6 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Fall Wardrobe for Your Toddler



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When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, our friends and family showered us with SO MANY BEAUTIFUL CLOTHES. It was an embarrassment of riches, really. But you know what? All of those clothes were for infants. A few weeks ago, on our first cold day of the year, I went to find something for my 15-month-old daughter to wear for an outdoor event, and realized we had absolutely no fall clothes for her. No jackets, no sweatshirts, not even jeans–nothing but a couple of last year’s cardigans and some summer leggings.

Buying a whole new cold weather wardrobe is expensive, and I was determined not to break our family budget, since these clothes will only last a few months. With a little creativity, you too can help your little ones look cute and stretch your budget.
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Tip 1: Recycle the old wardrobe.

Moms of boys, you may be out of luck. But to moms of girls, take last year’s dress and turn it into this year’s tunic. I’ve also found that my 15-month-old (who is in the 90th percentile for height) can still wear her size 6-month cardigans from last year. Yes, they’re a little shorter than last year, but all I have to do is make sure one button still buttons so they stay on. I also love to take summer dresses and add a denim jacket and a pair of leggings, and it immediately becomes fall-friendly.

Tip 2: Make your first stop the thrift store.

Before you turn your nose up at the idea of a thrift store, know that it’s possible to find some amazing deals on kids clothes. It can be hit or miss, but I managed to find some fabulous name brand toddler clothes (including some dresses for next summer) with very little wear, and nothing was more than $5. I always start with the thrift store, because based on what I find, I can supplement with newer items. (Bonus: I found an adorable military jacket for myself while I was there.)

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Tip 3: Join a Facebook moms’ group.

I’m a member of three different Facebook mom groups that buy/sell children’s gear. I scored some adorable (off-brand) Tiny TOMS for $2, as well as countless toys that would have been out of my budget otherwise. You don’t have to limit your hand-me-downs to people you know. We hope to have more kids, so right now I keep all of our old clothes and toys, but once we’re done having babies, I plan to sell outgrown items to make some extra money for the following season.

Tip 4: Check the clearance rack.

When I finally make it to a “real” store, the first place I go is the clearance rack. Many summer shirts can transition to fall with the help of a denim jacket or sweater, and somehow I scored some footie pajamas that will be perfect for cold weather. Once I’m done with the clearance section, I take advantage of special in-store sales. On my last trip, I found leggings on sale for just $6, so I snagged four pairs. You can also sign up for email lists so stores can send you sale notices and coupons. I almost never pay full price for any kids’ clothes.

Tip 5: Invest in mix and match pieces.

When shopping, I try to make sure that every piece I buy can be styled several different ways to maximize my daughter’s wardrobe. There are some beautiful patterned jeans and leggings on there, but I will only buy them if I can think of several different tops we have to match. Sometimes it’s hard to walk away from something adorable, but if she can’t get a ton of use out of a piece of clothing, it’s not going to be worth my money. If I do spend money on an item, it’s a staple, like jeans or cardigans that she can wear over and over.

Tip 6: Shop online boutiques.

I don’t love shopping. At least, not the old-fashioned, take the baby to the store kind of shopping. But, I have found some amazing deals with Instagram boutiques, of all places. The cost is typically lower than the nicer kids’ stores, and they have some gorgeous dresses and frilly things. I have even scored fabulous, gently used baby clothes. And, as an added bonus, I can shop directly from my phone, without ever packing a diaper bag.

Dressing my toddler is one of the most fun parts of parenthood, and with a little creativity (and a whole lot of discipline), I can do it without feeling guilty about blowing our budget.

Moms, do you have other ways to save money on a toddler’s wardrobe? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Bethe enjoys laughing at the parts of life that everybody experiences but nobody else will admit to (like setting her hair on fire at the Christmas Eve service at church). She works full-time as the creative director for a national non-profit, and in her spare time runs an Etsy shop featuring her graphic design work and modern quilts. She and her husband, Mr. Right, love to discover new restaurants, and they volunteer together, teaching English as a Second Language to refugees from around the world. She became mom to a big-eyed, giggly baby girl named Wrenn in the summer of 2013. For shameless baby pictures, you can follow her personal blog, Texas Lovely, or check her out on Instagram.



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