After ten years of marriage and official full-time residency in NNY, I swear I will be able to step out on the first chilly day of fall and not have to scoot my shivering tail back into the house to change – or, heaven forbid – over to Target and pay full-price for things I should have bought on sale months ago.
Being prepared is especially important since Diva will be starting Kindergarten and will be gone from the house *gulp* ALL DAY LONG.
The past two years we’ve had the luxury of not having to dive headlong into the kid vs. parent, fashion vs. function war. Diva has had to wear a uniform to her pre-school at Coleman Montessori Center in downtown Watertown since she turned 3. She wore either a green uniform dress or a green uniform shirt with pants (or a skirt), a sweater and her coat. If it was cold and rainy or snowing, we’d circle the block a few extra times until we found a spot directly in front of the door for drop off. No big deal if we forgot her mittens.
This school year I will bid farewell to my precious baby at around 7 o’clock in the morning as she boards the bus to school. After that, she will be left to her own devices (more or less) until she gets home at 3 p.m. I’m taking this opportunity to make sure both of my kiddos are prepared for the day when we have to turn on the heaters and bundle up to go outside.
This means pretty much everything I’m buying her for school this year will be functional, and I’ve been shopping the sales non-stop to make sure it’s fashionable too.
Wardrobe for Diva (my 5-year-old girl)
She’s earned her nickname for a reason. The girl hasn’t worn a pair of jeans since before she was potty-trained. The only pair of pants she’s worn in the past two years (besides snow pants) were athletic pants she needed for Zumba, dance and yoga on Phys Ed days at the Coleman Montessori Center. She’s a girly girl through and through and I might not be able to get her to budge from the house if I tried to force her to wear sweatpants (or jeans, of course) to school. No, not even jeans that have been Bedazzled. I tried that.
At least ten dresses, long-sleeved and short sleeved (as long as the short-sleeved ones look okay with a long-sleeved shirt underneath)
Assorted leggings, both knee length and full length
Assorted tights (including one pair of white or off-white, and one pair of black)
Yoga pants (she prefers these over the athletic pants she had for school last year)
“Fancy” dresses for church, special and formal events – Yard sales are an excellent place to find these “sometimes” clothes
Socks (with ruffles – of course)
Undershirts and thermal underwear
Assorted long-sleeve nightgowns (Seriously, the girl HATES pants!)
Fall vest (optional – *we picked one up at a garage sale that was barely used)
Winter coat (*Still fits into last year’s Gap clearance “Warmest” coat)
Winter hat and mittens
Snowpants (*Garage Sale find – and pink to boot!)
Snow boots with excellent traction and that are easy to pull off and put on
Rain boots (*Amazon.com clearance early Winter 2011)
Sneakers (*Skechers BOGO-50% off at Skechers outlet in Waterloo, NY)
Black or brown Mary Janes (depending on the color palette of the fancy dresses we choose)
Crocs (*Zulily.com clearance + free shipping last week. Crocs are indispensable at our house – the kids use them every day during the winter after they’ve changed out of their winter boots)
Everyday shoes (*Ebay.com – New Without Tags Pedipeds for Diva. Good quality, comfortable, adorable.)
Wardrobe for Hunk (my 2-year-old boy)
The boy is surprisingly sensitive to cold. He likes to wrestle until he has you in a pretzel-shape and your lip is bleeding, but he gets chilly. Boys are 10000% easier to shop for than girls. It covers their top, it covers their bottom and it matches. Sort of. Done!
All below were hand-me-downs except for a couple of things we bought at Kohl’s and Gap Kids clearance in the spring:
Long sleeved shirts
Sweatshirts/Sweatpants combo (because he’s only 2 and doesn’t know it’s dorky)
Two “dressy” outfits for formal events, special occasions, and church (*garage sale this summer – for at least as long as he can fit into a 2t)
White onesies and thermal underwear for playing outside in the winter
Assorted long sleeve cotton pajamas (fleece is too hot for our wood boiler-heated house and he prefers separate top and bottom over the bodysuit or footsie pajamas)
Oh, how sweetly I remember the days when he wore this blue puffy bunny bunting (above) and I just sort of hauled him around like an adorable, drooly stuffed animal. *Sigh*
Fall jacket (We actually have TWO: *Garage sale find AND – bonus – a hand-me-down from a friend!)
Raincoat (*Diva has handed one down that looks like an elephant. So stinking cute!)
Winter coat (*Garage sale find – with matching snow pants!)
Winter hat & mittens
Snow boots with excellent traction and that are easy to pull off and put on (*Barely used hand-me-downs from a friend)
Rain boots (*Half price at the Stride Rite outlet store in Waterloo, NY)
Sneakers (*BOGO-50% off at the Skechers oulet in Waterloo, NY)
Black or brown dress shoes (depending on the color palette of the dress-up clothes we choose)
Crocs (*clearance + free shipping from zulily.com last week)
As noted, I’ve found garage sales to be an invaluable resource for kid’s clothing. We don’t have as much luck now as we did when the kiddos were younger. Now that they are older and growing more slowly, kiddos wear their clothes longer and we can’t always find like-new stuff at yard or garage sales.
What we can’t find on our garage sale excursions, I buy on Ebay or at deep discount or clearance prices at retail stores.
A sidenote on buying retail: my favorite spot for cheap kid’s shoes and clothes is Kohl’s. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a Kohl’s charge card. Kohl’s is a pain in the neck to actually shop at – especially their toddler/baby section – but they have the best sales I’ve ever seen! During their last winter clearance, I scored a pair of fleece mittens for Hunk for a quarter, and a set of three good-quality knit gloves for Diva for $1. They often have sale prices you can combine with Kohl’s card holder offers. And here’s the best part – whatever you put on your Kohl’s charge, you can write a check for at the register and the card is paid off as soon as you use it. That equals no interest payments – just really good deals on clothes! (Shopping online at Kohl’s? Use the code BLOGGER10 through June 23, 2012 to save 10%.)
One caveat: I never buy clothes a full year in advance. This has never, ever worked for us! For example, last fall, Diva was fitting perfectly into her size 4T clothes. This year she is wearing a size 6 in some styles. Who could have guessed she’d skip right over the 5T size, fly through the 4s and 5s and already be needing a 1st or 2nd grader’s clothes? I’d be out some serious cash if I’d gambled and bought her back-to-school clothes for this year at last year’s sales!
Don’t be stuck inside as the weather gets cooler, then colder, then frigid. Plan ahead and you’ll be able to actually ENJOY the fall and winter weather – yes, even if you’re from the south! As one of my dear Fort Drum friends who’s since moved on (to Alaska!) once said, “It’s just weather.” And, by the way, she’s from California!