Build a trendy school wardrobe for less

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The dawn of a new school year requires restocking school supplies. But for some kids, the most important part of returning to school is making sure they look good walking through the door on the first day of school and each day thereafter.

The National Retail Federation says the average family with school-aged kids expects to spend $630 this year on school supplies. A large percentage of that money will be spent on clothing. Naturally, parents want their children to have clothing theyÕll love and feel comfortable wearing, but do not want to break the bank buying wardrobes for their youngsters. But parents can employ various strategies to ensure kids look good without Mom and Dad going broke.

Invest in few essential clothing items. Ask children what they are most interested in buying. One or two trendy shirts or an expensive pair of sneakers can be paired with seasonal pieces. The result is a trendy, affordable look.

Shop discount retailers. Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls offer many brand-name items at a discount over department store prices. While these stores customarily stock items that may be a season or two out of date, they can help budget-conscious families nab some key clothing items at affordable prices.

See if replicas will fit the bill. Girls may be enamored with an oversized hair accessory dubbed the JoJo Bow, an accessory popularized by celebrity Joelle Joni "JoJo" Siwa. They're big and colorful, but the name-brand, authentic hair bows may be beyond some parents' budgets. However, there are plenty of bows that can achieve the same look at a fraction of the cost of the JoJo Bow. Parents also may find more affordable alternatives to other trendy items.

Choose a size larger. Children grow very fast, so it may be well worth the investment to purchase trendy items one size larger so kids can get more use out of the item. However, this likely wonÕt be possible with footwear.

Share clothes. Savvy bargain-hunters can swap gently worn shoes or clothing with other families when kids outgrow items.

Spread out purchases. To make purchasing easier on the wallet, grab items here and there throughout the year and put them toward school wardrobe essentials, rather than cramming in shopping right before the school year begins. This approach also helps families shop sales and maintain a variety of pieces that make it easier to transitions kids' wardrobes throughout the year.

School clothes can make up a large chunk of back-to-school shopping budgets. Smart choices help families save money.

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