Back to school is getting into full gear which means I am starting to get my kids wardrobe ready for fall and winter.
We do the majority of our shopping second hand and used. We always do this before making a new purchase - any type of product! We scour Kijiji, second hand clothing stores, restores and more until we find what we are looking for.
Often though when I talk to other families about buying second hand many are nervous or apprehensive.
After years of searching second hand we have developed some tips and tricks that help you get the most out of shopping for second hand clothing for your kids.
First, visit your second hand shop often. While I certainly don't visit daily, I make it a habit of visiting at least once per month. Sometimes I visit weekly, especially in peak seasons (back to school, Christmas, spring). The more often you can visit and pop in the more likely you are to find what you are looking for. Just be careful that you are only searching for what you need - otherwise you get into a trap of spending more money than required.
Second, seek out high quality brands. Many parents I talk to purchase new because they want better quality. It is true that many clothes at second hand shops tend to be in poor condition or are made with poor quality materials. However, knowing which brands to purchase second hand will save you time and money. We seek out only high quality brands that we know will last. Brands such as: Lands End is by far my favorite commercial brand, followed by OshKosh, Gap and Kirkland (specifically for leggings!). I almost always avoid Old Navy, H&M and Joe Fresh. I find their products do not hold up well over time and the sewing to be poor. The leggings get holes in them quickly and the shirts fall apart more easily. I also find the styles to be over the top. For more tips on choosing brands and styles of clothes that will last check out our BLOG article.
Third, shop early or out of season. I honestly don't head to second hand shops on their sale or value days. I find the store to be exceptionally busy and the lines to cash out to be very long. The value saved for my time and stress is not worth it! If you are looking to truly save though wait until a sale day as often many second hand shops will have 50% off days certain times of year and at the end of seasons. I also purchase clothes that they will grow into within 1-2 years. I don't shop ahead years in advance but I do keep a good eye for pieces for the following year.
Fourth, search for basic styles and colors of clothing. It is much easier to buy second hand when you stick to a color scheme. For instance, with Kohen we will seek out primarily navy, grey, black and red. Those colors mix well together and are easy to find. For the girls, I stick to grey, black, and muted colors. I avoid bright colors, over the top patterns and character and branded clothes. This helps me avoid purchasing pieces that won't match anything their wardrobe! For more tips on choosing brands and styles of clothes that will last check out our BLOG article.
Fifth, go in with a plan! Know what you are looking for and what your child needs. If you are unsure what a basic, minimalist wardrobe entails check out our article: How to Minimize the Clothes your Children Own. I even have a list of the number of pieces to include in your child's wardrobe.
Lastly, give your clothing a good wash when you get home if you are nervous about the grossness factor! We will usually wash our new to us second hand clothes in our machine with about a cup of vinegar to disinfect and take away any scents that come from the store. You can also soak them in oxygen bleach if you are feeling especially concerned.
You can find some amazing, high quality pieces at second hand stores that will save you 1/4 cost of them purchased new. You just have to know how to approach shopping second hand.