We’re coming to the end of H’s first year of school, so I thought it was the right time to go through our School Uniform experiences, and what we’ve found has lasted through the year – and what hasn’t.
I remember last year in a month or so’s time hitting the stores, trying to find somewhere that stocked school uniform – most shops stopped for the summer. The good thing is that right now a lot of places will be having sales – M&S often do a good one, and it’s where I picked up a lot of H’s school uniform.
My biggest mistake was to buy school uniform in her actual size as she tends to go up a size after Christmas, so I ended up buying two sets in her first year – I should have just gone bigger initially.
M&S’s quality was great – I bought two packs of polo shirts (two in a pack – why don’t they do five packs?) and they washed well and didn’t lose their shape. Actually, my biggest initial concern was that H didn’t know how to do up buttons, but that didn’t take long to master.
As well as that I got one summer dress as we were heading into the colder months but could wear them up to the end of Autumn half term. The dress has been worn a few times in Summer term this year, although it’s quite short now – so buy big for summer clothes! We’ve since bought another dress in Matalan in a size 6 which should last a year. Matalan have a great selection of school uniform at a good price too.
I bought two pairs of trousers and two skirts from M&S in size 4, which lasted until H grew but lasted well – many tumbles in the playground and no holes in the trousers are always a good sign. When she grew I kept with M&S for the trousers but switched to Sainsburys for the skirts which were cheaper and are good quality too.
I also bought a Next school skirt in size 4 which is still being worn – we’ve often found H grows out of Next clothes first but this one has lasted and isn’t too short.
Shoes were the next concern, as you want to buy a pair that lasts. Our Clarks pair lasted until this Summer half term when H’s feet had grown a size and she really needed a new pair. Unfortunately they didn’t have the same kind in, so we got a similar pair with a patent leather toecap on it, which is wearing away a little a month or two in which is disappointing. If they get her old shoes back in we’ll definitely go back to them (and I might buy another pair a size up). PE shoes were £2.50 in Sainsburys, and have lasted well.
Jumpers and cardigans were official school uniform ones, however we did have some plain in case I didn’t wash them in time, which were kindly passed on to us by Sharon at I Heart Motherhood – they are from Aldi and are going strong, wash well and haven’t faded.
Legwear is the final thing to mention – I bought loads of pairs of ankle socks, but when the weather got warmer H wasn’t used to exposing her legs, so ended up buying some knee length socks from Next – £4.50 for three pairs and they’ve stayed white too! Tights were an interesting purchase. I bought some nice H&M ones that cost a fair bit, but when she fell over the holes made them unrepairable (even with my poor needlework skills). Eventually I bought a seven pack in Sainsburys which stayed intact for her worst fall (blood and everything) so I’m pleased with that – five pairs are still in the packaging too, and I bought age 6 for the length (H is 120cm).
We’ve had tumbles and falls, climbing and playing, tripping and skipping, scootering and possibly Didicars (don’t quote me on that, it’s some kind of car I don’t get to see) and overall everything we’ve bought has survived. But there’s one thing which nothing seems to fix at all. We have tried so many ways to make it stop, but it doesn’t – the dreaded white board marker pen marks on everything. The day someone designs school uniform which doesn’t hold those blasted pen marks on them will be the day I spend all my money and stop cursing the pens!
So the final grade for school uniform? Let’s base them on the Early Years Foundation Scores, shall we?
M&S. I’d say is easily a Exceeding 3. They’re slightly more expensive but so far have lasted. I’ve had no repairs to make to anything.
Next. Ends the year an Exceeding 3 due to not being too small despite me ordering a 4. The skirt was around £6 and has lasted which is all I ever ask of anything.
Aldi. Started the year as an Emerging 1 and ending as an Exceeding 3 - due to the lasting quality and the price (had we bought it).
Clarks. Tricky one this one – for the first pair of shoes I’d say an Exceeding 3, but for the second pair an Emerging 1, going down a little. I can only hope they bring back the original shoes.
Sainsburys. For the skirts and tights we’ve bought, I’d say an Exceeding 3 – good quality, no repairs and surprisingly good. My local Sainsburys didn’t have much for clothes and the Wandsworth branch was being refitted so I couldn’t buy there initially, but the tights impressed me the most for being so hardy. I was impressed that our local one had a list of the colours for all the local schools so you know what to buy.
Matalan. Because the dress is so new I feel we can’t grade it over the year, so it’s an Expected 2, and it’s just time which will lead to a conclusion.