Children’s clothes can be expensive. And no, I’m not just talking about branded or designer stuff which is obviously going to drain your bank account quicker than I can drain chocolate-flavoured cocktails. But when you find yourself paying £15 for a pack of three sleep-suits which might only get a week’s wear… yeah, you get the idea. Particularly when you need to buy at least three packs. Would you spend £45 on a top or outfit which you could only wear for a week? I know I wouldn’t. Or at least, not intentionally.
If I really wanted to, I could probably count on one hand the items of children’s clothing which I’ve paid full price for. In the most part, this is due to bulk-buying children’s clothes a year (or so) in advance — i.e. picking up clothes in the sale for the following year. It’s an approach which might seem laborious but it’s actually really easy.
So… why do I bulk buy clothes?
- Save money: you don’t need me to tell you the maths; buying clothes at half price or less keeps more pounds in my pocket
- Save time: bulk-buying clothes means fewer shopping excursions to stock up on the essentials (this also saves me money that would inevitably be spent on petrol/parking/Starbucks…)
Now that Small Human is older, this strategy is more effective; it can be hard to guess with babies just what size they’ll be and in which season. Up until they reach a year or so, their growth is unpredictable (although things like socks and vests won’t vary season-to-season). But once they hit the 12-18 months category, it’s far easier to plan ahead and pick up the pieces you know you’ll need. Which means you can…
Write a List
Create a rough list for each season/size so you know what to stock up on.
Plan around what’s important to you — for example, I try to restrict laundry to one load of washing a week per child (note: I don’t split colours). Whilst we could easily get away with having fewer clothes, I don’t want to increase the time I spend on laundry. Life is too short. This also means that the clothes stay in a better condition, and are therefore more likely to survive it to hand-me-down status. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
Also, plan around your life. Small Human goes to nursery twice a week… which means a lot of wear-and-tear and a guaranteed mid-day change. My list reflects this; summer will include four sets of nursery-only t-shirts and shorts (these are usually either cheaper brands or second-hand — nursery clothing is notorious for going MIA).
Buy Storage Boxes
It might seem a bit enthusiastic, but buy a few storage boxes before you purchase any clothes. If you’re planning on keeping hold of them as potential hand-me-downs, you’ll want a box per age category. If this system works as it should, once the clothes have been worn and outgrown you should have an empty box ready and waiting. Whilst in theory you should be able to do a mass-wardrobe-switchover, in practice this doesn’t work as different brands have different sizings — having a specific box will make your life far easier, trust me.
Keep a labelled bag for outgrown clothing in the bottom of the wardrobe, where you can store the odd bits which become too small far earlier than everything else. Unless, of course, your storage boxes are easily accessible — in which case, this just duplicates effort. I also keep a ‘giveaway’ bag for anything which I no longer like, has become too worn for reuse, or Tiny Human has grown out of too. The good (read: branded) stuff goes to friends or on eBay. The rest goes to charity or recycling.
When you’re buying different age clothing at different times and in different shops, it can be difficult to keep track of what you’ve bought (and whether any of it coordinates…). Pinterest is your secret weapon. Create a secret board for each age band and take photos (or web screenshots) of each item you’re buying and Pin to the relevant size board. This system will help you avoid both a) surplus / duplicates and b) buying clothes which don’t match anything else in that size.
I like Pinterest because it’s accessible from anywhere, but you could also create Photo Albums on your phone for each age bracket too.
Do you do this, or similar? Let me know!