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How to put together a runway-look outfit for your girl or boy - on a discount store budget

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Disclosure: Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Rest assured I only recommend stores at which I have had personal experience shopping at before.

Girl wearing dressy outfit looking in mirror

It is possible to get a put-together runway-style outfit for your child on a discount store budget. Find out here what makes the look, and how you can pull it together at a cheap price point (yes, with well-known US brands).

There are 3 different approaches you can use for this. We’ll start with the easiest and move on to the other two – the latter ones are for those of you who don’t want to stick to just one store or brand.

Option 1: Shop at a children’s clothing store that offers collections of color coordinated separates.

Pre-made collections where you have a range of color-coordinated separates to choose from are the ideal. You can’t go wrong there.

Two US stores who do this very well indeed at budget-friendly price points are OshKosh B’gosh and Carter’s. Of the two, OshKosh B’gosh has the higher prices, but also the more textural interest that creates a look that’s far more upscale than its pricing reflects. It also has more collections on offer at any one time. Occasional sales and coupons bring OKBG’s pricing closer into line with a discount store budget.

To take a look at examples of outfits, here are the current collections for girls at OshKosh B’gosh, and here are their current collections for boys.

If you can’t afford OKBG, don’t worry: Sibling store Carter’s offers pricing that is closer to discount store pricing – sometimes even lower.

Option 2: Make an upscale outfit by carefully piecing together lower-priced brands

If you'd rather not stick with just one or two brands like we did with the pre-made collections, why not create your own color-coordinated outfit for your child? It's basically making your own collection. The good news is that you can shop around different stores for this, so you have a little more variety. The downside is that it's harder to do: it requires more work and effort to find pieces from different stores that will work well together.

My top recommendations for hunting down separates if you go this route are:

1. The Children's Place. Why? Because you'll find a wide variety of different colors and styles at rock-bottom prices.

2. French Toast. Although it actually specializes in school uniforms, I've bought good quality items for regular outfits from there, at low prices. In particular, to complete an otherwise-busy outfit you may be seeking a plain white or one-color top that still offers added interest.

For girls, you get to choose from a variety of detailing options, like gather-front tucks, Peter Pan collar, or ribbon bow short sleeves. For boys, there are also eye-catching patterned non-uniform shirts at prices lower than what you would pay at discount stores.

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3. Old Navy. Similarly to The Children's Place, you'll get a wide variety of colors and styles without breaking the bank. Some of their items don't always look as high-quality as the other stores I mentioned, so I would use them mainly for accent pieces or accessories.

Of course you can also pair any of these with pieces you find on sale at discount stores.

Don't ignore pieces your child may already own! You might find that instead of building an outfit from scratch, you can add, say, a shirt and a jacket to a great pair of pants that your child already has. So long as you can create a cohesive color-coordinated themed look, it doesn't matter how you do it.

Remember, think from the point of view that you're building up an outfit, a 'look'. When considering a piece - any piece - ask yourself "What items would this go with?" and "Would it contribute to an overall look or theme that I want to create, like City Snappy, or Inspired by Nature?" You probably do that for your own fashion already, but the concept applies equally well to your children's clothing.

Tip: Avoid this mistake! Even if you have your child's outfit perfectly color-coordinated, you won't get that upscale runway look unless you add some textural interest. In other words, if the entire outfit is made of jersey knit, it's just not going to look as upscale as something where each piece is made of different types and weights of fabrics that are pulled together with a central look or theme.

Have fun with it!

These 2 methods we covered today can happily be combined - they're not mutually exclusive. You want your kids to be on point on a tight budget - and you can do it! Not only that, I've found it can be a lot of fun to do, too. So, enjoy!

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