Savvy Back to School Shopping with The Glam Thrifter

The Back to School shopping season can be one of the best lessons ever for yourself and your children. Think “Savings 101”. It’s possible to stay on trend and in budget without complex graphs and charts prepared before you hit the stores. But what is required is an eye for what’s in style, and a willingness to hunt down a deal; often in unique ways. Oh, and patience. Consider these tips to help you maximize your savings, your child’s wardrobe, and your sanity during one of the busiest retail seasons of the year.

1. Thrifting: Shopping at a Salvation Army family store is undoubtedly the very best way to spend the least amount of money on your back to school shopping list. SA Family store locations carry name brand items and deep reductions, often up to 90% off. Even if your child wears a mandatory school uniform, you can find basic essentials like cardigans or sweaters, and pale blue, white, or yellow uniform appropriate shirts.

2. Off season savings: Shop for Fall and Winter clothing in the Spring and Summer and vice versa. Don’t laugh when I say this, but some Moms fail at executing this tactic because of psychological reasons. They somehow feel “backwards” buying sweaters in July, and shorts in January. But consider the savings you’ll get on your child’s wardrobe when you reverse your shopping cycle. Get in real good with the manager at your favorite store, and she may just let you know in advance when a huge sale is coming up, too. Remember to buy the sizes your child will be in when the upcoming season arrives, not the sizes they’re in at the time of the purchase. This is also a great way to stock up on holiday gifts for friends and family. Retailers love to push out old inventory at fire sale prices during season shifts to make space for new goods.

3. Host a Back To School Kid’s Swap Party: Similar to thrifting, but a little more fun, and a lot more FREE! Gather a group of your kid’s friends, cousins, and classmates and have all the parents bring kid’s clothing they no longer need. Serve light refreshments and put on some music! Organize the items in baskets or bins by size and gender. Every guest gets to leave with no more than the same amount of items they donated to the party. To keep things under control, consider capping the number of goods each parent can bring. And to keep it fair, create a system for determining who gets to choose first, last, and in between. Any remaining items can be held for the next swap party, or take all the kids on a trip to donate them to a worthy charitable group. It’ll give them a lesson on giving back to those who need it most.

What’s in style for Fall 2012:

It’s true that fashion is cyclical and some things never change. Just like your closet, your child’s wardrobe should always have staples. Staples are timeless pieces with flexibility that everyone needs. All staples should be solid and neutral in color, allowing you to change the look of the item with an accessory or by layering with other pieces. Neutral colors include White, Tan, Navy, Black, and Gray.

The Staples
1. A great pair of proper fitting denim
2. A good pair of Black and a good pair of Brown shoes
3. At least 2 good sweaters. One pull over, one button up/cardigan style
4. Casual footwear in two different colors, (ex.: Black sneakers, White sneakers)
5. For girls: One good long sleeved dress/For boys: One good upscale casual outfit (khaki pants, blazer, button up shirt)
6. For girls: One good formal dress/For boys: One good solid, dark colored suit, white dress shirt and solid colored tie

Fall Color Trends
Maroon, Royal Purple, Royal Blue, Gold, Forest Green, Black, Deep Pink, Rose Pink

Happy Shopping, and Happy Savings!

Sheila Fortson-Williams is the owner of “Hidden Glam” Boutique, in Ambler PA and is known widely as “The Glam Thrifter”, thanks to her ability to find money saving fashion deals for today’s modern shopper. With close to ten years of media experience as a television and radio show host, Sheila is also a blogger for The Salvation Army USA, Impact Thrift Stores charitable group, and has been featured in the Philadelphia Daily News, Lehigh Valley Magazine, Glamour Magazine Online,, and several other publications and blogs. Learn more about Sheila at, and fan her on Facebook at
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