Children are an expensive business. From conception they cost a small fortune, and when money is tight you'll do anything you can to save a little here and there. We all want to provide the best for our children, but we have to be realistic, too.
My family lives on a single income - my husband works and I stay at home looking after our 18 month old son. That's how we want to raise our child and it was a mutual decision, but it does mean things are tight. Every month in fact. As parents we've made sacrifices and I no longer spend what money I have on myself. I spend almost everything on my son, apart from the occasional and much needed coffee. Every month my son needs something new or something replaced, and clothes are one of the biggest purchases.
Children grow at an alarming rate. No sooner have you bought a new top or pair of trousers or dress then they are spilling out of it, and you are back at the shops replacing them with the next size up. For a few weeks at least. Clothing doesn't have to cripple you though. We have two big buying sessions a year, and then the occasional top up in between. I would say that 90% of my sons clothes come from the local Nearly New Sale which is held in March and November each year at the village hall. Luckily for us these sales are generally timed just before he moves into the next size of clothes, so I always buy that size and sometimes check out the next size after that for any good quality bargains. Clothes at these sales are always in great condition because to be honest they've probably only been worn a handful of times. We went to a sale just this weekend in fact and I spend £30 on clothes and shoes. We bought a pair of shorts, six tops including a mint condition shirt for special occasions, a new raincoat, a pair of Wellington boots, a pair of sandals, shoes in the next size he'll need and a jigsaw. For £30. No item of clothing cost more than about £3, and I think my most expensive item was the pair of shoes which cost £5 - not bad for hardly worn Clarks shoes which retail at £30 a pair.
When I'm not battling my way into the Nearly New Sale I top up his clothing at Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda. Yes, my child wears supermarket clothes. The only items from anywhere fancier than that which you'll find in his wardrobe are either gifts or second hand. Clothes in supermarkets are brilliant. They are brightly coloured, good quality, easy to wash and care for, and affordable. t-shirts are often just a few pounds and jeans cost as little as £8. When the sales are on you often find items for less than a pound, in fact our local Tesco seems to always have a small sale rail with bargains to be had.
Diane von Furstenburg has collaborated with Gap and is bringing out a designer range for children. I can't think of anything more pointless and extravagant. If you have a special occasion - a family wedding, a birthday party, etc. - then absolutely, buy something a little fancier than usual. I've done it myself. But I can't see the point in dressing your child permanently in clothes that cost as much if not more than clothes for adults. Designer brands do not matter to children. I know people who dressed their newborns in designer baby grows, which they wore for about twenty minutes before obliterating in either milk or a nappy explosion. Most were unwearable again. My son wore Mothercare baby grows and often Tesco's ones. I recall meeting up with friends and someone commenting on how lovely one of the baby's tops were. "Oh I got it from Tesco's - isn't that amazing!" Came the reply from the Mother. The idea of somewhere like Tesco selling good quality baby clothes seemed alien, but to me it just seemed common sense.
So I think I can safely say I won't be joining the inevitable queues at Gap to dress my son in von Furstenburg's designer items. I'll probably spot them at Novembers Nearly New Sale actually for a fraction of the price. Why not try your local sale instead?