toddler wardrobe: are end of season sales worth it?

 

September 2010

Henry was a beautiful chubby baby.

He was 20 pounds at six months and eeking off the growth charts. By the summer 2010, he was a 10 month old packed into 12-18 month size clothing. Logic would suggest that by the summer of 2011 he would be in two year old sizing. At least. Have I mentioned Chris is 6’5″ and I am 6′? My mother tells me I was 30 pounds at a year old.

I was still in my pre-minimalist days in the summer of 2010 so I took advantage of some end of season sales and bought a few pairs of shorts in larger sizes for the next summer. I tucked them away and when fall rolled around I put the good condition old shorts in the ‘for next baby’ bin.

June 2011

I was wrong.

It seems I can’t predict the future.

Henry is a slim 26 pound almost two year old now. And he’s worn all of his shorts from last summer again. The two pairs of two year old shorts I bought in advance are huge on him. I have no idea if they will get any wear from our family at all. He may jump two sizes over the winter.

The good news: we got a lot of wear out of these shorts and a few others. They’re still in good condition and we, or another family, will get a lot more use out of them.

I’m transitioning Henry’s wardrobe to fall right now and pruning the items he isn’t wearing much or that are just a touch small. I’ll have photos and a list of what stays soon.

More about toddler wardrobes:

Question: do you buy children’s clothing in advance at end of season sales? Do you find it worth the risk? Now that we are keeping smaller wardrobes I’m not as concerned about having to buy in season at non-sale prices (also helps that I am into thrift stores and buying second hand). I figure four items at full price that I know fit are better than a dozen items at sale price that may never get worn.

 

 

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  1. Charlotte says

    Wait until the diapers come off… My 3 yr old has size 2 pants fitting in the waist and bum, of course they are too short (daddy 6’1″, mommy 5’9″) – it did not bother us in the summer. Now I have to buy some size 3 and 4 with elastic waist and take them in.
    I sometimes buy end of season sale items and also have some hand me downs. I am not storing more than what will fit in one diaper box. My son is a bit sensitive to clothing (no pockets, no rough seams..and no heavy fabrics). I can safely buy t-shirts as we use these any season under warmer clothing, pants I am careful with now.
    My best advice is: take advantage of the sale if it is less than half price and only buy 2-3 items of the same kind, this way you can save it for the second kid. The good news is that from now on you don’t have to buy clothes every 3-6 months. Shoes are trickier, their feet can grow 2 sizes in weeks and then stop for a year… I know you don’t have many shoes for Henry… we are the same way, the only thing I have to buy every 6 months are rain boots – usually I buy them used, in good shape.
    Can’t wait for your book!

    • Charlotte says

      Just our example: my son has grown 4 inches and only gained 5 pounds in the last year, now he is about 101 cm tall and weighing 32 pds.

    • theminimalistmom says

      Rain boots are a must for life over here in the Isle of Man. I had a used pair back in Canada but couldn’t find any at the thrift store here.

      Luckily we have a nice set of barely or never worn summer items to put away for next year. I guess we are end of season shopping in our own closet =)

  2. AnnDenee says

    I do like to pick up a few items at the end of season sales and so far I’ve had good luck with hitting the right sizes. I also have girls so if the waist size is good, but pants are too short, I just add a ruffle to the hem. For short skirts, I layer with leggings. Rather than fighting with elastic that isn’t tight enough for the waist, I made a colorful, fun set of suspenders. I know.. girls and suspenders?? She’s 2. It’s fine!

    I love reading your posts!

    • theminimalistmom says

      Thanks, AnnDenee. I love tights and leggings on little toddler! Must be so fun, and practical, to mix and match to outfits.

      Suspenders are awesome! One of my sister’s made a pair for her little boy.

  3. Alexis Yael says

    My child is a long lean 5 year old (that started as a short, chubby baby!) He leaned out in those toddler years and we got a LOT of use out of sizes 18m and 2t. And then suddenly he just shot up!

    Shoes are the only thing I really bought ahead of time (we did have some hand me down clothes for ahead of time and occasionally gifts would be too big, so we’d put those aside). With shoes, used is so easy and good that I’d buy a
    size or even two ahead, when I could find them (at least in the smaller sizes, I’m not finding much in these bigger sizes now bc I think kids stay in one size longer and shred their shoes… We have actually worn out shoes now that he’s big).

    We’re putting off buying his winter gear until it’s actually here, bc we’ve had a couple of quick growth spurts this year already. I guess by then it’ll be almost the “end of the season” sales wise, we’ll see. (Winter stuff just arrived here this month. It’s still technically summer, even tho fall temps just arrived!)

    • theminimalistmom says

      Shoes: that is one area I did buy in advance even after we ‘got minimalist’ and stopped spending. I was buying a pair of really nice leather shoes for Henry off of Craigslist and the seller had more shoes in a few sizes up. They are great quality shoes that retail for $60-$90 (I would never pay that!!) so I was happy to buy them as a set for a steal.

      Fall is creeping in here too. We have both been wearing our wellies and rain jackets for tromping about on the beach.

  4. Lisa @ Granola Catholic says

    I don’t buy clothing so much in advance, but I am giving clothing by moms I swap with. They give me their son’s and daughter’s hand me downs and I give my daughter’s hand me downs to them. We have a nice circle of friends that we work with. We have even gotten together to do exchange events with leftover clothing going to a charity. All in all I might have part of a shelf with to grow into clothes for my youngest. He seems to grow overnight at times and this has come in handy when clothes suddenly don’t fit.

    • theminimalistmom says

      Clothing swaps are a great idea! There was one at a toddler playgroup we go to a few months back. At the time we didn’t need anything so I abstained. Hoping to go to one in the fall. We could use a few warmer items.

  5. Melissa @ The Simple spirit says

    I was JUST thinking about transitioning my girls’ wardrobe this week, now that it’s starting to get colder.

    I used to try and pick up items “for next year”, but now I don’t. It always seemed like when next year came around, we were gifted (generous grandparents!) or received hand-me-downs from nieces and just had way too many clothes. Ugh. Just not worth it.

    Now on to make my list of what to keep, inventory what we have, and see if there are any pieces I need to pick up to round it out. Can someone tell me WHY I cannot find PLAIN long-sleeved t-shirts to use for layering. Can’t find them. Can only find things with images or sayings. Ugh – another pet peeve.

    • theminimalistmom says

      Ditto on the screen printed tees and long sleeves. I found some plain ones for reasonable prices at H&M before we left Canada but most that I see out there have logos or sayings. Not really my style.

  6. Jen says

    The end of season sales have totally paid off for me. I do get to use the same clothes more than one year though because my kids seem to be on the small and light side of things. My three year old son gained one pound this past year (from 2 to 3) and now weighs 28 pounds. My fourteen month old daughter only weighs 18 pounds and I can still put a skirt on her that is for 9 month olds (and the waist is very loose).

    So, I have to follow some rules: We NEED adjustable waistbands or the items won’t get used. But if I get the proper style of waistband, then I can use pants for quite a few seasons- roll then when new, and by the time he grows out of them it’s been a LONG time.

    I am trying to become more of a minimalist, and I know I should probably shop at resale shops for clothes, but when I catch sales coupled with extra % off, I usually get my items for under $3 a piece brand new. And since we do use things for so long, they are pretty worn by the time we are done with them. And to be honest, I like the look of new clothes. I’m trying to get over this flaw (cause I do consider it a flaw) but I haven’t been able to yet.

    • theminimalistmom says

      I like new too =) But I’m getting over it as well and looking through thrift stores here for good finds. I also like well made clothing that will last and people tend to send their cheaper stuff to donations and the good stuff to friends, IMHO.
      Adjustable waistbands: could not agree more. Henry is still wearing an awesome pair of jeans from H&M with adjustable sizing. He started wearing them at 10 months and he is still wearing them now and will be 2 next month. They are worn at least twice a week and actually have developed a hole!! That’s what I call getting my moneys worth.

  7. Cat'sMeow says

    No. I only buy at sales something we can wear now, just in a slightly big size, and hoping to get a lot of wear out of it. Some stuff like dresses and leggings will easily fit two summers. The leggings we have now are a bit big, then they’ll be just right, then they’ll be worn as capri leggings :)

    But I’ve started making most of my daughter’s clothes myself now (save for rain and snow gear and shoes) so there will be minimal buying. And we don’t keep a lot since she tends to wear the same favorites over and over, just like I do.

  8. Katie says

    I’ve found that the “end of season” sales occur more mid-season around here (i.e. summer clothes were discounted in late June). With Betsy changing sizes every 8 weeks or so lately that’s worked out well for me. But I’m not buying ahead, just buying things that work now…
    I think once she’s in sizes longer I’ll take the same approach I have for myself – something is always on sale so I just buy when I actually need things, but still look for deals.

  9. Minimalist Mommi says

    Yep! I’m an end of season shopper. However, I only buy certain brands because I know they fit my kiddos well. For our younger guy, he’s getting pretty much all hand me downs. But for big bro, I often buy PJ’s at Old Navy on super clearance because they fit amazingly (and he will eventually fit in them…why spend the same amount on used jammies, when he can have new ones?). I also check out Nordstrom’s Rack and Dillard’s for clearance Hurley, Volcom, & Quiksilver gear. I’m pretty picky about what the boys wear, so it helps that I stick to certain brands and know when & wear to get them cheaply. That way they can still look “cool” next season, but I don’t have to break the bank!

  10. KT says

    No I don’t preshop – I have 3 girls who are all very different build, AND they want to choose their own clothes now. In fact when I try to bring some clothes home, I have to return them as I know they will not wear when them.
    I used to save clothes for their siblings, but they now wear out their clothes especially as I try to reduce the number they are wearing.
    My theory is that I buy what they need, when they need – if its on sale that a bonus. I now know my brands that will wear well, and I do not mind paying more for them as I have found I get what I pay for. I have found with them and myself that although the cheaper things are appealing at first when you calculate a cost per wear they end up more expensive.
    That said my kids are older, they are small and not growing much anymore (I am 5″1′)

  11. Sharron says

    I never do this, i enjoy hitting the shops when the new season clothes hit the shops. When in the past i have bought for the folllowing year i have either overshopped and not really liked what i bought. Hind sight has taught me to buy enough for one season and get the wear out of these clothes.

    My chubby babies always become really slim once they started to become active, and then once the nappies go you get even more wear from the bottom halfs.

    My kids now aged 16, 15, 11, and 9 are mostly in school uniform so they only need 3-4 outfits for leasuire wear. The most important thing i have learnt is that i can always find what i need, for the price i want to pay without having to ‘stock up’

    Henry is GORGEOUS!!! And i always find this age so adorable and so exciting!!!

    Sharron x

  12. Erin says

    My kids have reached an age where they now won’t wear a shirt if it doesn’t have a cool picture on it. Needless to say, this has put a real damper on my enthusiasm for shopping for clothing for them. Also, they will no longer wear pyjamas, just shorts and t-shirts to sleep in, so I’m saving a few bucks by not having to buy pj’s either.

    Until recently, I did shop the end of season sales. In January, I got a great deal on a winter coat for my oldest son for the upcoming winter season ($16 – score!). However, after getting rid of so much stuff, I’m losing my mojo for clothes shopping. I’m finding I prefer to stick to consignment shops to get good deals on things that are gently used. And whereas I used to think $7 was a great deal for a shirt, I’m now of the mind that $1 is a good deal but only if they’ll actually wear it.

    In my world, buying in advance translates into buying a lot of clothing that my kids either don’t need or won’t wear. It’s hard to predict very far in advance what will fit my two little beanpoles, so I’m doing my best not to buy ahead. Unless it’s shoes. Shoes I struggle with, because I find good kids’ shoes are ridiculously expensive so if I find a deal on nice shoes I will buy a pair in the next size. Even so, I’m trying to stick to only one bin of off-season clothing for my two kids in storage, and knowing that they have plenty is enough to keep me from buying any more.

  13. Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves says

    Buying kids’ clothes at the end of the season is so hard. I’ve done it a few times. I’d say I guessed correctly on size about 50% of the time. I have mostly stopped doing that now, because I’ve learned that if you dig around enough at the beginning of the season, there are usually deals to be found, plus you know the size is right.

  14. Dawn says

    I do generally buy at the end-of-the-season, because I’d much rather pay, say, $2-5 for kids’ clothes than full price.

    I used to buy quite a bit when my now 3.5-year-old was younger (because i couldn’t resist the cute clothes and also because they were cheap). But then, she started being picky about her clothes, preferring some items over others and ignoring others completely. For instance, I have 3 pairs of shorts she could’ve worn this summer (in 3 different sizes — 12-18 months, 2T and 3T). She’s worn two of those pairs in previous summers, but this summer, she was a strictly dresses/skirts kid and lived in two skirts and about 6 dresses all summer. I’ve since decided (based on my experience with only one kid… haha) that buying in advance is fine for when kids are younger, but once they hit toddler-hood, it’s probably better to slow down and buy fewer items, since they’re likely to want to live in certain clothes all the time.

    In the last 1.5 years, I’ve been getting a lot of my daughter’s clothes at mom-to-mom sales. It’s so much cheaper, and I tend to be picky when I shop there, making sure the clothes are in excellent condition (or close). Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for buying cheap kids’ clothes there has resulted in buying more pieces than my daughter actually wears, so now I’m left having to try to sell the ones she didn’t. Ah well. A lesson to be learnt for the next time.

  15. Vicki says

    I have saved clothes from my step son and friends’ sons for my little one. I still find I have to do a little shopping for him – so far he is right on or just below sizing (he is 8 months and wearing 6-9 month clothes). I do my shopping at thrift and consignment shops, so if I see something I love in a larger size, I do buy it, knowing that if he can’t wear it later, at least I only spent a few bucks. And I can pass it on to someone in our playgroup!

  16. Apple says

    I have a list of clothes and shoes that my kids need in a year. I usually shop for clothes twice a year. Once in the spring, and once in the autumn, when I buy all the clothes they need. My main criteria is that their clothes need to be of good quality. (either from the high street, online or from charity shops)

  17. Jenny @ Ex-Consumer says

    Hey Rachel. I know a lot of moms around here that buy up the sales on kid’s clothes at the end of the season for the following year.

    I’ve never participated because — like you — I have no idea what size my boys will be in a whole year! Kids all grow at such different rates.

    I’m okay with waiting until new clothes are needed, and then purchasing a few good quality items.

  18. Angela says

    I had giant babies who slimmed down too. :) It does get worth it though once they are in a 2T and aren’t growing quite as rapidly, for a while at least. :) I tend to get my boys’ clothes (tops mainly) a little large and they are able to wear them for 2 seasons and still hand them down.

  19. samantha says

    I saved all my first girls clothes for the second. What a mess. Nothing fits the second girl in the right season. So it all went to the consignment store last week. I bought my 3 year old seven outfits, and the 6 month old ten one piece rompers,for the winter. I will do this every season, and consign last seasons clothes. I plan to hang the 3yr old outfits on hangers, each with its own bag with undies, socks and an undershirt for that day. Every morning she can get dressed with her own sense of autonomy, whilst I dress the baby and myself. At least that is the plan. We will see how my beloved, precocious toddler thwarts my attempt at streamlining.

  20. K.D. says

    I rarely pre-shop, in part because we are fortunate to receive a lot of hand-me-downs. However, I did just buy two sizes of Old Navy jeans because my long, skinny toddler keeps getting longer, and toddlers are tough on jeans.
    Elastic waists are a must-have.
    I love sales (we even had a special Boxing Day tradition in my family) but I think that they are one of the biggest contributors to clutter.

  21. Kari says

    My son is the same way! This summer, I was able to dig out most of his 12 month old shorts, and he wore most of those, and we got a few 18 month ones. I had quite a few 18 month things I bought on clearance to prepare, more pants than shorts. He grew pretty fast til he hit 9 months, then slowed down. We had to up sizes in mostly pants, because we cloth diapered. I’m sure that’s why he had wiggle room this year. LOL He’s going to be a beanpole just like his Daddy!

  22. Rachel says

    My children only get new clothes in early spring and late fall so any sales that are going on at that time I might take advantage of. I do go to the store when I know jeans and tees are super cheap because my boys wear these everyday no matter what the season. They only get eight tee shirts and three jeans in whatever size they wear and so I just buy the next size up. I am somewhat like minded with you in that I would rather buy three good new jeans than half-priced may not fit or last but they’re on sale.

  23. Claire says

    I also keep a small wardrobe for my daughter and buy most her clothes at a local kids consignment store, but I did buy one thing last year in anticipation of her wearing it in the future. I had been eying this cute red coat at Target for ages, but couldn’t justify buying it because A. She already had a winter coat and B. It was $25. When it went in sale last fall, I bought it in 4T for $10 and am very happy I did. She’s only in 3T now, but considering that the sizes don’t go up as often in toddler clothes, I think it’ll fit her next year.

    Something else I do is buy things slightly bigger than she needs. I don’t let her clothes flood her, but right up until that point is okay. That means that when most parents would have been buying 18 months, I bought 2T. Last winter she was in 3T for some of her clothes and it was a bit big, but still fits her perfectly for this year.

  24. Amber says

    I am not an end-of-season sale shopper. Or, for that matter, really a sale shopper of any kind. I opt more for thrift stores and the like.

    However, having said that, I’ve found that as my kids have gotten older their growth is more predictable. My daughter, for instance, has gained a size a year since she was 2, and she’s 6 now. Having a few years of level growth under my belt, I would be fairly confident about buying her clothes for 6-12 months out at this point if I thought the costs savings justified it.

  25. Michelle says

    I’ve had good luck buying at end of season, but it can be risky. Plus, sometimes I forget what I’ve already bought. We have two boys, so most things will get plenty of use. When the youngest outgrows things, I donate, gift, or sell the items.

  26. Melissa Ricketts Creech says

    I am the queen of end of season sale shopping! I NEVER buy anything unless it is at least 80% off (90% off is even better). Kohls is my friend! I can even find still in season clothes at 80% off near the end of the season (July/August for summer). I have 3 children under 3 (2 boys, 1 girl) so I have clothes stocked up 2 – 3 sizes in advance. I know they will all fit eventually and I’ve always been pretty right on when it comes to predicting size. Sometimes I’ve been a little off and something I think will fit one year won’t fit until the next, but eventually it will fit. I even buy end of season clearance for my older teens, husband, and myself. Why pay retail when I can get something for 80-90% off. This past winter I found a $200 wool men’s trench coat on sale for 90% off.

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