Shop ‘Til You Drop!

This past Saturday was our big fall shopping day for the girls. I anticipate it and dread it at the same time. In the weeks before I have to go through all of their clothes from last year and see what might last another season and start making lists of what all we need. Then me, the girls, and my mother-in-law load up for six or so hours of shopping.

I used to just pick out things for my oldest daughter when she was a baby, but as she got older I noticed that there were certain outfits she would refuse to wear. It wasn’t the normal toddler pickiness, either. At first I thought it was because she had a burgeoning fashion sense, which she did. Later, I realized that as part of her temperament she is very sensitive to texture sometimes; socks have been a nightmare to get on her at times. She absolutely hates pants that button like jeans; they’re too uncomfortable when she sits down. So, I started taking her with me to let her help pick items out.

My mother-in-law pays for the majority of the girls’ wardrobe in addition to helping manage the kids in the various stores. I try to not to abuse her generosity by making prudent shopping decisions. Normally, we start out with a big lunch somewhere like Panda Express, a Chinese buffet, or Steak ‘n’ Shake. Then we go to Old Navy, JC Penney, Target, and Payless. I’ve found that baby and toddler clothes from Old Navy seem to be slightly more expensive than Target, but unless there is a really good sale, they are often cheaper than JC Penney’s. The quality of their clothes is usually better than either store. Their sizes are usually cut slightly bigger, too, so they allow for some growth, and they don’t shrink up as badly.

My oldest daughter pretty much needs an entirely new wardrobe every season. I try to buy her tops a size or two larger, because she often has a growth spurt mid-winter and her belly starts hanging out of her shirts. For her pants, I only move up one size. We had to try on a lot of stuff this time to determine whether to move her to 5-regular or size 6, as she moves out of 5T. I try to get the larger size shirt if it won’t drown her or be immodest (darn v-necks), so we can maybe get two years out of it. She also needed new tennis shoes and a pair of casual dress shoes. Her feet grew two sizes this summer.

DD#2 wears a lot of her big sister’s hand-me-downs. At this point she seems to like her older sister’s choices. The only things she needed were a few play dresses, some casual dress shoes, tights/socks, and some panties (being optimistic). Thankfully her coat should last her through another winter even though it is size 24 months and she is moving into 3T. We bought it in the boys’ section last year, and learned just how much more roomy boys’ clothes are made. In the past I’ve also bought things like khakis and jeans from the boys’ section because they tend to be made of thicker material than the girls’ clothes.

DD#3 is my first baby born in the spring, so she is kind of off season from the other two girls. Chicago is cool enough most of the year that I have some cool weather clothing for almost every baby size range, but I don’t have enough to get her through this winter. In addition the little stinker has already outgrown most of her 3-6 month clothing, even though she is only four and half months. So her shopping list included more sleepers and outfits in 6-9 months. She also needed a “snow suit” for those really cold Chicago days. I still need to dig out my box of 9-12 month clothing to see what she has for cold weather, but anything she needs in that size will go on a shopping list for Christmas.

When we go shopping, I usually have my list of what we need, what sizes, and the best place to look for it; unfortunately, I went off without it this time by accident. I was able to reconstruct it pretty well form memory. DD#1 was bringing the drama as we looked at clothes; she was totally channeling her inner valley girl.  “Oohh, that’s like totally gross.  Oh, I totally love that.”  Sometimes she’d see something she liked and I’d appraise it for quality, modesty, price, ease of getting it on and off, and matchability. I try to find several items that will mix and match, so that a spill on a shirt doesn’t require a complete outfit change. I also try to expand the color selection beyond pink, pink, and more pink. This time she kept wanting to buy fifty million shirts and no pants.

By the time we get home from shopping we are all tired, hungry, and cranky. But the fun doesn’t end there, because now it is time for the fashion show. It’s not enough to just pull the clothes out of the bag to show to Daddy. My oldest goes through organizing them into special outfits. Then Granny and I cut off the tags before she runs off to put them on for the first time and walk down the living room run way. So far my middle daughter has been content with limited participation in the show, but probably at some point I’ll have to pull out her “new” clothes so that she can join in.

I know there are people out there wondering why we don’t hit yard sales or used clothing stores to get better deals. For one thing, getting up early in the morning (which is when everyone has their yard sales) and driving around looking for yard sales with three children seems like a form of torture to me. Not to mention that you have to do it repeatedly. I would rather get it all over with in one day after a nice big lunch. I’ve also tried shopping at Once Upon a Child, but I rarely find anything my daughter or I like and it’s usually not that much cheaper than buying it new at Old Navy. I’ve probably been a bit spoiled by my mother-in-laws generosity with her money.

There are a few items we will still need to get, like dresses for Christmas. I wasn’t about to pay $40 per dress at JCPenney’s for something they’ll only where once or twice. We will hit Target or Once Upon a Child for those. We may need to get some socks and pajamas, but Target will do for those things as well. I am just thankful that it’s over until the spring. Now I just have to keep oldest DD out of her new winter clothes until the weather actually gets cold.

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