I may not be a super deal finder or a great haggler, but I like to think I am a fabulous consignment shopper.

Right now, all but four items of Colton’s clothes were either given as gifts, hand-me-downs, or purchased from a consignment store or sale. I purchased maternity clothes and some baby gear this way too.

So, how do I walk away with some super cute clothes at a steal?

See? Super cute outfit, purchased from a huge consignment sale!

The first thing I do is know what I’m looking for. Confession: I have a spreadsheet containing all of Colton’s clothing items, listed by size with a quick description (like red and blue trimmed super baby long sleeved onepiece) that let’s me quickly know what the item is and any predominant colors in it. Yes, I was a little organizing obsessed pre-baby. This list helps me see at a glance what he needs, but so does a quick peek in his drawers.

Once I know what I need, I’m off to the sales! Before I start looking though, I remind myself of what I like. For example, I like my baby boy clothes with classic styling, no recognizable characters (like Pooh, Bob the Builder, etc.), simple, not overly busy but with nice details, a layered look for cooler weather clothes, have crotch snaps, and like them to look like little boy clothes (no graffiti-type things or otherwise older looking). Keeping these things in mind will help me make sure I’m getting clothes I’ll like not only on the hanger, but on my little guy too.

Once there, I’ll find the pertinent section (clothes are most likely organized by size and gender), and do a quick look-through. I don’t scour the racks, just look at the things that catch my eye.

If something that caught my eye seems to fit what I need and what I like, I grab it. You don’t have to look over every inch of it, just go with your gut and grab! This is especially necessary if you are at a large, one-time only sale with a lot of traffic, or in a store that has tightly packed racks.

After I have wandered, looking at what catches my eye, I do a more thorough search through the racks, trying to look at each item. Again, if I see something I like that I think I need, I grab it.

Once I’ve gone through the racks thoroughly (and I might hit some sections twice for a thorough look, or see if anything else catches my eye after my thorough search) it’s time to check out everything I’ve grabbed. To do this, I first find a place to sit and look at everything you’ve pulled. Usually, this is the floor. Sometimes, it’s a very long check-out line.

The first thing I do is look at prices and brands, so it’s very important to know your brands. You don’t necessarily have to know what an item would cost exactly, but it’s good to have a basic knowledge like: Janie and Jack or Polo are upscale, more expensive brands with a slightly higher quality and are worth the few extra bucks. Granimals and Child of Mine are available at Wal-Mart, and will run you between 3 to 6 dollars per piece new. If I know I can get something new for only a few more dollars than I can consignment, I’d prefer to buy it new. If I come across a brand I’m not familiar with, I ask myself “self, will you still love this and love what you paid for it even if you find out you can buy it at a Wal-Mart, Target or TJ Maxx?” If the answer is “yes,” then I go for it.

Once I’ve made sure my prices and brands align and fall into a range I’m comfortable with, I examine each piece of clothing, looking for missing buttons, stains, etc. I also look at the state of wear of each piece; I don’t mind a little wear, but I don’t want tons of piling or a faded look to the clothes. I want baby boy to be dressed well, even though he’s dressed inexpensively. I also reassess the clothes to make sure they fit all my criteria, and are things we really need. It helps me to lay my clothes out and look at them together when I do this. Is there something stylistically doesn’t fit with other things? Do I have things that will mix and match well with each other? Does that shirt look in worse condition than I thought it did when compared with something else? How are things priced? Do I need to get rid of a few things to stay within my budget?

When looking at clothes and prices, don’t forget to consider how many pieces are included in your purchase. I just bought something that was three pieces for seven dollars. A buck-fifty per item? Score! Do you love the shirt, don’t aren’t a fan of the pants that come with it? Skip it! This will ensure you get the maximum number of items that you LOVE at the minimum price. And who doesn’t love that?

Then, it’s off to the register, and home to show off my haul to the Hubby!

What husband would be mad when you told him this entire haul cost less than forty bucks and included a snowsuit? There’s 11 pieces there, bringing my per-piece total in at around $3.5o per item. And I love them all. How great are those elbow patches on the green thermal shirt?

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For more Top Ten Lists (what you didn’t realize this was a list? It is!), check out Top Ten Tuesday at Oh!Amanda!

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This post also linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

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