Five Ways to Save Money on Your Kids’ Clothes

We mamas are a thrifty bunch. But it’s inevitable—kids grow out of their clothes faster than we can say, “They aren’t high-waters; they’re capris!” We often try to save money on all these new wardrobes each season by shopping the sales racks at our favorite stores, using coupons, or hitting up second-hand shops or garage sales. However, there is more to saving money on clothing than simply reducing the price that you pay for it. Beyond price, here are five easy ways to save even more money on clothing for your kids:

5 ways to save money on kids' clothes

1. Skip sizes

Do we really need to have five separate and complete wardrobes for our babies during their first year of life? Try to ignore the age ranges that clothes claim to fit, and you might find that your cherub can fit into clothes earlier or later than what the size indicates. This works especially well for summer clothes, where length doesn’t matter as much. There are several big growth spurts throughout childhood where kids are literally just stretching out without gaining much weight, and you can take advantage of these times by buying bigger sizes and letting kids grow into them.

One of these pairs of shorts is a size 12 months. One is a size 3T. Both fit my 8 month old.
One of these pairs of shorts is a size 12 months. One is a size 3T. Both fit my 8 month old.

2. Buy gender-neutral

If you’ve got children of different genders, you might assume that you’ll need to buy all new wardrobes for your younger ones instead of cashing in on the hand-me-down glory that same-sex siblings enjoy. Think again! Boys and girls alike might agree that a t-shirt with a picture of a dinosaur eating an ice cream cone on it is the coolest thing ever. Everyone I know enjoys a nice pair of sweatpants. And who doesn’t want to wear a fuzzy hooded jacket on a fall day? It may not work for all clothes, but you might be surprised at how much overlap you can find when you toss out the notion that boys have to wear blue and girls have to wear pink. My daughter is sporting some awesome airplane jammies at this very moment.

All of these clothes are worn (and loved!) by both my son and daughter.
If you just love putting pink on your girl and blue on your boy, you can still find some pieces that can work for both!

3. Elastic waistbands & stretchy fabrics

The more rigid the piece of clothing is, the shorter the time frame that it will be able to fit your child’s body. Elastic waistbands allow pants to stretch over a big diapered-booty and still fit after potty-training. They also keep pants from falling down on your skinny-as-a-rail school-ager who hates belts. Stretchy fabrics keep clothing comfortable, which not only allows kids to wear the same clothes longer, but also allows them to run and play and be active without feeling restricted by their clothing.

Comfy, long-lasting, multiple sizes, AND gender neutral!
Comfy, long-lasting, multiple sizes, AND gender neutral!

4. Shorten straps & hem legs

This one is the most work-intensive of the bunch, but give it a shot. With just a few stitches (by hand or a sewing machine), you can shorten the straps of that too-large dress and make it fit years earlier! Fold some too-long pant legs up, iron them straight, and sew around the bottom, and you’ve got a pair of pants that can last longer than one season. Sound scary? I bet you’ve got a friend or relative with a sewing machine who could do it in five minutes or less.

The dress is size 3T, but shortened straps allowed her to start wearing it at 18 months. The overalls are size 3-6 months, but the adjustable straps make them wearable until almost age 2!
The dress is size 3T, but shortened straps allowed her to start wearing it at 18 months. The overalls are size 3-6 months, but the adjustable straps make them wearable until almost age 2!

5. Choose dark colors and colorful prints

As you’re choosing which clothes to buy, consider that solid colored and light colored clothing will show stains much more. Stains will be much less obvious on darker fabrics, and busy prints will have the added benefit of camouflaging those inevitable discolorations. A good stain remover can be a helpful sidekick as well.

Can you spot the stains on these patterned clothes? Me neither!
Can you spot the stains on these patterned clothes? Me neither!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stacks of plastic tubs full of clothing that are overtaking your storage room, or the bags of clothes you’re constantly packing up to give away, try out some of these tricks. You may have to adjust your expectations of clothing a little, but the results are worth it!

What are your clothing short-cuts? How have you shared clothing between siblings or made clothing last longer? 

Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I ran out of clean pj’s for my son one winter that I put him in a pair of big sister’s fuzzy pink footy pj’s she didn’t fit anymore. They’re soft and warm and for sleeping in so why not?

    I’m also slightly peeved at how short girl shorts often come these days (especially when long legs run in the family) that I started buying my daughter some blue jean boy shorts that little brother will of course get to wear next. Bonus that they have lots of pockets for her to fill with flowers and rocks and…

    As it starts getting cooler, I layer long-sleeve white or solid color shirts under any short-sleeved spring/summer favorites (unless it says ‘fun in the sun’ with a surf board) during winter so as to get extra warmth and wear out of them. Or stretchy leggins under skirts seem to be haute couture lately.

  2. Alison, that’s totally what I mean about adjusting your expectations a little! I completely agree that girls’ clothing is made to be so tight and skimpy. I often shop in the boys’ section for my daughter, because the clothes are roomier, more comfortable, and much more practical for playing and being a kid. Don’t even get me started on shoes. 🙂 Good ideas for using summer clothes during cooler weather! I didn’t even think of that!

    • We do a lot of clothes sharing, kids consignment, ignoring sizes and gender suggestions as you suggested too! I mean, what’s better and more visible than Eli in the pink life jacket?

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