Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Clothes Shopping....Multiple Kids Mondays

So I oftentimes get asked by these sweet older ladies at church if I make the girls' matching dresses. The answer? No. I do sometimes make their hairbows, and I have handsmocked one dress for Ali Kate's birth...but that's it. I did buy a sewing machine a few months ago and have yet to learn how to follow a pattern and actually make something. But as I always tell these sweet ladies, " I don't know how to sew, but I do know how to shop!" So here are a few of my tips on affordably outfitting a small army! After all, I stay home and we have four children!

First of all, we always use hand-me-downs. Ali Kate's and Isabella's wardrobes this spring are probably 85% hand-me-downs from their big sister. They'll wear the better ones to church, playdates, etc...and keep the grimy ones for backyard play. Many are in excellent condition, so you probably can't tell these from the new clothes. As for Abby and Grant, they get new clothes (although I have for the first time ever bought some gently worn clothes off Ebay and been very satisfied with the exception of one Kelly's Kids dress....lesson learned....Don't buy Kelly's Kids second hand....their stuff fades and shows wear too badly).

As for new clothes, I am the queen of the Carters outlets. They run sales where the entire store is 40-50% off....that's when I go. I also go with a coupon in hand (usually another % off or a $10 off). I bought tons of clothes for like $300 a couple of months ago for all four kids. The cashier actually gave me another 20% off because I was buying so much! Carters makes the best playclothes (they hold up way better than the other playclothes like Target or Children's Place). The other bonus? They make their clothes coordinate (like Gymboree), so I can get my girls matching or at least coordinating outfits for the zoo, park, etc. (which I always try to do for safety reasons).

We also have a local favorite boutique called Itty Bitty and Co. They have some of the cutest smocked dresses, appliqued outfits, and other delightful finds....and they are always so willing to re-order to get my girls matching pieces. They've started carrying some more moderately priced dressy clothes, so we can buy them more since they cost less. The girls who own the store are fabulous, and they are great about letting me know what they've gotten in that they think I'll like. Great prices, wonderful service, cute clothes. You can't beat that!

Before Itty Bitty opened, I was the queen of Little Lambs and Ivy's clearance sales. I was the girl who got there at 10:00 the day that the clearance sales started so that I had lots to choose from. I always bought seasonal clearance for the year ahead, saving us tons of money on their nicest smocked and boutique outfits. Now that they are closed, I shop clearance on the websites of my favorite high-end brands. I got some incredible deals on some Remember Nguyen on their clearance section for this spring...very nice clothes for under $20 each!

I've also gotten into the new habit of stopping at consignment sales that have overstock of boutique clothes. These are new clothes that are priced WAY below retail. We've gotten some Anavini and other not-afforable brands for wonderful prices. That way I can dress my girls the way I love to dress little girls and still remain frugal!

Ebay has been a huge money-saver this spring. I have bought Grant so many smocked jon jons for under $15! All have been in like new condition, and have arrived looking wonderful. You probably can't tell his Ebay ones from his new boutique ones. While it takes some effort to buy on Ebay, it allows me to shop while they are sleeping (without having to make Saturday shopping trips that detract from family time) and at my convenience. I can't do whole wardrobes from there, but it does make a difference.

I also check many other online sites (many recommended by my friend Lauren Busbee who is a smart shopper!) for great deals on those nicer clothes that I love. I've found some unique items that way. In fact, I received the cutest personalized t-shirt I ordered for Grant off Etsy today in the's adorable.

Anyway, the lesson here is that I try to stretch our dollars as much as possible. I really have learned to shop smartly so that I can dress my kids adorably but without the ouch of the price tag! I oftentimes tell Matt how much I saved he just expects that I found a bargain. Perhaps one day I'll be able to tell those sweet ladies that I did make their clothes...but time just does not permit right now!

If you want to post your clothes shopping tips or any other ideas about families with multiple kids, join our carnival. Link to your blog here....

No comments: