Whether your kids are in elementary school or high school, shopping for back to school clothes is an expensive undertaking. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for our family to spend $300 or more in outfitting each child for school. Thanks to the current economy, this school season has us cutting back our teen’s clothing budget to less than $100.
$100 doesn’t buy a whole lot of clothes for any kid, especially a teen. Here’s how my daughter and I managed to find back to school clothes for around $80 by watching the sales and thinking creatively.
Assess what you already have.
Before shopping for back to school clothes, my teen and I pulled everything out of her closet to see what was still wearable. Clothes that still fit (and met the dress code) were placed in the “keep” pile and became the starting point for back to school shopping. Instead of buying clothes haphazardly, we limited our choices to items that coordinated with the clothes in the “keep” pile which is a simple way to stretch the savings.
Upcycle outgrown clothing items.
For outgrown or frayed clothes that were tossed into the “discard” pile, my daughter and I upcycled the best of these duds into something new for school. Frayed cargo pants were hemmed into shorts, short skirts lengthened, and stained shirts were artfully camouflaged with some fancy needlework. If you own a sewing machine, upcycling clothes is free. If not, a tailor’s shop can handle these alterations for a nominal price.
Shop second hand.
When it comes to clothes shopping, the best deals are found at second hand venues. From our own experience, church rummage sales seem to be the cheapest places to find quality back to school clothes. This summer, my teen daughter found designer boots, a winter jacket, shirts, sweaters, and slacks for less than $1 per item at a neighborhood church rummage sale. Thrift stores and clothing consignment shops are also worth checking out for back to school clothing. These venues price their separates between $3-$8 per piece.
Shop discount stores.
Factory outlets and remaindered stores (such as Ross or Marshalls) sell last season’s clothes at steep discounts. It’s at these type of stores where my daughter and I found new school shoes ($15), colorful scarves for accessorizing ($5 each), trendy hoodies & jackets ($18), and a new Autumn dress ($20).
Raid & Trade.
My teen is into indie fashions and enjoys wearing vintage 60s and 70s fashions that she’s raided from her grandparent’s closets. Old sweatshirts, old hats, smocked shirts and an old Harris Tweed coat are just a few examples of clothing items that my teen found to supplement her back to school wardrobe. For pricier items such as prom dresses, winter wear, or sports wear, she plans on trading with friends like she did last year.
More by this contributor:
Easy ways to cut costs on teen girl apparel.
Where to find under $50 prom dresses.
Where to find cheap makeup for teens.