The most eco-friendly, and usually most frugal way to shop for "new" clothes is to go thrifting. It can be a fun experience and you can get the kids ready for school and get yourself a few things too, if you are ready for some serious shopping. There are lots of like new name brand items in thrift stores, just waiting for you! Here are some tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck!
Find all the stores in your area because you'll likely have to hit a few to find what you want. Check out The Thrift Shopper to see where stores are located near you. I never knew there was a thrift store directory. I entered my daughter's zip and state and came up with three pages! Map out your route so you use as little gas as possible.
Set a budget before you go so that you won't spend more than you meant to.
Bring cash because a lot of thrift stores don't take credit cards.
Bring friends who can help you keep perspective on what's a good find. Plus, they can help you hold stuff while you shop!
Bring a reuseable bag because many thrift stores still hand out plastic bags at the counter.
Leave the kids at home because thrifting can be a long process and kiddos get bored. Plus, they annoy other people when they get restless. It is not fair to them to be in a situation like that.
Carry a tape measure in your pocket. Make sure you have the kids sizes written down or measurements.
Wear shorts or leggings and a t-shirt so that you can try on clothes even if there isn't a dressing room available.
Be patient because shopping can wear the nerves thin, especially in an often disorganized and packed space like a thrift store. My daughter and sister are the best shoppers in the world. I tend to get a little frayed around the edges when I am in stores where things are too close together.
Be willing to look, for a long time, through a lot of stuff. Thrift stores have great finds, but great finds mean diligent hunting. (I find awesome crafting supplies at thrift stores.)
Try it on or at least do a rough measurement. It's better to get something too big that can be tailored than something too small that can only be sewn into something else or given away.
Think creatively because everything can be altered, layered, or turned into and entirely different piece of fabulous clothing.
Keep personal style in mind since it's easy to forget what you'll actually wear and get excited about something that seems cool on the rack, but isn't when you get it home. Also, know the dress codes for your children's schools and what they are allowed to wear.
Look for brand names as these are items that are usually high quality and made to last.
Examine the item carefully for stains, rips, holes and other defects. I don't usually buy anything that might need fixing.
Don't forget accessories. Thrift stores are also great for belts, bags and jewelry.
Haggle or at least try. Be open to haggling or bartering for a better deal. The worst they can say is no.
Don't buy bike helmets, boots or shoes that have already been worn, backpacks that aren't in excellent condition, socks or underwear. For safety, physical comfort, and health reasons, these are typically no-nos unless you find them brand new.
Wash everything before you wear it. Usually thrift stores do this with donations before putting them on the rack, but you don't know who tried on what just before you bought it. My daughter and I saw a lady at a Goodwill one time go in and buy an outfit to wear out on a date that night...we both just looked at each other a little stunned.
Get it tailored if it doesn't fit just right. Tailoring can be very inexpensive in some places for basic fitting, and you'll still be spending a fraction of what you would on a new name brand item of clothing that may still have to get tailored.
Try out your sewing skills by doing your own hemming, shaping, or repairs.
Get some, give some. Keep your wardrobe from overflowing by practicing "one item in, one item out." Donate what no longer fits in your closet and the kids closets to the store you just purchased from!