If you've got a child, chances are, you buy a lot of clothing. Kids grow fast. They get dirty fast. And, let's face it, it's really fun to dress them up. So with all the adorable things fresh to shops each season, why do I suggest you make thrifting a part of your shopping habits? Well, aside from the obvious savings you'll enjoy, thrift shopping is an environmentally positive choice to make since the manufacturing and transportation of new clothes are big resource-drainers (and sure, I shop at BabyGap, but I like to think there's a balance!). And unlike traditional stores, second-hand shopping means you can be sure the garments you choose will wear well... because they've already been worn. It's also a way to find a wider variety of colours since clothing stores base their palettes on current trends, and it offers a lesser chance of three other kids wearing the same outfit to a birthday party. And speaking of colours, shopping is a great way to let your child explore texture and patterns whether you're just showing and telling your newborn about each piece or getting your one-year-old to point out a specific colour in a grouping. As I never tire of telling my husband, it's not just shopping, it's an educational opportunity!
Plus, these three outfit flatlays cost $40 total and I nabbed them in one fell swoop. Impressive, right? You can do it, too. (I like to spend the savings on great local finds-- my faves of which you can check out in THIS blog I wrote not so long ago.) Here are my tips as you navigate the world of shopping second-hand.
- Know what size your child is in various brands. Here's a LINK to a helpful chart.
-Look below and above your child's current size because as you learned from that helpful chart I linked to above, every brand fits differently.
-Shop for the future using your amazing mental math skills to estimate what size your child will be in the seasons to come.
-Think about pieces that can be easily incorporated into your child's current wardrobe and style.
- Find an inspiration piece that speaks to you and work around it, keeping it as a benchmark for your kid's style. Maybe it's a vest, maybe it's a pair of shoes, but whatever it is, that inspo piece can serve to keep you on track.
-Appreciate the quality of handmade and handknit pieces. These pieces were made with love and deserve new life. The sweater above is a perfect example.
-Look for signs of wear. Remember to check the legs and bum of onesies for stains, the crotch of jeans for ripped stitches, knees of pants for bagginess, the armpits of shirts for rips, buttons in case any are missing, snaps that may be broken, and avoid buying stained garments because if the previous owner couldn't get them out, you probably can't either.
-Value Village is an easy destination (it's across the park for me so it's also an excuse to get out for a walk), but remember to scope out finds at garage sales, kijiji, Instagram pre-loved accounts (I've never tried because baby=no screen time, but it seems like fun), consignment shops, and more off-the-beaten-path thrift stores. I bought the above cowboy boots at a garage sale years ago just in case I ever had a baby. THAT is how cute they are.
-Take some risks because they're fairly cheap thrills. Think outside gender lines, try out a new style, and embrace the fun of fashion.
-Small adult scarves make for good baby turbans. I also check out the adult purse section for little cloth purses because they make big, wonderful totes for a babe!
-Just like grown-up style, child style looks best in layers. Just look at the posters in Children's Place or Gap-- the kids are never wearing a two-part outfit. Whether it's a headband, cool shoes, necktie, scarf, or cardi, be mindful when shopping about how you can restyle each piece over and over again.
-Brand names aren't the only hallmark of a winner, so label-look with a grain of salt. The cutesie pleated skirt above is a Wal-Mart brand. And although you may not even recognize other brands, there are some dynamite European labels that you might stumble across if you adopt a quality-first attitude.
-Throw everything you buy in the laundry to do in your next round. Obviously.
-Don't worry too much about "dryclean only" labels on dresses. I've thrown everything in (although I put those in with my 'cold' cycle clothing) and so far, so good.
-Take a sniff. Is it smokey? LEAVE IT. I once bought an adorable but smokey-smelling dress (for myself) and could still smell it after several rounds in the laundry. I even tried sunning it and freezing it. Trust there is no escape from the smoke.
-In summer months when you're looking for shorts but it's pretty picked-over, nab some jeans and make cut-offs.
-Take your time. This might sound like a challenge with a baby in tow, but for me, my very-engaged little girl enjoyed going for a ride in her Moby or, later on, her Ergo. There are also other kids around so now I let her go free range for a bit (as long as I can see her). Garage sales are especially fun with a baby because it makes a neighborhood walk into an adventure.
-Go often. At some shops, replenishment is done on certain days (a good question to ask at the counter), but at others it is continuous. Either way, being a frequent browser increases your chances of getting to the great finds first.
-Become a member when possible so you're alerted of big promos. Value Village has a stamp card both for when you spend money in store and when you donate, so your purchase could be 30% off pretty easily.
-Those big promos? They usually mean new stock the next day. ;)
-Sell, lend, give away, or donate your child's used clothes so the cycle can continue! When my friends have babies, I gift new things alongside a couple of Petra's favourite pieces and I think people appreciate those curated bits.
Are you feeling more prepared for your thrifting journey?
I'll take that as a yes. And as you embark, I invite you to follow my little P's daily style journal, @petrascloset on Instagram to see how she wears our favourite thrifted finds. Happy shopping!