School Uniform – are they mad?

Apart from the occasional request from my son for a pair of ‘school shoes’ for a birthday present, I am not the mother of a school aged child ( he is 36 & a deputy head!). As a retired head teacher though I know a great deal about school uniform.

Personally, I’m in favour of it. I think it helps children feel part of the school and takes away lots of jealousies that ‘muffty’ can generate. Anyway, this post is not about the rights and wrongs of it. This rant (yes, I’m going to have a little foot stamp) is about the large displays that are in the stores for school uniform.

When I was teaching, I used to get really, really annoyed when during the early part of the summer holidays there would be a sickly voice on the shop’s tannoy explaining that school uniform was now available at a very reasonable price. I had only just started my holidays for goodness sake and here they were reminding me about going back!

Well, it is only the beginning of June but I have seen large displays of the full range of clothing for school for at least 3 weeks! Do they not realise that children grow? Have they not worked out that the six weeks of the holidays is when lots of spurts happen and that is why parents all over the country have that mad dash, often on the last day before the children have to go back to school, to get all the kit?

Why have they decided to launch these ranges now? Do they think that parents will buy now to save that panic at the end of the holidays? Or are they ( as I suspect) hoping they will do that AND find out that the little one is not so little and needs another set of clothes or runs the risk of peer ridicule for looking like a street urchin?

Come on retailers. Times are hard enough without having to spend precious pennies on school uniform. It was not invented to fill your pockets!

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20 comments

  • A friend told me that they were told to buy school uniforms for their youngest now, and even the smallest size is too big. They hope their child grows just enough until September…

    For our name tags, we still see the majority of sales happening in July, August and early September, and I guess that most people buy name tags with their school uniform. June is not yet the big shopping month for this stuff, but I guess some stores are desperate to start selling. A bit like Christmas decorations starting earlier each year.

  • I agree with you although I’m not personally involved with school uniform purchases, my daughter is. Let’s geta a BREAK. I also agree about the summer growth spurts. Let’s be reasonable for gosh sakes!

  • Julia,
    As soon as school is out, they’ll be lining the shelves with back-to-school bargains. I detest it . . .

  • My mum used to shop for school uniform in the first week of the school holidays (or just before the end of term if we needed to visit the school shop for example). We’d go shopping for school shoes in about the first or second week.

    We’d always avoid town or MK that last week of the school holidays because of how crazy it would be.

    I now have to do all that shopping – and there’s more because our foster son is changing school!! Might have to ask Mum for assistance!

    Also we bought new school shoes about 6-8 weeks ago – Our Sidekick’s shoes were literally falling to pieces so we gave in and got new ones. The new ones were £30ish and have already sprouted a hole – what do boys do to their school shoes?

  • I remember my mom buying larger sizes and hand-me-down uniforms if they were in reasonable good shape. This is what happens when you have a large family! 🙂

  • I much preferred the schools without uniform. The kids evolved their own uniform, but it wasn’t a fashion show by any means.

    • I found it was far less stressful not to have to choose what to wear everyday when we had uniforms. Also, it works out cheaper in the end as you fewer clothes overall.

      • I desperately wanted to go to a school without a uniform. At middle school it was compulsory to wear a skirt – they didn’t bring trousers in until about two years after I left.

        My upper school had polyester jumpers rather than v-neck sweaters like my middle school and I cycled to school (you can guess the combination – it wasn’t pretty and regularly contributed to ammo for the bullies). I had black bootleg cut trousers for school (As per the school uniform policy) however because they were elasticated at the tops (Rather than button up like jeans) and because the flares were that wide that they covered my size 5 feet they were classed an inappropriate. (I was regularly in trouble for uniform which was hilarious given the fact that I was one of the teachers pets)

      • Ours spent their lives in jeans or leggings. Practical and comfortable.

  • I don’t know about the UK, but here in the US, stores are always selling things a season before the actual season. It worked out ok this year, since spring pretty much started in February, but they don’t just do this for kids (like I know what size my 3 year old will be wearing in 6 months!), but infants (a baby might grow and need new short sleeved shirts before summer is over, but by summer, it’s all fall and long sleeves).

    Worse yet, they do this with maternity clothes! Seriously folks. You wear them for 1-3 seasons MAX. At the end, you most certainly are NOT going to want clothes that won’t work until 3 months have passed!

    I’ll add that it is frustrating as all get-out postpartum too. Want a swim suit? Need to buy it in March. Forget that you’re working diligently to get back in shape, but don’t know if you bust is going to grow or shrink, or at what rate your posterior will deflate – you have to GUESS, because by June, they’ll all be gone.

    • I had a colleague who booked a cruise about 8 months ahead. She was going the following spring to warm areas so bought clothes the previous summer. It was a great way for her not to put on weight!

  • I just had a little smile about mufti. I haven’t heard that expression in years. I remember paying 10p for charity in order to wear mufti on mufti day (one Friday each spring). Thanks for that.

  • I tend to buy it bigger anyway. I’ve never had an issue whereby they’ve grown out of it by the time the new year comes around, and I like to buy it in bits so I’m not spending out all at once. I know if I left it until August, I would never be able to buy the right sizes, as it’s all gone by then.

  • I agree wholeheartedly!
    As soon as we get the holidays (and even before!) the shops are eating into them!
    I do have a few friends, organised people, who like to have everything spick and span, ready and folded, so they can relax for the summer.
    But children do grow a lot over the holidays, and how does organisation deal with this?

  • I tried to by school trousers in April. It was close to impossible. The June uniform store madness drives me nuts. Almost as nutty as the ‘can only buy the jumpers/tshirts from the school shop which is shut all summer holiday’ : the lesson today mothers is how to estimate your childs growth rate based on known past performance and extrapolate for an entire year: and they think the nation is crap at maths!

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