Timing is everything when it comes to back-to-school shopping. In many school districts across the country, school starts well before Labor Day and warm weather lingers well into autumn.
All that warmth adds up to big savings, says Jody Rohlena, senior editor of ShopSmart magazine. The magazine offers cost-saving tips for savvy shoppers.
“Late summer means big markdowns on warm-weather clothes, as retailers make room for the fall stuff,” Rohlena said. “And it’s happening earlier and earlier.”
So, be sure to shop summer clearance sales with early fall in mind, she said. Your child will still be wearing T-shirts under sweaters right through the winter. And light dresses and shorts may be what they reach for even on warm fall days.
Early August is your best time to look for those summer finds, as well as early fall sales. But don’t wait too long, Rohlena said. Even if your kids don’t start school until after Labor Day, you want to hit the stores for the basics – from khakis to socks – before the shelves are all picked over.
Finally, Rohlena said, don’t go in without a list in hand.
“Without a plan, it’s too easy to be distracted by all the appealing options on store shelves,” she says. “And before you even go shopping, take inventory. You’ve probably got some of what you need already.”
Another thing to remember: Quality always counts, shopping pros agree. Though growth spurts are sure to happen, it’s always wise to shop for high-quality garments that will resist fading, shrinking or tearing through the year.
Andrea Sawall, senior designer for kids’ apparel at L.L.Bean, suggests looking at the weight and finish of the fabric. These are important for both comfort and minimal shrinkage. Look carefully at the quality of closures and trims, she adds.
“Sewing construction is another key factor, as closed seams are less bulky and more comfortable,” Sawall said, noting that L.L.Bean is known for standing by its products by guaranteeing satisfaction in everything from fit to durability. “Kids play hard and grow fast, so we design clothes to last through multiple seasons with features like adjustable waistbands and grow cuffs for sleeves and pant legs that let the garment grow with the wearer.”
But no matter how durable, if an outfit is out of style, it will stay tucked in a drawer or closet throughout the year.
Sawall notes that vibrant colors are selling well in girls’ clothing, with boys’ styles grounded in army greens and browns. Surprisingly, she says, camo is a fashion trend that keeps on going.
Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend for Kohl’s department stores, agrees that bright colors are selling well.
“Colored and printed denim are at the core of kids’ wardrobes,” Wacksman said. “But we also love the comfy knit pant; a continuation of the athletic-chic trend that we’ve been seeing on the runways the last few seasons. Pair this relaxed pant silhouette with booties or wedge sneakers to create a cool and comfy back-to-school look.”
Round up the kids, grab your wallet and check out those sales. To get you started, we’ve offered a few suggestions for the stylish set:
• Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Trouser Pants – Boys 4-7 ($40, kohls.com). These four-pocket jeans come in camo – a style that seems to have staying power.
• Girls Monogram Slub-Knit T ($14.94, oldnavy.gap.com). This 100 percent cotton, lightweight T-shirt features a flocked letter with glitter accents.
• Cherokee Shirtdress in Leopard Print ($16.99), Cherokee Black Moto Jacket ($19.99) and Shoulder Bag in Metallic Gold ($14, all from target.com). Pull together an outfit from some of Target’s best-selling brands.
• Speechless Beautees Belle Du Jour T-Shirts ($28, macys.com). Another trend that’s sticking: Graphic T-shirts. Let her show off her passion for everything from pups to kitties.
• Freeport Knit Long-Sleeve Ruched Graphic Tee ($19.95), paired with Freeport Knit Skort ($24.95) and Tagalong Cardigan ($29.95, all from llbean.com). This outfit will send her to school in style. She’ll be able to choose from a rainbow of colors in everything from cardigans to T-shirts.
• SONOMA life + style Glitter Jeans – Girls 4-7 ($26, kohls.com). These five-pocket jeans feature an inner adjustable waistband and stretchy denim. Their glitter finish will show off her sparkly side.
• Epic Threads T-Shirts for Boys ($15, macys.com). A classic tee will serve your kids well in the heat of late summer and early autumn. Come winter, he’ll wear it under layers of long-sleeved shirts and jackets.
• Circo Screen Print ($8), Cherokee Button-Down Denim Shirt ($14.99), Cherokee Varsity Jacket ($19.99) and Cherokee Sweat Pants ($14.99, all from target.com). You don’t have to spend a small fortune to pick up some of the classic pieces you’ll need for the school year.
• Under Armour Ts ($34.98, macys.com).There’s a superhero in every little boy. Give him strength to get through the school day with these sturdy T-shirts.
• Fleece-Lined Hoodie ($44.95, llbean.com). Camo is still going strong, and not just in the usual green shade; this cotton/polyester blend hoodie comes in 10 colors.
• Boys Chambray Shirt ($17.94, oldnavy.gap.com). A soft, medium-weight button-down shirt is a classic for the back-to-school crowd.