Back-to-school clothes shopping: Do this first!

Here's the scoop:  Know what you are getting into when you buy that new first day of school outfit!

With two teenage girls in the house, this time of year is stressful and expensive to find the right wardrobe for back-to-school.  Trying to figure out your style and work it into your budget can take some creative planning.  However, there are a few things you should look out for when buying those new clothes.

  1. Read the label.  The fabulous jacket that ties your whole look together could be even more expensive if it is "dry clean only".  On average, it costs between $5-$15 in extra expense to take it to the cleaners.  If your kids are like mine, instead of putting away the clothes in their closet or dresser, it is much easier to throw it in the laundry basket.  Accidentally throwing that dry clean only item in with the regular laundry can be disastrous if it isn't spotted before hitting the washing machine.  Read the labels first and understand the care and cost that is needed to keep the garment looking great.
  2. Wash new clothes before wearing.  During the making of the garment, usually it is put together in several different places (countries and companies) before it finds its new home in your closet.  Since you aren't sure of how clean these places are, it is best to wash them before you wear it.  Also, many fabrics are treated with chemicals to reduce wrinkling and mildew.  These chemicals can irritate the skin, possibly causing contact dermatitis.   You can prevent this by washing and drying the clothing before wearing (dry clean only items should be aired out).  
  3. Check the bling and the buttons.   Buttons and embellishments quickly sewn onto the garment can be loose after just a couple of wears.  Nothing is more frustrating than having a button pop off your shirt or pants during the middle of the school day or they can come loose in the wash.  Be sure to check how securely they are attached to the fabric before you get dressed.  A quick stitch with a needle and thread is all that may be needed.  Be sure to read the care label for items that have a lot of added bling.  They may require hand washing or air drying.  Washing them in a mesh laundry bag may also be helpful in case something comes loose.  Also note that if the embellishments are glued onto the fabric, the glue may deteriorate if treated at the dry cleaner (even if the label says dry clean only).  In that case, it may be best to just spot clean.
  4. Pay close attention to sport team jerseys.  If you are looking to buy a jersey to cheer on your favorite sports team, be sure to read the label first.  Screen printed items on the jersey may not like hot temperatures of the washing machine or dryer.  It can cause the graphics to clump, stick together or bubble. 

Finding just the right look for the new school year can be a very important part of preparing for the upcoming year.  You want the money spent shopping to be worthwhile so take the time to read the labels and give some special care to your new clothes.