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Wisconsin Parent

Thrifty Fashion for Kids

Oct 16, 2014 09:11AM ● By Stacy Snook
I have a secret to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.  ;)

Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I've been a parent for 22 years now, having raised two boys who are now in their twenties and live on their own.  I still have two little fashionistas girls at home, which is proving to be a completely different experience than raising boys in almost every way. I've always been a lover of fashion and consider myself to be a somewhat stylish woman and have passed that love of fashion and accessorizing on to my girls.  I love good quality clothing, but am not necessarily a slave to name brand. I believe to key to developing your own personal style is not being afraid to experiment; and it's much easier to do that when you're not confined by budgetary limitation.  So here' s my secret; 80% of my wardrobe and my kids wardrobes comes from thrift stores.  Why pay $30 for something you can get for $2.99, right? I almost never buy new clothing or accessories with the exception of earrings and undergarments. I view thrift store shopping as a way to save money for things like vacations and college funds, and the thrill of the hunt is somewhat of an addiction I can't resist.  The truth is you can get almost anything you'd get at any high end store at a thrift store. There are just a few tricks to getting the most out of your thrifting excursions. Thrifty fashion is easier than you might think. Ready to pop some tags?

The most important tips for successful thrift store shopping are the following: Shop your local thrift stores often. I go every week and shop several local stores.   Don't expect to find anything specific. I always shop with an open mind and never go with the intention of finding anything too specific.  If your expectations are too specific you'll get discouraged and won't be successful. Buy mix and match items.  I always shoot for finding quality items that you can mix and match to create multiple looks, and try to avoid the expectation of finding a complete outfit at any one store. Staple items would include skinny jeans, neutral camis or tank tops, a variety of neutral and patterned leggings, scarves and hats. If you focus on building a wardrobe around solid color basics you can add in some pattern and color and build a ton of looks around your neutral foundation.

Photos above: Gap sweater $2.99 St. Vincent De Paul, Children's place cream tank, $2.99 Goodwill, Knit cap $1.99 Goodwill, Skinny Jeans $2.99 Goodwill, Floral Scarf $3.99 Plato's Closet, Blue Shoes $3.99 Goodwill.

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Finding shoes at thrift stores can be a little more difficult because often second hand shoes are shabby or worn very specifically to the previous owners foot shape. If you shop your local thrift stores often enough you can get lucky to find almost brand new shoes that were barely worn. The combat boots above were in like new condition, stylish, good quality and versatile. My Mom, who is an avid thrift store shopper herself, found these for my older daughter and they have been gently worn and passed down to my younger daughter.  The key truly is frequent shopping and keeping an open mind.

Photos above: Grey sweater $2.99 Goodwill, Dress with tool skirt $3.99 Goodwill, Black Leggings $2.99 Goodwill, knit cap $2.99 Goodwill, striped scarf $3.99 Plato's Closet, white sunglasses $1.99 Goodwill. Black Combat boots $3.99 Goodwill. (The black infinity scarf I made at home.)

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Layering makes such a difference in building a stylish outfit. Leggings and a long sweater are a great place to start. Add a scarf or a jacket and head band and it takes the look from average to really thought out and put together.  Tip: My daughter Bella is generally a size 10/12 in girls clothing. This sweater is from the adult XS section. Don't be afraid to shop for your pre-teen in the adult section to find long shirts and sweaters to go over leggings.

Photos above: Leggings $2.99 Goodwill, pink sweater $3.99 St. Vincent De Paul, Scarf $3.99 Plato's Closet, black jacket $4.99 Goodwill, headband and boots were items my daughter already had that were not purchased at a thrift store. The boots were from Target and the headband was from Aeropostale.

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You can see in the photos above and below how layering makes such a difference in the way an outfit looks; not to mention it's practical in the fall and winter to dress in layers.

Photos above: Brown sweater $2.99 Goodwill, leopard print leggings $1.99 Goodwill, jean jacket $4.99 Goodwill, brown shoes with pink trim $3.99 Goodwill

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Bella loves accessorizing. I found the vintage belt with a beautiful rose buckle for $1.99 at Goodwill. It's absolutely gorgeous in person and although it's a little bit big for Bella it suits her style; she loves it. Win.

Photos above: Blue shoes $3.99 Goodwill, brown leggings $2.99 Goodwill, floral skirt $1.99 Goodwill, belt $1.99 Goodwill, cream tank $2.99 Goodwill, jean button up shirt $4.29 Goodwill, chunky infinity scarf I made at home. Note: pricing is sometimes inconsistent at thrift stores. The denim button up shirt really should have been $2.99 to be consistent with shirt pricing, but it was cute and versatile enough that I didn't mind paying $4.29.

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Don't be afraid to explore thrift stores in other cities. Make it a road trip with some girl friends and hit as many thrift stores as you can. My personal favorite thrift stores are in the Milwaukee area. Larger cities will always have more variety.

Photos above: Dress $3.99 Goodwill, leggings $2.99 Goodwill, Shoes $1.99 Goodwill, knit cap, $2.99 Goodwill, infinity scarf $3.99 Plato's Closet

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I tend to take a child free approach to  thrift shopping. Although I love having a shopping day every now and then with my girls, taking kids thrift shopping usually doesn't allow the time to really hunt.

Photos above: skirt $3.99 St. Vincent De Paul, grey long sleeve shirt $2.99 Goodwill, black vest $4.99 Goodwill, boots from Target.

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Photos above: black knit shrug $2.99 Goodwill, dress $4.99 Goodwill, cowboy boots $5.99  St. Vincent De Paul.  Beige hat $1.99 Goodwill, jean jacket $3.99 Goodwill, dress $3.99 Goodwill, pink and brown cowboy boots were a gift from grandma.

There's something very satisfying about providing fashionable outfits for your kids at a fraction of the price of new items.  Personally I think it should be an Olympic sport. :)

Happy shopping!