Q: How do I get kids excited about the clothes they already have for school?
A: In a previous column, I offered some tips on finding clothes that your kids and your wallet could appreciate. My advice focused on reducing their wardrobe to essential items, creatively remixing pieces to make interesting outfits and recycling old items to buy newer gear.
After accompanying two little ones on a back-to-school shopping trip recently, I can appreciate your desire to skip step No. 3 altogether. My stylish shopping duo found plenty of deals — and plenty of time to argue over which sister got the largest dressing room. Fueled by that fun flashback, here are a few ideas to keep your kids focused on what they already own.
Take a weekend to sort through all the kids’ clothes and shoes. Make sure all the school-appropriate attire gets cleaned, ironed or folded neatly. This will help you get an idea of what fits and what’s missing. After you audit their wardrobe, hold on to that shopping list until after school starts and the prices begin to drop.
Since pint-size clothes tend to slip off regular-size hangers, consider investing in kids’ versions. I am partial to wooden hangers that also feature metal pant clips so you can create a complete outfit.
Several clutter busters have advised arranging clothes by color, and I’ve joined that bandwagon. It’s so much easier to grab and go when all the blue pants are separate from the yellow tops, which are separate from the red blouses. (You get the idea.)
Although teens and ’tweens may prefer to create outfits on the fly, younger kids will have fun stuffing wardrobe compartments organized by days of the week. If only I could find a grownup version of the cute Disney model that features the cast from “Cars.”
Admit it. You have hundreds of photos stored on your computer, mobile phone, and digital camera that will never see the light of day. Why not snap a few photos that actually will be put to good use?
Stage a mini fashion show, complete with your kids’ creative compilations, and photograph those winning outfits. Doing this over the summer might just reduce the number of arguments over appropriate attire during the school year. (One can dream, right?) When that style file is not in use as a screen saver of the family computer, let it serve as a brainstorming tool for those days when there’s “absolutely, positively nothing to wear.”
Before you throw away jeans or cargo pants that have become a bit too short, try hemming them into stylish capris. If sewing isn’t your thing, grab the safety pins and let your dry cleaner handle the legwork. The same rule applies to long-sleeved tops. Turn them into short-sleeved treasures to be worn under jackets and sweaters.
Once the kids have assembled their back-to-school wardrobes, direct their focus to others who are less fortunate. In this economy, plenty of students will return to school wearing last year’s gear. Talk to the principal at your kids’ school about creating a donations closet, then canvass the neighborhood with your kids in search of donations such as gently used jeans, sneakers and backpacks.
Once your kids see the mountain of donated items put to good use, those designer duds in their closet may not seem quite so passé.