The Cutest Back-to-School Clothes You Can Actually Afford

Plus, why you should take your kids shopping

The Cutest Back-to-School Clothes You Can Actually Afford

Back to School Shopping: 6 Tips to Save Your Sanity

It seems like just yesterday that I packed my little boy’s backpack for his first day of daycare, but the reality is that it was more than three years ago. In no time at all, my baby will be attending his first day of grade primary (or senior kindergarten in some provinces), and I’m as excited for this new chapter as I am afraid of it. Much like the days of nap time and drool-covered bibs, the days of me picking out Finley’s clothes are long behind us. Heck, he's even helping me choose outfits now!

But it's likely no surprise that my little man has strong feelings about what he wears. From plaids to stripes to Lego-themed graphic tees, my wee fashionista loves to figure out his own style. And I’ll admit, sometimes it’s frightening, but it’s his style and that's what matters. Even if I sometimes don’t love a shirt he’s picked out for himself, I buy it because I believe that fostering his sense of style today will help him be more confident tomorrow.

If, like me, you’re preparing mentally and financially for the first day of school, I suggest first taking a deep breath (or a gulp of coffee) and second considering the following:

1. Focus on FUNCTION over fashion

This is hard for me. Like, really hard - I own items that are pretty but absolutely impractical. Skinny jeans might be super cute, but maybe leggings would be a better fit for your wee fashionista and perhaps a husky fit would be best for your mini quarterback. I happen to think that my little guy looks adorable in jeans, but the reality is that something with an elastic/drawstring waist is easier - and more comfortable for him. 

2. Think outside the garment bag (and shoe box!)

For me, Carters | OshKosh B'gosh was synonymous with the adorable baby onesies of yesteryear, but when my son asked if we could try “dat store” a couple of years ago while shopping for shorts, I was pleasantly surprised. Since then, it’s been one of his favourite places to shop for easy-to-wear basics like shorts, jogging pants, hoodies and tees (and Mama's favourite because the prices are amazing). Sure, shop your favourite stores but don't be afraid to pop into a new (or old and forgotten!) shop every once and a while. You may just be pleasantly surprised.

I could have easily taken the whole boys' section of the store home with me. From cool-guy jeans and varsity-inspired jackets to easy-to-wear sweats and graphic tees, there was so much to choose from that I found it hard to narrow it down to a few items. Luckily, my son has strong opinions on what he's wearing so we went with a varsity-inspired jacket, T-Rex tee, plaid button down, a few hoodies and some sweatpants (his favourite). He also grabbed a Beanie Boo as a special treat to celebrate his first ever Back to School Shopping experience. Since he wasn't feeling much like looking at the girls' side, I took some time to peek online and immediately wished I could wear a children's size 10 again - so many cute pieces!

Here are some of my son's purchases, as well as a few of my favourite picks for girls. Visit your nearest Carter’s | OshKosh B’gosh store or check out to see the full collection and score mega-deals for back to school (see tip #5!). 

Picks for boys:

1. Vintage Hoodie - $20.00

2. Vintage Fleece Pant - $14.00

3. Plaid Button-Front Shirt - $18.00

4. Double-Decker Tee - $14.00

Picks for girls:

1. Striped Drop-Waist Dress - $22.00 

2. Raglan Lace Tee - $12.00

3. Drop-Shoulder Top - $14.00

4. 2-Pack Leggings - $16.00

3. Ask - or try before you buy

Have you ever tried to get a five year-old to try on clothes? My kid has approximately zero time for that but he will give me a simple YES or NO when I point something out. Think about it: would YOU want to wear clothes someone else picked out for you all the time? Of course not! Whether it’s a favourite colour, a favourite character, or a pattern they love, when you let your child wear the items that speak to them, you help them show the world who they are.

4. Check your school’s policy

My son's new school dictates that kids must be able to “work” any and all gadgets on their clothes, from zippers and buttons to belts and drawstrings, plus his name must be clearly written on everything. If there are specific rules you need to follow as it pertains to visible logos, graphics, skirt length or strap width to make sure you’re aware BEFORE you shop and be sure stay within those guidelines. 

5. Set a budget and stick to it

I know that my big-spending will be on the really important stuff: backpack, school supplies, and copious amounts of coffee for me. (Kidding about the coffee...mostly.) It's easy to overspend, even (or especially!) when the deals are great. 

Luckily for all of us, brands like Carters | OshKosh B'gosh have parents AND kids in mind, offering lots of great, kid-approved styles attached to parent-approved price tags. With quality easy to wear, easy to pair pieces you really can’t go wrong - the styles are adorable and affordable. What’s not to love? Write out a budget plan and figure out what needs to be spent where. Build a list of items you need (backpack, lunch box, indoor shoes etc.). You should try to look online before you hit the store to see if there are any coupons available or if the store has any exclusive programs running, which brings me to...

6. Sign up for emails!

And do it NOW before sales start. Whether it’s back to school time or the middle of the semester, savings are awesome no matter how you slice it. Carter’s | OshKosh B'gosh emails let you know when there are sales ahead, give you the deets on exclusive events, and you get $10 off your next $50+ purchase just for signing up. (That’s roughly the cost of one Soy Venti Latte, am I right?) See if your other favourite stores have email savings programs.

Good luck, happy shopping and big hugs - you've got this, Mama!