Back-to-School Clothes Shopping for All Ages

oldnavy1Your kids might not be excited to return to the classroom, but with a few guidelines and a solid game plan, you can be sure their wardrobe will be ready to head back-to-school. Follow these steps to make back-to-school clothes shopping productive, affordable, and fun—for you AND the kids!

Make a List

Your kid’s school may provide a basic list of wardrobe essentials to plan for, which is a great place to start. Make sure you consider the climate you live in, and what your kids may need to keep warm in the cooler months (even if your summer thermostat is making snow a distant memory!). For older kids, be sure to check if there is a school dress code to observe for modesty guidelines or clothing with a certain social message or branding. Help your kids fit in by not being reprimanded for clothing that breaks the rules, and know what can (and can’t) be used to express their individuality.

Take Inventory and Set a Budget

Turn back-to-school shopping into a reward for filling those summer vacation hours with some room cleaning. Have your kids help you sort through their current wardrobe to figure out what they’ve grown out of or stained, and redistribute hand-me-downs across siblings. Have teens help you make decisions about keeping or tossing their clothes, encouraging them to donate what they can to charitable organizations. Once you have an inventory, create a budget based on what new pieces you need to buy. Older kids can help determine their budget and research what stores are running sales to build money-management skills.


Make sure everyone is well rested and fed before heading out to shop, to reduce the risk of arguments and meltdowns. For little kids, look for clothing that’s machine washable, elastic or has kid-friendly fasteners, and color-coordinated for easy matching when they dress themselves. Keeping your expectations moderate when it comes to teen and tween fashion will help the experience be drama-free. Adolescents begin to use clothing as self-expression, so try to compromise if they’re adamant about a particular item you’re not too keen on. Be sure to stay strong and keep to the original budget—if there’s a pricey or frivolous (to you) item they ‘have to have,’ arrange for them to pay for the extra expense from their own earnings or allowance.

Pace Yourself

Try to keep the new ‘school clothes’ separate from the rest of your kid’s wardrobe until school actually starts, and then rotate new pieces in slowly. This will help stretch out that thrill of wearing something new, as well as prevent new clothes from becoming stained or worn out right away. Don’t feel like you have to get all of the back-to-school shopping done in one day; spreading your trips out over the end of summer and first weeks of school gives your older kids the opportunity to see what their friends are wearing and make adjustments. Taking your time might also save you some money, since you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales as well as possibly take advantage of state-declared “tax-free” days, when state sales taxes are lifted during back-to-school season.

This post has been sponsored by Old Navy. Old Navy’s Back-to-School Sale will help kids and parents make a great impression throughout the school year. Be sure to drop into Old Navy between now and August 15th to get your child ready for school with styles from $12 and under.

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