Back To School Fashion on a Budget

I never knew how hard it was to find affordable, age appropriate clothing for children until I became an aunt. Why is it next to impossible to find a cute, non-hoochified dress for a girl for under $50. Is it too much to ask to pay less for a boys suit than I pay for a suit for my husband?

This back to school season, there’s several great places to find the style they want for the price you want to pay. Read on for our back to school fashion tips (please add your own below…we’re always looking for new tips)

Dressing Girls

Girls' Green Hoodie

Girl’s Faux-Fur Trim Graphic Hoodie, $29.94 at Old Navy 

It’s a struggle to find clothing for girls that don’t make your favorite five-year-old look like a midget Snooki. Of course there’s the usual suspects— Old Navy, Children’s Place, and GapKids. These stores offer fun, but age appropriate items for your budding fashionista at reasonable prices. But my favorite store for girls is H&M, which has the cutest clothing for girls at cheaper prices than the GapKids.

Another favorite place to find awesome back to school clothing is Target. The clothes are well constructed with most items in the $10-$17 range. Plus shopping at Target is very acceptable, so you can save money without worry about the “cool” factor. When shopping these stores remember this tip: always buy items like pants and jackets one size up, so that it can last into the beginning of the following year.

Girls Dress

Cherokee Girls Dress, $16.99

Thrifting, scouring thrift stores for unique looks, seems to be an emerging trend with the “tween” and teen sets this fall, inspiring in part by the ubiquitous Lady Gaga. Also, Do-it-Yourself continues to be a hot trend, with many teens adding embellishments to pieces like jackets and handbags to create their own unique look.

Bracelet Watch

Statement Bracelet Project from TBF 

Dressing Boys

It seems like the designers of boys clothing are hell-bent on making them look like little action heroes. Target has great stuff for little guys, with Children’s Place giving the most for your bucks. However, LandsEnd (which is owned by SEARS) is also a great place to find items that are not only stylish, but durable as well

Boat Shoes

Boys Mainstay Boat Shoes, $44.95 at Landsend

Although Old Navy is great place for basics like Cargo pants, the really cool back to school fashion for guys is at GapKids. Their new Brick Lane and Portobello collections bring a bit of New York and British style to the otherwise forgotten area of boys fashion, with most pieces well under $40.

Boy School Fashion

Brick Lane Collection at Gapkids, Items in this photo priced from $19.95 to $44.95

Another good place is Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx. Usually both these stores have nice suits from designers like Polo Ralph Lauren for such a bargain that you could also pick them up a a pair of dress shoes to complete the outfit.

Dressy outfits
When you want to spend a little more on either a good suit or party dress, head to the outlets of the big expensive department stores, like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom. The outlets of these stores all have children departments, with designers like Betsey Johnson and Ralph Lauren for kids. Nordstrom has an amazing selection of shoes for little ones as well.
Avoid department stores like Bloomingdales, that tend to price children’s clothing at the same price point as adults.

There is no justification for a 4T Ralph Lauren Skirt to cost that same as an adult skirt. However, if you’re a department store shopper try stores like Macys, which offer great deals on children’s clothing during their major sale events, and SEARS, where the clothes are guaranteed to last thru at least one kickball season.clear

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Catherine Brock

Style Editor at The Budget Fashionista
Catherine Brock is a writer, editor and marketer who's been sharing wisdom online since 2002. She's been featured on, and ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis and KCAL9 Los Angeles. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.
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