Buying Kids' Clothing

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Purchasing kids' clothing is a never-ending process. Even if kids don't wear their clothes out, they constantly outgrow them, making frequent shopping a necessity. With younger children, parents are solely responsible for keeping their kids' closets full. As kids get older, social pressures for purchasing brand names and trendy items come into play. Nonetheless, parents hold the purse strings and are the final decision makers when it comes to what clothes kids may purchase and wear.

Buying New

Buying kids' clothing new generally provides the largest selection of sizes and styles. Shopping sales, clearance racks and signing up for special offers at the store's websites can yield significant savings on children's clothing. In fact, you may even end up spending less on new clothes than you would on used if you are a savvy shopper.

There are a variety of specialty kids' clothing stores for the mom's that want that perfect outfit:

  • Gymboree, a high-end children's retailer found in malls across the U.S. This store comes out with "collections" of clothing that include mix-and-match pieces for newborns through 12 year olds throughout the year.
  • The Children's Place, a mid-priced mall store that has frequent sales, offers outfit suggestions on the store's website.
  • BabyGap and GapKids, offshoots of the popular adult Gap store, feature trendy pieces that will make any child a fashionista.
  • If you're looking to outfit your baby in New York City chic, check out Estella's. The store specializes in high-end, unique, designer clothing.
  • The Tea Collection offers children's clothing in sizes newborn to 12. Although the company's base is in California, you can shop online. The store offers designer play clothes in comfortable fabrics, and is known for their whimsical prints.

Great Places to Buy Used

Everyone loves new clothes, but used clothing is typically easier on the wallet. To help stretch your clothing dollar, consider buying second-hand play clothes, where a few signs of wear and tear are insignificant; or dressy and special-occasion clothes, which the original owner may have only worn the piece once or twice.

Find good pre-worn play clothes at thrift stores, online auction shops and consignment stores, such as:

  • Once Upon a Child, a consignment shop that features clothing for babies, toddlers and kids that are gently used. Over 200 franchises are located across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Rascal's Resale is an online children's clothing resale store. Rascal's is actually an eBay store, which means that you are guaranteed a good transaction through the eBay system. The company specializes in brand name children's clothing.
  • Children's Orchard is another franchised children's resale clothing store with a constantly growing network. While the second-hand clothing store is relatively new, it is a growing business with locations in almost every state.

Kids' Clothing Buying Guide

Price is not the only thing that parents need to keep in mind when choosing children's clothing. Fit, durability, ease of wash and comfort are all essential to buying a child's outfit. If clothing falls apart in the first wash, or is so itchy a child refuses to wear it, it doesn't matter what the clothes cost.

Fit

Designations like "Small," "Medium," and "Large" can represent different size ranges from different manufacturers. Getting to know a specific manufacturer or clothing line is helpful, because sizes are likely to be consistent from a specific manufacturer or retailer. If it is not possible to have your child try on clothing at the store, make sure you find out what the store's return policies are.

Buy kids' clothing that fits well and is neither too loose nor too tight. A little bit of "growing room" is a good idea, but clothing that is too big can get caught on things. Clothing that is too tight is confining and may bind or chafe skin; sleeves and pants that are too short feel uncomfortable.

Durability and Washability

When buying clothing for children, keep in mind that their clothes are subjected to dirt, stains, and stress. Play clothes should be made of sturdy fabrics like denim, twill, and t-shirt knits that will resist tearing and stretch as a child plays and climbs. They should also be washable and require little special care when laundered.

Dressy clothes can be made of more fragile fabrics, but, depending on the child, they may still be subjected to considerable stress. Party clothes are just as likely to collect food stains as play clothes are. Check the label before buying to make sure you won't incur dry cleaning costs for special-occasion clothing.

Comfort

When buying children's clothing, choose soft fabrics that have some stretch. Scratchy fabrics, like organza, are uncomfortable against the skin, as are woolens and unwashed denims. When purchasing jeans, look for those that have been pre-washed and softened. Fabrics like t-shirt knits, corduroy, fleece, and velour are especially popular with kids because they feel good against the skin.

Individual Style

While parents may hold the purse strings when it comes to buying kids' clothing, it is always a good idea to let your kids help pick out their clothing. Let the child's personality shine through in his unique clothing choices, and help your child make wise clothing decisions, also where cost is concerned, by shopping and discussing the choices together.

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