Everything you ever wanted to know about kid clothes

We found out Larkyn was a girl the week of Black Friday. Perfect excuse to drop everything and pray to the altar of Gymboree and Janie & Jack, right?
Her closet before she was born. These are just the "business smart" clothes...the play clothes and PJs were in a dresser.

Yeah.... I like to buy her clothes. And I have learned a lot in the last two years about buying, storing, cleaning, and reusing baby and kid clothes. I'd love to hear what you have to add to my favorite "hobby" (because let's face it, yoga and reading sure as hell aren't happening these days...)

  • Gymboree:  This is where I get most of her clothes (it is close and very convenient)
    • Fantastic quality
    • Love the collections concept, where I can buy several pieces from the same collection to mix and match all season long (Hello, "Blooming Nauticals")
    • One stop shop: you can get the outfit, shoes and accessories in one place
    • Gymbucks can save you a ton of money if you don't blow it all by earning them
    • A bit pricier than most places, but this mama only gets sale items (there is always a sale and we get coupons more often than we can use them)
    • You MUST try the semi-annual Big Red Balloon sale, where you can shop for out of season clothes starting at 1.99.

  • Once Upon a Child:
    • This is where I stock up on play clothes that she can wear on "daddy" days and to the park and I don't have to worry about stains.
    • You can find amazing steals, like our favorite Gap hoodie for 3.99!
    • It is very hit or miss. You have to search through some worn-looking items and go right before the weather changes and the good stuff is picked over.
This season's play clothes. The total was $42 for 11 items of excellent quality.
  • Target:
    • If you have a "juicier" kid like mine, a lot of the Circo stuff won't go over her head. 
    • The Cherokee line fits and wears well, and is usually prices $5-$10
    • I usually buy a size bigger in anything from there. It all shrinks!
    • Their socks are the BEST! Love that the sizing is printed on the bottom
Target is a great place for cheap swimsuits (but everyone else will have them). A fun Cherokee tee and jeggings, and my absolute favorite skirt from last summer (Circo).
  • Carter's:  Our go-to PJ supplier!
    • She pretty much lived in Carter's clothes for the first month because so many were gifted to us. Since then, we just stop in for PJs or if we have a gift card.
    • They are sensible, reasonably priced, and "sweet" clothes for children
    • Their sizing (to us) is consistently a little off. I buy a size up in tees because they are too tight and a size up in their bootylicious shorts. Footed PJs were always too long??
    • Great place for summer separates (tees, tanks and shorts) as they usually have a $5 table with cute options
    • Their coupons drive me crazy though, because you have to spend a minimum $40! (Gymboree has no minimum).
Carters: Providing excruciatingly cute pajamas since Day One.
  • Trader Tots:
    • This is local to Columbus and close to home
    • Carries high-quality secondhand clothes
    • I've found some beautiful dresses and sweaters from Janie & Jack and Gymboree here
    • Like any secondhand store, it is also hit or miss (last summer was a HIT)
    • This is a higher price point than Once Upon a Child, and sometimes I think I might be better off just getting the new stuff!
  • Honorable mentions...
    • Nordstrom (Boden) is a RARE but delicious treat
    • Gap Our only Gap clothes are gifts, from Once Upon a Child, or from a gift card. They are amazing quality and would probably fill her closet if money were no object.
    • Old Navy is where Aunt Kate gets adorable outfits for the kids in her life. She is a savvy online shopper who knows how to work some ON magic!
THE bathing suit of 2012 (Gap from Kate), whale 2 piece outfit from Mini Boden, and a favorite bold patterned thermal bodysuit from Old Navy (boots from Gymboree)
So, what to pick?
  • In the beginning, as evidenced in the closet photo above, I bought a lot of dressier mini-me clothes. It was fine to rock the gold gladiators and white lace dress when she wasn't mobile, but after they walk, they won't get worn.  Save most of the wardrobe budget for play clothes, which will get worn much more often.
  • Dresses! They are easy to slip on and they last forever. I can pull out last year's dresses and they will be fine this year. And when they eventually get too short, they can become a tunic with biker shorts. 
  • Mix and match. Most of us ladies already do this, but before I grab something, I make sure I have something at home that will match it. That Target skirt was great because it could go with any color shirt.
  • Sizing: Moving into 2Ts is a whole new ball game. Now they can wear the clothes for an entire year. So, if your kiddo is nearing his or her 2nd birthday, put the 24 m clothes back and go for the 2T. You can always roll the sleeves or cuff the pants for a few months AND they can wear it a year from now (yay!)
Definitely pulling all these cuties back out this summer. Left and top right from Once Upon a Child, bottom right from Gymboree

And now that you've got the clothes, here's some (more) advice...
  • KEEP YOUR RECEIPT. I have a dresser drawer dedicated to this. Otherwise, they will give you the price in the computer, which could leave you with pennies for something you want to return.
  • Keep the tags on until you put the item on and it FITS. More often than I'd like to admit, we near the end of the season and she hasn't worn some of her clothes. With the tags on, I can return them, exchange them, or get a lot more for them at a secondhand store with the tags on. 
  • This is where my mom should write a guest post because I am absolutely terrible at it. There are a few things I've learned, but I have a long way to go in the stain-removal department.
  • NOTHING comes out of those terrycloth PJs. Just don't buy them.
  • Slap on the stain remover ASAP...as in take their shirt off on the spot and get er done. My mom was known for asking me for my shirt at the dinner table. 
  • If you don't have a dryer with a Low heat setting, buy a new one. Line-drying makes them mildewy (in my experience) and the regular temp shrinks them.  
  • Wash shirts that have embellishments (anything other than solid) inside out. That will keep little fuzzies from attaching to the cute designs or glitter from falling off...tragic)
  • 56 qt. clear containers work magic. When they are all the same size, they stack nicely and you can see what is inside. I just add a label to tell what size it is, and to the basement it goes!
  • These tubs go on sale right after Christmas for about 50% less than usual because they have red or green lids. 
  • Even if they aren't "dirty", wash the clothes one last time before you pack them away. Otherwise, you open the tub and it smells like a locker room.
I get a little sad when I pack away each season of my baby's clothes. They are starting to take up more room in the closet and are touching the shelf below. By learning some of the lessons above, I'm not packing away as many unworn or impractical outfits and feeling sad that I only got to see her wear them once. I swear, sometimes I take photos of her just because I can't stand for the outfit to be seen only once (ie: the Boden whale outfit to the aquarium of course).

Hopefully some of these tips will help you build and maintain your little one's wardrobe. Since now you will have no money left for your own. Next up, shoes!

{Linking up with Kristin at Busy Bee}


Sarah @ Life, Love & Dinner said...

This is super helpful! I'm 19 weeks and can't wait to start clothes shopping for my little one! Found you through the link-up!

KRISTIN said...

What amazing advice! I am totally bookmarking this! Thanks for linking up lady! :)

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