Dressing the Littles on a Budget

I noticed recently that there were some pins to this post that I wrote a year ago but the post looked horrible because the fonts were all weird, so I rewrote the post, added more pictures and thought I'd post it again.
One of my favorite things about having a little girl is dressing her (I know, you would hardly guess that with how many pictures I've posted with Ella wearing only a diaper, but being nakey comes with the territory of having a toddler).
The thing is that babies grow out of clothes so fast, you can't really justify spending a lot of money on a single outfit.
However, that makes it even more fun to dress her because it's kind of a game to find cute things on a budget and assembling it into an adorable outfit.
It is very rare for me to spend full price on clothes that I get for my kids.
Seriously, guys, I am way cheap.
And although I am very far from being any sort of expert on this topic I thought I would share some of the tricks I've found for dressing a baby or toddler on a budget.

1. You can find thrift-store deals at expensive clothing stores
Shopping for good deals doesn't mean you can't hit the expensive baby stores and discover awesome finds.
Because they are expensive they usually have sales going on, these sales are hardly worthwhile, but what is worthwhile is when they are having an additional sale on top of their normal sales.
This usually happens on holidays or when the seasons are changing and they are trying to get rid of stuff.
Labor Day sales are probably one of my faves because it's between seasons and that gets you even better deals.
We went to OshKosh (I know, I know, this far from being a super expensive baby store, but it's much more than I like to spend, so I consider it an expensive one) when they were having their normal sales, their back-to-school sale, their Labor Day sale and they had just thrown a bunch of stuff into the clearance rack because the seasons were changing, it was an awesome sale!
Not everything was a great deal but there were lots of good finds.
We found shirts for $4 and less and pants for $6 and less.
Those are brand new OshKosh items that are 75% off their original price.
Pink patterned top (top left): $4-- Osh Kosh, Purple striped leggings: $6-- Osh Kosh, Swimsuit: $4-- Osh Kosh, Striped shirt (bottom right): $4-- Osh Kosh

Although, let's be honest, sometimes things are totally worth their expensive price tag, for example, Saltwater sandals are on the pricey side but they are the best. 
They last FOREVER and are gender-neutral which means they have a ton of mileage in them.
I got a pair of (non-Saltwater) sandals for Ella at the beginning of the summer that are majorly worn down and just trashy-looking after the summer but the Saltwater sandals that Adam's sister sent to us to borrow for the summer have held together beautifully because they are made out of stronger materials.
Because they hold together so well they can be used for several children over several years so you actually end up saving money because you had to buy less pairs of sandals.
So I plan on ordering some from Amazon this winter for next summer.

2. Shop out of season
This leads us to shopping out of season.
I'm sure you've heard of this before but it seriously is the best thing.
The reason that things go on clearance is because the item of clothing is about to go out of season, so your baby might not be able to wear it right away because the weather is getting too cold for shorts, but it will be perfect for next summer, just get the size that they will need a year from now.
Last fall I stocked up on several shorts for Ella  for this summer because they were all on sale.
Most of the shorts were $3 and they were dang cute.
And I bought this year's Christmas pajamas last January when the stores were trying to get rid of them (Ella's ended up being under $3 and Fenton's were $1.50)
3. Keep summer clothes out through winter
Don't assume that something made for summer can't be used for winter.
Putting stockings under Ella's shorts is one of my favorite things.
Or add stockings and a cardigan to a summer romper or onesie and you have a winter outfit.
Heart stockings: $1.75-- Old Navy clearance, White cardigan: $4-- Kid to Kid, Light gray striped stockings: $6-- H&M, Blue tennis shoes: 50 cents-- thrift store, Black hat: $4 (or less, I don't remember)-- Osh Kosh, I got it oversized so that she can wear it for a few years), Striped sweater: $3-- Kid to Kid
Moccasins: $15-- Minnetonka (best price I've found on moccasins with thick enough soles to walk outside in, but if you find better ones, let me know because moccasins are the best--especially for littles just learning to walk-- they are super comfortable, easy to walk in, minimize falls and go with everything!)

4. Places I love: Old Navy clearance, H&M, Ross, TJ Maxx, Target, Kid to Kid and even the Dollar Tree
I think Old Navy has some of the cutest kid clothes out there.
But after oohing and ahhing over the "just in" section, head back to the clearance and park yourself there because Old Navy clearance is awesome!
Thrift store prices for brand new Old Navy stuff.
I've found dresses for Ella for $1, a winter hat for 50 cents, sturdy toddler shoes for just over $1, the list goes on.

Just a few of the MANY outfits we have from Old Navy:

And one thing I really like is having an Old Navy credit card.
Old Navy regularly has 40% off their entire store if you have their credit card
There are no costs to having an Old Navy card, and I just use it as a debit card and pay it completely off  each month so I don't have to pay interest on it.
The reward from using the credit card is getting free cash to spend at Old Navy.
I use the free cash at their 40% off sales and buy a ton of stuff that is already on clearance and get an additional 40% off the clearance price and end up with a couple hundred dollars worth of kids clothes for free.
This works great for me since that's one of my favorite places to shop for the kids anyway.

H&M also has an incredibly adorable baby section and a good clearance section.
And Target, TJ Maxx and Ross are always worth looking at.
Romper: $6-- Ross, animal shirt and striped pants: H&M (don't remember prices), brown cardigan: TJ Maxx (gift from Grammy)
The blue top in this next picture is from a place that I never expected to find any sort of baby clothing that I would approve of, the Dollar Tree.
Yeah, I know.
I also found those adorable baby argyle socks there too.
They have a few random baby clothing items and most are just "meh" but when I saw this top I figured I might as well try it out for a mere $1.
I think it was intended to be a dress but with a bigger baby it totally works as a shirt or tunic.
Dress: $1-- Old Navy clearance, Vintage romper: $2, antique store

5. Being willing to search is key
We go to lots of thrift stores.
It's one of the places we escape to when we need a reason to get out of the house but it's not good enough weather to be outside.
Most of the stuff at these thrift stores are far from cute, but there are usually one or two little things tucked away that are cute and 50 cents-$1 a piece, if you take the time to find them.
There are consignment baby clothing stores and they tend to be much pickier about what they take in, which means they have tons of cute stuff that is only lightly worn, so it's easier to discover good finds at those sorts of places.
Those places tend to cost a bit more than average thrift stores, but they are still well-priced.
Kid-to-Kid is a store with multiple locations around the U.S. that is a children's clothing consignment store that we love.
Swimsuit: $4-- Kid to Kid, Sweater: Goodwill

Antique stores are also a fun place to shop, especially the hole-in-the-wall antique shops, the specialty antique shops can be over-priced so make sure you don't spend more than it is really worth to you, no matter how vintage the piece is.
And don't forget Goodwill.
I was searching all over for a good price on baby pajamas that I liked and couldn't find what I wanted until I hit Goodwill and found a ton of the exact kind of pajamas I was looking for for $1/piece.
Both dresses from thrift stores for $2 each, gray leggings: 50 cents-- thrift store

6. Set Spending guidelines
I set a guideline for myself that pants must be $6 or less ($9 for toddler denim jeans) and shirts must be $4 or less unless I absolutely cannot live without it, then only every once in a while I can spend a little more than that.
For example, this blue and white polka-dot cardigan that I put on Ella all. the. time. was a whopping $9, but I think it was worth it because of the next point.
If I don't love it, I don't buy it and I can afford to do that because I'm stocking up in advance so she isn't in need of the item of clothing immediately, I have months so stock up on shirts and shorts for next summer.
Skirt: Goodwill, Red shirt: $2 Old Navy clearance
Striped shirt: $4-- Target clearance, leggings: $4-- Target clearance

7. Pull out clothes long before your baby is "supposed" to fit in them and keep them out until they definitely don't fit anymore
Another thing to remember is that the recommended age for an article of clothing is just that, a recommendation, not a requirement.
Make sure to pull out clothes before they technically are supposed to fit your baby to see if they can work now.
A shirt for a six-month-old can be a dress/tunic with leggingsfor a three-month-old.
And the dresses that Ella wore when she was 6 months I now put on her as shirts and you would never guess that they used to be worn as dresses.
Those jean shorts at the top are technically for a 3-6 month old but Ella still fit in them at 1 year, same with the brown cardigan.
The brown leggings were made for her by her grandma when she was about 3 months as full-length pants but at one year they still fit perfectly as capri leggings.
And the squirrel sweater ($3-- Kid to Kid) at 4 months and 10 months.

And cardigans last forever!
I put them on Ella months before they are supposed to fit and roll up the sleeves so that it's kind of a casual, loose-fitting cardigan and then I still put the same cardigan on her months after she is supposed to have grown out of it so that it is a 3/4 sleeve fitted cardigan, which still looks adorable.
That $9 cardigan I mentioned above was made for an 18-month old, I started putting it on her at 9 months old and she still fits in it now at almost 2 years old, that's 15 months of use, which is amazing at this age when she grows out of things so fast.
Put leggings on your baby before they are supposed to fit and they are full-length pants and then they can be capri leggings later on.
This means that you can shop in sections that are much older than your baby currently is.
Cardigans from Kid to Kid for $3-4

8. Shop in the opposite gender section
I thought that this would work better for girls than for boys, but now that I am shopping for Fenton I find that this still totally works.
Ella has lots of cute t-shirts with adorable pictures on them that are made for boys, but throw it on with a cardigan or girly leggings or even by itself and it's so cute!
I get most of Fenton's pants from the girls' section.
I got the idea from a girl who dresses her boys in the colorful skinny jeans in the girls section of Old Navy and they are adorable!
Plus, that means that the skinny jeans I bought for Ella will later fit Fenton, so they get a lot of mileage when you switch between genders.
Ella wears Fenton's future cardigans and sandals on a regular basis.
From the boys' section: Blue sweater at top left, animal shirt at top right, train onesie, red plaid shirt and belt.
When he fits in them, Fenton will wear the colored jeans and the white shorts that are both from the girls' section but will look cute on a boy too!

9. Refashioning
And last but not least, how can I not talk about refashioning baby clothes?
Sometimes I find a good deal on a shirt or a sweater but it's super plain or it has a little picture on it that I don't like, so its fun to jazz it up and make it new and unique.
Like decorating a cardigan that has a picture in the corner that I don't like or adding a pocket to a plain shirt.
I wish I did this way more than I do.
Leg warmers made from a pair of my socks, plain leggings in middle decorated with fabric paint, and bow tie for Fenton that took 15 minutes to make.

There is a post that I like where the author talks about how she dresses her little girl and her little girl is dressed adorably all the time! I love her points (some of which I repeated in this post because they are so true) so check out her post here.

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