Unfortunately, back-to-school shopping can be a stressfully expensive time for most parents. Because of growing limbs and feet, it is not a ritual you can generally opt out of.
Further, as any parent or grandparent well knows, a shirt made with only one-quarter of the fabric as an adult-size shirt does not equate to one-quarter the price, or even half the price for that matter. It should be no wonder that the children's apparel segment of the fashion industry remained fairly resilient during depressed economy of recent years.
To ease the damage to your wallet, here are a few tips from local moms (and an aunt):
Lesly Messina spends more on dresses, shirts and sweaters "because you can buy them bigger and they can wear them for two seasons, usually," and less on pants, leggings and shoes as they are easily outgrown. The one exception for her: UGG boots because the quality of the materials are far superior, and they are generally roomier to accommodate growing feet. Similarly, spend less on other basics such as T-shirts, socks and underwear.
Shopping the clearance racks at premier kids' retailers such as Crazy 8, Gymboree and Gap Kids remains a popular moneysaving technique.
Mia Fox and her friends also have an unofficial clothing swap and alert one another via text messages of any sale on kids' clothing that comes across their radars.
Hillary Nibert suggests trying out budget-friendly retailers such as Kohl's, which has many fashion-forward options for kids and near constant sales.
A tip this aunt and writer offers is to join the customer appreciation clubs of kids' retailers that are provided free of cost, such as Justice and Children's Place and Gymboree. You usually qualify for an automatic discount when you apply and receive regular coupons. Yes, you will be bombarded by emails, but I find the discounts are well worth it. Now if only those cute little princess tees would come in women's size 12!
Dennise Smith is a Charleston lawyer, fashion designer and co-founder of the local arts group Nomadic Tribes Collective.