How to buy kids clothes second hand

Imagine the cost of buying new clothes for five kids every time they outgrew their size or the season changed? I would need an extra job just to pay for it all. I just read a Time magazine article that said on average families spend over $600 a kid on back to school clothes. I don’t think I spend much more than that all year; mostly because I know how to buy kids clothes second hand.

How to buy kids clothes second hand

The biggest challenge when shopping used for any clothes, but especially kids’ stuff, is to make sure it doesn’t look thrifted. You still want your kids to be dressed nicely even if they’re wearing second hand clothes!

Things to avoid

  • Stretched out or broken waistbands, buttons, and pant zippers. I’ve had it happen on my own clothes where I’ve brought something home and the zipper doesn’t stay up. I’ve also grabbed things for my kids only to find the elastic waist is nowhere near as tight as it should be.
  • Stains. This might seem obvious but take a good look at stuff that you hope your kids will be able to wear out for any stains. Sometimes they’re hard to see.
  • Outdated styles. There’s a lot in the thrift store that shouldn’t be worn by anyone ever. Keep it that way.
  • Worn out designs. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. If the design is wearing out or faded skip it.

What to look for

  • Brand name. I like to wear certain brands on my kids and I’m always excited when I get something for next to nothing. Certain brands hold up better than others and are more worthwhile buying used.
  • Prices. Know the best sale prices for things. Unless it’s in great condition and very cheap I won’t buy Walmart brand clothing used when a pair of leggings is only $4 new there.
  • Style. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you have to get something that won’t get worn. Know they styles you’re looking for and stick to them .

More tips on how to buy kids clothes second hand

  • Shop sales. Most thrift stores have sales throughout the year. Here we have Value Village which is way overpriced, but often they’ll do 50% off clothes which makes it much more reasonable. They also offer discounts for donating that I always take advantage of.
  • Try smaller stores. We have a clearance centre that sells clothes by the pound and a Goodwill that sells all baby clothes for 50 cents an item no matter what it is.
  • Leave the kids at home. If you can, shop without them because they’re just going to want to look at the toys.
  • Look for community sales. I’m part of the MBFOM and twice a year there’s a huge kids and baby consignment sale where I get some great scores. It’s a little more but worth it.
  • Be weary on buy and sell groups. I have found that often the deals are not so good on these groups for kids’ clothes. People seem to want to recoup their costs, which makes sense, but that doesn’t pass as much savings onto you.

My personal methods

  • There are some things I don’t buy used. Underwear and socks I always buy new and pjs often are hard to find used.
  • I still buy new sometimes but only things I know we’ll get a lot of use out of and are a great deal. Sometimes the prices of things online are almost as cheap as new. I also like to buy new for the twins if I can so I can get matching outfits (they’re cute and it’s worth it).
  • I piece it together with new. Besides what I listed above, I will also cap off their wardrobes with some new items. Leggings are cheap new and hard to find used, for example.
  • New clothes are usually gifts. 11 year old asked for a $30 t-shirt for her birthday because it was from a game she loves. 9 year old got a Cabella’s hoodie for his b-day, and now the 5 year old wants one because they’re so soft. If I can’t find a great used one I’ll be picking it up new.
  • We also ask for clothes as gifts! Family has been great about supplying both new and used items.

The best part about an outfit you paid a buck for is that you can let your kids have fun, get messy, and play outside without the added stress of messing up those expensive clothes you bought.