Skip the Flip-Flops: 10 Ways to Save on Kids' Clothes

KIDS' CLOTHES NO-NOS

Kids tear through their clothes, literally. They either outgrow things at an alarming rate or wear them so hard that they don't last longer than a few months. And while some items demand replacements, other types of kids' clothes can be foregone at the get-go.

SPECIAL OCCASION OUTFITS

Special occasion outfits are just that -- for special occasions only, and chances are you'll spend a pretty penny for your child to wear the outfit just once, maybe twice if you're lucky. Save your money and try to borrow a special occasion outfit, instead. Failing that, hit the second-hand shops or reach out to a buy/sell/trade group and pay a fraction of the retail cost.

OUT-OF-SEASON CLOTHING

Contrary to what is often recommended, buying up a size for next season during end-of-season sales doesn't always work out as planned. Kids go through growth spurts and then lulls, and it's hard to predict what size they will be in seven or eight months. Better not chance it and stick to the current season and the size that you know fits.

DESIGNER DUDS

So many parents want to outfit their tots as mini-adults sporting the latest fashion trends, but kids are kids and that means messy, hard on clothing, and gaining inches and pounds by the month. Clothes bearing designer labels cost more, lots more, and really, why bother? Stick to modestly-priced duds from lesser brands and put the savings towards other child essentials.

BRAND-NAME SHOES

Some parents fall into the trap of buying name brand shoes because they think they will last. Well, those Ugg boots you just bought your daughter surely won't fit next winter and you'll be back at square one, so save your money. There are plenty of cute kids shoes without the mark of a well-known name that will do the job just fine for much less.

EXCESSIVE ACCESSORIES

It's hard to resist a baby with a huge bow on her head or a little guy running around in suspenders and a bow tie. But kids just want to be comfortable and dolling them up in accessories every day gets old (for them) pretty quickly. Chances are they'll figure out how to rip off the bow ties and hair bows even before you've had the chance to snap a photo. If you must accessorize your mini-me, buy one or two accessories that go with multiple outfits and call it a day.

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BABY SHOES

Babies don't walk, so they don't need shoes. A few good pairs of socks with elastic that will keep them on a baby's little feet will suffice. Baby shoes are cute and the temptation is strong, but babies don't need anything sturdy until they are established walkers. And even then, a comfortable, flexible-soled shoe that sells at a modest price point is always a wise choice.

FLIP-FLOPS

Young children only need one or two pairs of comfortable shoes, and flip-flops are not one of them. They're just not all that safe for a child at play. Kids are in constant motion, running, jumping and playing, and they need shoes that won't hinder them, fall off, or get caught on something. If summer shoes are on order, opt for a pair with a closed toe and breathable mesh or holes for aeration that can be worn without socks but will stay on their feet.

MULTIPLE SWIM SUITS

In much of the country, the swimming season is three to five months long. One swimsuit will suffice; a good cold rinse after a dunk in the pool, lake, or ocean will keep it fresh. Spending money on excessive swimwear is a drag on your budget.

"GREEN" KIDS' CLOTHES

The organic label on kids' clothing only refers to the growing method used in the cotton crop. So while it may be better for the planet, the clothing itself may still be processed in chemicals before it reaches the store's rack. Skip paying extra when you can't be certain the item is completely green.

CLOTHING WITH SPECIAL CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS

It is not uncommon for children to go through more than one change of clothing in a day. Clothes tagged with a label that details specific cleaning instructions are a time-consuming and costly hassle. Chances are you'll forget that cleaning label and wash/dry the garment with everything else, only to have it emerge misshapen, shrunken, and, well, ruined. Stick to clothing that can survive wash after regular wash.