Cold weather is upon us, and we're snuggling up to the idea of corduroys, warm woolen mittens, and boots made just for crunching snow. The winter months are, however, unpredictable everywhere, and whether your family spends most of their time at home, or travels from coast to coast over the holidays, one thing is for sure: our preschoolers are active and love the outdoors come rain or shine.
Here are some tips for outfitting your active winter kid this year:
1. A new wardrobe for the season doesn't mean that everything must be new. Start with last year's winter clothes that you've stashed away or wake up that bottom drawer you haven't opened in awhile. Are the sweaters above their navels this year (oh my, how they've grown!) or does the question "what was I thinking when I bought this" pop into your mind? And those sweaters that were maybe "too big" last year may be just the perfect size now. As you're going through last year's wardrobe, make two piles: keep and give away. Take inventory of your keep pile, jotting down colors and styles (cargo versus jeans) and start with these items to avoid overbuying and mismatching your outfits.
2. A good way to build on top of this foundation is to begin with your city's winter weather elements (Salt Lake City snow blizzards or San Diego cool breezes), how active your kids are (ice skating or swinging in the park), and where most of their time is spent (at school or in the backyard or both). Knowing these will help you determine whether that extra cost for sheepskin inside boots is necessary or whether you need two sets of winter gear (hat, gloves, scarves): one for play and one for more formal occasions.
3. The key to making everyone happy is to dress tots in layers! Plus, you'll avoid over-wearing and washing sweaters when a long-sleeve or turtle neck underneath a fleece jacket will do just the same.
4. Our children's body temperatures are not like ours, and they will definitely let us know by stalling or whining while we try to squeeze them, on top of already 3 layers of clothes, into snow suits that now make them look like puff pastries for just 5 minutes of backyard play. Take cue from their mobility. Are their arms out to their sides? Is gravity playing a cruel joke and they are better outfitted for moon walks instead? Ditch the unnecessary layers and opt for a better insulated jacket that is warm without the extra weight. Check out L.L. Bean's great selection of snowsuits and The North Face for fleece and insulated jackets.
5. Speaking of layers, start out with the basics. You can shop for great cotton and fleece pieces such as thermals and sweatpants to wear around the house, as well as pajamas, at some of the big box chain stores like Target, or at Old Navy. Both typically run weekly special deals such as 2 for under $10.
6. Corduroys (oh my!), cargo pants and jeans come in stylish colors, washes and fits at The Children's Place and babyGap. We especially love Gap's fleece lined jeans for boys and cuba blue corduroys for girls.
7. A good layering technique requires a fun t-shirt. That is why we love the extra chic and extra comfort of Crewcuts, the children's version of J.Crew stores. Check out these candy styles for girls and oh-so-yummy knits and tees for boys.
8. If you think shopping is a chore, just breathe. Retailers are making it easy for those who avoid the malls by offering extra incentives like free shipping. Be sure to check your favorite stores' websites before you head out. If you aren't aghast by the amount of emails in your inbox, then sign up for your favorite retailer's mailing list to receive additional discounts and news on what's new in stores and online.
9. When we think of winter, we often think of the sweaters that our grandmothers would knit for us. These are the pieces that have been kept not only for sentimental reasons, but because handmade clothing is made with great care and quality that lasts for generations. Check out the fantastic children's clothing collection found on Etsy, where everything is artfully handmade, unique and with a bit of playful whimsy -- like this repurposed angora gnome hat, aquamarine wool shoes, or scrappy skirt for toddler girls. You could spend hours shopping online here, and find some true gems, as well as inspirational courage to start repurposing your own sweaters to winter wear for your kiddos.
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