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variety of stylish outfits for tween boys and girls

Best Retailers for Back-to-School Kids’ Clothing

By Isabel Kallman

Back-to-School (BTS) season is in full swing. Some of our friends even start start school as early as August!  Most of us though are starting or in the midst of our BTS clothes shopping right now. But for the next four weeks, you’ll be hearing about Back-to-School season much like you would Angelina and Brad during Hollywood’s awards season.

I surveyed a half dozen of Alpha Mom’s regular contributors– scattered around the country– about their favorite retail stores for Back-to-School clothes shopping. They are parents of preschoolers and of students in elementary and middle schools. Though our opinions vary, many of us have very similar views on particular retailers and their children’s clothing offerings. Here are our favorite retailers and why.

Where we’ll definitely be shopping for Back-to-School clothing

Most popular: Target
Also popular: Children’s Place, Gap Kids, Justice, Old Navy Kids, and sporting goods stores

Favorite Retailer for Discounts and Deals on Children’s Clothing

Winner: Old Navy Kids
Runners-up: Children’s Place and Gap Kids

“Old Navy is great because you can get a lot for your money. Price! And the sales! Nothing beats an Old Navy sale, either online or in the store. One of team members waits for the sales and STOCKS UP.”

Favorite General Retailer Selling Kids’ Clothing

Winner: Target (by a landslide)
We like Target because it’s a terrific value, rates highly for in-store shopping experience, offers very good discounts, and has a nice selection of clothing for boys and girls.

shirt, dress and sweatshirt for tween girl
Girls’ Clothing: Chambray Button-down // Girls’ School Uniform // Printed Sweatshirt

button down shirt, henley and long sleeve shirt for tween boyBoys’ Clothing:  Button-down Shirt  // Henley Tee   // Champion Long-sleeved Tee

“Target is where my family does the majority of our general household shopping, so it’s convenient to check out the kids’ clothing section and pick up whatever the boys need. I like that Target carries a mix of simple basics as well as the licensed character/logo-centric clothing. My kids love getting fun shirts with their favorite characters on them, but I also like them to have some plainer (but still stylish) stuff and I can typically find both at Target. The clothing all holds up pretty well, considering the fairly low price.”

“Target has regular sales, nice athletic clothes–namely Champion–and the clothing department is laid out nicely and not too crammed. It is convenient and easy and my kids know they’ll find something they like. It’s pretty much our go-to clothing store. My only criticism would be that our Target sometimes runs out of various sizes that we need.”


Favorite Clothing Retailer with Kids’ Departments

Winners: Gap Kids Old Navy Kids (Tie)
We like Gap Kids and Old Navy Kids because both offer a nice selection of clothes that are very good quality (especially Gap). Their clothing fits very well, and they offer very good sales and discounts (especially Old Navy). It also gets a thumbs up for their online and in-store shopping experiences.

“We love the style of the clothes from the Gap (both myself and the kids) and the quality is great.”

“I like Old Navy because you can get a lot for your money.”

stylish clothes and sneakers for tweens from the GAP Kids
Top Row: Rugby slub dress //  Hi-top sneakers  //  Quilted Denim Bomber Jacket
Bottom Row: Cargo Pants  // Baseball Tee //  Ombre Striped Sweater


Favorite Department Store

Winner: Nordstrom (Kohl’s is a close second)

Nordstrom scores very high with us on quality of clothing, selection and in-store shopping experience. Main issue is that for most of us, its prices are too high for our BTS budgets.

dress, jeans and hooded pullover for tween
Floral Print Dress // Skinny Jeans //  Under Armour Heat Gear Hoodie


Favorite Retailer for Boys’ Clothing

Winner:Old Navy Kids
Runners-Up: Target, Gap KidsChildren’s Place
We think Old Navy is great for boys because… “The styles and selections offered for boys are very good. These are clothes kids can be kids in — something gets ripped or stained, it’s okay. If something survives long enough to be handed down, that’s great.”

hooded pullover, button down shirts for tween boys
Striper Jersey Hoodie  // Plaid Short-sleeve Shirt  // Boys Shirt & Tie Sets

Favorite Retailer for Girls’ Clothing

Winner: Old Navy Kids
Runners Up: Kohl’s,  Children’s PlaceGap Kids

We really like the selection and fit of its girls clothing offerings.

jeans, dress and button down shirt for tween girl
Rockstar Glitter-Dot Skinny Jeans  //  Polo Dress // Plaid Flannel Shirt

“Inexpensive and trendy. They have the cutest styles.”

“I love Old Navy for girls because they offer cute, trendy styles for a fantastic price. Old Navy is constantly offering discounts so affordable clothes are even cheaper. You can actually go on a shopping spree (and buy lots of items) without spending too much money. Plus, if your daughter ends up not loving one item – it’s no big deal because you didn’t spend too much money on it.”


Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Jeans

Winner: Old Navy Kids
Runners Up: Gap Kids (a close second) and Target

stylish and colorful jeans for kids
Top Row: Rockstar Pop-Color Jeans // Dark-Wash Super Skinny Jeans //  Boyfriend Floral-Print Skinny Jeans
Bottom Row: Boys Super Skinny Jeans //   Boys Straight-Leg Jeans // Boys Pop-Color Skinny Jeans

Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Shoes

Winner: Zappos
Runners Up: Target and Nordstrom

cool shoes for kids

Top Row:   Cienta Kids Shoes // Pampili Fiorela Leopard Shoes // Nina Kid Bronze Shoe
Bottom Row:  Hanna Andersson Nils Shoes //  Bogs Kids Chocolate Shoes // Polo Ralph Lauren Kids Shoes


Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Sneakers

Winner: Zappos
Runners Up: Nordstrom & sporting goods stores (Academy, Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods)

blue and red and stylish sneakers for kids
Top Row: Superga Kids // Converse Chuck Taylor Stars // Puma sneakers
Bottom Row: Adidas Originals Dragon // Under Armour Kids Torch Sneakers  //  Puma Kids Suede Straps Sneakers

Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Outerwear

Winners: Old Navy Kids, Lands’ End and North Face

six different colorful jackets for kids
Top Row: North Face Oso Hoodie   // Lands End Expedition Parka //  Old Navy Varsity-Style Fleece Jacket
Bottom Row: Lands End Stormer Jacket  //  North Face Gonzo Insulated Jacket // Old Navy Uniform Windbreaker


Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Undergarments

Winner: Target (by a landslide)
Runners Up: Gap Kids and Old Navy Kids


Favorite Retailer for Kids’ Fancy Clothing

Winner: Gap Kids
Runners Up: J. Crew Kids and Nordstrom


Favorite Retailer for Girls’ Dresses

Winner: Nordstrom
Runners up: Children’s Place, J.Crew Kids and Macy’s


Favorite Retailer for Boys’ Blazers

Winner: J.Crew Kids


Favorite Retailer for Gender-Neutral Clothing

Winner: Hanna Andersson
Runners Up: Gap Kids and Target
“Hanna Andersson clothes last forever, they still look brand new after a couple of hand me downs. We love the bright colors and general look of their clothes.”

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that some popular clothing retailers like H&M, Gymboree, and WalMart didn’t rank well in our survey (and no one brought up TJ Maxx).  In our survey, H&M is most remarkable for decent value for clothing prices; Gymboree was liked for its excellent quality in clothing but we think its a bit too expensive; no respondent had anything nice to write about the back-to-school clothing available or shopping experience at WalMart (ouch).

What are your favorite retailers for Back-to-School clothing and why?

About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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