A Minimal Mom's Best Tips for an Ethical and Affordable Wardrobe: Kids Edition

One of the biggest fears other moms talk to me about is the COST of an ethical closet. I would just like to say that I am human and we don’t shop %100 percent ethical in our home. But I am constantly thinking of ways to get closer to this and still be affordable. Maybe I’ll never make it to %100 but I do want to share some tips that have been helpful in my own journey towards that goal.

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TIP #1: This is probably my favorite tip and I say it ALL THE TIME! Get a size or two bigger of an ethically made purchase (or anything really that is higher quality and will last) to make the item last longer.

TIP #2: Shop local or big city consignment. Usually bigger cities have more options, and a higher rotation of inventory, so you are more likely to find what you need. But depending on your local consignment you can also find a lot of great options for gently used clothing in most towns with a bit of patience.

Just like the original picture above my kids wear a hodge podge of used, ethical, new and handmade items. (Details for original picture below.)  Outfits: Wesely- Old Navy Jeans (new), t-shirt and jean jacket (used). Pepper- Target Leggings (new), J. Crew floral top and Jean jacket (used).

Just like the original picture above my kids wear a hodge podge of used, ethical, new and handmade items. (Details for original picture below.)

Outfits: Wesely- Old Navy Jeans (new), t-shirt and jean jacket (used). Pepper- Target Leggings (new), J. Crew floral top and Jean jacket (used).

Quick pop quiz. What is the difference between thrift and consignment?

The Semi-Minimalist Definition: Thrift is clothing and goods sold by individuals who choose to donate items to a store while consignment are stores that buy used clothes from an individual or give that person a percentage of what the clothing is sold for. Both are great but I really like the economic value of consignment a bit more.

TIP #3: Use money saved from buying thrift and larger sizes to last longer (see TIPS #1&2) to invest in pieces like a nice cardigan or jacket or pants (depending on the age of your kids)! These items include quality items that you might not be able to find at a thrift store but will last without falling apart. But here is the skinny on quality ethical items- These items take more time to make, typically use thicker material that cost more to produce, and pay their workers fairly so the items typically cost more. Although, some ethical shops overprice their items I still try and consider all of these factors when considering the additional cost. For this reason I really can’t buy a whole lot of clothing so a minimal wardrobe makes a lot more sense to me.  I will invest in a couple or more expensive pieces (and I will even consider if they are gender neutral enough to potentially pass down from one kid to the other) that are higher quality and I know will last. See the bottom of this post for a Kid’s Capsule Wardrobe printable!)

Outfits: Wesley- short-sleeve button up, shorts, and sandals (used) Pepper- Red top and linen pants (handmade),  Adeliso & Co  (shoes)

Outfits: Wesley- short-sleeve button up, shorts, and sandals (used) Pepper- Red top and linen pants (handmade), Adeliso & Co (shoes)

TIP #4: Only buy what you need. This is an instant way to save money. And I know. You can save money by not spending money is probably obvious a bit of, “no duh,” kind of tip but it’s so true! Buying significantly less items for my kids gives me more financial freedom to buy them higher quality items that last longer. That and the other above tips (wink wink).

I really hope you all enjoyed these tips. Some next helpful actionable tips would be to:

1.      Google local consignment and thrift shops in your area or in bigger cities (if you are close enough or live in a bigger city).

2.      Search for reasonably priced ethical clothing brands. (Hint: you can find some great ones on my Instagram page highlight labeled boy favorites and girl favorites found here)

3.      Create and budget for clothing. Have an idea on what will be spent thrifting and what will be put aside to invest in ethically made (or higher quality) clothing.

4.      Make a seasonal capsule wardrobe based on what you absolutely need. Make sure items match together making it easy for getting dressed in the morning! (I made a printable for a capsule wardrobe that you guys can find here)

5. Create a Pinterest board of capsule ideas, color schemes, and specific items to help reference what you need and make sure it all goes together.

This is the most recent outfit picture I have of the kids:  Wesley- Button-up short sleeve top (Handmade. Fabric is Cloud9 by Leah Duncan), Old Navy Pants (new), Tommy Hilfiger shoes (used). Pepper- Jeans and Converse shoes (used),  Vivie & Ash  top (ethical).

This is the most recent outfit picture I have of the kids:

Wesley- Button-up short sleeve top (Handmade. Fabric is Cloud9 by Leah Duncan), Old Navy Pants (new), Tommy Hilfiger shoes (used). Pepper- Jeans and Converse shoes (used), Vivie & Ash top (ethical).

Final thoughts:

Don’t beat yourself up if you can find what you need! I tried a couple local thrift stores several times looking for pants (not jeans) for my son and wasn’t finding anything other than really baggy ill-fitting pants or heavy Winter weight pants left over from Winter. I honestly do not see the worth in spending extra on something my son may wear out in a month so I bought a couple pairs from (gasp!) Old Navy. I believe everyone can make small changes in a way that fits their family that can make a big difference. It doesn’t mean you are a hypocrite or a failure. It means there is a process we just do our best where we are at. Rome wasn’t built in a day!!!

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Parting thoughts and helpful resources:

Although, the above quote from Anne Marie Bonneau is talking about Zero-Waste the sentiment is still the same. I am not the perfect ethical shopper or minimalist but I believe that continually doing our best is better than not trying at all!

Also, I LOVE the approach that Jennifer Mackey-Mary takes in this podcast with Jessie Martin to minimalism and clothing. It is practical and makes a whole lot of sense!

And if you need the Kid’s Capsule Wardobe Printable to get you started on your kids wardrobe you can also find the printable again here.

I just can’t get enough of this picture. Like Wesley looks like a little MAN and Pepper is just as sweet as sweet can be. Outfits : Wesley- Old Navy Pants (new), white button-up (used), ZUZU tie (new). Pepper-  Remie girl  dress (ethical)

I just can’t get enough of this picture. Like Wesley looks like a little MAN and Pepper is just as sweet as sweet can be. Outfits : Wesley- Old Navy Pants (new), white button-up (used), ZUZU tie (new). Pepper- Remie girl dress (ethical)

Yay! I really hope this was helpful to you guys! I really tried to think of the struggles that you all have been talking to me about (and the struggles that I have and continue to have!) and find some sort of way to work on them. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing them with me so I can share these tips with other’s! If you have any other concerns I can help you with please ask me either on Instagram or in the comments below!!!

Ta Ta For Now,

The Semi-Minimalist