Thrift Shopping the Teen Wardrobe

Estimated Monthly Savings: $100

We know you want to keep your family looking great. A family that can step out the door in clothing that looks presentable and they feel good in is a huge confidence booster for the Family CEO. However, how can we accomplish that without breaking the bank?

According to teens spend an average of $2050 per year on clothing.  How are the breadwinners of the family to keep everyone in the family looking great if their teen takes up so much of the clothing budget?  Thrift stores!

Availability of Thrift Stores

There are some major thrift store chains, primarily Goodwill, Salvation Army and Rescue Mission/Thrifty Shopper. You do not need to stop there for clothing needs however, you can seek out those independently owned thrift stores or swap markets where you can find gently used second hand clothing. In general, higher-end consignment stores will not be in your thrift shopping rotation, however, when shopping for your teen they do deserve a look when it comes to specialty items.

How to Shop

You may feel overwhelmed if you have never been into a large thrift shop. The space, the lighting, setup. It is a unique experience but well worth the initial overwhelming of the senses. Most thrift stores are organized by sex, size and then often color or style. If you have a 15 year old girl who is slim, you can head right for the juniors section where they will most likely have pants, shirts, sweaters and dresses all sorted on different racks or different compartments of space. If your teenage son needs new jeans, there are rows and rows, all marked by size and normally organized by color within the sizes.  Make sure you double check your sizing because hangers are typically chosen at random and do not relate size wise to the item.

Where You Save Money

That teenage daughter we talked about, she can get a semi-formal dress that someone wore once and paid $100 for, you will most likely pay under $10! A trip to the dry cleaners and you have a beautiful dress at a price that can’t be beaten. However, this is where the specialty consignment store may come in.  If you have been to every thrift store in the area and just cannot find “the dress”, check out consignments.  They are much more selective with what they will re-sell and are slightly higher priced than your average thrift shop, but a $20 dress is still a much better than paying the $100-$200 at the mall.  When searching for semi-formal, Prom and special event outfits, remember your local seamstress!  If you are able to find a dress and have to slightly alter it, you will still come out ahead.

What if your son is going through a phase where he wants to wear nothing but black (or red, or whatever). You can get him a whole new wardrobe that will cost less than one pair of designer jeans at the mall. Much easier to work that into the budget, especially knowing that phase may very well end in 3 months. You might even find that “diamond in the rough” a pair of jeans sold at the mall for $80 (the tag may still be on it), in perfect condition, for $5.99. It happens more often than you think! Essentially, teen will have the freedom to look how they want at a cost that is much easier on the family budget.

What Not to Buy

You have the ultimate discretion with your clothing choices. Look them over carefully and make sure they do not have any stains, rips or other unsightly issues. Return policies are often strict so be sure you take the time to ensure your item is in top shape. The general consensus is that certain items such as underwear, swimsuits and shoes should also never be purchased at a thrift store. If you need a pair of shoes that will be worn once for a Halloween costume or school play, then by all means, head to the thrift store. Otherwise, this is one of the few items where a new item should really be purchased.

Your budget may be tight or even if there is a bit of wiggle room, thrift shopping for your teen allows flexibility in your budget for the entire family to look great while you get to spend your hard earned money on other necessities, or possibly even use those savings for family fun.