Buying School Uniform

How is it July already? This year seems to be racing by and each week takes us closer to Lily starting school in September.

I like to be organised and have everything in place early so have already started researching school uniform and buying items as I go. As part of my research I'm asking friends for advice, turning to my Mum for tips and scouring the internet for uniform comparison guides.

And I thought I'd share my findings with you, because I'm nice like that.

Here are my top 11 tips for buying school uniform.

Where to buy

You will need to buy logo items from the school-recommended store and they'll often have other items available to purchase. They'll help you with fitting and ensuring that you buy the right uniform for your school requirements. However, you can also buy generic, non-logo items from other retailers and shop around.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by choice when it comes to school uniform. On my searches already I have viewed over 20 grey pinafores in just a couple of stores. With all the shops and supermarkets competing for your custom, there seem to be plenty of deals. Marks and Spencer seem to come highly rated on Mum online forums but the supermarkets come recommended for cheaper purchases.

When to buy

Mid to late July. If you leave it too late then it'll be crazy busy when you hit the shops and you run the risk of not being able to find exactly what you want in stock.

You don't have to buy everything for the whole year straight away. Uniform shops and supermarkets will still be open later in the term if you need to re-stock or add items.

Buying school shoes

It's good to buy school shoes early in August. Like school uniform, leaving it too late can result in long queues for fitting and paying as well as reduced choice because the best styles have already sold out in your child's size.

Don't buy too big. Yes, you want there to be some growing room but buying shows that are too big can cause damage to your child's tender growing feet. The best tip I've seen is that if you find a good deal in school shoes, then consider buying the next size up at the same time, then you'll be ready when their feet do grow.

My favourite place to buy children's shoes is John Lewis. They stock the big brands like Clarks and Start-Rite and have trained staff to measure and ensure the right fit.

How much?

Advice varies. According to my Mum, you need at least two jumpers, pinafores, trousers etc. depending on how often you want to be washing and drying items. This way you will always have a clean one ready to go. For items that get filthy really quickly, like polo shirts, my friend recommends having one for every day of the week.

When it comes to school socks, especially white ones, buy lots of exactly the same ones so that it'll help with finding a pair and even if you lose some to the sock fairy you won't be left short on a Thursday morning.

Sizing and fit

Each shop is likely to vary when it comes to size so make sure you try clothes on your child before buying. Don't buy everything too big - you want your child to be comfortable whilst also getting as much wear as you can from your purchases.

If, like me, you have a very slim child then make sure you purchase trousers and skirts with adjustable waist lines so that you don't have to compromise on length. If you go to a local uniform stockist they'll be able to measure your child in order to find the right fit without tons of outfit changes.

Keeping it clean

Depending on how much of each item you have bought, you're going to be putting a wash on at least twice a week but keeping care of the clothes is important if you want them to last as long as possible (or at least as long as you need to save for the next lot).

Always wash according to the instructions. If you can, buy the items which are 'easy iron' or contain 'permanent pleats' as this will help save time in the long run. It's also worth stocking up on stain removal spray and an in-wash whitener for shirts!

PE Kit

Like all uniform, you should ensure that your child can put it on and take it off by themselves. It's likely that they'll only be doing PE once or twice a week so you can often bring in a clean kit on a Monday and take it home to wash on a Friday.

Don't just buy shorts. It's worth buying a pair of jogging bottoms for autumn and winter as no one enjoys a sports lesson if they're freezing cold and neither will your child.


Buying a decent, smart and dark-coloured coat may cost a bit but you'll get plenty of use out of it. If the cost of buying a full-on winter coat at the same time as the rest of the school uniform makes you wince then consider purchasing a lightweight rain coat for the early Autumn and Spring and grab a winter coat when they actually need it.

Label everything

29 other children in the class will be wearing the same clothes as your child. Probably in the same size. It will make life easier for school staff and your wallet if you label everything clearly with your child's name. Even the shoes. You can use fabric pens and write on the tags, use iron-on labels or buy some personalised clothing stickers, it doesn't matter as long as you've marked it as yours.

Light or dark?

If you happen to have a choice when it comes to the colour of items like polo shirts and socks always choose the darker colour. It's easier to keep the colour just right after multiple washes a week and any stains or marks are less likely to show up.

Saving money

This is a balancing act. You don't want to spend a fortune but you don't want to waste money on items that won't wash well or stand up to school life. Go for brands that you usually trust and are already happy with. If a store's normal range is good enough then the chances are that their school uniform will be of a similar quality.

Don't be afraid to try out cheaper shops and supermarkets - if you buy something once and it doesn't work out then you'll definitely be avoiding them in the future, it's unlikely to be a life or death mistake!

Have you bought any uniform items yet? Do you have any tips to share? Please share them with me in the comments below and I'll update my post later this month with any new suggestions!

3 Little Buttons
Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... said...

We have bought some items already but on the look out for the rest, very helpful advice, thanks! #dreamteam

Unknown said...

I needed this post in my life as our eldest starts school in Sept. We're really lucky that our school uses the embroidery services of a well known supermarket online so I'm hoping I'll be able to click from the comfort of my living room. Thanks for the nudge though. I really need to get cracking with it! Dx

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