A Thrifty Mom with Style

A guest writer from Nostalgic in Maine shares some tips on thrift store shopping for your kids – and how to do it with style!

Finding Five Girl Outfits for Less than $10 Each

Since I buy nearly everything else from secondhand stores, as soon as I became a mom it was only natural that I buy my kids’ stuff secondhand, as well. I buy toys, books, sports equipment and yes, almost all my kids’ clothes from places like Goodwill.

However, that does not mean that my kids wear old clothes with the typical hand-me-down look. I am actually quite picky about what my kids wear – the clothes have to be comfortable, of good quality and with a somewhat unique style, unlike the ready-made ensembles you get from Gap or Target. Still, my kids wear almost exclusively higher-end brands – which is easy to do on a lower-end budget. You just have to go to Goodwill.

Here are a few outfits from my 4-year old daughter’s closet – and everything you see is from Goodwill, including the shoes.  Every outfit is less than $10 – and isn’t she stylish?

Summer Play Date.

This adorable outfit is a favorite.  My daughter has actually had this old-fashioned floral top from Old Navy since she was 18 months.  That’s right – the size is 18-24 months, and it started out as a summer dress.  Since then it has graduated to a tunic, and with knee-length shorts from Children’s Place and brown sandals from Carter, she is ready for a picnic in the park.

  • Gap Dress/Shirt – no more than $3.00
  • Children’s Place Shorts – $1.99
  • Carter Sandals – $1.99

Total cost: $7.00

Ready for the Beach.

This is another dress that has eventually become a tunic.  It is super comfortable – perfect for play and for putting over a bathing suit when the sun is strong. The shorts are actually toddler pants, size 18 months.  I often look for fun little toddler pants to use as bloomers under dresses.  Since kids mostly grow in length, lots of toddler clothes still fit my kids – dresses become tunics and pants become capris or bloomers.  So check out the toddler racks when looking for outfits for your 3, 4 and 5 year olds.

The bag is originally from LL Bean, and even if you get it from the thrift store, as I did, you can still get it embroidered at the Freeport store for $5.  This is embroidered with my daughter’s name, and she brings it everywhere.  Finally, the shoes are Merrills, which is an expensive brand – but not at Goodwill, where they were on sale for $1.99.

  • Carter Dress-turned-Tunic: $1.99
  • Unmarked Pants-turned-Bloomers: $1.99
  • LL Bean Bag: $2.99
  • Merrill Shoes: $1.99

Total cost: $9.00

Ready for Pre-School.

I must admit I am not particularly fond of all things pink for girls. If you love pink, you are in luck at Goodwill where there are racks and racks of this popular girl color.  I, however, often look for boy clothes to compliment my daughter’s wardrobe, like with this cardigan from Old Navy that was brand new with tags still dangling. Paired with a cute t-shirt with orange flowers and orange shorts, she is still all girl.  Same sandals as above.

  • Old Navy Cardigan: $1.99
  • Gymboree Shorts: $0.98 (on sale)
  • Unmarked shirt: $0.98 (on sale)
  • Carters Sandals: $1.99

Total cost: $6.00

Ready for a fancy lunch out with mom (basically anywhere that serves food on plates rather than in wrappers).

My tomboy daughter actually likes this very girly outfit, including the only heels she has (and is allowed to have). I kind of wish I had this outfit myself.

  • Gymboree pants: $1.99
  • Laura Ashley shirt: $1.99
  • New Moves Mary Janes (with heels!): $1.99

Total cost: $6.00

Wild West with a Twist.

This is another favorite – and yet another shirt that once was a toddler dress.  The embroidery is so pretty on the front panel, so surely it deserved a second life as a tunic. Paired with brown pants and my daughter’s favorite boots, she is ready for play. Regarding those boots – they started out as a pair for my older son’s Halloween outfit.  However, after my daughter inherited them, she wears them with almost everything.  No wonder Jessie is her favorite Pixar character.

  • Gap Dress/Tunic: Less than $5
  • Jumping Beans Pants: $0.98 (on sale)
  • Unmarked Cowboy Boots: $2.99

Total cost: $9.00

As you can see from this small sample, you can find fun kids clothes at your local Goodwill.  The trick is to think outside the retail box.  I have found that kid’s clothes often are in very good condition at thrift stores since children often outgrow them before they outwear them.  I am also amazed by the number of brand new items I find in the kids’ section.  So, even if you have a limited budget, you can buy high-end brands, many brand new, if you just head to Goodwill.

Besides, by combining clothes with unique pieces that only can be found in thrift stores, you are guaranteed that your kids don’t match the current racks at the nearest retailer.  There is no better time to introduce your kids to secondhand shopping than when they are kids.  Today’s lesson: Shopping at Goodwill is good for the environment, good for your wallet, good for the programs they support  and good for your own individual style.  Any questions?  No? Ok, then let’s go get some ice cream with all that money we just saved!