Monday, August 11, 2014

Dressing Ruby on A Dime

Ruby may have been the best dressed baby on the universe.
It didn't hurt that she was one of the first girls in a family full of boys.
We clued in pretty quickly that it *might* be more fun to shop for her than it had been for all the fricks and fracks. 

And then there were those curls. The the rolls. And the eyes. And baby jowls.
Hold on....some things you have to see to believe...

(I'm realizing in this moment that Ruby rocked gingham before I even had my own. I clearly stole my look from her!)

(This obvs has nothing to do with being well dressed, but she rocked a swim diaper like daaang.)

We weren't even close to "fancy" all the time, but 90% of what she wore was brand new and most of it was name brand. I was always a sale shopper, but I remember buying this Ralph Lauren sweater at TJ Maxx for $30, and I think the skirt was Mini Boden.

Alas, those were different times and life has tossed us around in the pan a bit since then. It's important for us to steward our resources well and that has meant some adjustments. Beyond the practical points, we're in a community now that does not value fashion or appearance. (Can't tell you how freeing and lovely this is.)

Still, sister's growing like a rose and we're always on the hunt for inexpensive pieces that will wear well (my kids play hard) and keep her looking like a sweet, little lovey-girl, even though she's in a size 10-12 now and finding age-appropriate stuff in that size makes me want to rage a little.

Right now, 90% of what she wears is second-hand.

I had no idea what I was missing out on back when I didn't have to think it through. This summer, I scored at a few thrift stores in a major way (Land's End bathing suit for $2? Yes, please!) and though I don't thrift regularly, I always take the time to breeze through the clothing aisles when I do. I almost always find something great for one of us.

I also do quite a bit of shopping at consignment stores, both local shops and Once Upon A Child.

The trick to stellar thrifting and consigning is to buy things on sale. Yes, on sale at a thrift store. I almost never pay full price for anything, because even $5 for a dress at Goodwill feels like too much when I know I could wait until a sale day and get it for half price.

I'm by no means a slave to brands, but I have to admit there are a few that I'm still drawn to because they're so stinking cute. When I find them, I scoop them up. And when I don't find them, adorby Target or even Wal-Mart duds can be found second-hand.

I also scour clearance racks when I do make it to a retail store.

I used to sell her things back to a consignment store, but I'm finding it infinitely more fun to just bless another family with it when we're done. Who doesn't love getting great hand-me-downs? And when you know you don't have a ton invested, it's even easier to give it all away.

A recent article in Huffington Post claims that the average family spends almost $700 on back-to-school shopping, most of which is apparel.

Well. I don't think it has to be this way.

 I rounded up her back-to-school clothes to illustrate my point. You'll probably be blown away by the technical qualities and styling of these shots. Prepare yourselves...

Gap bootcut sweat pants - $3, local consignment store
Gymboree leggings - $3.50, local consignment store
Old Navy flare jeans - $3, local consignment store
Crazy 8 flare jeans - $6.50, Crazy 8
Arizona flowered skinnies - $4, local consignment store
Old Navy cargo skirt - $2, Goodwill (and it's not a micro mini!!!)
Total: $22

Candie's flowered T - $1.25, Once Upon A Child
Old Navy orange flowered T - $2, local consignment store
Mossimo Supply Co. purple T - $1.25, local consignment store
Poof Girl 3/4 striped T - $5, Marshalls
Old Navy long sleeved Horse T - $1.50, Goodwill
Old Navy faces faces T - $1.25, local consignment store
Aqua Gap peplum T -  $1.50, Goodwill
Osh Kosh striped tunic T - $3.50, local consignment store
Total:  $17.25

(I hit the mother lode earlier in the Spring, and saved them back for this year. So happy I did!)
Old Navy mint/grey - $1.97, Old Navy
Old Navy sailor dog vest - $3.99, Old Navy
Faded Glory purple fox - $4, Wal Mart
Poof Girl cardi - $11, Marshalls
Old Navy navy cardi - $2.97, Old Navy
Total:  $24

I'm a little speechless over paying $11 for the cardi. It must have been early in the month. haha. All I can say is, HEART ELBOW PATCHES.

Lastly, dresses.
Ruby River is a HUGE dress and skirt girl.

It's not always super practical, but it sure is adorable.

Crewcuts (Crewscuts!!!!) - $3.50, Once Upon A Child

(Note: Our Once Upon A Child doesn't know what Crewcuts is. If this was Gap, it would have been double. DO NOT TELL THEM or I will kick you. In love.)

Land's End - $6, local consignment store

Morgan  & Milo - $3.50, Once Upon A Child
(Check this out!!! It retails for $48. Plus tax and shipping.)

Naartjie - $4, local consignment shop

H&M - $1, local thrift store
(Peter Pan collar and it buttons up the back. SWOON!)

I bought 24 pieces for a total of $81!!!
Do I have you convinced yet to take those kiddos to Goodwill for their back-to-school shopping?? :)

Truth is, it's not for everyone. Not everyone has the time to sniff out these deals and track it all down and, quite frankly, plenty of people can afford to buy brand new. There is nothing wrong with that and I still enjoy buying a few things new. Above that, sometimes it makes sense to buy brand new, so things can be passed down a few times.

I wish I could tell you I'm die hard about sourcing all of my purchases and making sure everything I bring home was made under optimal ethical conditions. Honestly, I don't. But the more I learn about the importance of buying with integrity, the deeper it sinks in and the more I care.

I grabbed Ruby 2 new dresses this summer, on clearance, from one of my favorite online retailers, Tea Collection, for around $15 each. I have loved their look and their global awareness for years (I partnered with them for this post years ago, back on the farm.)

Their stuff is cute, comfy, and ethically made.
It's colorful and quirky enough to make me love it forever, and they have fantastic sales.

I bought their stuff with my own paper money, and this isn't a sponsored post at all. But I did reach out to them to become an FPFG affiliate and voila, they agreed it was a good match. So, if you buy with the links I use, they pay me a small portion for advertising for them. It's magical!

Check out all their goodies at

I'm also cheering on my pal Hayley Morgan and her new venture, Wildly Co.
Her and her hubs have started a brand new collection of perfectly mixable and matchable, comfy-cute options for kiddos. Her style is as impeccable as her heart is good. They are actively involved in every stage of creation, and ensure their collection is make ethically and responsibly. You can check out the line and read more about the story, support their Kickstarer campaign to get the business rolling, and order right here.

President Rocket T
I'm obsessed with this Wildly Co. t!
It has "Silas" written all over it. :)

Dots T 
 And this design was inspired by the raddest metal door in Ethiopia. (Hayley and I were travel-mates!)
Here are my favorite short people heading to their first day of school. Calvin was so excited about his outfit. (ha!) It cost a total of $5 from Once Upon A Child, save the Target kicks. Ruby's dress was also OUAC and her studded, leopard shoes were $10 Target clearance last Spring. Silas got a free Kinder T from his teacher for the first day. And brand new "light up shoes".

Regardless of what they wear or where we find it, I'm passionate about ingraining in them the desire and heart to walk in their mission every single day.

My kids' mission field happens to be our neighborhood public school, where flashy duds are pointless when so many friends are struggling. (More about our school journey here.)

As for the Mama, my mind is swirling lately with big questions and answers that never land neatly in my palm. And isn't that one of the best parts of living?

We learn and grow and sometimes we back it up or fall entirely off the track.

But each of us has a mission, and we have got to keep walking in it.

So, press on, FPFG family! What we have here is some kind of fresh start.
I can't wait to see what happens next.