If your child's back-to-school shopping list implies that he's going to live in the back country for six months, you obviously have to pare it down and establish priorities. Start over with these basics, which are common to most every back-to-school list.
This, of course, depends on your climate, but your child certainly is going to need some time of outerwear to keep him warm and dry.
Hoodies (or sweatshirts with hoods, if this is your first year with a child in school) are essential for any back-to-school wardrobe. They are the perfect antidote to chilly fall mornings and later become a layering piece in the colder months. They're extremely popular with kids, so finding some at their favorite stores or in their favorite brands won't be difficult.
Remember when back to school meant just a pair of 501 Levis that cost $13? While the cost may not be the same, the need for denim is. Choose generic styles, so your child can get away with wearing them more than one day a week. After all, school wardrobes are about being practical and keeping laundry at a minimum for you.
Just as with jeans, the key to buying school shoes is to find something versatile that can be worn every day. Tennis shoes fit the bill in most instances, but schools with dress codes often require boat shoes, loafers or Mary Janes.
Children in middle school on up require separate wardrobe changes for phys ed. This often means just a t-shirt, a clean-soled pair of tennis shoes, and a pair of shorts. Bear in mind that gym is absolute torture for some kids, especially of the junior high set. Be sensitive to this as you shop. Girls who developed quickly over the summer may want loose-fitting tops, and many girls are more comfortable in sweat or yoga pants than shorts. Sneakers are better suited for running, support and athletic activity than for looks.
More back-to-school tips
5 Ways to get back to school supplies for free
Mom secrets for the first day of school
6 Tips for getting your household ready for back to school