Starting school: 27 tips for buying school uniform (and 3 mistakes to avoid)
If your child is starting school in September – mine is, hold me – here are 27 tips for buying school uniform…
And to start off with, here are three mistakes to avoid when it comes to buying school uniform. As made by, well, yours truly.
One. Firstly, don’t get the wrong uniform information: It helps! Before E started I asked a teacher – a teacher – what children wear in September and she assured me it was the winter uniform, so we bought only winter uniform, thinking we’d buy the right size summer uniform the following year.
On the first day of term everyone else was wearing…summer dresses. Which leads me on to point 2.
Two. Buy the uniform in plenty of time: By mid-September, stock supplies tend to get low. Our school’s summer dress, despite being a standard, fairly generic dress and colour, was sold out almost everywhere. Try not to leave it too late if you want more choice. Also, see point one and ask the right teacher first. Or another mum.
Three. Check you have the right patterns: This is coming from the person who then panic-bought the wrong summer dress, which I didn’t realise until I spotted the stripes in a sea of checks.
Being a new school mum or dad is stressful enough without all of these extra stresses, right?
Uniform buying seems quite easy – on the surface – but there are a couple of useful tips for buying school uniform that people passed down to to me that I wanted to pass on, in turn.
Tips for buying school uniform – where to buy school uniform (this post also contains affiliate links)
Most children’s clothes shops: Ours is mainly from M&S and supermarkets, but most children’s clothes shops sell generic, non-logo school uniform (we also have to buy school jumpers and PE tops with the school logo from our local uniform shop, or second-hand from school). But most importantly, buy it all when there’s a sale, offer or discount on, which there usually always is at some point in the big stores.
Second-hand uniform sales: Our school PTA holds regular second-hand uniform sales where they sell donated uniform at ridiculously cheap prices. This is great for getting extras of more expensive things like the school jumper, and also useful for having extras of everything for when uniform gets inevitably lost / stained / covered in lunch and paint, etc.
The charity shop: Check charity shops near the school for super-cheap school uniform.
Hand-me-downs: If you’re offered any uniform for free, then even better.
What school uniform to buy: Buy everything you can that’s non-iron / non-crease / dirt-resistant / scuff-proof. Which most places sell. This is handy if you don’t even know where the iron is (like me).
Get shirts with velcro instead of a top button fastening. It’s much easier to do up, especially on PE days.
We’ve found pinafores are better for girls than skirts as they keep everything tucked in (tie, shirt etc). Pinafores also provide a handy bib for all the food they’ll come home covered in.
You can buy stretchy, jersey pinafores with no fastenings that are easier to get on and off, like this one. These are also softer and more comfortable.
If you have to wear a tie, get more than one and keep them in the same place all the time. There will be at least one morning where you’re running round upending the washing basket looking for a lost tie, two seconds before you’re due to leave the house.
School uniform labels: I’m not a name tape sew-er-in-er, you might be (hi mum!). We took the easy option and bought these stick-in labels from StickIns, which are still stuck three years later.
You can also buy a name stamp of your child’s name you stamp in, or buy a fabric pen. Or you could just biro their name in, no-one really cares.
School uniform shoes: People have a lot of thoughts and opinions about school shoes and what works for them. Probably because they aren’t cheap and get a lot of wear and tear…
Buying shoes from Clarks is kind of a rite of passage, isn’t it? If you’re going to do this then book an appointment online. Shoe shops just before school starts are a special kind of sweaty hell. Or get their feet measured quickly and buy online.
M&S school shoes are really reasonably priced and also brilliant quality, we have found. They also sell Mary Jane-style PE shoes which are slightly more appealing than the standard black pump.
We also had shoes from Sainsbury’s after I worked with them last year, and they were great (I’ve just re-bought from there as predictably, we out-grew school shoes a month before the end of term).
Get patent! I previously believed patent = party shoes only, but in our experience they last longer and look loads fresher for longer than leather.
Hairbands and hairclips: Buy LOADS in a generic school or plain colour. Buy more than you ever think you need. Then buy some more. Where do all the hairbands and hairclips go? No-body knows…
School socks and tights:Don’t buy white socks if you can avoid it
Don’t buy white socks if you can avoid it
You get the message. They are awful to wash and look terrible quickly. Even after separate washes and countless amounts of stain stuff, ours were awful. Our uniform list says white, but we ditched these for navy socks as soon as we saw someone else wear them. And never looked back.
If you have to get white socks, don’t get the cute ones with a stripe of colour on the fold, as these are even worse to wash.
Don’t despair when you spend a lot of your time thinking about previously unthinkable things like washing socks. It’s OK.
Don’t get thin tights, they won’t even last a day without being extensively, punkishly, laddered.
We find the thicker, knitted tights have lasted loads longer (and are easy to to sew up if necessary). Tights all seem to be a different shape – my tall daughter thought M&S tights were too narrow at the top and prefers Next ones. Primark also sell super-cheap thicker school tights that go comfortably baggy quickly., but they only seem to stock these around September in our branch.
And finally…They will get board marker on their clothes. Here’s some tips on how to remove it.
But the top of my list of tips for buying school uniform? Put all the uniform it in the washing machine AS SOON AS IT COMES OFF. Don’t be panic washing at 9.50pm on a Sunday night because it has been languishing in the washing basket all weekend. Or worse, 8.30 on a Monday morning,
More school posts…my child is starting school and I’m excited / terrified, and all about our stay and play session. This post contains affiliate links (which means if you click on a link and then go on to buy something, I will earn a tiny percentage).