Well here we are again, back to school time. When I was younger, my mom had a tradition with my sisters and I of going out to the mall a couple weeks before the new school year and buying some new clothes to get us through the year. Well, gone are the days of having to sludge through a million stores with kids in tow. Now don’t get me wrong, seeing items in person has it’s definite benefits, and if you enjoy shopping in person all the more power to you! For me, I have long preferred the convenience of online shopping, way before there was a pandemic. I can shop at multiple stores at once, do it in the comfort of my pjs in bed after everyone else is sleeping, and hunt down the best price for an item I want without going in and out of multiple stores.
Affordable School Clothes
I try to spend as little as possible on good quality items for school clothes. In Pre-School to Senior Kindergarten all the learning is play based, which means their days are filled with painting, colouring, play dough shaping, and moving around on the class carpet. This often leads to stains and scuffs on all those new clothes you just bought. While there are lots of super inexpensive options available, I find that getting low quality clothing actually leads to spending more money in the long run because they either rip and tear very easily, or they don’t stand up to the many (hot) washes in the washing machine. The stores that I get most of my kids school clothes from are the Gap, H&M, and Old Navy. Their clothing washes well, stands up to the roughness of kids, and goes on sale often enough that you can always find a deal.
This brings us to my shopping strategy. Did I mention yet that I NEVER buy things for the kids when they are full price? Unless something comes up last minute and I have absolutely no other choice, I only shop 3 ways for the kids.
Sale and Clearance Items: The first, and usually only, place I look at online stores is under the sales and clearance tabs for kids clothing (let’s be honest, for myself as well on the rare occasion I get something). Many times I will mostly find items for the outgoing season, but there is always also season appropriate items as well. The best news? I’ve notice over the last couple years that any promotion the store is having will also apply to the sales/clearance items. This wasn’t always true. Just a month ago I got a $60 denim dress for my 7 year old for only $9 after all the promos were applied!
During Store Promotions. There are certain stores that I know do regular sale events. I‘m talking at least once a month, but sometimes more. During these sales I can get items sometimes 40% off plus an additional 20%. Some offer discounts when you spend and certain amount and others include free shipping on no minimum purchase. Perfect for when you just need an item or two (I refuse to pay shipping, there’s always birthdays or holiday coming up that I can grab a few things for to get me to the free shipping amount).
End of Season Shopping. You can find some amazing deals at the end of a season when stores are making room for their new items. I like to shop the clearance and stock up for when that season returns next year. For clothing this is pretty easy, going up a size or two from what your child is using now. I have found that shoes are a little riskier to buy this far in advance.
What to look for in School Clothing
Like I said before, durability is a huge factor in choosing clothing for younger kids. For older kids (let’s say starting around grade 1-2, depending on your child’s temperament) durability is still important, but you’ll be dealing with less paint stains. Aside from durability, the other things I look for is ease of matching (if most of the clothes go well together snd can be mix and matched, you’re dealing with way less decision making and closet searching in the mornings), and of course, affordability.
For younger kids, I have found that the most affordable way to get school clothing is with multi packs. Most of the stores will carry these, and I love it. The price per piece is generally less in these multipacks then if you were to purchase them all separately, and the colours all coordinate with one another.
For the older kids, they may have more of an opinion and be more into their appearance at school. If the multipacks no longer work for your child, I would go the route of getting pants in neutral colours (think black, grey) so that no matter what shirt they chose, it’ll match with their pants. Or you could go the opposite and do simple shirts and patterned/bright pants. Whatever suits your kids best!
What I look for more than anything else is comfort. Kids should be able to move freely and comfortably while learning and playing. Casual, comfortable clothing is the way to go in our household. This means leggings/track pants, tshirts and sweatshirts. If your child enjoys being a little fancier and is comfortable in jeans and dockers, then you should go that route. Whatever works for your child, is what you should be looking for.
Just a little note about the younger kids especially....
Kids get distracted playing and having fun with their friends, which leads to them forgetting or waiting longer than they should to visit the bathroom. When they do rush over to the stalls, it’s best if the clothing they have is easy on/off. Buttons, zippers, and other obstacles may lead to more accidents and changing of clothes at school.
This list could be much longer, but because the clothing stores I like to shop at are having great sales this weekend, I just compiled a small list of the basic essential school supplies. I prefer to send my kids with stainless steel bottles for school. I know these aren’t always affordable for all, but like the low quality clothing I spoke about before, sometimes saving a dollar today costs you two dollars tomorrow. The stainless steel bottles seem to last much longer. Same goes for lunch packing boxes.
I included some headphones and a laptop, in case your child will be doing remote learning this year. The headphones not only help them concentrate more on school and less on the other noises at home, but they also save you from listening to the class all day.
Lastly, whether your child is doing remote or in person learning, they are going to need a place at home to store all the supplies they need for doing their homework. I found this drawer unit at IKEA last year and not only is it super affordable, but it is the perfect size to slide under any standard size table or desk.
Shopping Guide 2021
Ok, I promise I won’t make you wait any longer. Below you’ll find some of my top picks for back to school 2021. Mostly every item on this list comes in under $20 once the store discounts are applied. I’ll include a list of links in the order that the photos appear below.
Happy Shopping Friends!
Multi-Pack Long Sleeve Tshirts
Multi-Pack long Sleeve Tshirts
Blue and Yellow Tie Die Sweater
Tracing Numbers and Letters book
Mabels Labels Multi-Name labels
Thermos Funtainer replacement straws
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Until next time,