When it comes to buying matching family outfits you’ve likely found the experience to be an expensive undertaking. And yet, you can’t have your kids wandering around in the same stained, threadbare clothing they got last year (especially since frequent growth spurts will soon leave ankles, wrists, and bellies exposed). While you can certainly use the hand-me-down system to save some cost, the truth is that kids are very tough on their clothing and all of them are bound to require frequently replacement options. Plus, your own wardrobe may start to look a little threadbare after years of going without while you spend all your money to outfit the kids. So here are just a few tips to help you get the garments you need to keep your family looking dapper and distinguished.
The obvious first option is second-hand clothing, and you can find gently used items from a variety of sources. Thrift stores are one option for the family on a budget, and they may have a better selection (and higher quality) than yard sales. However, you can also look for higher-end clothing swaps like Buffalo Exchange (which has neat vintage threads), Plato’s closet (which features trendy options and name brands for teens and older kids), and Once Upon a Child (a site for younger kids that lets you send in nice items for credit and purchase equally high-quality clothing options for your own children).
Along these same lines you could consider hosting a clothing swap of your own. Talk to parents that have kids in the same grades as your own children to gauge their interest in raiding their closets for items that are still in great shape but no longer fit. Then set a date, organize tables for different sizes or age groups, and have everyone lay out the clothes they’d like to trade and begin searching for “new” items for their own kids. Some people may go away empty-handed, but if you offer to take any leftovers in for donation you’ll save them a trip to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. And everyone could bring a potluck item to make a real party out of it. Plus, if you gather a lot of frugal moms together you could even have the ladies bring in some of their own items (clothing, shoes, and accessories) so that the adults can swap some outfits as well.
But what if you’re looking for brand new items? How can you save there? Waiting for sales and clipping coupons are great fallback options, but you should also check out shops where you can save every day. Discount designer warehouse stores like T.J. Maxx, Ross, and Marshall’s are one good option for name-brand clothing at a fraction of the cost. And you can also look at stores like Target and Kohl’s, both of which collaborate with designers to offer you amazing deals on discount lines.
Of course, you should not overlook the amazing options offered by the internet. Many of your favorite stores provide special deals and discounts that can only be found in cyber space (you can find Osh Kosh outlets, Old Navy discount promotional codes, and even Forever 21 or “Pac Sun coupons online” online for teens). And for the adults and older teens in your family, consider joining fashion deal-of-the-day sites like Beyond the Rack and Hautelook, which offer free membership and deliver daily deals via email.