I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and said in a secretive voice, “Where do you buy your kids’ clothes?”. If you are new to this blog or just aren’t paying that much attention to my personal life, I have 6 and 4 year old boys. To see a few real life examples of their outfits, check out #MaxWilliam and #JamesArvey on Instagram. The other thing people ask me is if I’m sad that I don’t have little girls to dress. I always answer that it is God’s way of saving me a lot of money.
Where to Shop
People seem to think I must be picking things up at Barneys when I’m in New York shopping for clients, or at the very least scouting cute boutiques in DC. Nope and nope. As I say when people ask if I dress Mr. Real Life Style, I don’t have time for that. (Yes, he really looks that good on his own!) My kids clothes come from the same place other normal people get their clothes, hand-me-downs and online. Just like how every mom has her preference of where she orders her diapers online, most also have one store they buy their kids clothes.
In our family, that store is The Children’s Place. It could have been Gap or Old Navy, but I think I had fond memories of a few outfits I had from The Children’s Place when I was growing up, so I started there. At this point, I know their basic merchandise formula so I can order their entire season’s wardrobe in a short time, I know their sizes, the kids like the styles and fabrics, and I know which styles they will wear. The Children’s Place is also incredibly affordable, which helps when they go through periods of putting holes in the knees of all of their pants or staining all of their tee shirts with spaghetti sauce. I also order certain pieces from Lands’ End, which you might have noticed in James well-documented love of their long underwear, which he wears as outerwear. I love their bathing suits, rash guards, and 3-in-1 winter coats too.
So how do I figure out what the kids’ need? I count. Isn’t that romantic? Between only doing the laundry once a week and spare outfits needed in cars and at school, I like them each to have 14 tops and 14 bottoms a season. Do you think that is too much? In talking to other moms it seems as if it is more than everyone else but it works for us. And James always ends up with double what he needs because he inherits all of Max’s clothes. This makes my having to buy him extra long underwear as outerwear particularly amusing.
Involving the Kids
At 6, Max is of the age now where I feel like I can involve him in choosing his clothes as I’m buying them. I decided to place his summer clothing order while he was home from school last week as a way to use my time wisely and teach him a little about decision making. It was hysterical! I told him that he could pick a certain number of shorts and tee shirts from The Children’s Place website, but that we had to be mindful of the colors so that they matched what he already owned, etc. He goes right for the crazy geometric patterned shorts in bright blue and orange and Kyle and I are trying to explain to him that he also has to have some solid shorts to match certain tee shirts he already has, and that you have to mix up the colors so you can match your tops and shorts. Then he’s picking through sports and shark tees and asking, “But how can I choose, they are all so beautiful?!” And Kyle and I are explaining that this is what we do with our clients, help them edit down to their budget and what they need. I wish you could have been there!
A note about hand-me-downs
I’ve had multiple experiences where other moms have mentioned that they get a lot of their clothes from hand me downs, and that this must horrify me. My feelings are exactly the opposite! Between gifts and hand me downs, I barely bought my children any clothes till they turned 3. Hand me downs save money and time (who has time to shop when working full time and taking care of a baby?), as well as cut down on the very real environmental impact of clothing manufacturing. As stated in our blog on Sustainable Fashion, the best thing you can do is to just buy less.
I encourage everyone to create a hand me down “network” amongst their friends and neighbors. For instance, I send my 4 year old boy’s too small clothes to my friend in NYC who has a 3 year old boy. She in turn sends the clothes back to another friend of mine in DC with a 2 year old boy. We all save money, time and environmental impact. And we get to see our favorite things, like a mini leather motorcycle jacket!, get a second and third life. Seeing clothes full of memories on my best friend’s kids brings all of us joy. And where do I get my hand me downs? I have a few super generous clients with older boys who also hate to see the beautiful clothes they bought their children go to waste.
So are you horrified or impressed at my practicality in shopping for my children’s clothing? Where do you buy your children’s clothes? Do you have a hand me down network? Let us know on Facebook!
Lani Inlander is a personal stylist who has been working with clients who want to feel their best and look put-together every day for 20 years. You can find her in the Washington, D.C. and New York metropolitan areas. Are you looking for professional training to become a personal stylist? Learn how you can train with Lani at The Stylist Studio.