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Tips for dressing kids for less

Getting kids dressed for back to school doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. Use these smart strategies to find clothes that fit your kids and your budget. Start with an inventory of what they already have — what still fits, what they’ll need, what they most want — and get ready to shop smarter.

1. Sign up.

Sign up right now for email alerts and sale mailings from your favorite department and outlet stores. You’ll be among the first to know about sales and specials, and you’ll receive coupon savings and other discounts regularly.

The same goes for online shopping: Your favorite store sites can alert you with special offers. Also, thrifty moms are sharing information via the Internet. For example, bloggers often advise other moms when there’s a big sale, sensational bargain or a money-saving tip to pass along.

2. Save hand-me-downs.

Save reusable, good clothing from older siblings. Pajamas and jeans often still have a lot of wear left, and they’re fine to pass on to younger children. If you have your own siblings with kids, they might provide clothing when their children outgrow things.

Another great idea: Start a swap club with other moms. Exchanging gently-used clothing with friends means that all the kids get something that’s new to them. The swap club rule is that clean, cared-for items in good condition can be exchanged.

3. Get crafty.

Fall fabrics go on sale in summer, so if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can buy now and sew up some savings. Changing out the buttons on cardigans, blouses and jackets can give them a fresh new look and is simple to do. Let your child choose the buttons to dress up an older favorite for the new school year. Fabric paints can turn a plain t-shirt into something special and can camouflage a stain on a favorite top. Adding trim spruces up a skirt and adds length to a pair of trousers or jeans. Just sew on an inch of lace or braid to the hem for a trendy new look.

How to sew a simple bookbag >>

4. Search for sales

  • Shop end-of-season sales, overstocks, thrift shops and sample sales for bargains. In many cases, you’ll find high-quality brands reduced by 50 percent or more.
  • Retail giants are great places for basics, and most have online stores with even wider style selections and special offers.
  • eBay takes a little more time but is an excellent source for great deals on new and nearly new clothing for kids of all ages.
  • Outlet malls offer serious retail discounts — you may find last year’s looks or end-of-season clearances. If your child has her heart set on a special name-brand item, outlet stores are ideal for finding logoed merchandise at a fraction of the normal retail cost.
  • Discount stores are great for accessories — cute headbands, belts, bracelets, earrings, hoodies and scarves.

More kids’ fashion tips

Budget shopping for kids: Save money when buying clothes for kids
Saving money on school clothes for kids
Kids’ clothes that give back

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