That age-old Ritual: Back To School Clothes Shopping!

Take a walk with me down memory lane…. 

Way back when, my mom would pick, what seemed like at the time, the hottest afternoon in August.  I can remember the sunlight bouncing around the yellow walls of my room as we pulled every item out of closets and drawers, and I tried it all on (tights, turtlenecks and sweaters, even) to figure out what I needed from the Back-To-School sales.  Did I mention we did not have air conditioning?  Anyway, my mother is a saint, and I realize that now, because….

It is that time to do the same with our kids!  The tax-free shopping days are August 6-15th in Illinois, which means we are heading to the stores next week.  Lord, please give me patience.  Seriously.

This Ritual process has 4 parts – Quantity and Type, Inventory, Shopping and Prep.

1.  Quantity and Type: 

  • First things first, decide on how many of each item you need.  I have boys, and they are not too picky, but I am.  Girls or teenage boys may require more options. 
  • Also, determine size needed – I know all my kids have sprouted since the end of the school year!

2.  Inventory: 

  • Starting with the oldest or largest child, try on everything, regardless of what size in on the tag (manufacturers vary widely on actual sizes).
  • Check items for stains, holes or needed repairs.  Purge the stained and old, fix the broken and pass down (if you can) items to younger, smaller siblings. 
  • Then, factoring in the pass-downs, complete the same process for each of the younger children, in decreasing order of age / size.
  • By the time I got through the big kid stuff, and delved into our pass downs in storage, my youngest really needs nothing new.  He’ll get a couple of new snazzy things for first days and picture days, but everything else is new to him!

 3.  Shopping:

  • I do the “all-kids-at-once” shopping trip, mainly because I don’t have a choice.
  • You can try the “one-child-at-a-time” trip if you would like, which prolongs the process but may be saner.
  • We head to the stores with our lists, our myriad of coupons, our sale fliers and our clean white socks for trying on shoes, of course. 
  • Thankfully, we don’t have to buy pants and long sleeve shirts yet.  That can be put off until September or October, to spread out the impact of costs.

4.  Prep:

  • After bringing home your spoils of war from the mall (well, Kohl’s, in our case), now you have to de-tag and wash it all, get it all hung up or in the drawers, and ready for that first day of school. 
  • The rest of “Prep” can be a weekly affair, of putting together outfits for the week, or hanging tops and bottoms together, to help your young ones get ready in the morning with a minimum of fuss. 

Hope these ideas help!  See you at the Mall!

Our list looks like this:  Child’s Name:

Shirts – Short Sleeve     Size:                 Needs: 13        Has:                 To Buy:
Shirts – Long Sleeve     Size:                 Needs: 13        Has:                 To Buy:
Shirts – Hoodies           Size:                 Needs: 3          Has:                 To Buy:

Pants – Shorts              Size:                 Needs: 7          Has:                 To Buy:
Pants – Long                Size:                 Needs: 7          Has:                 To Buy:
Pants – Dressy             Size:                 Needs: 1          Has:                 To Buy:
Pants – Athletic            Size:                 Needs: 3          Has:                 To Buy:

Shoes – Sneakers         Size:                 Needs: 1          Has:                 To Buy:
Shoes – Dressy            Size:                 Needs: 1          Has:                 To Buy:
Shoes – Boots              Size:                 Needs: 1          Has:                 To Buy:

Other – Summer PJs     Size:                 Needs: 4          Has:                 To Buy:
Other – Winter PJs       Size:                 Needs: 4          Has:                 To Buy:

Other – Underwear       Size:                 Needs: 10        Has:                 To Buy:
Other – Socks              Size:                 Needs: 10        Has:                 To Buy:
Other – T-Shirts            Size:                 Needs: 10        Has:                 To Buy:
Other – Belts                Size:                 Needs: 2          Has:                 To Buy:
Other – Jacket              Size:                 Needs: 1          Has:                 To Buy:

3 thoughts on “That age-old Ritual: Back To School Clothes Shopping!

  1. Sarah says:

    Great post! I have an alternative method as I am a year round shopper who likes to take advantage of online sales throughout the year. To prevent against over buying, I currently have an inventory of my kids fall & winter clothes in a spreadsheet on my laptop. When I put away their cool weather clothes in late spring, I took inventory of what would most likely fit them for fall and winter (noting sizes & items that ran big/small so that I can easily identify & remove items that they’ve outgrown). I consult this list as I spot online sales and include new purchases as they rrive and are deemed suitable. 🙂

    • colleencpo says:

      I like this idea, too! It more closely resembles how I handle my own clothes shopping, and how my hubby handles his. I have to admit to despising shopping in general, so doing it once and then being done appeals to me.

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