With back-to-school season in full swing, I thought I’d spend a few words talking about uniform shopping.
I know not everyone has kids in uniform dress code schools, but if you do – you are probably like me and scrambling to figure out which pants still fit – and which ones are suddenly 4 inches too short. (How do they always grow so much in the summer?)
Our “uniform”, which is really more of a dress code, is navy or khaki bottoms with white, light blue, pink or maroon tops. For my boys, that means short-sleeve polo shirts for warmer weather and long-sleep polos or turtlenecks for fall and winter.
Here are the places that I like to go for the best deals on school uniforms (keep in mind that right now, I’m only outfitting boys in uniforms, so I don’t really know about the best sites for skirts and jumpers).
We have been very fortunate to have good friends (thanks, Jennifer & Amy!) to generously pass down their too small uniform attire to us. Not only was my rising 2nd grader able to get good use out of these pants, tops and sweatshirts, but now my soon-to-be kindergartner will as well.
While DS1 is pretty hard on his clothes, DS2 will only need two or three new items to get him through the fall and winter season. Yay!
Don’t be afraid to mention to your friends that you will gladly accept their hand-me-downs. Odds are you having something in your “been decluttered but still haven’t donated it yet” pile that they might want, too. A hand-me-down swap is the perfect solution!
#2. Lands End
The month before my oldest started school, my friend Sherri gave me a wise piece of advice, “Buy your boys their uniforms at Lands End,” she told me. “They cost a bit more, but they will last forever and have a 100% guarantee.”
I have taken her advice to heart, buying at least a few key pieces each year at Lands End, when they have one of their frequent sales, plus free shipping. Like right now, you can get free shipping on orders over $50 when you use the code FREESHIPJULY and the pin 2406.
Since my boys are especially hard on their pants (DS1 has ripped a hole in the knee of almost pair of pants he owns!), I usually get their boys’ open bottom climber pants, with double reinforced knees. Not at all “cheap”, but we have definitely gotten our money’s worth!
#3. Walmart & Target
I have had great luck at the clearance sections of Target. They often have uniform-acceptable pants and polo shirts, marked down to less than $5 per item. These aren’t necessarily built-to-last, but we can usually get a season out of them. If I only paid $3 or $4, I’m not heart-broken that we can’t hand it down.
Even without sales, Walmart has great prices on uniform basics. Right now, for example, you can get a 4-pack of boys’ short-sleeve polo shirts in a variety of colors for just $20 ($5 per shirt).
They also have this adorable George – Girls’ Knit Polo Dress (to the knee) for just $12.99. And all of their uniform clothing ships for FREE to your home right now!
I’ll also throw out there that while at Costco today, I noticed they had a table of uniform basics, ranging from $7.99 to $9.99, including polo short-sleeve shirts for boys and girls, as well as skirts (definitely well above the knee, though) and boys’ shorts.
#4. Garage Sales
Garage sales can be hit or miss, but if I focus on certain neighborhoods, I know I have a much higher likelihood of finding a family with uniform attire. I’ve also done well at mega-consignment sales. There are almost always stacks of second-hand polo shirts in white – which would explain why my son wore white nearly every day this spring!
Also, our school’s PTO sponsors an annual “uniform shuk”. Parents donate their kids’ too small clothes at the end of the year and then during back-to-school week, the PTO lays out all the attire by size and gender. You sort through, find the tops and bottoms that work for your kiddo and pay the suggested donation of $2 per item.
I have a stack of Lands End mock turtle necks and a number of pairs of Dockers from last year’s sale. If you school doesn’t do something like this, you might want to see about organizing one – even on a smaller scale within your synagogue community. It’s a nice little fundraiser and a great way to pick up practically free clothing.
** If you do end up ordering clothing online, don’t forget to use a cash-back site. My favorites are ShopAtHome.com and Ebates.com. Why not get cash-back on purchases you were planning to make anyway? **
What are your suggestions for getting the best deals on uniform attire?
Oh, and if anyone has a bargain site for tzitzit or those kippot with the clips inside, I’m all ears!