Favorite Kid Shops Round-Up and How We Shop for Kids

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Since it’s award season and everyone’s talking about–well, besides politics–what people are wearing, I figured it was a good time to do our own “Best Of” awards for kid clothes. Where do you shop for your kids? 

To be honest, I could easily write at least a 7-chapter book on shopping for kids’ clothes, with topics ranging from the delight of little details (Peter Pan collars! Applique! Hand stitching! Hold me BACK!) to the psychology behind parental influence on style and personality through dress, but I’ve shaved off about 6.5 chapters for this post and will simply leave you with our favorite places to shop. After ten years of shopping for kids–wait, who am I kidding–I was buying clothes for my imaginary kids long before they existed. Okay, after a lifetime of studying children’s fashion and implementing practical application of practices for dressing real life kids who don’t want to wear knee socks and saddle shoes every day–or, say really want that glitter “GYMNASTICS OR BUST” shirt–I’ve figured out a shopping system that works for us: eclectic wardrobes. There’s a little bit of everything, and I try to embrace my kids’ personalities and individual styles when buying things while maintaining shopping standards that are important to our family–quality, versatility and price. Lainey’s older and makes most of her own selections that, yes, include “PIZZA IS MY LIFE” shirts and leggings that say JUSTICE in the largest font known to fashion, but she also still loves a lot of classics and shops where Mama’s been shopping for her since she was little.

Everybody shops for kids’ clothes differently, but I will say this. If you stand by the rule that kids grow too fast, no way are you wasting money on a $30 t-shirt, good for you. If you love Spanish brands, children’s fashion is your jam, and you stayed up until midnight for the new Bobo Choses line to drop so you could scoop up that $80 romper because you love it and can afford it, good for you. If your kid looks like she stepped out of a fashion editorial every day, good for you. If your kid is running around in a stained Ninja Turtles t-shirt and never takes off those amazing light-up Spiderman shoes because he thinks they give him super powers, good for you too. If you let your son wear whatever he wants and have zero influence on his closet because he’s an individual and you celebrate his creative choices, you are amazing. If you say no to the pink Dora decal shirt simply because you hate it, you know what? You’re amazing too. If you buy all your kids’ clothes at Goodwill so you can give more to charity, YES! I LOVE YOU! If you have so much fun playing dress-up with your kids and choose to support causes and buy brand new beautiful things for your littles, YES! I LOVE YOU TOO! You do you. I assume everyone’s momming as best as they can. And as long as no one’s holding their screaming kid down, demanding “DAMMIT, YOU WILL WEAR THIS HEIRLOOM BLOUSE!”, I think the kids will be alright.

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For us, there’s no doubt a lot of my kids’ clothes are a reflection of things I love–color and stripes, for one–just like my kids have picked up a lot of other things I love like crafting, Michigan and beautiful sunsets. The things I love are also reflection of my mom and the way she shopped for us, and I love that she passed down her love of handmade clothes, good cotton, floral prints and neck bows.

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Have I used my selling powers to make my kids want to wear things I love? Sure. (“I saw Taylor Swift wore this shirt once.” IN THE BAG. YOU’RE WELCOME.) But I also embrace the things they love that I don’t and make room for mismatched and glitter because I have a feeling if you resist too much, that’s all they’re going to want to wear. Plus, I love celebrating their bloomin’ little fashion senses.

I’ll stop rambling…other than to say, I love little people clothes, and I cannot lie. There wasn’t a day I woke up when they were babies that I didn’t get excited about carrying them into their rooms to pick out what they were going to wear, and I still cuddle up with my kids at night and think about silly things like, “I love these pajamas so damn much.”

With no further ado…shop faves

First of all, I follow my favorite brands on Instagram, and I shop when I see sales. I shop when Hanna Andersson offers 40% their entire site, when there’s a promo code for Mini Boden and when Janie & Jack clearances out their swimsuits. Following favorite brands on social media and taking advantage of sales and offers saves us a lot of money. We also cushion our closets with consignment buys (we love our local Once Upon a Child) and inexpensive fun finds and basics from Target (their Cat & Jack line!), Old Navy, H&M and ThredUp. I love some high end brands and European designers for kids, but I choose not to afford them. I do however splurge on quality classics that will get worn a lot, pass down to siblings and–if really remarkable–saved in the Cherish Bin for grandkids and/or keepsake quilts.

As for favorites, I’ll break it down to categories.

Quality Classics
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1. Mini BodenBy far, my favorite kids’ brand, full of bold color, fun prints and personality. That little rainbow dress above? We must have worn it once a week last year. And it still looks great. Their summer lines are always my favorite.
2. Hanna AnderssonComfy classics with Swedish style roots. I swear, Hanna clothes can go through 5 kids and still look the same as the day you bought it. Their playtime dresses are so versatile.
3. Mabo KidsI discovered Mabo Kids last year, and I’m obsessed with their organic cotton basics–amazing quality. The foundation of my kids’ wardrobes lies in the black and white stripe Mabo tee. We have one for each kid.
4. Osh Kosh B’Gosh: Classic overalls that never go out of style. When in doubt, go with Osh Kosh overalls.
5. Zara: I have a hard time going on their site because I want all their kids’ stuff. Cutting edge trends, super fashionable.
6. Alice & Ames: Classic, comfortable quality twirl dresses your daughter will never want to take off.

Gap and Crew Cuts also have great closet staples for kids and frequent sales.

Vintage Style/Unique Handmade
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1. Vindie Baby: Their dresses are so beautiful for little girls.
2. Hum Stitchery: The mini trouser skirt (in a variety of colors and patterns) is everything.
3. Berits Lila: I found this shop when I purchased Nella’s birthday dress from them one year–beautiful hand made pieces with retro style.
4. Lee Marie – Clothes only go up to 4T, but I couldn’t leave this one off. Her retro printed overalls are so much fun!
5. Muny Design – My favorite things in Dash’s dresser are from Muny. They’re keepsakes you’ll save forever.

Fun & Colorful All-Over Prints
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1Winter Water Factory
2. Duns Sweden
  (ships from Sweden, but gets here fast)
3. Izzy and Ferd 

Graphic Tees
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1. JollyGood Apparel: Love their camp shirt, “Happy Trails” and “Makin’ Memories” tees.
2. Savage Seeds: Powerful messages, simply stated.
3. Passive Juice Motel: I’ve been a Passive Juice fan for years now. Hilarious pop culture references, great art and fun throwbacks to the 80’s.
4. Wee Rascals: Historical heroes celebrated in a hip way
5. Hatch for Kids: From Bob Ross and Ferris Bueller to Biggie, Hatch has it. We love their “Read to Me” tee.
6. Out of Print: The classic children’s books you love, turned into tees. From Frog & Toad and Madeline to Corduroy and Harold & the Purple Crayon.
7. Peek Kids: Progressive, powerful messages celebrating kindness, love, art and science.
8. The Bee & The Fox: Simple design, classic font. Pair them with toddler bell bottoms for a nice 70’s flair.

Pajamas
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1. Shop Plain Jane: The softest, sweetest simple nightgown for your girls.
2. Hanna Andersson: Organic cotton long johns (and short johns) that stay soft wash after wash. 
3. Tea Collection: Amazing quality, cozy snug fit.
4. Hatley, particularly their Little Blue House brand which is our go-to pajamas for summers in Michigan. So many prints for cabin life–fishing lures, black bears and camping gear
5. Mini Boden: I watch for their nightgowns to go on sale and snatch them up when they do.

Swimsuits
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We wear swimsuits a lot in Florida, and it’s one of our favorite things to shop for. With pool chemicals, sand & saltwater and little butts that scoot across pavement, I love finding brands that hold up against the wear.

1. Mini Boden
2. Hanna Andersson
3. Janie & Jack
4. Kortni Jeane
5. Lolli Swim
6. Vindie Baby
7. Jessica Rey Swimwear
8. Zara Boys (love their euro short suits)

Jeans
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1. A&F Kids Watch for sales. Best flare jeans ever–they fit Nella like a glove.
2. Dudley Denim: Deconstructed edgy denim, frayed edges, cool
3. Old Navy Skinny Jeans (super slim for my beany kids and come in fun color pops) and Gap

Cool & Edgy Pieces
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1. Little Edge Threads
2. Forever 21 Girls

Socks & Tights
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1. Amazon–these retro stripe tube socks or our favorite rainbow stripe knee socks
2. Hanna Andersson
3. Mini Boden
4. Duns Sweden

Shoes
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My kids live in the first three, the Florida classics trifecta:

1. Saltwater Sandals: (we get ours on Amazon). My most favorite shoes of all. We wear them year round here. They’re classic, they go with EVERYTHING. They can get wet. They pass down from kid to kid in great condition. They’re timeless. My favorite are the original loop strap in red, but we’ve had every color, and Dash wears the single strap ones.
2. Keds: Let’s put it this way: If I were the mayor of Kidtown, I’d give every kid a pair of red Keds upon citizenship. Red Keds with dresses, red Keds with jeans, red Keds with popsicle-stained shorts and dirty skinned knees in the summer. The definition of childhood.
3. Native Jefferson Slip-ons: The key? No buckles, no straps. They can put them on by themselves. And they’re waterproof. Plus super cute with that little contrasted toe kick.
4. ZaraThey have beautiful leather sandals in unique designs in the summer and timeless leather boots in the winter. And everything else in between.
5. Livie and Luca
6. Converse high-tops
7.
For everything else in between, we love Zappos, Nordstrom & Amazon

Also, you can find the kids’ sneaker round-up I did last year here.

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Whew. Okay, that’s a lot. Did I miss a favorite shop you love? Tell me!

You know what the irony of this post is? All this time talking about kids’ clothes, and Dash just darted out the garage door NAKED. Gotta go.

Finding our Fall

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Tracking PixelThis post is sponsored by Børn Shoes.

“What do you miss most about Fall?” my friend asks as I toss my sandals on the beach and smooth a blanket over the sand under the hot September sun that feels anything but Autumn.

“I miss cider mills,” I say. “And sweaters on chilly nights.” I wipe sweat off my forehead and dig my toes further in the sand. “I miss wool pea coats and mittens and the smell of burning leaves. Hay rides, corn mazes, tights and tweed.”

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“I miss raking leaves and scanning piles of overlooked brown ones for red-tipped treasures. I miss real pumpkin patches and turning the heat on and knowing that the huddling season is on its way.”

“Sounds heavenly,” my native Florida friend says.

“It is,” I say. “I can’t begin to explain it.”

I watch the waves spill onto the shore, erasing sandpiper prints. It’s hot.

“But,” I say…

“If you want Fall, you make Fall.”

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I look for and find a lot of the things I miss. Cool breezes early in the evening, dried bits of leaves on Florida paths, hints of reds and russets in sunsets, in crotons and copperleaf, in bird of paradise blossoms.

And those things we miss that we cannot find in our little worlds? We create. I wear tights and make soup and light candles and spread apple butter on wheat toast in the morning. We dim lights and watch football and send “Dinner at our house this Saturday night” texts out to friends. We slap sticky witch and bat and ghost window gels on our front door. Buy cinnamon brooms and gourds, move the light sweaters from the back of the closet to the front, wear all the boots. With shorts and dresses and jeans…boots for days.

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I have similar answers for all the “Do you miss?” questions.

“Do you miss teaching?”

I miss the first day of school. Pencil boxes. Memorizing all my students’ names in one day. Making them feel loved. Writing lessons. Taping great vocabulary words to the wall and seeing them pop up in the kids’ stories. After lunch read alouds.

But…I look for, find and create what I miss: the homework corner in my office with the jar of freshly sharpened pencils that smell like September. Tucking my kids in bed at night, nailing all the character voices from another chapter of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Tagging along for field trips. Guest speaking about memoir in my friend’s 8th grade writing class.

“Do you miss when they were babies?

I miss fingers curled around mine, snug sleepers, nursing in the middle of the night, walking into their rooms to check on them sleeping only to find them peeping through the crib slats. I miss sandwich bags stashed with Cheerios and peach puffs, tiny bodies glued to my hip, heavy heads resting on my shoulder as they fight their naps, phantom sleep sucking long after the boob has been pulled out of their mouth.

But…I look for, find and create what I miss: tickling their faces to put them to sleep, big-kid sleepers that still fit snug, catching occasional pincher grasps for goldfish crackers and pretzel stick snacks, nose-to-nose bedtime snuggles, holding little hands as I lead them into classrooms, mispronounced words, so many firsts still to come.

Do I miss a good northern September? Yes, But I’ll make this September exactly what I want it to be.

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Black cherry nail polish, plum-print skirts, old books with yellowed pages and boots in rich leather that sing both heading out for adventure and coming home for retreat.

My closet’s stashed with Børn love this season that keeps the comfort and style of fall alive, no matter where you live.

A longtime sponsor, style favorite and representative of so many things our family loves, we’re celebrating the changing season this year with the new fall styles from Børn Shoes who continue to create premium, hand-crafted products that are are both comfortable and stylish, marrying the art of old-world shoemaking with on-trend fashion.

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Kick some acorns up with these babies, the oiled suede Cross boot with a sassy fringe accessory.

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Bring out your artsy side with their artisanal wool Panarea boot. I love the way it combines funky Southwest art vibe with an edgy heel and biker chick buckle for an overall cool-as-crap boot that says both “Come sit on my front porch for a cup of hot cider” as well as “I’m tougher than you think.”

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And my favorite? Forever slayed by a good ‘ol fall lace-up oxford. Meet Jolene in a couldn’t-get-much-autumner hue called Tobacco Distressed.

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You don’t even know how many loaves of pumpkin bread I’m going to make while wearing these.

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To finding our fall and every other thing we’re looking for…and to creating it in our own beautiful ways when it’s hard to find.

Long live Tobacco Distressed. And cider mills. And corn fields. Okay, one more–wool beanies. Alright, alright, I’m done.

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Vacation Wardrobe with thredUP

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Tracking PixelThis post is sponsored by thredUP. There’s a 40% off code at the end of this post just for you.

Tomorrow is June. June. I am diving into that summer dream pool cannonball style. My heart beats to the rhythm of “Hot Child in the Summer,” and if I had a nickle for every vision of lake adventures in Michigan I’ve now had, I could buy you all a push-up (popsicle, not bra)  from the beach store up the street. With those dreams come a summer wardrobe–sweet sundresses, sailor style, seersucker, summer whites and sandals. When packing for summer travel, it’s fun to have a few new things to wear, but with a large family, new things for everyone adds up quick. My dears, you need to know about thredUP–women’s and kids’ high-quality secondhand fashion, curated in an online consignment boutique–and tons of it. The best part? The search filters are amazing. You can search your favorite brands and then add size, style and color filters to find exactly what you want–up to 90% off retail price. And thredUP offers an incredible range of brands, including so many of our favorites–J. Crew, Madewell, Zara, Mini Boden, Peek, Olive Juice, Hanna Andersson and more. For $200 and some change, the kids and I got completely outfitted for summer adventures–four outfits for mom and an outfit for each kid. I actually had to pare down my cart because the excitement of finding so many of our favorite brands for less got me a little excited, and my eyes got bigger than our closets.

Here’s how it goes. You shop online and get all excited about the amazing prices on your favorite brands. You pick out some cute things for summer adventures. You check out. You wait. Then this darling polka dot box shows up on your steps, and even though you paid less for secondhand, you’d never know it. Not only are the clothes like new (and two of ours were brand new–with tags!), but everything is hand-folded, wrapped up and packaged pretty–with a cute sticker, mind you. I’m a sucker for stickers.

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Look at these brands! All in perfect condition.

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You didn’t think I’d end this post without a montage of the new outfits now, did you? Everybody knows the best movie scenes in the whole world are outfit change dressing room scenes, preferably with a good song. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz in The Sweetest Thing, Carrie Bradshaw in her closet in the Sex and the City movie. Check ’em out.

What was in the box for me?

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The BCBG dress still had tags on it, and it’s light and flowy for summer. Plus, pockets!

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The J. Crew pants are super fun and funky–and a tad retro.

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And this Theory dress–the fabric is divine; I’ll live in it this summer.

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Of course, I couldn’t check out without stripes. This knit Trina Turk tank looks good with the Gap red cords and fulfills my wardrobe color palette trifecta–black, white, red.

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Nella’s romper is also thredUP–Gap, brand new with tags. It was $8.99, and there’s a similar shorts romper currently on Gap’s site for $39.95.

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Gap plaid-cuff jeans for Dash to grow into, and a Peek cardigan (LOVE!) for Nella and Dash to share. We don’t wear a lot of sweaters/sweatshirts in Florida, so I don’t like to spend a lot of money on them, but we do use them on cool mornings in Michigan.

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Lainey picked out this Abercrombie top and Mini Boden denim skirt–both like new and versatile for summer. The skirt was $7.99, and it retails for $36.50 (still currently on Mini Boden’s site).

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And last but not least, Nella got this Ralph Lauren cord jumper and a white Petit Bateau white tee to go with it. A lot of these things will fold right into the school year and fall wardrobes for us too, so double score.

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I’ve bookmarked thredUP and will definitely head over there to search my favorite brands before buying new–the money saved is too good!

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If you’re cleaning out your closet and paring down for summer, consider ordering a  thredUP Clean Out Bag. You fill it with the items you no longer want (consult  website to see what they do not and not take, and what the payout is), and place it on front of your front door for pick-up. Look you, you responsible recycler!

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The kind folks at thredUP are offering 40% off your entire order, valid for first time shoppers only. Click here and use code KELLE40 to get your 40%  off offer (discount up to $50, expires in 7 days).

So pack those summer trip suitcases and save your money for the important things of vacation like–oh I don’t know–I Heart Daytona Beach keychains and polished rocks from China.