back to school
Kids Slow Fashion

Back to School Shopping. Hype or Necessity?

slow fashion back to school

Lily (left): top is a hand me down, skirt was thrifted, back pack was new last year, Saltwater Sandals bought new in the Spring / Madelyn (middle): top was a gift last year, shorts were handed down, backpack is 4 years old, runners bought new in the Spring / Sabrina (right): top and pants were thrifted, backpack was bought new last year, Saltwater Sandals bought new in the Spring 

I got my first PR back to school pitch email back in June.  June!  The kids weren’t even out of school yet, and I had PR companies looking for me to hawk some back to school products (for free) already.  I promptly deleted the email, because, come on!  Can we wrap up the school year before moving onto the next?

Many kids in the States have been back to school for a couple weeks already and some kids across Canada have headed back already too.  For my kids here in BC, we go back on Tuesday, September 6th.  When I was a kid, my Mom wasn’t big on back to school shopping.  Sure, we bought the essentials on our list of needed school supplies, but a lot of thing were carried from one year to the next.  When it came to clothes shopping, we didn’t really do it. Outgrown gym runners were purchased, and then everything else was on a need it, buy it basis.  It used to bug me when I was in the pre-teen years, as “all my friends were getting new clothes”, so why wasn’t I?  Now, I get it.  It was unnecessary. It was still Summer.  My Summer clothes fit just fine, so why rush out and get a whole new wardrobe when I had clothes to wear?  Why get a new backpack, when last years is still perfectly fine?  Why get a new jacket, when last years still fits?

back to school

Now, as a mom of three, if I was to go out and buy all the things at once, new, every year…can you imagine the cost? My system for back to school goes in stages.  Here’s what this year looks like for me:

Back packs: Last year’s bags are still in great shape.  I’ll just give them a little clean up.

Lunch kits & Water bottles: I bought two new bottles but we have old ones still in rotation and our lunch boxes are still going strong.

School Supplies: Our school district offers everything they need for the entire year for a cost of $35 per child.  I opt for this each year as it does work out to be the most cost efficient.

Shoes: This is definitely one area we usually buy right near the beginning of the year. Gym/indoor shoes first, and then other seasonal shoes as needed. I sometimes have some of the shoes needed as hand-me-downs for the Twins from big Sis.

Outerwear: As it’s still warm and sunny when school starts, I hold off on outerwear until we get further into the season.  I often have hand me downs from big sister for the twins, as well as some things from family and friends.

Sports / Activities: They outgrew everything!  All three girl are into dance and soccer.  We will need to buy cleats for soccer and shin guards for Maddie. I’ve managed to find them all secondhand bodysuits for dance, secondhand jazz shoes for Maddie, secondhand ballet slippers for Sabrina, and a hand me down pair of ballet slippers for Lily. So just a few new things will have to be purchased.

Clothes: Once the kids go back to school in September, I will take the time to go through their closets, and take some inventory.  As the temps cool down, I pack away the Summer items, see what still fits from last year, hang up any hand-me-downs that will work, and make a list of what they actually need. As the need comes up, I will find things for them.  I know there will be items needed, but buying everything new all at once, is not the way to go.

kids slow fashion


back to school

A few more tips when shopping for your kids:

  • Check out the sales small shops are having now.  There are so many sales happening now as brands clear out their Summer stock to make room for Fall. Items like t-shirts and cardi’s are good anytime of year.
  • Chat with friends and family that have kids a bit older than yours.  It can’t hurt to let them know that you would be grateful for any hand me downs they are willing to part with and looking to re-home.
  • Thrift! Whether it’s a consignment shop or thrift shop, there are thousands of kids clothes out there looking for a new home.

So, back to that question…is back to school shopping hype or necessity? It’s a bit of both.  I’ll be taking that cue from my Mom when I was school age and buying only what is needed.

back to school

back to school


You can read my previous post Rethinking Back to School Shopping here.

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  • Reply
    September 1, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    I agree with you, our kids don’t need everything new each year.But I just spent 600$ on uniforms for 2 kids ??. It’s a necessity and have to be bought while there is inventory at the stores.

    • Reply
      Jen Pistor
      September 16, 2022 at 11:36 am

      Absolutely! There are those absolute necessities our kids need and there is no way around it. When they need things, you have to do it. For us it’s shoes. We had do buy so many shoes this year. I lucked out with secondhand dance shoes, but all their cleats, indoor runners, and outdoor runners, are all new. Had to and it was expensive. That’s why I hold off on the cute dresses and other things like that if they have things they can wear and fit:)

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