“Back to School” Clothes Shopping Advice from a Veteran Mom

By Susan Fox, 24/7Moms Family Living Editor

Some families set a budget for school clothes and this is a very good idea. This is something we have always done. But there is so much more to back to school shopping than that. What to buy??? If you were simply to enter a mall and start shopping with your kids, when would the madness end? And at what price? When my kids were young I simply purchased their school clothes for them. I love that I still have this control with my 10yr. old son. But my teen girls are another story. I wish that I still had that control now, but somehow these little creatures have developed a mind of their own and with that their own sense of style too!

Some years I have supervised my children’s shopping which came with inevitable mother-daughter power struggles. Later as they became teenagers I let them do their own shopping. The trouble that I ran into with that is that I did not feel like they bought the necessary items. They tended to spend more money on things that they did not really need, and making impulsive purchases. Then later on in the year I was faced with the “Mom, I don’t have anything to wear” complaint, at 7a.m. of course. Ughh.

This year with my teenage girls I have told them that I will buy them each the necessary bras, underwear and socks, that’s a given. They will also receive 1 pair of shoes and 2 pairs of jeans (as they still have some in their closets from last year). If they needed it I would also buy them coats but they do not. Aside from these basics I will then determine a budget for them to select their own tops, accessories or additional clothing. I am feeling better about my new plan. It guarantees me that the basics are in place first, before any other purchases are made. They are also required to do their own inventory of their clothes before they receive their school clothes allowance. Hopefully this will help them to make wise shopping decisions. I’ll let you know how it goes. One can always hope. Anyway here are my time-worn tips on a successful back to school wardrobe.

Before you shop take inventory and make a list

In my humble opinion this is what a Basic Wardrobe should consist of. Of course, each mom should tweak this list to their own family needs and budget. This is just a guide to get you thinking and planning. Happy Shopping!

5 pairs of jeans, pants or shorts – 1 for each day of school week. Especially for boys

A skirt/top combo or simple dress for girls. If your girls are on a sports team, like mine, they may be required to dress up on game days. Same for boys, so a pair of dress khaki’s may be in order.

Several tops/shirts (I would go with about 14- I figure 2 a day, based on how dirty my kids tend to be and not wanting to do laundry 47x’s a day) Both long and short sleeve. Solid color shirts are great for layering.

2 sweatshirts or jackets (weight will differ depending on your climate)

1 pair sturdy tennis shoes

Possible dress shoe (preferably flat)

1 pair shoes or boots for inclement weather

1 winter coat. Be sure to have kids try on and make sure it is comfortable. It is impossible to get a child to wear a coat if they feel like it is too bulky, itchy or anything else. This is not a battle you want to have on a winter morning

1 dozen pairs of socks

1 dozen pairs of underwear

3-4 bras for girls (possibly a sports bra also)

Any required PE clothing

1 backpack

More Tips for Mom:

Stock up on iron-on patches for reinforcing the knees on boy’s jeans

Streamline laundry sorting by buying the same color and type of socks and underwear. For multiple children, try color coding socks

Have a separate dirty clothes basket for each child (this prevents the age old problem of their favorite shirt being buried at the bottom of the community laundry pile, never to be seen again. You will know where it is and who needs their laundry done!)

Have young children select their next day’s outfit the night before

Keep a simple sewing kit and a supply of safety pins in your laundry room for last minute mending.

Be sure to use a permanent marker to mark names and phone numbers on all sweatshirts and coats. These are the items that get taken off at school and many times forgotten.

If you have teens who (or maybe you yourself) have bought the latest and greatest “premium denim” only to find that they have quickly worn holes in not so convenient places, you can have them fixed at your local tailor and some stores (depending on where purchased- Nordstrom does this) for a small fee. They actually sew in a patch, but you cannot tell that it has been sewn in! And your expensive jeans will be wearable again!

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