It's never too early to learn how to shop wisely.
It's never too early to learn how to shop wisely. Svitlana Pavzyuk / Getty Images

Shortcuts to kitting out your kids in short pants

Kids' clothes

I don't know about you but in my house there is always a feeling of incredulity at how quickly our little ones outgrow their clothes.

No sooner have you outfitted them for the season then along comes that growth spurt and suddenly those jeans you thought would carry them through winter will not be seeing the back of next week.

Buying clothing for children can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise with the costs merely escalating as they grow up and become more fashion conscious.

Sometimes it's difficult to believe stores can justify selling adult and kids clothes at the same price but such is the workings of economics and necessity that you are left between a rock and a hard place.

Perhaps the best general advice out there is to buy the best quality you can within your budget, teach your child to take good care of what they wear and resell clothing in good condition to recoup losses.


Shop the sales

Of course swimmers may be the last thing you want to look at as the weather turns cold but this is exactly the time to buy them.

You can get clothes in the end-of-season sales for a fraction of the cost, which means you can save a bundle on next summer's necessities, provided you are willing to sort through those huge sale piles.

This is also a good time to peep into the more expensive stores.

Sales there can have you pay $10-20 for an excellent quality item usually eight times that price.

At Pumpkin Patch for example, girls' tops that retailed at $29.99 at the start of summer are now selling for $8 while boys shorts carrying a $35 price tag can now be snapped up for $10.


Charity shops

Children will often outgrow their clothes before they outwear them.

Charity shops are a treasure trove of hardly worn items and you can often even pick up a piece with the original price tag still on.

It doesn't matter if you have money to spare and can afford new items every week, think of it as doing your bit for the environment.

I prefer to buy kids' shoes new but second-hand clothing is an old faithful in our house.


Everyday clothing

These are your staples - jeans and leggings, shorts and t-shirts.

They never go out of style and are great for mixing and matching.

They don't need to cost the earth but the material needs to be comfortable and the stitching strong enough to withstand frequent washing.

Kids are always on the move and need clothing choices to reflect that.

Target does a great line in jeans and cargo pants from $20 with leggings from $7 while Kmart has inexpensive plain t-shirts from $4.

To these you can add some splashes of seasonal fashions like skinny jeans or vintage t-shirts to add some interest and keep them in touch.

Indulge in colour, not only is it bright and fun but when else can you buy a bright pink dress with a dancing cupcake or a bright yellow t-shirt with a charging green dinosaur.

Children also tend to feel cold quite quickly so go for at least one good quality jumper (Target from $29.99 and Pumpkin Patch from $35) and don't forget that rain jacket ($35 from Bebe and Me).


Special occasions

Children look so cute in their Sunday best that it is difficult to stop at just one perfect outfit.

But before you rush to the cashier with your arms laden with party dresses think about the occasion for which they are intended, whether they are too fussy for your child to be comfortable in and whether the price reflects how many times the ensemble is likely to be worn.

Myer and David Jones have party dresses from $59.95 with dressy occasion clothes for boys starting from $29.95 for shirts and $69.95 for pants.



Making those clothes last

  1. Follow the washing instructions on the label. Before tossing the clothes into the machine separate dark colours from light. Pre-treat stains and repair any holes. Empty all pockets and close zippers.
  2. Line drying items will extend their lifespan.
  3. If you are lucky enough to keep clothes for more than one season launder them before packing them away. Use plastic containers instead of cardboard boxes for storage.
  4. Get your kids to change into "play clothes" when they come home from school. These are older clothes that you don't mind getting stained.


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