The styles may have changed, but the rules haven't. Parents building their kids' back-to-school wardrobes know that following a few guidelines is the key to keeping their kids fashionable without breaking the bank. Families are expected to spend an average of $204.67 on clothing items as their youngsters head back to class, down 7.7 percent from last year. Before stocking your children's closets with the retro rock-concert tees, plaids, and thin horizontal stripes, check out our tips for stretching your clothing dollars.
- Take stock. Check out your child's closet to assess what she really needs before hitting the store. Pants and sweaters from last year may still fit for the beginning of the school year.
- Spend wisely. Consider spending more on everyday staples like jeans, khakis, and solid leggings. Trendier pieces, as well as underwear and socks, are worn through more quickly and should use less of your budget.
- Travel a bit. Many states offer tax-free shopping on certain weeks prior to the school year's return. Consider making a day trip if one is in your area.
- Take advantage of incentives. Stores are doing everything they can to get shoppers, even offering significant discounts for people buying more. The Children's Place is offering a free t-shirt when two pairs of jean are purchased, while Gap is offering a second pair of jeans for $10 when you pay full price for the first pair. You may only need one pair of pants now, but buy a second pair the next size up and stow them away for the next growth spurt.
- Hold back. Many stores have yet to offer their best deals. If your child is demanding a new outfit for the first day of school, buy one, but then hold off and do the rest of your shopping in mid-to-late September when the stores are putting their Fall clothes on clearance.
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