How I Get GREAT Kids’ Clothes for practically FREE! {Back to School}

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Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

It’s back-to-school season which means it’s time for kids’ clothes shopping. While everyone’s situation and budget varies, I’ve found a system that allows us to get clothes that my kids love, function well, and look cute for almost free. Read on for tips on how to swing your back-to-school or seasonal clothing budget to get the best clothes for pennies on the dollar– or even FREE!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

The first time I walked into Gymboree, I was a naive newly-pregnant mama-to-be with thoughts of daily adorable matching outfits dancing in my head. Then I flipped over a price tag and “POOF!”, the dream was shattered. DUDE, $38.00 for a pair of newborn jeans the baby would outgrow in 3 months? No thanks. But the clothes were so darn CUTE. And those pants? So little and tiny and just adorable. Sigh. What was a girl to do?

As you may know, more than just my baby fashion dreams were shattered the day my daughter was born. Clothes became the least of our worries. However it did leave me with many late nights online and a need to stretch my budget so I figured out a way to get my daughter’s adorable baby clothes for practically free. The trend continued as my son was born and as they grew into toddler and youth clothing, and now I have a “system” that allows me to get the best kids clothes for pennies on the dollar. Here’s how I get a high-end look for FREE or practically free!

1. Know what kids clothing you NEED.

This is THE most important tip because you don’t want to waste money buying too much of one thing. Each season I start out with a checklist of what we need– how many pants, shirts, pajamas special occasion items, shoes, etc. I’ll share a customizable printable checklist on Thursday and link to it here so you can find it again. Use it with the printable in the next step to create the ultimate shopping list so you don’t overbuy!

Having the number of dresses we “need” on a list stops me from buying too many. Most of the time.

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

2. Know what kids clothing you HAVE.

Since I often shop a season ahead, I need a clothing inventory to keep things straight. Plus, my kids are (usually) slow growers and sometimes I’ll get an extra season (or three, YIKES) out of clothing and need to remember what still fits. This printable clothing inventory comes with me everywhere and ensures I don’t overbuy or purchase too much of one thing.

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Action Item: Print out the clothing inventory and carry it with you while shopping!

3. Know your kids’ clothing STYLE/ FAVORITE BRANDS/ NEEDS.

Perhaps it’s selfish (okay, I KNOW it’s selfish) but I enjoy having my kids in clothes that look good on them. They don’t need to look like kiddie models or wear outlandish things, but I try to mix practical/functional clothing with a little bit of style. And YES, you can still do this for almost FREE! (keep reading, hope I haven’t lost you yet).

As I always preach, know your style. Or more importantly, know your CHILD’S style. I learned pretty quickly that putting light purple clothing on my daughter made her look really pale and under-the-weather and the color brown makes my son’s features blend in and look drab, so I avoid those colors. Teal for my daughter and orange for my son though, and POW, their personality shines through! My daughter HATES cardigans and skirts, so I avoid buying those because I’ll be in for a wrestling match if I try to put them on her (oh, the humanity). As much as I cringe, my son loves Thomas the Train so I try to find ‘trendier’ style Thomas shirts and he loves them so it’s win-win, sort of.

Bright blue = KAPOW!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

My son loves that his shirt matches his train. Really.

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Also, know what brands fit your lifestyle. I look for four things: style, fit, durability, and resale value. Here’s which brands we love:

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

GAP Kids: My favorite brand for STYLE. A few times a year they have a bonkers sale: 40% off already reduced clearance prices PLUS free shipping and I pounce.

Kohls: One-stop-shop for inexpensive and cute kids clothing. First of all, most things are usually 40% off. Then use the 20% off coupons they put out every few weeks (read THIS to find out how to get the elusive 30% off Kohls coupon). Do your shopping during a Kohls Cash earning time and you’re practically stealing from the store. But legally.

Crew Cuts: Yeah, I love Crew Cuts but it’s pricey. I find it at our local J. Crew Factory Store. I’ll usually buy one or two things when they’re on sale and use the occasional J. Crew coupon they put out.

Other High-End Brands (Lilly Pulitzer, Janie and Jack, Hanna Andersson): I haven’t found a way to get these items for the price point I’d like in retail stores, so I routinely snag these brands at consignment sales (see below). The one exception is that Hanna Andersson usually has a big year-end sale so that’s where I got my daughter’s jacket for just a few dollars last year!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Holiday Clothing: Gymboree usually has a 16.99 sale each year when EVERYTHING in the store is $16.99 and under. While they may feel like that’s a lot to spend, I’ll often get a dressy jacket and holiday dress at that price, use a 20% off coupon, and resell them for $15 when they’re outgrown. Not too shabby! I found Abby’s Christmas dress at GAP for $8 after the holidays last year, and people still comment about it– it was my all time favorite!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Jackets: It gets COLD here, so I splurge here and get great quality jackets. I usually buy them from L.L. Bean when they run their $10 gift card promotion, though last year I snagged a Hanna Andersson jacket for my daughter during their year-end sale that will resell quickly. Rain jackets I always buy at consignment sales, often scoring Hatley or other high-end brands for just a few dollars. And because they’re a great brand, they’ll resell for the same price too. 😉

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Consignment Sales:  Since I get my new clothes so inexpensively, I don’t need to buy tons at consignment sales but I do looooove them.  I try to buy only the BEST of the BEST at consignment sales. That’s usually where I’ll get gently used jeans and top brands like Polo, Lilly, Hatley, Crewcuts, etc. I always make sure there’s no fading or wear and that the price is right. Top brands have top resale value, baby!!   Here’s the best tips for shopping consignment sales like a ROCKSTAR.

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool
Gymboree, CrewCuts, and GAP snagged for a song.
Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool
I usually snag Lilly for $7-$10 at consignment sales.

Thrift Stores: Quite frankly, prices at my local thrift store are usually higher than what I pay for new clothes retail. However, sometimes I’ll find a few scores in higher-end areas or if there’s a Salvation Army that gets the new-with-tags castoffs from Target. Thrift stores are also a good place to find play clothes and jeans, but I’m REALLY picky about them knowing I can usually get those types of things for less using the tips above!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool
I did happen to find this Mini-Boden sweater for just a few dollars at the thrift store. I don’t think they knew what Boden was or they would have marked it UP.

Yard Sales/Online Yard Sales: This is a good place to get clothing but can be really hit or miss depending on the age of the kids who are getting rid of the clothes. Scout them out in advance on Craig’s List so you don’t waste your time. It’s been awhile since I found clothes at a yard sale because I don’t have the time anymore!

Gifts: Gifts are great but usually taper off after the baby years. I always accept gifts with grace because they’re a blessing when trying to keep your budget on track. For example, this Easter dress from my mother-in-law– not our usual style, but so stinking cute!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

Hand-Me-Downs: I love hand-me-downs. I’ll never forget when one of my best friends sent about 40 pounds of baby boy clothes when my son was born and I didn’t have to buy a thing for him for about a year and a half! Plus when I see my kids in various friends’ clothing it reminds me of them and their kids whom I miss dearly. Sweetness!!

5. Know how to smartly resell and GET YOUR KIDS’ CLOTHING BUDGET BACK:

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

So now you’ve defined what you need, your style, and snagged your kids’ clothing for the LOWEST price possible. Here’s how to get most (if not ALL) of that money back by reselling smart!

  • Yard Sales: again, I’ve snagged my clothing so inexpensively that when I resell it at a yard sale it’s at cost (or even higher, since I don’t have to pay a percentage like at consignment sales!) The trick here is I sell most of it for $2 each– organized by gender and size. That’s what I bought most of my consignment/ thrift store/ super Gymboree sale clothing for anyways. I’ll price the nicer items higher (ie, jeans, dresses, and jackets) and place those on a rack. Tons more tips on how to have a WILDLY successful yard sale here— chock full of must-read tips if you’re reselling this way.
  • eBay: I’ll be honest, I haven’t resold clothing this way yet. The reason is I simply don’t have time to take photos, list, answer questions, pack, and ship each item. That being said, I’ve included it because I do plan to sell my daughter’s new-with-tags 4T summer clothing that she didn’t wear as a lot next spring. Since I bought it on sale I know I can get a great price by reselling it all in one lot to another busy parent who wants a one-stop-shop. She gets brand new clothes and I’ll make back my money– BOOM.
  • Hand-Me-Downs and Thrift Stores: I obviously won’t make money this way but wanted to include it because it’s important. There’s sentimental items that I don’t resell. I like to hand those down to other kiddos I love. I also hand down any hand-me-downs we received to keep the clothing karma coming.  Clothing that is in still good enough condition but not the best gets donated. I throw away anything that is permanently stained or torn beyond repair.

Check out this combo. Free pajamas on the kiddo (used a gift card) and she’s wearing the Hunter boots I got on sale at Bloomies. Hey, I need to spend SOME money on clothes, might as well be mine. 😉

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

What’s most important of course is that your kids are comfortable and happy, and that they feel they have a say in what they wear. I think this system fulfills that need while staying on track money-wise too. Win-win!!

Did I write a long enough post for you? YIKES! I get a little bit excited about getting kids’ clothing under budget, especially with back-to-school season approaching. Thanks for sticking with me this long. I’d love to hear YOUR tips for getting clothes on the cheap or reselling without spending too much time and energy!

Amazing tips on how to get name-brand kids clothes FOR FREE! Yes, FREE! Follow this system, it really works! #kids #backtoschool

 

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23 Comments

  1. I buy almost all the boys clothes for the next year at the GAP end of season sale…a couple bucks for shirts or pants – you can’t beat it!

  2. Great tips!
    I never pay full price, and it’s also rare that I will pay the listed price with a coupon! I stick with the brands I know fit my kids too. Hand-me-downs are a great way to test out a new brand and see if it fits my child well. I was a consignor for the first time last Spring and priced as you do – not greedy but well enough to feel it was worth my time!

  3. As a mom of twin boys I used all those tricks when they were younger but now that they are 8 yrs old it gets a little tougher. I have to admit I have spent my summer stalking sites for the best deals. Sears had a great program this summer where it gave away loyalty points every week. I was able to pick up 10 shirts for under $13 with points and discounts.

  4. Great post, Carrie! My favorite retail store for deals is The Children’s Place — I got my little guy’s winter jackets and snowpants there for $12 each. I don’t usually shop the GAP clearance, but I did this year and got some awesome deals on infant clothes for next summer. I’ll be doing that again next year 😉

  5. One word – thredUP.com I buy tons for myself on there. They have great new and gently used clothes on there and tons on designer stuff (I snagged a gorgeous Diane VonFurstenburg dress for $45!) You can clean out your closet and then they give you an upfront payout. You have 2 weeks to use it as credit or after that you can cash it out. They do have kids clothes (I sent my kids stuff in with their Clean out bag but they only took 3 items even though it was almost all Gymboree and in good shape) but I haven bought kids items through there. The clothes I’ve sent in of my own I’ve averaged a payout of about $65 a bag. The best part is that you have 30 days to return items you buy if you don’t like them or they don’t fit (minus handbags which are final sale but they are all designer like Kate Spade and Michael Kors so still not cheap).

    It might be worth a look! We live near a Gymboree outlet so that’s where I shop for my daughter since she still lets me buy her cute things. My son I mostly do Kohls (or if we find good sales at Abercrombie or Gap) since he’s a teen now and very picky! I’m a huge it must be on sale person and just scored 70% off a super cute sweater and button down shirt from Banana Republic outlet. My closet is a big mish mash of BR, Boden and Loft sales!

  6. Don’t throw away the permanent stained clothes! Goodwill will take them (and probably other organizations) and send them to a recycling facility (and thus making some $ too). Another way to help 😉

    1. That is SO good to know! I didn’t want to burden them with unusable items, so I’ll be sure to ask next time because i’d LOOOOOOVE to recycle them. It pains me to throw them away. 🙂

      1. Was going to say the same thing. I know the Salvation Army takes stained, unwearable clothes too.

        1. That is so good to know. I have a bag full of stained clothing that pains me to throw away!

  7. I just wanted to mention that Kohl’s allows you to stack percent-off and dollar-off coupons, so your savings there could actually be a lot more.

    1. Do they really?! I’m not sure how they get away with it, I feel like I’m stealing. Thanks for your awesome tip!!!

  8. Wish I’d read something like your Blog, Carrie, when our kiddos were young! You have given everyone such great ideas! I AM excited, though, to read that stained (or otherwise “unacceptable”) clothes are welcomed at Goodwill … I’m always disappointed at having to add something to either the trash or our “rag bag,” rather than donating: now I know where to take those things. Thanks for the time you took to share such wonderful hints ~ this valuable info can save everyone lots of money! (And Lindsay, thanks for adding that Kohl’s will take 2 coupons at once!)

  9. Hello Carrie, I just love the quality of clothing from The Children’s Place. I was recently shopping my local thrift store and found a pair of shorts that had started out as my son’s lined running pants. When he outgrew the length, I hemmed them into shorts. When he he outgrew those, I gave them to a friend who used the shorts for both of her boys. She must have donated them to the thrift store and they were still in excellent condition!

    1. That. Is. AMAZING. What a way to upcycle your clothing! I love The Children’s Place too, especially their thermal shirts and wind pants for boys. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  10. Hi Carrie. Thank you for this wonderful resource and ideas to save money. I’m feeling majorly OVERWHELMED with the amount of clothes I have for my three daughters. Did you ever get that printable checklist done that you mentioned in this blog post? I LOVE checklists and feel this one could really help me 🙂

    1. I didn’t get to it yet, I’m the worst!! Hopefully soon. I’m really trying to reign in the amount I buy too; what I bought this summer for my kids was RIDICULOUS. 🙂

  11. Swap.com is pretty awesome too. And you get 20%off and free shipping for the first time. There are always coupons available though.

  12. This is a really helpful article! Loved the way you have presented it. Thank you very much for sharing! Looking forward to reading such articles in the future!

  13. Thanks for sharing useful Information. I appreciate your Content. I love your Blog. Keep Sharing!

  14. Thanks for sharing this informative article about how to get kids clothes for free! 😀

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