Monday, March 25, 2013

Superpowers 101: Hand-Me-Downs

You might think pass clothes along to someone else is a pretty simple task. You out them in a bag and hand them over. Simple, right?

After years of sorting, sizing, repairing, and reusing kids clothes, I have learned that there is actually more to it than that. A lot more.

Whether you are buying new clothes with plans to pass them on later  or you have some hand-me-downs to sort through from someone else, here are a few tips to consider.

1.  Buy clothes that are durable. Some clothes are made poorly, whether it's thin fabric that wears out easily or poorly stitched seams. Durable clothes are often more expensive but not always. For example, I have had great success with store brand jeans that are made with thicker denim.

2. Avoid trends. Some trends last; princesses and superheros are going to be around for a while. Some trends are just a flash in the pan. I once gave in and bought my daughter a High-School Musical jacket. It was on clearance and she had been begging for it. Within a few months the fad was gone and she didn't want to wear it. Neither did her younger sister. If I had held on to it for my youngest daughter would she wear it today? No. It would definitely be outdated and scream "HAND-ME-DOWN!!!"

3. The fewer frills the better. This is especially true of clothes for small kids. They grow so quickly their clothes rarely wear out. I had several pair of pants for toddlers that I used for boys and girls. They were plain and simple so no one can tell the difference.

4. Clothes shrink over time. I can't tell you how many times I have bought a shirt or pants for a child based on what they were wearing, only to discover that the clothes had shrunk and they really couldn't wear the size I purchased...yet!

5. Involve the kids in the process. Kids have different tastes. This is hard to accept sometimes. An outfit that one child loves, their sibling despises. Letting the kids help gives parents a better idea of what they like and why. Some of my kids were irritated by certain fabrics while others were not. When we have received clothes from others, sometimes we have opportunities to discuss modesty and what makes certain clothing inappropriate.

6. Plan for the future. Sometimes people give me clothes that no one can wear. If they are clean and in good condition ( and if I have the space) I keep them anyway. Kids grow quickly. Sooner or later someone will be able to wear them.

7. Shop your storage first. There have been a few instances where a child needed something like pants and I begrudgingly went out and bought brand new clothes to fill the need. A week or two later I went through our storage of kids clothes and found exactly what I had just purchased. In our case it wasn't a complete waste because those new clothes will be passed on to younger siblings. It is tempting to take the easier path and buy new clothes every time they need them. I still have to police myself and make sure I don't act on impulse when a little effort would save us money.

Keeping your kids dressed and presentable doesn't have to cost a fortune. Storing and organizing clothes takes a little effort but the savings are tremendous!

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