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How to give the whole family a summer makeover on a budget

Having a new outfit to put on, style up, and rock out in is always a fun and exciting way for kids to show off their own personalities through fashion. Kids are perceptive little things and quickly pick up on their parents’ habits of looking put-together before an event or happening of some kind.

If you are a lover of Vogue, spend hours perusing the shoe department at Macy’s, or simply enjoy the feel of a nice piece of fabric, chances are your little ones will likely follow in your footsteps. This can be a double-edged sword, however, especially when it comes to switching seasonal clothing out.

If you or your family are feeling a bit uninspired with your present wardrobe selections or have noticed your kiddos are in a growth spurt and are busting out of last year’s summer outfits, now may be a great time to freshen up the family’s looks — on a budget, of course.

Clothes hanging on a rack
fancy/shuttterstock

Out with the old

Each season, clothes are often switched out from fall/winter bulky and warm clothing to cool spring and summer wear that breathes and fits loosely for comfort. When it comes to refreshing your or your children’s outfits, you may want to begin by going through what they currently have on hand. By doing an inventory of your or your children’s currently owned items, you will have a clearer picture of what you will need to look for when replacing them.

When you’ve decided it’s time to go through each tote or container of seasonal clothing, the first thing you want to look at is the size. Does it correlate to what’s presently being worn? If not, now could be the perfect time to start a donation pile. If your little one is resistant to giving away old clothes, find a good way to explain to them so they can understand. Something such as: “By donating clothing, we’re making it possible for someone a little less financially fortunate than us the ability to clothe themselves and their kiddos inexpensively.”

The other thing to consider when going through last season’s clothing is the quality. If an item is heavily soiled, visibly stained, or in great disrepair, this could be a good candidate for the circular file, aka the trash. If it’s a favorite shirt or something that holds significance, a collection of shirts to make a quilt or other remembrance item is an option, as well.

Maria Symchych/Shutterstock

In with the new

Okay, so you’ve gone through all the clothing, you’ve pulled out items that no longer fit, are too tattered to continue, and have a clearer image of what your little ones may need to look refreshed and put-together this summer. You can see what you need to fill in with newer items and are ready to hit the stores for some pumped-up outfits that will have your little fashionistas wanting to strut their stuff.

The big question is, where do you go to find top-quality clothing at budget-friendly places? We’re glad you asked! Here are some options:

  • Target: This store’s children’s department is underrated, we believe. Its Cat & Jack line offers high-quality, inexpensive options that come with a 100% guarantee. If they should come apart, or in any way come into disrepair within so many months of purchase, you can take the item and your original purchase receipt back to Target, and they will exchange out your piece with a new one, free of charge! Now that’s bang for your buck!
  • T.J.Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods: This store’s clearance section is a gold mine! So many great bargains can be found, especially at the change of the season. This is also a great place to find stock-ups for the previous season, thanks to its awesome clearance section.
  • ThredUP: This unsung hero of the thrift store world could be a massive help to parents without a good, quality thrift store in their area. This online-based platform allows shoppers to purchase gently used, preowned clothing for dirt-cheap prices. It promotes the recycling mindset and could also be a place for you to list your child’s old clothing if they’re in good condition. Additionally, new members can usually score a welcome promo code, giving them a solid discount on their first purchase.

Once you’ve located some inexpensive, newer pieces to set off your child’s new look, it’s important to space out the amount spent on each piece, taking care it does not go overboard or over budget. We recommend trying to keep each piece between $3-$8 per item to allow you the most benefit of low prices.  

New Africa/shutterstock

Revamping your families’ closets doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, nor does it have to be even remotely difficult. Engage your kids with the chore, asking them to help you sort through the items, picking out what to donate, trash, and possibly even sell. Take the stress out of shopping by having your lists, ideas, and plans ready to go before you hit the stores, or consider shopping online if you’re a busy parent on the go.

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t — and doesn’t — cost too much or become too difficult to have stylish, put-together, and comfortable kiddos all summer long. 

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Emily Pidgeon
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Emily's work has appeared in the Tube City Almanac, Tube City Online and our Affinity Sites. When she's not writing, she is…
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