The New Way to Go Back-to-School Shopping

The New Way to Go Back-to-School Shopping

Ah, back-to-school shopping. The mere mention of this annual rite of passage probably brings to mind squirmy, impatient kids desperate to find an escape hatch in the dressing room, or — maybe even worse — you sitting solo in front of the computer joylessly running up a gigantic tab. Ready to give this not-so-beloved family tradition a makeover? Follow these new ground rules to save you time, money and stress — consider it an I.Q. boost for your children’s closets.

Tough as it may be, resist the urge to bring home half of Old Navy. After all, notes Asha Dornfest, coauthor of Minimalist Parenting, it’s not like your kid is gonna suddenly require eight pairs of khakis immediately after Labor Day. “There’s no upside to getting a whole fall wardrobe at once,” says Dornfest. “Warm weather usually sticks around for a while — and when school starts, they’re going to be wearing the same shirts and shorts they did during the summer.” Accumulate pieces gradually, as the needs — and sales — arise. (Another upside to the slow-and-steady approach: It gives especially trend-conscious young’uns the chance to check out what their peers are wearing, then commit.) The exception to the bulk-buying rule? “Kids will often need all new underwear and socks before school,” says Dornfest. “It’s really easy to forget that they’ve outgrown those things when they’ve spent the last three months in bathing suits.”

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