Plan Strategy For Buying School Clothes Says LSU AgCenter Family Economics Expert

Ann A. Berry  |  7/15/2005 3:16:49 AM

Clothing guide. Last year, a household with $55,000 in total income spent the amounts per age group shown in the bar chart on clothing. Use these figures as a reference in planning a wardrobe.

2005 Back-to-school News

Have you thought about your child’s clothing needs for the coming school year? asks LSU AgCenter family economist Dr. Ann Berry. Seems like the school bell rings earlier and earlier each year.

"It is hard to believe that summer vacation can go so fast!" Berry says, advising, "Plan your clothing needs now to make wise choices that will save you both time and money."

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, estimated expenditures in 2004 on clothing for one child from ages 6 to 8 were $440 by a husband/wife family with an average household income of $55,500.

This expenditure increased for each age category: 9-11, $490; 12-14, $830; 15-17, $740. How much did you spend on each of your children last year just on clothing for school?

To make your clothing dollar stretch, Berry recommends examining your child’s school clothes from last year. Do they still fit? Are they in good shape (free of stains, holes, etc.)? Make a list of what you will need to purchase for each child before heading to the store.

You may want to consider making this list by the month, since you probably will not want to purchase everything at one time, allowing for the total dollars spent on clothing to be allocated over the year rather than spending several hundred dollars for clothing up front. For example, if your child’s school requires uniforms, you may want to focus on short-sleeve shirts and shorts/skirts for the first two months, then add long pants and sweat shirts and sweat pants as the weather gets cooler.

Berry offers this tip. If you do have presentable clothing from last year that is appropriate for the heat of August and September, have your child wear this clothing the first few weeks of the new school year. That way, you can avoid getting those hard-to-remove stains that come with the new school year activities on newly purchased clothes.

Remember, too, the time it will take you to take care of the clothing during the year. With the hectic schedules families have today, it can be difficult to have enough clean uniform shirts and shorts for each day.

Also, if you have to launder daily, it will cost you more in time, electricity and water - plus, the garments will wear out quicker. If your budget permits, have enough tops and bottoms for each child so that you have to wash only once during the week and on the weekend. If you have a choice, select tops that are not light-colored or can be bleached to extend the life of the garment. Many of those art projects can end up on white shirts!

When shopping for uniforms, keep in mind that some stores offer discounts during the summer, usually 10 percent to 20 percent off the regular retail price. If your budget allows, try to purchase your uniforms to take advantage of these specials. Some schools will have used uniforms for either purchase or trade-ins. You can get some really good deals this way, but sometimes the clothing is not in perfect condition, so shop carefully.

Don’t forget to budget for outer garments. Louisiana does not have many really cold days, but sometimes jackets or coats are needed. Try to keep this expenditure low, since the cost per wearing could be high, considering the few times they’re worn.

Shoes are another expense that must be taken into consideration. Know the school guidelines for these; some schools can be very strict on what is acceptable. Remember that shoes will be worn every day and will need to be durable and comfortable. You will probably need to purchase another pair or two throughout the year, because of wear and tear as well as fit.

If you can, have your child go shopping with you to get the best fit and give input about the choices. This is also a good time to teach your child about reading care labels, selecting quality clothing, how to comparison shop and how to budget.

For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:

On the Internet:

Source: Ann Berry (225) 578-3329, or

Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture