So Your Daughter Wants a New Wardrobe: How Not to Break the Bank

You’ve experienced this, right? Your kiddo insists she needs new clothes because she has nothing to wear. You march to her room and pull out several shirts she’s never even worn right at the top of the drawer.

Immediately, you have a (painful) flashback to your day of shopping. Because you’re the mom and you’re always right, you’re unsure about these picks. But she swears up and down that shirt is her MOST favorite thing and she’ll wear that sweater always, even though it is a little itchy.

As it turns out, she’s just like most of us, falling in love with something fashionable in the store only to have second thoughts when she gets it home. So she re-wears the same thing over and over again. A few months later? She’s completely grossed out with the clothes she has.

Whether you have a fashionista on your hands or a kid who loves it in the store but changes her mind once the tags are off, here are some ideas for winning the wardrobe battle.

  1. Earn it!

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned lesson on the value of the dollar. Do your kids get an allowance? Agree to supply your kiddo with the essentials, but make her chip in for those expensive sneakers she’s just gotta have. She may be less likely to impulse buy if part of her allowance is paying for it.

  1. Play Project Runway: Kid Edition

Teach your kiddo how to rework her existing wardrobe by accessorizing. Show her how to mix and match old favorites for a new look. Lay the clothes out on the bed and pair things up to give her a cool new look. Try swapping out different-colored cardigans with the same undershirt or add a flashy headband to a favorite dress.

  1. Get Thrifty!

Thrift store shopping is great for kids with fashion flair or who love a good deal. Look for thrift shops in nice areas to increase your odds of scoring an awesome find. I love Red White & Blue Thrift Shop because the proceeds go toward veterans. I once found a $5 Sax Fifth Avenue jacket for a 5-year-old at a thrift shop in a posh neighborhood. Make your find sound cool by using words like “vintage” or “couture.” Thrift stores also have bargain deals on accessories like watches, belts, jewelry and scarves that can make an old outfit new again.

  1. Hand ‘Em On Down!

Let your friends and family members with older kids know you’ll gladly take outgrown and unwanted clothing off their hands to save them a trip to the donation drop-off.

If the donor is someone you don’t see often, the clothes will feel new since your child may have never seen them before. If the donor is a “really cool” older girl, even better!

We hit the jackpot recently when our neighbor gave us a big box her daughter had outgrown. A full-on fashion show ensued, with music and modeling of the free loot. We even added up the projected cost had we bought the clothes. At first, my daughter wasn’t too hip on secondhand clothes at first, but she changed her tune when I told her I could take her and a friend to the movies because of the money we’d saved.

  1. Switch It Up

Do your kids’ closets and drawers look like a tsunami just hit? Move less-frequently worn clothes to the top of the drawer and the front of the closet, putting new laundry towards the back or on the bottom. Your kids will discover clothes they haven’t worn in a while and may delay asking for more. Coordinate colors too—it saves time when choosing outfits and brings attention to what they may not be wearing!

  1. Out with the Old

Before you head to the store, remember to clean out old clothes together. You’ll make room for some new things and have the opportunity to donate outgrown clothes to those in need. Other items can be saved for resale stores. If you do manage to sell some things, show your kiddo how much they earned; they may be shocked to see how quickly clothes go down in value!

Take stock of what they have and what they need to avoid buying too many t-shirts or pants. Sometimes Mom needs a little wake-up call. Finding 15 size 7T shirts in the drawer may remind you how many times you caved into their pleas for something new.

  1. Find the Beauty Within

Kids, like all of us, need reminders that material things don’t always make you happy! Teach her to value who she is on the inside, not just how she looks on the outside. It’s easy to fall into consumerism and labels based when friends and neighbors are wearing popular, expensive brands.

Rediscover together other ways to feel good about yourselves. Here’s one idea: purchase a new pair of socks for each new outfit you buy and deliver them to the homeless together. It may be a healthy reality check about how fortunate your daughter really is.

  1. Handle with Care

Sick of finding dirty socks and gym clothes piled up in the corner or clean clothes littering the floor? Remind your kids to value their things by putting them away neatly. They need to demonstrate responsibility for their current possessions, wardrobe included, before you’ll consider purchasing something new.

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