Extend Your Budget With Fashion Staples

Back-to-school clothes can be very expensive, but you don't have to blow your budget. By shopping smart and picking the right pieces, your money can go a lot further than you might imagine. Start with some solid staples -- like a fantastic pair of pants -- and then mix and match other items to create an array of different outfits.

boys' jeans

The foundation

Stretch your back-to-school budget by choosing pieces that can be worn in a variety of different ways, like these boys' jeans (Old Navy, $15) in dark stonewash. They feature a classic fit and rugged fabric, so they'll last and last.

uniform polo

Little prepster

Team up his favorite jeans with a uniform polo (Old Navy, $20 for a 4-pack) for a fun, preppy look. These polos come in dark blue, light blue, white and red and in sizes from XS to XXL. Many schools allow students to wear a uniform shirt with any type of bottoms, so this outfit would definitely fit the bill. Get even more preppy with a sweater vest (Old Navy, $12) over the polo. He can add his favorite pair of shoes to complete the look -- whether that's loafers or sneakers.

applique t-shirt

Skater look

Whether he's actually a skater or not doesn't really matter, this outfit is cute either way. He can wear his dark-wash jeans with an applique T-shirt (Old Navy, $15) over a long-sleeved tee or henley. These 100 percent cotton tees come in five different colors and sizes that will fit your boy, whether he's in kindergarten or high school. Finish off the look with a fantastic pair of skate shoes (Old Navy, $20). These skate sneakers come in your choice of yellow and gray or red and black.

elbow-patch v-neck cardigan

All dressed up

Jeans don't always have to be worn casually. You can dress them up a bit with the right complementary pieces. A classic button-down and little loafers can take your take your boy's casual look from drab to fab. Another way to dress up any fall outfit is with a classic cardigan. Start with the aforementioned jeans, add a tee or fitted lightweight sweater, and then layer the elbow-patch v-neck cardigan (Old Navy, $25) on top. Finish off this outfit with Hush Puppies, loafers, oxfords or other dress shoes for boys.

Of course, jeans can be worn in a variety of other ways, too. Pick other staple pieces such as hoodies, striped and solid tees, and plaid shirts. Stick with colors that complement each other so your little boy can mix and match to create a number of different outfits to wear at school and on the weekend.

Quick tip

For fall, layers are essential. Stock up on lightweight long-sleeved tees that can be worn under or over short-sleeved ones. Hoodies and cardigans are also perfect layering pieces for unpredictable fall weather.

More about back to school

Tips for a stress-free back to school season
Secrets of smooth school mornings
Tips for beating back-to-school blues

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