The true cost of education is so much more than just tuition. As every parent knows school fees are just the start – transport, text books, extra-curricular activities and of course school uniforms all add to money that flows out of our bank accounts each year as we fight to get our children the best education we can afford.
School uniforms are something that need to be bought almost every year and, depending on how fast your child is growing, sometimes twice a year. Growing children need comfortable uniforms when it comes to fabric and for parents the uniforms should be easy to maintain.
Most schools have their own uniform vendor and a specific store to buy from, but there are still tips you can adopt to help choose your kids uniforms wisely.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to a vendor who should know. Trutex is a 150-year-old UK-based uniform supplier that dresses students in both the UK and more recently UAE. It told us what to look out for when buying uniforms and how to lengthen their life in this, our Top 10 List to Buying School Uniforms…
Check the uniforms early. Get the updated uniform list
If your kids are going back to school, then check what fits and what doesn’t early on to make a comprehensive shopping list.
Higher quality uniforms should survive the beatings and wear and tear of one child, and so outgrown uniforms could be kept aside for younger siblings, or given to the school’s second-hand shop.
Make sure you get the updated list of uniforms for various grades as there could be a change in colour or style - a t-shirt could change into a shirt, for example. Your local supplier can also advice on what is required and will work with the school to ensure the uniform is up to the standard the school expects.
Buy what you need from the specific store
Not all uniform stores and outfits are equal, and it can make sense to search for shoes, socks, trousers etc. from an alternative supplier. This may make uniforms more affordable, and even mean buying better quality.
While you don’t need to buy everything from a specific uniform vendor, the school shirt with the logo and the jacket or jumpers with logos are a must.
That said, buying from the school vendor should mean quality uniforms that can last longer. Buying a complete uniform from the authorised store also means you have the right information on what the school uniform policy is and that you will have everything you need from one store. There’s also an option of buying matching accessories like school bags, socks and shoes.
Choose the right fabric
Choosing the right fabric is not always an option for parents as uniform suppliers usually use the fabrics with the school’s approval. However, for some items like jumpers or PE pants and trousers, uniforms should be bought keeping in mind the climate of the city you are living in and the season. When it is colder your children needs fabrics that can insulate heat while keeping them warm and comfortable. In hotter conditions, you obviously would want to choose lighter fabrics that are not too warm.
Watch what your kids wear
Some kids don’t like trousers, while others might only wear a school jacket. Observe what children actually use and wear.
Only buy those uniform items that your children will actually use.
Room for growth
Remember, kids grow and grow very fast, therefore, it’s advisable to buy a size that offers some room for growth. Do get your children measured at the vendor’s store and seek their advice on the right size and fit. Note: Some uniforms, especially those of a higher quality, come with adjustable waists on trousers and skirts, helping uniforms last that little bit longer. Buying items like these may cost your more up front, but will save you money on the longer term.
Use your judgement when buying each item
It’s quite likely you will need to buy more uniform mid-year, no matter how savvy your initial purchases. Children grow, and there is always considerable wear and tear. Correspondingly use your judgement on how many items to buy at the start of the year. With a clever laundy schedule tied into the school’s timetable, you may not need to buy every uniform set at the start of the year. If you keep one set back, that means a mid-year purchase won’t mean going over budget.
Spend more on quality
Durability is key when it comes to uniforms, therefore, spending a little more on wrinkle-resistant or stain resistant uniforms can ensure longevity.
There are alternatives like a double knee or double stitching and even easy-iron or no-iron fabrics. Buying quality will ensure your child will grow out of the uniform and not wear it out.
Label, label and label
This sounds repetitive and really simple but many parents forget to label. Most uniform suppliers make uniforms with a nametag. Some also offer labeling services on all the uniform items. Make sure you name everything for the ease of finding a lost item.
Alter school uniforms
To stretch the life of a school uniform, consider mending or altering some items. Moving buttons can elongate the life of a uniform. One can also cut off outgrown pants to make shorts for the summer school uniform.
Wash and iron right
To keep the uniforms looking as good as new, follow the washing instructions to the T. Usually, use a gentle detergent and wash them at 40 degrees. Turn the garment inside out before washing and keep cardigans in shape by buttoning up before the wash. Wash similar colours together and don’t tumble dry unless otherwise mentioned. Don’t iron the uniforms at high temperature and avoid ironing sweatshirts and sweat cardigans – if you must then iron them inside out and don’t iron the neck, cuffs and welt.
This article was written by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com’s editorial team, with support from Trutex, a uniform supplier with 150 years of history supplying schools across the United Kingdom and UAE through its local partner Aquarius MEA Textile LLC.
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