Keep Your Cool for Back to School
By Sharon Mosley
When it comes to those first few days of starting back to school, there’s little time to think about what your kids are going to wear. Those early morning minutes are too precious to waste standing in front of their closets helping them decide if it’s going to be that pair of pink leggings today or the rock-star T-shirt or that holey pair of jeans — which you just bought yesterday but look like they’ve been rolled around in for the last 10 years.
So how do you get wardrobes organized for all those rushed fall days ahead? Here are a few tips to keep you AND your kids cool for school:
— First, do your back-to-school shopping in phases. Yes, I know that most of us just want to get it all over with and then sit back and relax. But as a parent of a daughter who loved hitting the malls (and the internet) every August — and still does, even though she’s in college now — I’ve learned a few things. After I had to confiscate the charge card once or twice, it sunk in. The back-to-school shopping spree would last well into October, when she saw (and wanted) what all the other kids were wearing. And then it was a “have-to-have that coat” in November. So we agreed to space out purchases rather than buy them all at the beginning of the school year. Those Ugg boots she wants now that she’s going to school in Colorado will have to wait!
— Do let your kids in on the shopping. Unless you have very young kids — though even they seem to have fashion opinions these days — it’s easy to sit down at the computer at midnight with your to-do list and order five pairs of khakis for Joey and five pairs of jeans for Chloe. But chances are your kids will have their own thoughts on what they want to wear, and it may not be what Mom thinks they should wear. Be open to letting them experiment with their clothing choices. Make them a part of the process, even if it’s just letting them choose their favorite color. Pick up one pair of their “must-have” jeans and see what happens. If they wear them every day, then you know you’ve got a winner. If they leave them on their closet floor, then it’s time to talk.
— Start with the basics. Make a list of “needs,” and then feel in with the “wants.” It’s easy to stock up on underwear, socks, etc. when you find a sale. And most kids need backpacks. This can also be a style statement. But durability is also key. There’s nothing worse than a strap breaking on the first day of school. So, buy accordingly. This is one thing you may not want to skimp on. Shoes are another important item on back-to-school shopping lists. If your kids want a pair of the latest and greatest sneakers, you may want to consider negotiating a financial deal where everybody wins and the yard gets cleaned up, too!
— Build from the bottom up. Most kids have favorite brands or styles of jeans and/or chinos. Girls of all ages love leggings and yoga pants. So take a cue from what your kids like to wear every day and build from there. The bottoms may play an important part in their back-to-school wardrobes, but normally, their own fashion personality comes into play with what they choose to wear on top.
— Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors. An all-navy wardrobe is a boring wardrobe. And yes, if your kids wear uniforms, then you can still buy a few new fall outfits for the weekend. Most kids have a favorite color or colors. And let’s face it, there are hundreds to choose from … just look at the racks of T-shirts at your local retailers.
Find a few color combinations that your kids like and let them pick out leggings, dresses, graphic tees and printed shirts. Layering pieces that mix and match with hoodies and cardigans offer even more versatility. Coordinating colors are a smart option for extending the life of back-to-school wardrobes and giving kids an opportunity to put their own personal stamp on making the style grade this fall.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Make back-to-school shopping fun by letting kids participate in the process. Colorful separates and accessories at Target.