Back-to-School Shopping: Tips for Teens

Getting Started

1. Set a budget. Remember you don’t want to buy a year’s worth of clothes all at once. The weather (and styles) is bound to change. Sit down with your parents and come up with a number that’s reasonable for the year, then divide by three. The first portion of the clothing budget will be what you use for back-to-school shopping.

2. Contact your school to see if any rules have changed when it comes to your dress code. Things may have changed over the summer and it’s best to be prepared before you head out to the mall or get online.

3. Read up on the styles in your favorite magazines. Websites like, or can help you spot trends.

4. Make a list of all the items you will need in the upcoming year. Include clothes for gym classes and any other special activities you may be participating in (soccer, cheerleading, band, etc.).

5. Give last years clothes a review. See the list below for ideas on cleaning and organizing your closet.

6. Once you are sure you have the list prepared, tear out pictures from magazines or print images from the Internet to show your parents. There’s no need buying items they are just going to make you return. Save everyone some aggravation and agree to approved styles before you hand over your cash.

7. Save your receipts until you’ve tried everything on and made sure the clothes fit properly.

Getting Organized

Set aside an afternoon to sort through your closet. You may want to enlist a fashion-savvy friend to help you weed through the options. Turn up the tunes and get busy getting organized. Bring three bags or plastic storage containers with you. Mark the containers:

1. Give: These clothes are in good shape but no longer fit your body or your fashion sense. You can give them to charity or sell on them on or – it’s your choice. Maybe you can even organize a clothing swap with your friends.

2. Keep: Clothes that fit and still meet your fashion standards.

3. Toss: if the clothes are stained, torn or otherwise damaged, add them to the rag pile for cleaning or toss them with the trash.


Shopping can be stressful for teens. It’s hard to make your parents understand that you have a unique style that differs from what they want to wear. Here are a few ideas to make the shopping easier:

Involve your parents in making the shopping list.

1. Once you’ve agreed to a budget, stick to it! Your parents will be impressed with your maturity and who knows this may be the next step to even more freedom.

2. Look for bargains and promotions before you buy. Many retailers offer back-to-school savings and specials.

3. Don’t give into peer pressure. Buy clothes that you feel comfortable in and that will make getting dressed fun.

4. Don’t shop with friends who have unlimited clothing budgets, you’ll only get frustrated by your own monetary limits.

5. Check out your local resale shop for cool name-brand clothes at deep discounts

6. Organize a clothing swap with friends. What is old to them is new to you.

7. Consider a part-time job at your favorite clothing store: You’ll gain valuable work experience, received a discount on clothing and be able to sock away some cash. is a good resource to locate potential employers.

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