A foreigner to uniforms

NS August 27th, 2010

I went to public (state) school my entire life, in the American Midwest. I never had to wear a uniform.

Wait, I take that back. I did attend a Catholic school for one year and did, indeed, wear a uniform. But it was one year and I was only 6 so I don’t remember doing any of the shopping for it.

Anyway, my point is that I’m new to all of this uniform buying business. While everyone else knows where to go and what and when to buy, I’ve been tottering around the high street squinting at people I think I recognise from the parents’ welcome picnic in July, trying to sneak a peek at their shopping bags to see what kind of uniform loot they’ve got.

I went into the place that sells all of the ‘official’ gear and got a price list. I think I cried a little when I read that it would be around £30 just for two cardigans. Two cardigans for a 4-year-old who will likely ruin them, lose them or grow out of them before the ink has even dried on the name tags.

So this is why I’ve gotten a few raised eyebrows when I’ve mentioned to other parents that I haven’t started shopping yet! And, of course, the long bank holiday weekend (when it would make most sense to finish getting everything) is just before pay day and we are brokety broke broke.

Thankfully, my lovely new childminder, whose children attend the same school that Noble Girl begins at next month, mentioned that the large Sainsbury’s near us had some pretty good uniform deals so I drove over there and, lo and behold, managed to get about 2/3 of what I needed for less than £20. I would’ve been able to get all of it if they’d had Noble Girl’s size in a couple of other items.

I’ll be using the ever-thrifty website VoucherCodes.co.uk to get the rest when Sainsbury’s stocks are replenished. Gym shoes and polo shirts for £2?! Yes please! Marks and Sparks have also got some good deals on so have a look there too if you’re still looking for bargains for  your own child(ren).

VoucherCodes.co.uk did a recent survey and found out that the average spend per child on the entire school uniform kit is a whopping £131.41, even though their research shows that you can get everything for as little as £39.68. I’m definitely aiming to be in the latter camp!

I have no qualms whatsoever about sending my child to primary school in supermarket-branded clothes. She’s 4, ferchrissakes! I know it’s only a matter of a few years before she will want more name-brand and ‘cool’ things to help her fit in and/or stand out amongst her peers. But for now? I’m all about doing this as painlessly and inexpensively as possible.

And I will not get all misty-eyed when she puts it all on for the first time and I drop her off at the school gates. I will not, I will not, I will….oh, who am I kidding?

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6 Responses to “A foreigner to uniforms”

  1. Tara says:

    I praise be that boys’ school trousers are only £4 a pair at the supermarket because believe you me my son gets through them: holes in knees, hem dragging along behind him. He never ever outgrows a pair!
    Unfortunately we have to buy polo tops and sweatshirts from the school at a hideously high price . . . but that’s a whole other rant altogether!
    Seems there is a lot of our little ones heading to school in a couple of weeks . . . a week of misty-eyed mamas on the blogging front then!

  2. Iota says:

    Oh my goodness, I thought one of the aims of having uniform was that it was a great leveller, and stopped people worrying about labels and dressing their kids in designer gear. But people will always want levels within things, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are supermarket uniform vs name-brand uniform issues.

    It’s a big milestone. Not so much for the child, but definitely for the mum.
    Iota´s last blog ..Two green thingsMy ComLuv Profile

  3. Expat Mum says:

    Our school insisted that you could only buy the uniform from one particular store in town – at outrageous prices. I remember being bought my first school blazer as a slightly built 11 year old. It was meant to last till I was 18 – and by golly it did!
    Expat Mum´s last blog ..Phew – that went quicklyMy ComLuv Profile

  4. My MIL bought the vast majority of Rosemary’s uniform, and much of it from the supermarkets. We had to buy school sweatshirts and book bags from the uniform shop, but did get a few other items from there, to support the small local store. She even bought the shoes – do you have black school shoes and plimsoles?

    When does Noble Girl start? Rosemary starts on Friday. I am a mix of sad, excited and worried – as is Rosemary I think, though the excitement seems to be winning for both of us.

    Iota: Yes, even with uniforms the differences can be apparent. There’s quite a wide variety in what’s available. Even as a child, when you didn’t get supermarket uniform, you did get the differences between those with new, second-hand and home-made. I had a mix of the latter two and got teased by everyone, including a teacher – one of the many reasons I left school at 7 and home-schooled until secondary.
    Tasha (Coding Mamma)´s last blog ..Baby-led weaningMy ComLuv Profile

  5. I’ve always felt the ‘official suppliers’ thing was such an appalling con. Our school has t-shirts and jumpers but everything is generic an supermarket friendly. I’m definitely on the side of school uniforms, though. Managed properly and sensitively by the school they really are a leveller – and a blessing for parents who can’t afford the pressure of trying to keep up with the bling that otherwise would flood the playground.
    Dad Who Writes´s last blog ..Housing crisis- arguments- stompingMy ComLuv Profile

  6. monkeygirl says:

    hey NS i don’t know how to send you a personal messsage. just wondering what school noble girl has started – i think it’s the same one my son is at. if so i can give you the number of the ‘uniform lady’ – she sells branded school uniform items much cheaper than that shop down the high st.
    Also i bought my son the branded school fleece when he started reception – it still fits him and he’s just started year 2!
    PM me
    Naomi