The 2012 school season was my first time picking out uniforms. I remember feeling a bit clueless on what to buy and how much I’d need for the school year. Is there such a thing as too many pants or tops? Will I need more than a week’s worth? How much does the quality matter? I struggled to find the answers I was looking for online so after two full school years with young boys I thought I’d share what I look for in school uniforms.
There is no such thing as too many pants.
No really, there isn’t. My oldest son was constantly wears out the knees in his school uniform pants. He has ripped through pair after pair, a majority only lasting a few months each. It is possible that your child won’t be so hard in the knees but between free time, recess, gym, story time, etc the knees wear out fast, especially if you have a kid like mine who loves to play on the floor every chance he gets. And there really is no such thing as too many anything when it comes to uniforms.
If your school allows dark colors, use them.
Our school allows navy, white or red tops and khaki or navy bottoms. I started out the year buying all colors but ended up hating the white and khaki options. It never failed that after just a few times wearing them my son would come home with some sort of nasty stain. It could be something from his lunch, mud from outside but more often than not it was a non-washable dry erase marker he used on a daily basis. Khaki and white show these stains. Navy shows almost nothing and red is more forgiving. Save yourself some stain treating and go with as dark as you can as often as possible.
Purchase items that are a good value.
I’m typically a high quality kind of gal when it comes to clothing that I know my kids are going to be wearing so much. But after a full school year I realized my son went through his expensive Lands’ End uniform pants about as quickly as the more affordable The Children’s Place and OshKosh. Old Navy now offers nice uniform pants and it is easy to get them around $10 a pair when they are on sale. Unfortunately out of all brands, my sons blows the knees out the fastest with these. The polos however are a great value and offered in short and long sleeves. I noticed that his uniform polos faded just as fast on his expensive as his not so expensive options.
When you should splurge.
I do think having a couple of nice, more deluxe staple pieces like sweaters and cardigans are ideal, but I keep them at a minimum and replace them as needed. (Like when my son comes home with a huge gouge in his expensive knit sweater because he caught it on something.) We love our Lands’ End uniform sweaters, and they are offered in a wide variety of colors.
Try out different brands.
With school uniforms, don’t be brand loyal until you have tried out several. What might seem good enough you’ll soon realize can be a lot better. For example, I found that French Toast uniform polos were as soft and bright as any I had purchased from Lands’ End or Gymboree but available for a fraction of the cost. Every day. I also love the OshKosh polos as well! They used to only be available in navy and white, but they now offer red. They work well with my navy pants more often than not and avoid white shirts unless layering policy.
You’ll also discover the sizing is very different between brands. Use this to your advantage. My boys are tall and slim. The Children’s Place slims fit great in the waist but they are always the first brand to become too short. So when they are between sizes, this is my go-to brand so the length isn’t too long. Old Navy, Gymboree and OshKosh are longer, so I switch to those brands when they need the length.
Donate your outgrown uniforms.
Our school offers a donation program and sale where parents can pick up donated uniform pieces for only a $1 each. While my son’s uniforms from last year have now gone to his brother who is only one year behind him, I think this is a fantastic program to help other parents out. See if your school offers something similar and suggest it if they aren’t already!
Watch closely for sales.
I know it seems like a no-brainer, but there are times during the year that are better times to buy. Back to school season is always a good choice, but if you are looking for long sleeved polos for example, the end of the winter season is a great time to pick some up. Shorts are easy to pick up for a great deal in the early fall. If you shop around throughout the year, you’ll discover what is a good price for anything. Both Children’s Place and Old Navy for example will offer short sleeved polos for $5 a piece so when that happens, it is a great time to stock up. Even mid-priced brands like OshKosh will go on sale for a great price for pants. With sales/coupons I typically get uniform pants for $10-$12 a pair.
Where do I buy uniforms?
Here are all the places that I’ve gotten uniforms:
- The Children’s Place
- Lands’ End
- French Toast
- OshKosh B’Gosh
- Crazy 8
- Cookies Kids
- Old Navy
Got any uniform tips? Where is your favorite place to purchase uniforms?
Disclosure: This post has been updated to reflect changes in store offerings and my experience. This is not a sponsored post but some websites are affiliates or I have worked with them in the past. All thoughts remain my own.