There are some super cute kids' clothes out there...there are also some very expensive kids' clothes out there. I fully understand that you want your children to look 'acceptable' while going out in society but there is no reason to pay a lot of money for it. I find it very challenging to pay a lot of money (more than $25) for a single item of clothing for anyone in the house. Adult-sized jeans are about the only thing I will pay money for.
There are a couple reasons I refuse to pay a lot of money for children's clothing.
1. They only wear each item for up to 6 months before it is too small.
2. They trash their clothing (and should) while playing, painting, eating,potty training, etc.
3. There are so many resources of inexpensive and free clothing.
Where to get clothes.
Cheap option...Target, Walmart, Meijer, and Old Navy are good sources for reasonably priced new clothing. The quality is good enough to last handing down to multiple children and the styles are current.
Cheaper option....Goodwill and Salvation Army resale stores are good sources. It takes a bit more time to sort through to find the best quality but the prices are unbeatable. Consignment shops are a good option if you want higher quality or high-style clothes. You may also be able to trade your own used clothing. Garage sales (this is the season) or One-week Boutique-type community sales are great but are hit-or-miss.
Cheapest (Free) option...find someone in your inner-circle with kids on either side age-wise of your own. Then hand the clothes around. It never hurts to ask someone you know if they have any clothes their kids have grown out of. Also, obviously, if you have multiple children, invest in some storage bins and save everything. This also helps me justifying buying clothes since I know it will get at least two kids worth. Lastly, check your local Freecycle group.
Final tip...reconsider buying special occasion clothing. Even at a Christmas party, my kids will spill juice, crawl on the floor, and wet their pants. Instead go with 'nicer' play clothes (jeans and a non-stained t-shirt). Kids look cute all the time...they don't need velvet and lace.