As the days get cooler, parents everywhere are shopping for new fall clothing for their kids. The 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture Expenditures on Children by Families report found that about 6 percent of parents’ spending on children is clothing-related. And since parents spend about $245,000 on kids from birth to age 17, that’s around $14,700 – not a small expense!
Luckily, there are some easy ways to reduce spending on your child’s wardrobe. Shopping secondhand is an excellent option. But another is to simply stretch clothes a little further. This fall, instead of buying a whole new wardrobe, look for easy ways to stretch your child’s summer clothes so they’ll last into the cooler months.
Here are a handful of simple ways to do it:
1. Add long sleeves. Big-box stores such as Target and Wal-Mart have cheap $4 to $6 long-sleeve shirts, and many of them come in plain Jane colors. These long-sleeve shirts are great for tossing under summertime T-shirts for a cute layered look. So you can still let your daughter wear her favorite tee from the summer, without sending her to school in short sleeves.
2. Shop for zip-ups. Zip-up hoodies and button-up cardigans are one of the best fall options for kids. A couple neutral-colored hoodies or cardigans in a child’s wardrobe could go a long way. They can be tossed over summertime tees and tanks to extend the wear of the tops your child already has. And if you live in a climate with chilly mornings but warm afternoons, zip-ups and button-ups let your child adjust the layers as needed throughout the day.
3. Choose the right jacket. When you’re shopping for a new jacket for your child this fall, choose something that will match with everything. Denim and corduroy are good options, and a thicker sweatshirt knit in black or gray works, too. A neutral jacket that’s comfortable will act like a zip-up cardigan, with a bit more weight. Your child can also wear a jacket over short sleeves to stretch the life of those summer shirts.
4. Get tights for the girls. Tights are another cheap clothing item you can get at most big-box stores, and they allow girls to keep wearing their favorite summertime dresses and skirts year-round. Spend $20 and grab a pair for every day of the week. You can extend the life of a favored summer dress for months by putting tights and a long-sleeved shirt under it. And with tights, even too-short dresses are wearable as tunic tops.
5. Choose vests. Vests are a hot new wardrobe addition for kids right now. And a vest over a T-shirt can be a great way to keep warm on a chilly day. A bonus with vests: You can toss them over long sleeves on even colder days.
6. Get sewing. If you’re crafty, turning summer clothes into fall ones can be fun and simple. For instance, you could turn girls’ shorts into skirts, which can be worn with tights underneath all winter. Or if your child doesn’t like to wear bulky layers (like a long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved one), go thrifting for some long-sleeved shirts. Cut the sleeves off, and sew them under the short sleeves for a mock-layer look that’s warmer.
7. Accessorize. Warm things up a bit with the right accessories. Socks can turn summer sandals into warm-enough shoes for fall. Scarves and hats can also add warmth to a summer dress or T-shirt.
As you consider ways to transition your child’s wardrobe from summer to fall, think about hitting up some of your favorite thrift stores. Don’t have any favorites yet? Ask thrifty parents in your area which ones have the best kids’ clothes. Most consignment shops and some thrift stores display seasonal items front and center as the seasons turn. It’s a great time to pick up secondhand, barely-used clothes to fill out your child’s fall wardrobe.