Asking For A Friend: What Should A Single Parent On A Budget Buy For Their Growing 6 Year Old Son?

A few weeks ago, in an effort to save some more time to work and spend with the kids, I turned off my DM’S and asked followers to either comment on instagram, over here, or shoot me an email. Initially I was nervous about the move. But the emails (and comments) that have happened since, have been invaluable conversations.  

One of the few emails I was sent this weekend comes from a long-time reader and mother:

“Do you happen to have a curated source (brands) for Boy’s and Girl’s clothing that I may refer to? Additionally, what is your recommendation for handling outgrown clothing? (I’m a single mom living in Cali, so budget is something I think about).”

Here’s my answer:

While my own wardrobe is comprised of mostly small sustainable and vinage, it is a difficult challenge for many families (due to time and/or budget) to consider these things. Let alone consider them for children. This is something I understand and support, and the perpetual holes in the knees of my kids’ clothes do not convince me otherwise. When I had less money and yes, less time, I leaned more heavily towards a fast-fashion scale for my children. I am still finding this balance with them as their style and bodies grow. So this post and my position on buying for children is open in this sense. 

I tend to think of their clothes the same way I think of my own; anything can and should be able to be layered, a size bigger is always best, natural fibers and stretch is almost-always a must, and if vintage (from shops like Playground), purchase with their eye, not my own (this is hard!). 

Bottoms: Joggers with a drawstring waist band tends to give the most life. But more importantly, they always are the most comfortable for Oak. I purchase three simple colors almost always: anything in green, blue, or black for him. Primary is a wonderful brand who’s basics come in rich colors. 

Shirts: Now that it’s fall and Oak tends to run on the warm side and doesn’t particularly like jackets, so we layer with Uniqlo heattech. Every Christmas, their dad is tasked with purchasing a range of long-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks and leggings. These work as undergarments for frigid NYC winters, and on a chilly (but not too cold) day, a shirt that can keep them cozy worn as an extra layer above. Alone, the colors go well with simple joggers and they normally naturally can be worn for a year and half or so. We layer these with graphic t-shirts, usually from small shops like Maisonnette. 

Sweaters: Like everything else, I expect the kids’ sweaters to keep rotating. I hope they hold on longer than everything else, and sincerely believe that they should. Carefully curated online shops like Smallable have a variety of sweaters we love. While the cost of these sweaters usually run double the amount of their fast-fashion counterparts, I have realized over the years, the difference in how the make of this particular clothing item versus others, makes a great deal of a difference. 

Accessories: For hats, we are in a styling season of bucket hats! It is likely my love for them, and my inability to wear them with my fro. I love how they work to protect them from the winter sun, but can add a cute contrast to any outfit they wear. When it gets chilly, we will go back to simple and colorful beanies, that the whole family can rotate and use. 

Speaking of simple…

When all else fails: Go with basic cotton white shirts. Buy a lot of them! This is my back up (read forward) plan when it comes to dressing Oak in general. There is little fight when it comes to a classic white t-shirt. And no one ever cares if they get messy. We can make them fun and tie-dye them, or keep them stocked for a birthday party and turn them into art. Whatever it is, there’s little money spent and not a whole lot of fuss on the matter. 

And as far as the fuss with clothes that no longer serve us…

Thankfully, we are constantly on the receiving and giving end of pre-loved hand-me-downs. When no one wants what we’ve got to give we usually split between our stoop and a local Domestic Violence shelter. During the fall and winter, there’s a huge push for heavier items like sweaters, thicker pants, and of course, winter boots of all kinds. Due to the pandemic, the need in these spaces is astronomical, so always search! Most times, they will coordinate a pick up, or have a central drop-off location.

Any other questions or tips to share of your own?

(Top photograph via Zara. And bottom photo via Smallable. This post has affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission.)

10 thoughts on “Asking For A Friend: What Should A Single Parent On A Budget Buy For Their Growing 6 Year Old Son?

  • Reply Laura Yvette October 12, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    So timely as I am just now starting to search for winter basics for my little guy! He’s eight and we’re in Texas so we still have time before seasons change. Checking out smallable now. Thank you!

    • Reply latonya October 12, 2020 at 10:25 pm

      You’re welcome!

  • Reply Ashta Hunter October 13, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Next time send her my way too. I try to keep the costs low and affordable for the vintage and second-hand pieces, so many families can acquire these finds. Thrifting is an amazing way to find durable long lasting clothes without spending a lot but I know lots of families don’t have time to search for it. That is exactly why I started The Playground. Save the earth while saving money… win win! 😉

    • Reply latonya October 13, 2020 at 8:59 am

      OMG! i seriously meant to link your shop when I wrote the word vintage!!

      Yes yes yes!!

      Link is life now!

  • Reply Chelsea October 13, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Thank you for this! My little family is on a one income budget and fast fashion happens more than I like for the kids but try to be mindful as well and accept hand me downs with open arms or shop second hand. Lots of good tips here! Always good to get another perspective of something I may be missing!

  • Reply Lauren October 13, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Hi there. Thank you so much for this post. This is wonderful (as all of your content is ❤️). Wondering which shelter you donate clothes to. I’m new to Brooklyn and could use a recommendation. Thank you.

  • Reply Marlen Bernardez October 16, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you, amor, for your thoughtful response to my question! I have tried my best to avoid fast fashion. I ended up ordering clothes from Uniqlo and Tea clothing. Outgrown clothes were donated via the BuyNothing project. Everything is going full circle.

    • Reply latonya October 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      Love Tea! And yes, Uniqlo is always on the list. So happy some things worked out for you!


  • Reply Lauren October 19, 2020 at 11:18 am

    yeeeeessss to white shirts and tie dye! we just made some spooky color blends for October/Fall.

    as always, these thoughts couldn’t have come at a better time. thank you.

  • Reply Amaia October 19, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    My friends and I are always passing on our kids’ clothes to each other. There are also a couple of apps here in Spain (vinted and wallapop) where you can purchase or sell used clothes that are always cheaper than store bought.

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