Buying Brand Names on a Budget: Mom Tips for Back To School Shopping


If your children have entered middle and high school then likely they have started asking for the trendy styles and feel pressure to wear the name brand clothing that dons their peers in the hallways. And moms, I know we should have a long talk about enabling our children to conform, or the downside of fast fashion, or how to say “no” to our darling dears.

But this is not that type of blog post.

This post is to help you snag brand names on a budget. And if you enjoy thrift store shopping you’ll want to read Heather’s post on Thrift Stores on the Seacoast.


1. Poshmark

My go-to for name brand name clothing, purses, bags, belts and shoes. (I also sell some things there but that will be for a different post). On Poshmark you can search by brand. Meaning if your daughter has asked for Hollister Skinny Jeans then right now you could buy a pair for $9 or $12 used or even brand new for $20-$30. They have both used clothing that is often in newish shape or “new with tags”. Currently I am “shopping” for a Lucky leather belt for my 15 year old daughter (I have one and she is always stealing it!). They have categories for children, maternity, women, men, athletic, and plus size — most sales are final!

Mom Tip: “Like” the things that you, well, like. The seller will then send you an “offer” with at least a 10% discount on the price and $4.99 shipping. All items are $6.99 to ship so you want the offer which gives you $4.99 shipping. I know it feels like that is a lot for shipping since we’re use to Amazon’s “free” shipping. (But I’ll remind you that it is not really free since we pay an annual subscription fee of $129). I also feel like there is value in the shipping since I didn’t have to step one foot into a mall!

2. Facebook Marketplace

Great place to buy Lululemon or North Face for sure. I bought an almost new Patagonia messenger bag for $25. We’ve also bought skis, ski bags, and helmets there. It is local people so you typically have to find a meeting spot to pick up the items. To go to the marketplace, next time you’re on Facebook, click on the little icon that looks like a house at the bottom of the screen.  

Mom Tip: Furniture is on the marketplace too so if you want to update your child’s playroom to a teen space then you can snag chairs or rugs or wall hangings. Or do a bedroom makeover at a fraction of the price.

3. Kittery Trading Post Outdoor Tent Sale

Brand names galore! Winter coats, fleeces, sweatshirts, shorts and more are under the tent at significantly reduced prices. I know it is hard to think about winter coats right now but at reduced prices it might be budget friendly to shop before the snow falls. The Outdoor Tent Sale is a seasonal tent outback of KTP and if you are loyal to a brand this is also a perfect time to stock up. Although clothing is on rounders and may require some time for sifting.

Mom tip: A North Face Backpack makes a great holiday or birthday present. My daughters love them and find them comfortable to wear. Plus they are very trendy right now and this is your shot at being a “cool mom”. 

4. Watch for the Sales

Nike, Adidas, Under Armour are brands that coupons typically do-not-apply. So if you have a Dick’s Sporting Goods $20 off $100 purchase or a Kohl’s 20% off coupon, they may not apply. Total Bummer! So watch for the sales. Kohl’s does a good job and putting their Nike and other sporty clothing on sale every month or so. Save your Kohl’s Cash and that can be applied to all purchases even if your coupon does not apply. Again this is when planning ahead helps. 

Mom Tip: We have 4 daughters. I shop early for the holidays so I can 1) get their size and 2) the brand names they like. And if your sweet child wants Nike sports shorts and you know that Kohl’s sells them, it behooves you to watch for the sales. When you have children who may not fit into something then buying new and saving the receipt is a must. 

5. Marshalls/TJ Maxx

They sell a ton of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lucky Brand clothing at a discounted price. I also find American Eagle pants pretty regularly. And again, I’ll speak to the moms of girls here…they have CK sports bras that are always a big hit. For my daughter’s birthday I got her a North Face tank top, Calvin Klein sweatpants and a Boston Marathon running shirt. All at prices that don’t break the bank.

Mom Tip: This is also a great place to buy socks with a brand names. It is funny how a little swoosh or 3 stripes on a pair of socks can feel so important. 


  • SHOP ONLINE. This is the best way to find a deal on something specific. If your 15 year old says they want THE Nike Air Max 270 sneakers for their Christmas present then being able to have time to locate a coupon, or free shipping or a sale is helpful. Zappos often has discounted shoe pricing for current shoes and does free shipping and free returns. And at this point my children are use to the fact that I am a bargain shopper so they know to ask ahead of time and give me a chance to find the item on sale. 
  • COMPROMISE. Since I am a mom on a budget I clearly do not buy my children anything and everything that their little hearts desire. But under the right set of circumstances we allow our children to have these luxuries. For example for back-to-school shopping, I told my 13 year old that I will buy her the jeans that she wants (on sale) but then she need to pick out a couple inexpensive shirts at Marshall’s.
  • MEET YOUR TEENS WHERE THEY ARE. The truth of the matter is that our children do care a great deal about their appearance and style, even if we wish they’d have more perspective. I want them to feel comfortable at school so they can concentrate on their studies and not worry about comparing their hoodie to the student’s next to them. 
  • TAKE A PIC AND SAVE IT FOR LATER. When out shopping, and your child begs for something, take a picture of it at the store. We say “take a picture and mom will look it up online later”. Or, “take a photo and you can earn it with chores”. Most of the time the item they wanted so badly is never spoken of again and I don’t ever buy it. But, if they come back to ask for that item then we can look it up together. Or maybe it becomes a birthday present. Also, since my teens now know how to find things online, I tell them to send me the link and I’ll look into it. Sometimes the link never arrives and again, their fleeting desire is gone.

Hope these tips help your transition back to school! Happy Shopping!


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