I depend on the semiannual Rhea Lana consignment sale to outfit my kids. And thankfully, the sale was moved up closer to the beginning of school this year. So this afternoon I completed my work and headed out to the dying shopping center on the edge of town, where the sale has commandeered five storefronts for the week.
If you're going to try to get ninety percent of your kids' fall-winter clothing in one swell foop, strategy is essential. Shopping carts are scarce, if present at all, and you can only carry around six or ten outfits before your carryin' arm gets tired and you lose your will to flip through the racks. So smart shoppers bring a laundry basket to fill. I've even seen some being dragged around with jumpropes or clothesline, the better to move quickly without having to lean over and lift from the knees.
Naturally it helps if you know what size your children are, generally speaking. However, if you rarely shop at actual stores, you don't get that regular checkup on the key numbers. So there's some guesswork and projection involved.
Cady Gray was comfortable in size 5 tops last winter, but she was still wearing some size four pants and leggings with plenty of length to spare. So I shopped exclusively on the size 6 racks for her today; the shirts and sweaters will fit this year, and the pants next year -- no problem since she still has plenty of size 5 pants that I bought at last year's sale. Archer is rail-thin, making the ratio of length to waist circumference a problem. He made it through last year with size 6 pants, which were pretty short by the time it got to be shorts weather. Eyeballing the size 7 and 8 pants, I was of the opinion that size 8 pants were ridiculously long. I was a little worried that size 7's would be vulnerable to a height spurt, but if I got them with enough elastic in the waist, they should be presentable for long enough.
As for styles, I have definite opinions. I stay away from pink and purple in the girls' section as much as possible, and I like to keep it simple -- long-sleeve tees that can be layered, not a lot of frou-frou. For Archer, it's all about stripes. I love a boy in a striped tee shirt; it's just ... boyish in a way that makes me happy.
If I can get out the door with seven to ten shirts, four or five pants, a jacket and sweater, and a pair of pajamas for each child, I consider it a Rhea Lane sale well shopped. PJs get harder to find the older they get, but for everything else, I scored -- and I only broke my "nothing over five dollars" rule for a couple of special items. Now to put bricks on the kids heads and try to keep them the same size until March or so!