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Girls' Khaki Jumper
Girls' Khaki Jumper

How to Buy Back to School Clothes

Ah, the scent of school supplies and a new backpack! Even kids who loathe the end of summer and the impending school year can get excited about back-to-school shopping. It's a chance to make a fresh start! Shop smart and have some fun with these tips on buying the best back-to-school clothes.

The Basics

Step 1Get Clear: Chances are, you've already received a packet of papers with information on your child's teacher and room number as well as a supply list. Take a look to see if there's anything written about the school's dress code, and if not, call the school and ask. Most schools have some sort of rules for governing appropriate dress, like the minimum length for shorts or skirts, and more and more are requiring uniforms. It would be a shame to buy a closet full of clothes your kid can't wear to school! Take Stock: Comb the closets to see what you'll need to buy. Toss anything that's ripped or stained beyond repair and have your child try on other clothes to ensure that they fit. See which outgrown clothes can be reappropriated for a younger child (yours or a friend's). Now take a basic inventory. Has your budding basketball star outgrown all his pants but his shirts still fit? Did your pint-size Picasso spill paint down all of her t-shirts but managed to keep her skirts clean? Chances are, there's no need to buy an entirely new wardrobe.
Step 2Hit The Net: For super-convenient, mall-free shopping, make a list of everything you need, including colors and sizes, and sit down for an hour or two at the computer. It's easy to find the best deals and widest range of sizes online. If you find an amazing deal and your child is in a fast-growth stage, consider buying two of the item, one in a larger size. Have Some Fun: The more of their clothes kids like, the less likely you are to find yourself washing that one favorite t-shirt three times a week. If you're not bound by a school uniform, be sure to get your kids' input. There's no need to break the bank on designer duds, but clothing can be an easy way for kids to express themselves. Let them enjoy the process!

The Lingo

Pique knit: A fine knit that creates a texture similar to a waffle weave
Broadcloth: Closely woven fabric with very fine ribs and a lustrous finish.
Twill: Fabric with diagonal parallel ribs

The Experts

"Candie's faux leather riding boot-with side buckles and an electric blue zipper- looks cool with jeans and skirts." Woman's Day, "What All the Kids are Wearing"
"Both girls' and boys' polos from Old Navy are terrific values, but for different reasons. The durable, colorfast knit of the boy's shirt doesn't shrink much, but the cut is small. The girl's shirt has loads of reinforced stitching (a sign of quality), but the fabric shrank a bit." -Good Housekeeping, Bargain Clothes That Last "Appaman Girl Jeggings. Not a legging, not quite a jean - like 'em or not, jeggings are making the scene. So while you might want to personally pass on this trend, your tot will look styling for back to school in this Appaman pair. " -Yahoo's Shine, Best Back-to-School Fashion

The Brands

Gap Gap carries fashion clothing as well as uniform pieces online
Old Navy A lower-priced subsidiary of Gap, Old Navy sells kids clothes as well as school uniform staples online.
Cherokee A budget-friendly brand sold at Target.
Children's Place A store selling exclusively children's clothes, including it's own budget brand.
Lacoste A luxury brand that includes children's clothing in classic styles.

The Price

$: Old Navy Girls Pique Uniform Polos $9.50
$$: Boys' CherokeeĀ® Short-Sleeve Ultimate $5.99
$$$: Girls Uniform Pants $14.99
$$$$: Tommy Hilfiger Boys Khaki Pants $20.65
$$$$$: Gap Girls' Ribbed Cardigan $24.50
$$$$$$: Lands' End Boys' Stripe V-neck Sweater $29.50
$$$$$$$: Lands' End Girls Plaid Jumper $39.50
$$$$$$$$: Gap Girls Sash Blazer $39.50
$$$$$$$$$: Lacoste Kids Boy's Zip Front Hooded Sweatshirt $98.00