Monday, September 22, 2008

Cheap clothes for kids

In this week’s column, Jenny Bullough share’s her thoughts about shopping on a budget for young kids.

Now that fall is really upon us, my thoughts naturally turn to outfitting my 4-year-old for the colder months.

After a few years’ experience of digging through last winter’s long-sleeved shirts, pants, and jackets and finding more than half of them no longer fit, I’m prepared for a massive shopping explosion in order to make sure my girl is adequately clothed for the coming chill.

Nothing says “mommy guilt” like seeing the disapproving glances of the other daycare/preschool/JK moms and dads when they see bare ankles and wrists exposed because last season’s pants and shirts are suddenly a size too small! I speak from experience, unfortunately.

I hope you won’t think I’m a negligent parent when I tell you that when it comes to buying my little kindergartner clothes for everyday wear, I am *supremely* cheap.

Again, from experience I know that anything she wears to daycare or school is doomed to come back home stained with play-doh, paint, food, or old-fashioned mud, and most likely missing buttons, fasteners, and any fancy doo-dads sewn onto it, so spending a lot of money on daily wear is just not worth the investment since by the time she’s done with it, it won’t even be fit for passing on to future siblings or younger cousins.

For cheap kids’ wear, my first stop is always Joe Fresh. There’s a section conveniently located in our local Loblaws, which makes it easy to check out their clearance racks every week; and their kids clothes are inexpensive and surprisingly durable. Plus their pants often feature adjustable waists, which is a key ingredient to longevity in the kid wardrobe.

If I can’t find what I need while grocery shopping, Old Navy or Zellers will often have good stuff on their sale racks, and their regularly-priced merchandise isn’t too costly. For durability, go with Old Navy first; for items bedecked with your child’s favorite cartoon characters, Zellers is your best bet. I have occasionally had issues with the fit of some Zellers clothes, but as with all HBC properties their no-hassle return policy makes it easy to buy two sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit.

And finally, I always love to drop into Once Upon a Child at least once a season and I’m rarely disappointed. This chain of consignment stores scores high marks with me for their constant rotation of high-quality, gently-used kids clothing. I’ve gotten some tremendous deals there on barely-worn name-brand designer kids clothes like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.

Those are my top tips for durable, cheap daily kids wear. What store is your first stop when your little ones need new school clothes?


  1. I am just thinking about shopping for Diwali for my 2 nephews (1 yr and 4 yr old) is tradition to give new clothes. I usually start at Joe Fresh as well, although I do find that Gymboree and Gap Kids often have good sales. I don't really like Old Navy for babies, as I find the material to be kind of scratchy, but it's good for older kids.

  2. When my kids were little, I loved dressing them in Baby Gap but found it expensive for the brief amount of time they're clothes would last. I used to check the sale racks regularly and I found all kinds of great separates and outfits at great prices.

    One tip I have it to ask when they are getting their next shipment. Markdowns usually happen around the same time. Get there early and you'll have a better selection of sale merchandise to choose from.

  3. I make sure whereever I buy - I purchase things that will "grow". Like the Joe Fresh pants (Old Navy has them too) - where they have an elastic on the inside fastened with a button. The pants can grow wider as my child grows.

  4. Thanks for your comments! I agree, the Gymboree and Gap sale racks often have hidden gems, and those racks are my first stop any time I go in those stores. They also have reasonable prices on basics like underwear and socks -- things that kids always seem to lose and therefore need more of!

    And *definitely* the adjustable-waist pants with the elastic and button are a must!

  5. Hi Jenny:

    I think I'm in the same situation as you. I have a four year old daughter too. I hate dressing her in good clothes from school as too often the so-called washable paint and markers are in fact quite permanent. Unfortunately, my daughter's school is not exactly the jeans & T-shorts for the girls (although the boys get away with this - sexism already!).

    We love Loblaws too, but our best luck for nice, quality clothes is Gap sales. If you go near the end of the season and buy a size big then it will fit when that season rolls around again.

  6. You have given really good sites to find cheap clothes, previously I spent time to get cheap clothes on and I used kohls coupon codes 30% off to get extra discount.


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