The 13 best places to shop for back-to-school clothing
You're sure to find an outfit they love at one of these retailers.
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While parents are concerned with reading writing and 'rithmatic in the coming school year, the most important thing on a child's radar may be the question of what to wear on the first day of school. I asked all of the parents on the Reviewed staff—and their kids—to share their favorite places to shop for the perfect back-to-school outfit. Whether your child is sporty, artsy, or just wants to be comfortable, our list has something for kids with every type of sartorial taste.
1. Boden: For clothes that last
Boden is a British company that's become popular stateside in the last few years. Their line of children's clothing—dubbed "Mini Boden"—features cheerful prints and stellar seasonal collaborations (currently it's Harry Potter). Mini Boden's sizing is generous, so my kids often get two years of wear out the pieces we purchase, and since most items are 100% cotton, they wash well and take a beating. TJ Donegan, our Executive Editor, is also a fan. He says, "We've been able to re-use sweaters, sweatshirts, neutral t-shirts, and more and it's saved us a ton of money. The higher quality fabrics also hold up better to washing and pre-treating, so their clothes get cleaner without being stretched out or damaged in the wash."
2. French Toast: For kids who wear uniforms
If your child is headed to a school that requires uniforms, take a cue from Rachel Murphy, our Smart Home Staff Writer, and peruse the selection at French Toast. Search the specific school to see a selection of pants, skirts, and shirts, and then stock up on the styles your child prefers. Sunil Doshi, the VP of Product Development, recommends Old Navy for more reasonably-priced pieces that conform to school uniform requirements.
3. Primary: For gender-neutral basics
Primary was founded by two moms who were frustrated at the lack of affordable, basic clothing for kids. The company specializes in simple, colorful clothing made of 100% cotton jersey. Streamline your child's morning routine by stocking her closet with clothes that can be easily mixed-and-matched. Primary's leggings are a favorite of all 900 women in my local mom's group, and there's a good reason—the durable, high-quality fabric and unisex designs mean they can be passed down from sibling to sibling.
4. Target: For everything your kid needs
If one-stop-shopping is your jam, it's hard to beat Target for the selection of both school supplies and back-to-school fashion. One of the things I like best about Target is that they carry a great selection of both branded merchandise—like superheroes and princesses—as well as character-free lines such as Cat & Jack. Target may very well be the OG back-to-school shopping destination: Home Design Editor, Cindy Bailen, has been shopping there since her 22-year-old son was a baby.
5. Splendid: For the softest clothes
My kids are obsessed with only wearing soft clothes, so I've done a lot of research to find clothing brands that they won't deem "ouchie" or "itchy". Splendid is an LA-based brand that makes buttery-soft cotton-rayon pieces with which my kids have yet to find fault. Splendid's clothes are on the high-end, price wise, but I'm willing to pay a little more if it means less complaining from my children. Sign-up for their emails to be notified about sales—they usually offer 30-50% off at the end of the season. My daughter has her eye on the Rib Shirring Dress, and my son wants the Stripe Accent Raglan Jogger Set.
6. Kohl's: For fashion on a budget
If you're on a tight budget or your child is prone to coming home with paint on his clothes, you need fashionable wardrobe staples that don't cost a lot. Kohl's "Jumping Beans" line offers a huge selection of dresses, pants and shirts all priced under 20 dollars. Teenagers love Kohl's too—Jim Ryan, our Manager of Digital Analytics, says it's a popular destination for both his 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.
7. Hanna Andersson: For sleepwear and school wear
Hanna Andersson may be famous for their organic cotton pajama sets, but Editor in Chief, David Kender, recommends the clothing as well. Pants, shorts, shirts—if Hanna Andersson makes it, his son is wearing it. "I don’t think we’ve ever had a piece of Hannah Andersson clothing fail, no matter how rough or how many wash cycles. Our kid just outgrows them.”
8. Bit'z Kids: For something unique
Bit'z Kids is an under-the-radar Japanese clothing brand that is available online and at their one retail outlet in New York. I first discovered Bit'z Kids when someone gave my son a Brooklyn tank top for his first birthday, and I've been obsessed ever since. Their printed cotton dresses and graphic t-shirts are well-made and last forever, but I specifically love that their pants run really narrow in the waist—a major selling point if your kids are tall and slender.
9. Polarn O. Pyret: For kids in cold climates
The temperature may still be hovering around 100 degrees, but it's only a matter of weeks before the first cold snap of the season. If your kids will be braving snow, sleet, and sub-zero temps in order to get to school, you need to know about Polarn O. Pyret. The Swedish company has been making adorable (and practical) kids clothing since 1976, and their sweaters and thermal underwear cannot be matched. While we certainly have little use for long underwear here in LA, my kids love Polarn O. Pyret's zip hoodies and cotton twirl dresses.
10. Tea Collection: For clothes with a cause
For fashion with global-inspired prints, there's nothing better than Tea Collection. The San Francisco-based company finds inspiration for their designs all over the world—and they donate 10% of their profits to The Global Fund for Children. I like that Tea's clothes are crafted from thick cotton that doesn't fade or tear easily, and they feature prints that aren't especially gendered. Rachel agrees and says, "Tea Collection offers playful prints and patterns in a variety of bright colors for each season that my six-year-old daughter and I can agree on. Whether it’s a tee, skirt, dress, or any article of clothing, the materials and fabrics always feel very high-quality and the fit is spot on, so I never have to send anything back."
11. Maisonette: For the fashionista
If your little one has a taste for designer duds or you need something special for the first school dance or Holiday concert, look no further than Maisonette. The beautifully curated site features high-end fashion for children, as well as home decor and toys. Esoteric European brands are well represented on Maisonette—it's how I first discovered Wolf & Son—but there are plenty of options from well-known designers and brands as well. If there is a fancy party in your child's future, or you just want her to look absolutely fabulous on her first day of school, Maisonette won't disappoint.
12. mabo: For clothes made in the U.S.A.
If you've got kids, you may have seen ads on Instagram for mabo's organic cotton clothing. The Salt Lake City-based company designs and manufactures all of their pieces in the United States, and the cotton, linen, and wool basics are outstandingly soft and cozy. mabo's organic cotton leggings are a favorite in my house both because they are comfortable and because they're durable enough to hold up to wear from multiple kids.
13. Nordstrom: For the right pair of kicks
Nordstrom began as a shoe store, which may explain why they always have a great selection of kids shoes. Whether your child prefers running shoes or penny loafers, there are plenty of options to choose from both online and in the physical stores. Plus the customer service at Nordstrom can't be beat: they offer price adjustments if an item you purchased goes on sale, and the kids shoe departments usually send little customers home with a balloon.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.