Buying Kids' School Uniforms

Tips to save time and money when shopping for your kids' school uniforms

Buying your kids school uniforms can be easier than you think. These tips for buying kids' school uniforms will save you time and money.
  • 01 of 07

    Buy only what you have to from the official uniform store.

    Schoolgirl running in the corridors
    Klaus Vedfelt/Taxi/Getty Images

    Many schools have an "official" uniform store, but they vary as to how insistent they are that parents shop there. Some schools can be pretty insistent, either because they receive a kickback or they want strict adherence to the uniform rules, while other don't care where parents get uniforms.

    See if your kids' school has a uniform exchange program (a good sign the school isn't strict about shopping at the uniform store). Swap with friends. Check out local thrift stores. Kids...MORE grow so fast that often used school uniforms are in perfectly good shape.

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  • 02 of 07

    Buy kids' uniforms online.

    This might mean from the official school uniform store. I don’t mind paying shipping if it keeps me out of the uniform store in August. But often you can order kids' school uniforms online from other manufacturers and spend less. Public school uniforms, in particular, are often available from stores like Target or J. C. Penney's. Just be sure they meet your school’s criteria.

    But items like girls blouses and boys pants can almost always be found cheaper outside the uniform store.

  • 03 of 07

    Remember, kids will grow — a lot.

    Buy as large as you can without your child absolutely swimming in the school uniform. Make sure shoes fit well with some room to grow, but not too much. Shoes that are too big can be a tripping hazard. Instead of buying shoes extra large, if you find a good deal on shoes during the back-to-school sale season, buy the next size up too.
  • 04 of 07

    Buy early, especially if you're going to a retail uniform store.

    This tip is more about convenience than saving money. These stores can take hours to navigate in mid-August, and you may very well walk away without everything you need for your kids' school uniform. But if you're going to shop early, make extra allowances for growth.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Alter and mend school uniforms.

    Or if you’re like me and can’t sew, find someone willing to help (thanks, Mom!). Girls jumpers can often be lengthened between the waistband and the top of the jumper. Even simple fixes like moving buttons can stretch the life of a uniform. Cut off and hem pants to make summer school uniform shorts.
  • 06 of 07

    Observe what kids actually use.

    My kids have never worn long-sleeved shirts, sweaters or hair accessories, though they often claim that they will. If they insist on something that I’m doubtful they’ll use, I either just buy one or borrow from a friend. If they do use it, then I’ll buy more.
  • 07 of 07

    Be conservative in figuring how many of each item you need.

    It's not like the school uniform store goes out of business in October. You can always buy more, but you can't return many items.

    I buy my son only three of the polo shirts with logo. This is enough because one day he wears a gym uniform, and with three kids I guarantee we’ll do laundry at least once during the school week. (And we save the best of the previous year for a last resort.) Since girls' jumpers and skirts don’t get dirty, I buy one new one and use last year’s (maybe...MORE altered a bit) as the backup.