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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Try This on for Size: Fitting Ideas About Choosing School Clothes

LAS CRUCES -- Parents and kids often don't see eye-to-eye when shopping for school clothes, whether it's because of price, style or quality.

Getting kids involved in choosing and taking care of their clothes can help make sure parents' dollars are well-spent, said Susan Wright, clothing and textiles specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"Kids like to look like other kids," Wright said. "It's important to buy clothes they'll wear, instead of letting them hang in the closet."

To avoid fights about trendy or expensive items, parents can give older children a budget and allow them to make clothing decisions, Wright said.

"Maybe they really do have to have that special pair of jeans, but it may mean they have fewer clothes or that they buy a less expensive shirt to go with it," she said.

If money is limited, Wright suggests looking for good used clothes at a consignment store or yard sale.

"Many times, these clothes have a lot of wear left in them because other kids outgrew them quickly," she said. "With the savings, you can add a few new items to go with them."

Another option is putting clothing on layaway. However, Wright warned against having too many same-sized items on layaway because kids may outgrow them quickly.

Kids also should learn to care for their clothes, including sorting, washing and folding. "This teaches them skills they'll need later and relieves you of some of the tedium of laundry," Wright said.

She offered the following back-to-school clothing ideas for parents and kids.

* Watch what other kids are wearing in your neighborhood, in catalogs and on television to find out what's fashionable.
* Buy a few new items to start the school year, then add separates gradually as the child grows. This strategy helps keep up with growth spurts and avoid marathon shopping trips with impatient youngsters.
* Let children have input about clothing choices.
* Teach kids how to hang up and fold their own clean clothes and to put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

Middle school

* Allow kids to buy a couple of trendy items that may quickly go out of style, but spend most money on basic tops, shorts, pants and skirts that can be worn many ways.
* Give kids who clamor for expensive clothes a budget and let them decide how to buy the clothes they'll need for the year.
* Teach kids to sort laundry and pre-treat stains.

High school

* Point out signs of quality clothing like colorfastness, washable trim, firmly woven material, finished seams and sturdy buttonholes.
* Allow teens to make clothing choices within a budget.
* Make teens responsible for doing laundry and ironing their own clothes.