How to Get the Most Out of Your Kids' Clothes

Back to school shopping? Keep these tips in mind.

August 31, 2022

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Photo by: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Is it me or do kids either (a) grow out of their clothes in a millisecond, (b) manage to get holes in their clothes after wearing them just a few times, or (c) find some other crazy way to ruin their clothes?

I’m guessing it’s not just me.

With back-to-school season in full swing and cooler weather approaching in some parts of the country, now is the time that many parents are cleaning out closets and preparing to add to their kids' wardrobes.

But with rising costs on just about everything and being conscious about the rate at which we churn clothes, we decided to get some expertise about the most strategic way to plan our kids' closets.

How many shoes do our kids really need?

If your kids are older and love sneakers, they may have a different answer, but Irina Ovrutsky, founder of clothing brand Lola and The Boys, puts that number at three — two pairs of sneakers and one pair of rain or winter boots.

"You can alternate the two pairs of sneakers to match different outfits," she says. Or if you know you must add in soccer or baseball cleats, basketball shoes, dance shoes, and more, you can likely go with one pair of sneakers until they grow out of them (or destroy them).

"Our sneakers are designed to match everything so even if you only choose one pair to buy, they will go with almost anything in your kid’s wardrobe."

Is there a particular fabric we should look for?

Yes, kids’ clothes go through the ringer with both how active kids are and how many times their items get washed. Alexa DuPont, merchandising director of Primary, a non-gender, sustainable and inclusive kid’s clothing brand, says to look for good quality fabrics that are a little heavier, which will make them more durable. Even though the upfront cost may be slightly higher, it will be better down the road. They put together this fabric guide that can be useful wherever you shop to understand the differences in fabric.

Orvutsky always recommends looking for a poly-cotton blend. "I prefer a poly/cotton blend because the quality is great, you don’t have to wash it differently, and most importantly the fabric seems to last."

Of course, kids can be super picky when it comes to the way certain fabrics feel on their skin, so you must take that into consideration as well.

How do we know when to size up?

"I think generally, going up 1 size from the prior season is a good rule," says DuPont. She likes to buy the next size when what they are wearing still fits, but is getting a little small.

Now, when reading those size charts, you need to know your kids. If your kids tend to be a little on the taller side, you’ll want to go by the height measurement.

The only place I would be careful with is leggings, if you wanted a tight fit, I would go off your child’s weight.

What are good items to buy bigger so they last longer?

Jackets are always good to buy bigger because you can roll up the sleeves, and it’s a worthy investment piece depending on where you live. Raincoats and winter coats can be sized up and it’ll leave more room to layer underneath.

Ovrutsky also recommends a denim jacket, saying, "Denim is not only very durable, but is a key staple in any wardrobe since it can be dressed up or can be worn casually. A denim jacket also looks better as time goes on, as the denim gets that vintage, worn-in feel. A child can also grow into a denim jacket, just roll up or cuff those sleeves!"

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