Reader Question: Back to School Clothes Shopping

This reader question comes from Sabine. She was wondering if anyone had suggestions on how to keep your back to school clothes bill down!


With school right around the corner, could anyone give me ideas on how to keep my back to school clothes bill down. My daughter will be 10 so style is a big thing for her.

Do you have any advice for Sabine?

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  • liz v

    My kids wear uniforms, and even that I get as cheap as I can. I avoid the uniform store and get the generic uniforms, and the stuff I can’t I try to get off kids who’ve outgrown them. Other than that, it’s half price day at the Salvation Army for us.

  • An

    Buy the bare minumum now. It is not worth buying any short sleeve items . Once September hits, there will be more clearance sales. Jeans are $10 at old navy and Childrens’ Place this week…jeans are items that you can stock up on as they go with most tops. Some online retailers (like Kohls and Target) have clearance items for left over fall/winter clothes that will come in handy later this year.

  • liz Harwood

    I have gone to thrift stores and found basics (jeans, black pants solid polos/tees etc.) new with tags for a great price!

    • liz Harwood

      If you are a VIP member for a thrift store called Unique/Value Village, you get texts about special sales. Today VIP members got 50% off prices! I got my son 5 pairs of jeans, 4 NWT for 16.00! Some thrift stores have special sale days (50% off Salvation Army every Wednesday.) It pays to get on mailing lists for this very reason.

  • Erica

    Set a firm budget with her before you shop, maybe a seasonal budget. For example, say that for clothes she has a budget of $50 available to spend in September, January and April. She can then choose how to spend it – with your supervision – and decide what are must have fashion pieces or if she would prefer quantity. She can start to learn about how to shop sales and have more value for the clothes she chooses. Encourage Goodwill (I hit up the one in the wealthier neighborhood for work clothes) and she’ll quickly learn how to make “her” dollar stretch. And of course, the budget can be expanded by extra chores at home or maybe for a willing family member/friend/neighbor?


    Definitely the GOODWILL! You might be surprised of what clothes you find that are name brand that still have Tags on them. Also places like ROSS, MARSHALLS, AND TJMAXX….ALL HAVE A CLEARANCE SECTION AND YOU CAN GET SOME PRETTY GOOD DEALS!! HTh…. 🙂

  • Ivonne

    You should first set a budget, I did I have two children that and I set a budget of $100.00 for the fall/winter, what I do is I got to the store have him try on the cloths to double check the size, then I go home and use , so I get money back (of course) then I shop online, I recently purchased 4 jeans and a vest from Children’s Place and just paid under $50.00 and I got money back on my shopathome account, they have extra coupon codes you can use.

    Take time to research, there is a lot of good deals you can find… And remember Do not pay full price for an item…
    Best of luck…

  • Michele F.

    JCpenny is a good place to start. With all the discounted clothes and their new clearance section you can get basics for cheap. I went to JCP at the beginning of summer and got plain tshirts and tanktops to last me all summer and only spent 20 bucks.

  • Elizabeth

    Every time I go the clearance section I keep en eye out for Things a size larger as well. My daughter wears very cheap long sleeved shirts under short sleeve shirts during the winter. And since the tee shirt is a little big in the winter the undershirt makes it a good fit. It also means that by spring/summer it will fit her perfectly! The same goes for skirts with tights/leggings under them. This way every time I go look at clothes I don’t have to be restricted to only what fits her now. Consignment shops are popping up every where. Churches also have sales, usually once a month or every few weeks. Call your local churches to find out.

  • Larissa

    Do you have a Platos Closet or somethig g o the sort. They only sell gently used NAME Brand clothing. And you can actually take the clothes that no longer fit her from last yr and use a credit to buy new. Look them up online and see if you have a location near you. You may even find some stuff with tags still! Good luck!

    • Sabine

      I forgot all about plates closet, we have one not to far from us, what a great way for her to clean her closet and make money!

  • Jessica

    I see others have suggested this too…thrift stores! In CT we have Goodwill, Salvation Army, and our new fave Savers. Also, we have a consignment store called Plato’s Closet where you can sell back your gently used clothes (great for kids who are still growing or whose styles are evolving), and get either cash back or credit towards your next purchase. I took my younger sister school shopping when she was in high school and worried about her style and my mom’s very small budget. We got her two weeks worth of clothes where she didn’t have to wear the same outfit twice (this included items from Abercrombie, PINK, Hollister and the like) for less than $80. Or have a clothes party with other moms with similarly aged children! Everyone gathers together, brings some clothes, and does a swap! Serve some snackies and get the kids pumped for the upcoming school year!

  • Danielle

    If you have a Sears essentials around you check out their clearance sections, I have bought jeans there in the past for $3!! We even bought extra in larger sizes for the next year when we found them, when she didnt grow into them I found out they actually fit me pretty well:-)
    Clearance, clearance, clearance!! Go alone and pick out some stuff you find pretty cheap then when you have a chance to give it to her, have her try it on as she would at the store – you can return what she doesn’t like or what doesn’t fit. I have never had an issue returning anything, clearance or not – just keep your receipts.
    My boyfriends daughter is 13 and I tried taking her shopping with a limit and she meets it everytime so even that can get pricey… I am about to do this shopping alone thing again because when i take her its like she feels she HAS to get something.
    Even though everytime i get her something she doesnt like it, if I only spend $20 and get 3 or 4 things, then when we return it there will be a lower limit on her..
    And also, I agree with the comment about shopping over time, they tend to have clothes that still fit them, (short sleeves from summer, etc) – you can buy more as the year goes on, there is no need to spend $300 now when they may grow 2 inches in a couple months.. and you can hit the sales/clearances along the way:-)

  • Jessica

    I buy unbelieveable deals for my kids at thrift stores. But don’t forget kids consignment sales. I participate in one to sell outgrown clothes and toys. I also buy a big chunk of my kids clothing there. That way the months I’m spending the most on clothing I am also making money. Not sure where you live but there are a ton of twice yearly sales around me. Clothing clean, organized by gender and size & you can let your daughter pick out her own stuff without worrying she is going to grab a $50 sweater!

  • Maria

    I have bought bulk lots of kids clothes on ebay for realy cheap, people will sell all of there child’s clothes from a whole season for one bulk price and the price per item usually works out to just a few dollars. Once I bought a bulk lot of girls shirts with about 14 brand name shirts for about $60

  • loves coupons

    I shop clearance in all stores. They all have it. For jeans, we’ll shop anywhere there is something they like and fit. But, we shop P.S. (Aeropostale for Kids), The Children’s Place, Justice (not as much cause even when on clearance still pretty pricey), Old Navy, Kohl’s, Target,etc… and my kids are BIG into style and fashion. My kids don’t care if it was on clearance. Just an example: I bought my oldest a new snowboarding jacket, fully insulated, lined, with removable insert, the heaviest jacket I’ve ever seen, with matching gloves which are also fully insulated… retailed for $227, we paid $27!
    This week, Old Navy and The Childrens Place have their jeans on sale for $10 which is a pretty good price.

  • Sandi

    Goodwill gets donated clothes from Target all the time. They still have the tags on them so your daughter won’t know in case you have a picky kid like me. Print the clothing coupons from Target’s website and go in search of clearance items at Target. J.C. Penneys is always good for cheap clearance also. Ebay can be good for bulk lots of clothes.

  • Valerie post

    I just placed an order with kohl’s (thru shopathome, of course) and got 5 pairs of jeans, 4 shirts and a baby 3 piece outfit for $80. Shop clearance and use coupon codes for a % off and free shipping.

  • Laura

    I am a clearance queen myself. I always go online to search for store coupons to combine with clearance before I leave. I have found AMAZING clothes on clearance. One of my favorites was at Macy’s a few years back. There was a lone Timberland kids coat on the clearance rack for 4.99. I couldn’t believe it. I also got my 10 year old a Calvin Klein suit jacket on clearance at Macy’s for 5.99. There were about 4 of them just put out, and a woman showed me and they were all snatched in minutes. Some of my favorite clothes were drastically reduced clearance. I always check there first before I look anywhere else!!!

  • Rose clark

    Have a swap clothes party for girls to bring. Clothes and exchange right there you aren’t spending any money. Next call all thrift stores and find out when is half price day. Go shopping that day. Outlet shopping and marshals is good for deals. Also tag sales have a lot of clothes for sale.

  • christine

    Style seems so important at that age. I usually wait to see what others are buying. It’s usually still hot here in september, so fall clothes aren’t needed for another month or so. I buy some basics to start out with and wait to see what my kids say are hot after school starts. Saves buying items that aren’t cool and don’t get worn.

  • Jessica

    Look for local consignment shops. They often sell brandname clothing with the tags still attached because people have sold their new and unused clothing to them.

  • Misally

    I always shop clearance for “regular” clothes, my 7 year old wears a uniform so he gets new ones at the beginning and middle of the school year. As for regular clothes my grandmother and i shop the clearance racks, sears, jcpenney and kohls have REALLy great clearance sections. My grandmother and i once bought $411 worth of stuff (for ourselves)lol, at Kohl’s and only paid $111……..When it comes to clothes for my 2 year old i do the if its a really good price buy a bigger size for next year. Last summer i paid .25 cents for shorts in target for my little one and they fit him perfectly this summer.