We’re nearly into the summer term, and that 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 buy it cheaper.

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 with a spare. So he has 6 pairs of trousers, jumpers, and t-shirts. 2 sets of PE shorts and t-shirt. And for the summer 4 pairs of school shorts, which don’t get as muddy as trousers do. Socks we just stock up on as they last a couple of years. He wears plain joggers and sweatshirt for outdoor sports in winter, and he has a 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!

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We also have to buy logo sweatshirts, polo and PE t-shirts. The old supplier quality was good so it didn’t fade or shrink and lasted N 2 years of wear, as well as being in a good state to pass on a couple of times. We now have Tesco as a supplier and while the items are a tiny bit cheaper, the quality is nowhere near as good. The clothes are thinner, the back of the logo is hard and cardboardy, and we’ve had shrinkage, plus the jumper is the wrong colour blue. We now have a new second supplier which looks much better quality again. I’d rather pay for better quality and have it last, than have to replace each year or more frequently.

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?

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 hand out lost property, but if there’s some without labels, then at the end of the year, they’ve been known to sell it on second hand to new students. They sometimes have samples they want to get rid of

Samples

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 have gone to an embroiderers to get the badges stitched on. That could be an option in some schools.

Cheap uniform

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.

More expensive 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 fits – so N has the slim fit rather than the regular which is too big round the leg and hips.

If you want to save money on buying from high street shops:

1, Shop sales

M&S usually do 20% off school uniform around June time.

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.

Yes uniform can be expensive, and I’m lucky I don’t have to worry about the cost (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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8 Comments

  1. My gosh. You really do get a lot of uniform.. I don’t think we have 6 pairs of trousers between my boys and once they’re in high school I only get them 2 pairs each 😀 I don’t separate washing, we do the family washing together, but I can see it’s maybe easier for me to just chuck in a dark/ white load.

    • My issue is I only wash once a week for him and me. And once for the OH. Shorts we tend to have 4 pairs because they don’t get as mucky. But trousers, even if he’s clean after school, he’ll be playing outdoors in a muddy garden at afterschool club. So he can’t wear trousers more than once before they need washing. Mine and N’s washing mostly goes in together. But the OH’s is filthy from the farm so his goes in separately. We do have the aga to dry things next to in winter, but don’t run a dishwasher and I’m at work all day. I just can’t spend more time washing.

  2. Thanks for this. I’ve only heard glowing recommendations for M&S so I’ll be keeping a look out in June for a sale. We’re going to have to buy lots I feel – Max is quite tidy, but I can see lots of jumpers going missing already…! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • I like them because they’re softer fabric and have the different cuts which most others don’t have. Just tag everything – our school have lost property tables out at the end of the terms, so if things are labelled it’s hard to not get stuff back. But water bottles are our nemesis. Even with a label we’ve lost one this term, no sign of it.

  3. We have logo tops, and I have a couple for when Alice wears a skirt and then I buy cheaper ones for when she wears a dress, as you can’t see the logo! I also buy from M&S as I found them the best quality and always take advantage of the 20% off. Plus they do longer length options in skirts, which means they last longer. Thank you for joining us at #SharingTheBlogLove

    • That’s handy. I debated that for N for winter under jumpers but he still strips them off. Plus it’s really hard to get gold polo shirts

  4. Ahhh! My girls need the green t-shirt for house colours on sports day too….They are so ruddy hard to find.
    I said to my fella the other day that I was going to start buying uniform now. My youngest is going up to secondary school so needs everything new and my teen needs a new blazer which is about £30. Ugh! I am planning on spreading the cost out over the next few months. x

    • It does get expensive. Spreading it out is good, as long as you don’t end up paying for onstage every time.

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