It's summer, and time to go through the seasonal clothing switch, where long pants and sweaters and mountains of winter stuff are swapped for short sleeves and shorts.
So I have a couple of questions for y'all.
How do you shop?
Are you and all-year-round shopper, or do you shop only at certain times of year? I tend to shop only 2-3 times a year... I get some stuff around Christmas, make some kind of spring run and a back to school run. But many moms I know are constantly scouring for deals and cute things all year long.
Are you a list shopper or do you wing it? I start with a list of things the kids seem to not have enough of (socks, pants for one, tshirts for another, etc.) but often find things that thrill me for cuteness or value etc. that I pick up regardless.
Do you shop online or in store? Do you have brands or stores that you prefer? Shipping to Canada is often very expensive, so I only shop online if stores have actual Canadian online-storefronts (Gap and Old Navy did this in the past year!) I hate being in stores. I hate people in my space and talking to strangers. I can do it if I psych myself up and have a planned list
Do you buy your kids clothes on your own or is there some kind of child trying-on/approval participation? Other than shoes, I am currently still lucky enough that I can pick out stuff that my kids usually like. I mentally couldn't handle all three of them trying to tell me what they want at once. It would be bad.
New, used or a mix of both? I do most of my shopping consignment, which started as a resolution a few years back to "buy nothing new" and has turned out to be largely cost effective and thanks to lots of high-end consignment places, very reasonable in terms of quality. Generally I'll try our area's used places first and if I don't find what I needed then I consider new.
Considering that N goes through pants like nobody's business and A grows like a weed (and due to the pants issue, can't usually wear things that N has outgrown), I have to do shopping throughout the year, as needed. I get most of their things from Target, Meijer (similar to Walmart, but regional, and not as evil), and at a local secondhand store. Unfortunately, they are now big enough that they feel like they want to pick their own clothes, and N is kind of a snob about it and turns up his nose at the secondhand store most of the time, so for anything other than school uniforms, I pretty much have to take them with me anymore.
Sometimes I can get GirlWho's pants, shorts, and skirts in stores, but I most often order them. She wears slims. Other than that, we mostly wing it. At the beginning of the season, we unpack the clothes that have been stored and see if any of the clothes from the previous year fit. Then we hit the mall and grab a few things to get her started for the season at Justice, Gap, and H&M. She gets some things from Target. Then we just pick things up as we see them and as she needs them. She prefers to pick out her own clothes, but she's easy to shop with, so it's no big deal.
We buy new, but mostly on sale. I used to thrift, but quit when the bedbug problem was raging around here. Plus, I never really found much for GirlWho and never anything for DaddyWho, just stuff for me.
We get gigantic bags of hand-me-downs from a friend, so it usually gives us a good start, then supplement at Target with things that are on sale. But the Target items are usually pretty bland and boring, like long-sleeve t-shirts to go under short sleeve ones. Our parents will also usually get him a few outfits and then we are set. I actually get a little sad that my kid never wears anything that I pick out for him. I don't any say in his style.
I shop throughout the year. I'm used to it from when he was a baby and outgrew clothes all the time. I buy a lot of clothes on-line from Children's Place and Carter's and some from OshKosh. I shop in-store at Marshalls, Target, and less often at Walmart. I mostly stay away from the more expensive children's stores, as I find plenty of clothes I like for less. He wears wide shoes, and I usually get them at Zappos or Payless.
He started going through pants like crazy this year, so I don't buy anything expensive. We get mostly new clothes, but on sale. I keep everything for his younger brother.
He also gets some clothes for Christmas and for his birthday. He tends to have a great collection of clothes, often better than mine (given that I outgrew my clothes with each pregnancy and never went back down to the same size, so I lost most of them 4 years ago and again a few months ago).
I should add that I buy all of his clothes with very little if any input. He has favorite colors, so I try to get some shirts in green and purple (which is hard for a boy). He also likes numbers on shirts, which is very easy to find for boys. For the most part, I pick his clothes every day and he doesn't care what they look like.
I've never been able to do the "buy out of season on sale" thing that some people do. Some of those people seem to live in places with less extreme weather than we have. His growth spurts don't happen based on the seasons and I can't usually predict what size he'll be wearing next winter. And of course, we have the whole issue of different size tops and bottoms.
I tend to shop in spurts - like when doing their laundry I have a mental checklist of the stuff they are growing out of, so I'll shop specifically for those things. My kids seem to have really random growth spurts, so I sometimes find myself shopping for out of season things.
I really like Hanna Anderson, but it's expensive, really bright and entirely too precious now for my taste. The Little Miss is such a tomboy these days that she isn't much into playdresses. Typically the kiddos are fully clothed through Old Navy and Target, with some Lands End thrown in. Oh yes...I'll put down the $$ for those boys pants. They are worth every penny. Big B tears through jeans like lightning, but those chinos and khakis take a beating. He's not super tall, so his pants are lasting more than a year, (in terms of needed a new size) so I need something that holds up to everyday wear and tear. I usually get the Little Miss a fleecy hoodie from there for her winter wear - what there is of winter down here. Luckily, she doesn't mind wearing B's hand-me-down polos for school.
I usually shop online, and will ask the kids if they like a particular thing before buying. When the boxes come, it's like Christmas, when they open the packages and ooh and ahhh over their clothing. Zappos is also big fun for them. I almost never go into a store if I can help it. Part of it is just that I'm a hermit, and part of it is that I loathe shopping.
We've been really lucky up to this year - the boys wore uniforms at their old school and the school had a GREAT used shop ($5 for every item - free if you were trading clothes in good shape) and then big bags of clothes from a cousin shaped the same way as #1 son...2 dimensional!). This year we moved to a new school with no requirements and #1 son has essentially caught up with his cousin. We have had to do a lot more shopping then before. The boys are 15 and 11 now so I MAKE them come with me but it is really pulling teeth. Old Navy is our first stop, but we have also had some luck at Burlington Coat Factory now that #1 son is wearing men's sizes (he's 6' 1" now...crap.)
(by the way - I never thought I would say this, but having done both sides now, I'm a huge fan of uniforms - much less expensive and fewer "you want to wear THAT?" conversations!)
Oh, and I totally cheat. GirlWho's birthday is in mid-August. We buy her lots of clothes for her birthday, and then we've conveniently taken care of back-to-school shopping. I think she's catching on, though. Her grandma sends her clothes from her favorite store for her birthday and Giftmas, too.
We get almost everything from friends and fill in the gaps at thrift stores. Poor Ducky will never get a new piece of clothing (except for shoes and underwear, because no matter how poor we are, those are the two things I refuse to buy second-hand).
I suspect his bad luck in the clothes department is the reason he's growing himself a shocking mane of bright orange curls.
We get hand-me-downs from a friend with two sons. Most of what she's given us are size 3T or bigger, so the Moose is just now growing into them. I try to hit yardsales when I run across one that looks promising and am not in a hurry to get somewhere, but that happens rarely. It seems like people around here only sell little girl clothes at yard sales and end them (the sales, not the girls) by noon. Let's just say I'm not up and fighting crowds for used apparel at that time of day. If I'm lucky, I'm not up at all.
We do try to get used clothes when we can, both to save money and because I prefer to get ever last bit of life out of something before sending it to the landfill. I used to check a consignment store downtown and Goodwill, but I've given up on both. I refuse to pay $3.00 for a stained shirt that cost $3.50 new at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the used clothes are more than I'd pay new, simply because a lot of the clothes are sorted by type instead of quality. Instead, I pay attention to sales, accept the coupons and Kohl's cash my mom won't use, and check clearance racks out of habit any time I walk by them.
I buy what he needs when he ends up needing it. It helps our budget to spread the cost out over time instead of lumping it all together. When it started warming up and none of his shorts fit without the diaper because I was an idiot and thought I could skip 18M clothes altogether, I bought a few pair of shorts when I found a good deal. Now I'm picking up t-shirts here and there, since he's gone through another growth spurt and his existing shirts are too short. Socks tend to disappear over time, so we end up buying those a couple times a year. Luckily, he isn't too picky about what we buy, though what he wears on any particular day is another matter. He'll occasionally something he really wants if he's been extra good while we're out, but mostly if it's something he needs anyway (a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt comes to mind).
I totally wish I could do his shopping online. I get overwhelmed and worried about quality and size if I can't see things in person, though. Bummer.