashion show, we’ve made the list, and we’ve budgeted together…Now it’s time for shopping!  I normally shop for school clothing in the month of September. Many of the summer clothes are still weather appropriate to make it to mid-September and often they have more selection than early August.  Make a day of it if you can! Maybe include a special lunch to celebrate where they are headed this school year.  We also love to shop at local consignment stores and second hand kid’s sales, which frequently are in September/October (and again in the spring).

back to school

If your kids are anything like mine, shopping for school clothes is a year round adventure. All of a sudden they wake up 4 inches taller and are in need of new pants, and shoes, and socks…sigh. Back to school can be stressful and overwhelming for both kids and parents alike. Take the time to purge the closet, make a list, make your budget and then shopping can be a lot more enjoyable for all of you!

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3 Responses to Surviving Back to School Shopping :: School Clothes Edition

  1. Avatar
    Rachael Erway September 6, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    Great suggestions!!! My oldest son has been in the same size for 3 years now, so it makes shopping easy (he also wears a uniform for school). My daughter gets hand-me-downs but we still should do the belly and fingertips test each season. Our favorite is to shop the large consignment sales like JBF Longmont and get great clothes for pennies on the dollar.

    • Rhonda Westover
      Rhonda Westover September 7, 2018 at 11:32 am #

      Yes! I love the Grow with me sale at the Ranch as well! We get so much!

  2. Nikola
    Nikola September 10, 2018 at 1:19 pm #

    Great strategy! I need to get better about that budget part 😜