August 11, 2010

The Back to School Wardrobe

The Back to School Wardrobe
A tale of the overspent Mom with new focus

This is my first back to school shopping season with someone in our house who is actually going back to school. Getting into this really threw me for a loop! I mean, what should I be buying?

I’ve found that I tend to be an impulse shopper when it comes to clothing for my daughter. I see something that is adorable, and I get it. Then, of course, I need the matching hair bows, socks and – oh yeah – the perfect little ballet flat to make the outfit complete. I am frightened (and embarrassed) to admit how much money I’ve probably wasted buying clothes for her.

I feel like when I purchase clothes for me or my husband, my purchases are very deliberate. I take clothing shopping on with military precision and have very a specific tactic and plan.
Then I realized I do shop for a living (duh!), why don’t I treat this project like I treat every other shopping project! Genius, I know! But more importantly, as I was going through this dilemma of overspending on my daughter’s wardrobe, I quickly discovered that I am not alone. I was talking to my friends about how I was tacking the whole “back to school thing,” and she remarked that I should tell more people about my plan. So here it is…my back to school shopping plan.

Step #1 - Get a plan together

When I start a shopping project with a client, I analyze her closet and talk about her lifestyle to develop a shopping list. This is exactly what I did with our daughter . For a 2nd grader, she doesn’t have a lot of social events to attend – so she doesn’t need dressy clothing. Her clothing needs fall into two categories: school clothes and play clothes.

I made an executive decision that her play clothes would not be top of the line designer duds. These are also things that she doesn’t NEED now. She has plenty of play clothes – and to be honest – some play clothes are simply old school clothes.

With her school clothes, I put together a shopping list using the same “capsule wardrobe” idea I use with many grown-up clients. In other words, I thought about three bottom pieces, seven top pieces with a jacket, two sweaters, two shoes and miscellaneous socks thrown in for good measure. All of these pieces will mix and match together to create different outfits. Honestly, she could go for weeks without wearing the exact same outfit twice!

Step # 2 -Clean out the closets

With the plan completed, it’s time for some cleaning, pruning and purging. Go through your kids closets. I am sure there are things in that black hole we call a closet that

are barely worn and are almost new . Either consign these items or get together with other moms and offer to sell your gently used clothing to them at thrift / consignment prices. This will help your budget to recoup some cost.

Step #3 -Set a Budget

It is easy to go nuts when you are out shopping for back to school clothes. The re are so many cute things, but, frankly, they are often overpriced. Determine a monthly budget for your childrens clothing and be willing to shop for back to school clothes over a period of a few months. Not only will this spread out your shopping dollars, but you will be able to take advantage of sales.

Seasonal merchandise (spring /summer) starts going on sale the end of June into July. Likewise, fall /winter clothing sees deep discounts in November and again in January. Be willing to shop a season ahead.


With all the planning, budgeting and energy you’ve put into your kids back to school wardrobe, you deserve a break! Take the money you’ve saved and treat yourself! Buy a fabulous pair of shoes or get a massage. One of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is “a happy mommy makes for a happy family!”

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