Make sure your hand-me-downs are in good condition
Stylist Lynda Felton is cocreator of the online magazine covetgarden.com, but her role as aunt to 16-year-old Sydney and "auntie" to her 3-year-old neighbour, Maggie, has let her hone her artistic skills and designer eye creating custom looks from previously loved finds. Felton reminds us that when it comes to hand-me-downs, we want to make sure the things we pass down to our kids are in good shape, and that they match our kids' personality. "Just because your older son loved Spider-Man, you shouldn't force your younger son to wear that superhero sweater if he's more into fairies," she says.
The trick is to personalize each hand-me-down item and give it a new twist that makes your young model proud and excited to wear it. If you're good at sewing, that makes it easier -- but you don't have to be a seamstress to revamp hand-me-downs. Felton and Avery have some ideas to get your creativity flowing.
"No kid wants to feel like 'This is barely hanging on, but here you go -- it's for you,'" says Felton. These simple modifications to items that would otherwise be tossed will make your little one feel special.
Use permanent markers in various colours and have kids draw on their shoes.
"This isn't just for fabric shoes," says Avery. "Little pumps and flats often come in boring colours, so let your kid draw what she wants on them. Yes it will smudge, but kids grow out of shoes in a few months, so you'll still get a few wears out of them at least."
Another trick: "Let the kids glue sequins and beads on the shoes to make them their own," says Avery.
Use the "letterman jacket" effect
"Cut out letters and shapes from one shirt if your kid likes the fabric, and sew them onto another," says Felton.
Swap out the details
"Change the buttons on shirts," says Avery. Replace zippers on cardigans and jackets with more colourful versions. "Add fun buttons even if it's a pullover -- you can make it look like a faux cardigan," she says.
"Sometimes kids are really particular about some of their clothes, like pajamas," says Felton. "If so, you shouldn't give those clothes as hand-me-downs -- PJs should be a new treat. But fabrics that last -- denim, sweaters -- they're easy to have fun with and patch up."