Summer term going into the summer holiday means parents worrying about children growing and having to replace school uniform. And for those with children starting school in September they’re starting to order new uniform. It seems every parent is different in how much uniform they buy, but how much school uniform do you really need and how can you save money on school uniform.
The government are changing to ask schools to allow non logo/cheaper uniform options, but not all schools are doing that for autumn 2022. Our old primary brought the rule in for summer half term in readiness, although did ask for 1 logo jumper for school photos, events and performances.
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Our primary school uniform experience
I have to admit that we don’t thrift on school uniform. I don’t do more than one washload a week for each of us, so N’s uniform has to last the week and I prefer having a spare too. So for primary he had 6 pairs of trousers, jumpers, and t-shirts. 2 sets of PE shorts and t-shirts (although he only used 1 set a week usually). For the summer 4 pairs of school shorts, which don’t get as muddy as trousers do. Socks we just stocked up on as they last a few years.
He wore plain joggers and sweatshirt for outdoor sports in winter (although they could wear school sweatshirts if needed), and he has a plain green t-shirt for house colours on sports day. That’s the biggest waste of money because it’s only worn once a year and it’s really hard to find a non-logo/picture t-shirt in green! I did only buy 2 in all of his school years, so they did last through 3-4 years each.
At the time we had to buy logo sweatshirts, polo and PE t-shirts. The old supplier quality was good so it didn’t fade or shrink and lasted 2 years of wear, as well as being in a good state to pass on a couple of times. We then had Tesco as a supplier and while the items were a tiny bit cheaper, the quality wasn’t as good. The clothes were thinner, the back of the logo was hard and cardboardy, and there was a lot of shrinkage. And the jumper was the wrong colour blue. They brought on board another 2 suppliers after the good one closed, which was mostly better quality. I’d rather pay for better quality and have it last, than have to replace each year or more frequently. The only downside was them all being online based which meant you can’t just pop in for one item as you need a replacement..
How much primary school uniform do you really need?
There’s no definitive answer. But questions to ask are:
- Is your child incapable of eating without getting food down them?
- Do they get muddy from walking out of the front door?
- Do they like painting?
- Do they never wear jumpers or always wear them?
- How often are you prepared to do washing ?
- How many items can you afford?
Even if your child isn’t mucky, others in the class will be, and you’ll end up with paint or pen marks on their back from people walking past waving brushes around.
How to buy cheap school uniforms without scrimping on quality?
Go second hand
If your children go to private school or a school with a very precise uniform (including hats, blazers, specific skirts etc), it is going to cost you more money. Your only option will be to look for second hand items – ask at the school if they or the uniform shop have sales, or befriend parents with older children for handmedowns.
Second hand uniform is great. We’ve had uniform jumpers that have gone through 2 cousins before getting to us and we’ve also had handmedowns from other children via the after school club. We hand on N’s trousers to my godson (or to a colleague for her son who’s smaller). It’s good for sustainability, and unless your child slides on their knees and wrecks trousers easily, most schools have grey or black school trousers so someone can make use of them. You could try selling them at car boot sales or ebay if you don’t have anyone to hand them to.
Some schools hold second hand sales. Ours does half termly sales of unclaimed lost property (at the end of the year), and any decent uniform that they request from parents that kids have grown out of. They only charge 50p or £1 an item. They’ve also been known to hand over whole bags of uniform to families for free.
These are popping up in many towns. They cover school uniform from different schools in the area and sell on second hand uniform cheaply. Worth asking around locally if there’s one in your area. Certain uniform might be harder to come up, but encouraging others to donate unwanted uniform for their school all helps.
Ask at the uniform supplier if they have samples for sale.
Logo vs non-logo
If your school doesn’t have to have logo jumpers and t-shirts then don’t buy them. Or buy one of each for school photo day and special school events, and then buy supermarket plain t-shirts or tops.
I know of some people who’ve been able to buy cheap non-logo t shirts or jumpers and been able to buy just the badges to stitch on. That could be an option in some schools.
Ask around where people get their child’s uniform from. Cheap uniform is fine, but does it last? Does it feel as nice for the child or do you need to wash it lots for it to lose the stiff feeling? All supermarkets now sell uniform, as well as Poundland in limited styles.
I do buy cheap PE shorts (they just have ‘football’ style ones). N’s uniform supplier had weird sizing, and because they have a colour that isn’t navy or black I had to order from a random supplier online. Even with the postage, it cost less for 2 pairs of shorts than it did buying from the supplier.
High street school uniform
We’ve tried supermarket trousers and they didn’t fit N, plus I didn’t like the material. So I buy from Marks and Spencer, or Next if I can’t find the size or style in M&S. They last for 2 years of N’s wearing, plus are in perfect condition to pass on (excluding the 2 pairs he managed to shred the knees from falling over). They also tend to have different fit options from slim, regular, plus fit.
More tips on saving money buying school uniform
1. Shop sales
M&S usually do 20% off school uniform around June time. Even uniform suppliers often have offers if you buy early enough to avoid the rush at the end.
2. Use loyalty cards
Either to spend or to save through the year and then use points to buy the uniform.
3. Use cashback sites for online shopping
I use Top Cashback, but there are others to choose from. When you shop through these sites, you’ll get a proportion of your purchase cost back. There are also similar sites that you can use to fundraise for your school by buying through them.
4. Club together to get bulk discounts
It won’t always work, but some suppliers will do discounts for over a certain amount of products. So try clubbing together and ordering a bit order rather than a few bits here and there. At the least, you’d get a bargain on or free postage for a larger order.
5. Buy or save across the year
Not really saving money, but at least spreading the cost through the year will help. Putting money away each money is better than having to buy too early. But also think about buying earlier than when all the multipacks come out. I found that buying shirts in May-June meant I could buy in packs of 2. But when I needed to go back and buy another 2 pack in July, they were only selling in packs of 3, meaning I had to pay more, and now have an extra shirt we didn’t really need.
Yes uniform can be expensive, (the benefit of uniform is of course that they won’t need so many out of school clothes if they’re in uniform the rest of the time). But there are ways of making it cost less.
What tips do you have to buy cheap school uniforms?
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