One of the things I loved about growing up in a country where school uniforms were the norm was, well, school uniforms! It was so easy (and easy for my parent’s morning routine and budget!) for me to just throw it on every morning and head off to school. I especially loved my high school senior winter uniform, which consisted of a long ankle-length navy blue skirt, white button-down shirt, and blue tie. Of course, it sort of helped that our colors were basically red, white, and blue (not sure the school on the other side of town with the brown and yellow color scheme felt the same way!). What felt like a million years later, we launched our little girl into her first day at Kindergarten (and with Covid, it was anything but your usual first day at school!) and thus began her first year of schooling in the United States, where the school uniform is anything but ubiquitous. Any parent who educates their kids here has met my uniform experience with a hint of envy, “I wish they would do that here”, and, “I really don’t like back to school clothes shopping”. Oh don’t worry – I am right there with you! Eventually, I’d love to get her into a school system where uniforms are the norm, but until then I’m going to share a few companies and strategies that have helped me create a school wardrobe without resorting to a meltdown in a mall or department store (and the meltdown would be me, not my child!).
This app and website is basically a massive online consignment shop for kids. Ever since a friend shared it with me five years ago, it has been my go-to for outfitting my daughter through her toddler years and now into school-age. It’s simple to download and set up an account. You can create multiple profiles for each child that serve as filters for your searches. Each filter can be edited to reflect their growth in both clothing and shoe sizes so there’s no need to keep creating new ones. You can add favorite brands to further narrow down your selection. With photos and a descriptive scale (excellent used condition, new with tags, play condition, etc) you can easily discover items that might match what you are looking for. Many sellers offer discounts on 2 or more items and free shipping. I’ve snagged some great pieces here that I wouldn’t have found otherwise and have never had any issues with either selling or buying. Not only have you heaps to choose from, you are also keeping teeny-tiny apparel in circulation for that much longer – one of the goals of moving towards sustainable fashion.
Lucky & Me:
Co-founder (also known as Mom-in-Charge) Rochelle Perera came from a background in fashion merchandising and product development, when she and her husband decided that kids’ underwear needed an eco-friendly, wedgie-free makeover, and thus Lucky & Me was born. All their products are made with organic cotton (certified sustainably grown) and produced in factories that meet WRAP certification standards. If you have a child who is always fidgety with their underpants or just has sensitive skin, then this company is well worth a try. And they are anything but boring! Fun colors and prints are part of both the boys’ and girls’ lines, as well as different styles to suit every level of comfort. They also carry bike shorts, leggings, t-shirts, and PJs. Lucky & Me sells in packs of 3, 6, and 7 (the days-of-the-week ones are really cute!), and with several ways to connect with them in the event that you aren’t happy, they are very reachable.
Facebook Resale groups:
These have proved both my enemy and my friend during this past year. I LOVE consignment shopping – for both myself and our daughter. She grows like a weed (don’t they all??) and is especially tall for her age so the idea of forking out a lot of money on expensive clothing is something I just can’t bring myself to do (with the exception of winter outwear). However, there are some brands of clothing I really love that fall into this category and I have had a lot of success finding good quality items on resale groups within FB. Sometimes I am the victim of my own success (I realized when spring started that my child had 20 dresses in her closet which was never my intention!!), but the newly minted six-year-old has got so much wear out of each item through the summer months and with several being NWT (new with tags) I know I will be able to resell or pass along to another family. Tea Collection is my favorite one and people share listings every day across different age groups. Often sellers will drop a flash sale and if you happen to be on around the same time, you can be first come, first served for the listings. As with Kidizen, many sellers will offer a discount on bundles from the same sale post. There is also a great sense of community and banter within the comments as well as a monthly ISO (in search of) thread where you can post specific items you are looking for. Tea Collection does country themes each year and this group can be a great resource if you are looking for any of those collections two, even three years after they have been released (ahem, Australia!). There are definitely resale groups for every brand!
What I love about this brand is that they brought back the simplicity and basics of kids’ apparel without losing any of the fun or color people often look for. But in doing so they rewrote the tradition of pink for girls and blue for boys. That concept doesn’t exist in this part of the internet retail world. Every colour for every kid, not to mention no logos, no tags, and sustainable fabrics that play well in the world of play and makes them perfect school clothes. It’s another women-owned business that’s giving brand-weary parents easier options to outfit their kids for school and beyond. Our six-year-old loves the reversible dress I got at the beginning of the warm weather (with pockets!!!) and getting two of their quality swimsuits has proven a wise choice given how much swimming is happening at camp. Quality and affordable apparel aside, the real winner here for me is their ethos at both a community and environmental level. Our orders show up in compostable bags . . . . and the clothes are just as they are. No plastic bags, no plastic wrapping. And it works (who would have thought??)! Everything always arrives in perfect condition and I can just recycle the bag. Their blog, “Using Our Words”, highlights the diverse customer base that they are working to serve and their commitment to changing up how they do things in order to improve that service and make it more inclusive and forward-thinking. Rainbows are always in fashion and with Primary you can take your pick of colors while feeling good about it in the process.
OK, so this last pick is probably not new to many parents, but it is worth a mention. These are the shoes that alllllll the kids are wearing during the summer and not because they’re cool. Native created a line of kids footwear (and now adults because quite frankly why are kids clothes/shoes always so much cooler?) that can honestly be worn day in and day out during the summer. Our little has worn her pink pair (couleur du jour) all day every day with the exception of a couple of stints in sandals. Whether she’s at the beach, the playground, or getting our big dog out for a neighborhood stroll, these washable wearables have definitely been used as they were intended. They also have in place a Remix Project with the aim of being 100%life managed by 2023. Using Zappos as their partner, you can recycle any size or style of Natives using their prepaid label which are then transformed into playground flooring, seating, and even insulation. Given that the planet is our number one priority right now, any action that means a light footprint literally and figuratively has to be a good thing.
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