How to thrift for Back-To-School clothing

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A great tutorial on how to thrift for back-to-school clothing. Get it all done in 6 simple steps.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t always have to happen inside of the usual retailers. Thrift stores can offer great variety when it comes to finding clothing for the return of the school year. This year, I’ve adopted a few new ways to shop for back-to-school clothing for the kids. I hope that these tips will help you and your brood get some great thrift finds this fall, and beyond.

Tip #1- Let them choose

back-to-school thrift outfit for kids

We’ve all heard the horror stories; Mom went to the thrift store to get our clothes, and she made us wear a paisley polyester shirt on the first day of school. Not cool, Mom! The best way to avoid this travesty is to provide the kids with their own thrift store budget (20 to 25 dollars), show them their section in the store and have them go to town. Besides the fact that this will be a great math experience (get as much as you can for the amount given, don’t go over-budget, etc), they will be picking out their own outfits and will be proud to wear them to school. And yes, you can thrift with your kids. I provided some helpful tips last Fall, so feel free to check out that post.

TIP #2 Go on non-sale days

Yes, this seems like the farthest thing you’d want to do when trying to save on kids clothing, but you will yield the best results. Call up your local thrift store and ask when the discount or sale day is, and go two days after. Sale days are dedicated to getting rid of inventory so they can put out more of the quality items. The day after the sale is spent cleaning up the may-lay from the day before. The second day is when they re-stock. Another option is to go the say before the sale. You’ll be able to find a few gems on that day as well.

TIP #3 Search for “double season” pieces

thrifted outfit for back-to-school

This GAP skirt that the Duchess is wearing (that she picked out herself) is perfect for spring and even early summer. It also has a lining underneath it, which means she can wear it with a plain sweater and tights in the fall. That’s three seasons covered with once piece of clothing. Search for items that have great “bones” (good lining, great durable fabric) and think of ways to use it for more than one season. Yes, you should do this BEFORE purchasing the item.

TIP #4 Layer it up

thrifted outfit for back-to-school

Find items that will be great layered on top or under other pieces. The Duchess is layering one of her favorite tees with this thrifted GAP sweater I got last year. Pay attention to good deals on long and short sleeve tees; they layer great under sweaters and dress shirts, for boys and girls. By layering a tee under a shirt, you can get the warmth of a sweater without spending money on one.

TIP #5 Get the bigger size

thrifted outfit for back-to-school

A time-tested trick of any parent is to find items that might be a little too big and let the kids “grow into” them in the school year. This trick also works well with thrifted items. The older a kid gets, the more selective they are about their clothing. Because of this, thrift stores tend to have better quality items in the larger sizes. This thrifted chambray shirt from The Children’s Place is a size too big, and so are the Osh-Kosh khaki shorts. They still look good on Sonny, though! Feel free to go one or two sizes up from your child’s current size. If they can’t fit the item right now, they’ll be able to wear it later in the school year.

TIP #6 Look online

I’ve seen so many Moms comment that the quality of items at their local thrift store is lacking. Why not look to online thrift stores? Shop Goodwill offers items at auction, and the shipping is decent. Ebay can yield you some good results, just look at the pictures well, and make sure shipping won’t put you over-budget. Also, our new favorite site to check out is ThredUp. They not only provide kids clothing, they have clothing for Mom too. I recently grabbed a few pieces from them and am very happy with my purchases.

Do you have any more questions on how to thrift for back-to-school clothing? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. Happy Thrifting!

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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  1. 7.18.13
    AlexM said:

    You’re kids are so cute! One thing I realized is that you can find better quality clothes in thrifts in better neighborhoods. Although all the stock goes to a central facility and is distributed, they don’t send stuff to the stores where it won’t sell — so that’s why I look for better brands and quality in different places when I can. I’ve been known to pull over on a car trip and check out a thrift in a nice community.

    But your tips for kids make a lot of sense!

  2. 7.18.13
    Mariah said:

    I never knew about the sale days but it makes so much sense! Great tips!

  3. 7.18.13

    Interesting about the non-sale days. Very good tip! They look so adorable! 🙂

  4. 7.18.13

    I had no idea about the sale days. I’m definitely doing that next time our thrift store has a sale! I love shopping the thrift store. And almost always take my boys so they can help pick out their clothes. It works amazing.

  5. 7.18.13
    Val said:

    You just don’t know how I need these tips right now. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  6. 7.18.13

    This post is awesome! The sale day tip is especially useful. What cute kiddos and great outfits!

  7. 7.18.13

    Great tips. They both look so good in their choices.

    I just did a little B2S shop with some “bucks” I had to spend. I was terrified at some of the choices…but mostly because the options were there!

    Maybe our next shop will be to Goodwill.

  8. 7.18.13
    Pam said:

    Ok, I love to go to thrift stores, but I never thought about that with the sale days! Thanks for the tip!

  9. 7.19.13
    Tyrone said:

    They look so adorable. Thank you for your tips.

  10. 8.19.13
    DC Thrifty Mom said:

    Thanks for your thrift store shopping tips for kids. I needed to hear “Tip #2 – Go on non-sale days.” Funny how you get into the habit of saving but forget to consider the quality and selection on non-discount days. Anyway, I shared your post with my Thrifty Friends too!
    And I agree adorable children!

    • 8.19.13
      Amiyrah said:

      Thanks for sharing with your thrift friends, Nicole! I think we all forget how great nom-sale days can be when you are looking for quality, especially when thrift shopping. I’m so glad I could give you some tips to follow.

  11. 10.16.13

    Oh my gosh. Your kids are SO cute. I can’t even stand it. ADORABLE to the max.