For most families in the South, the Independence Day celebration is the mid-point of summer. It signals that five weeks of summer vacation have passed, leaving only five weeks until the school bell rings! Time to start purchasing the next school year’s uniforms!
While children look forward to new additions to their wardrobe, parents anticipate the big hit to the family budget that new schoolwear requires. So how about a few tips for easing the burden? With a bit of smart planning, school uniform shopping can be far less expensive this year.
1.Take inventory of current uniforms. Have the kids participate. Pull uniform pieces from closets and drawers. Make a pile of what fits and another of what doesn’t fit. Make plans to donate or consign the pieces that your children no longer need.
2. Make a shopping list. Pull out the school uniform policy. Make a list of the pieces you’ll need for each child along with sizes and quantities. Lighten the task by planning to purchase only what your child really needs.
3. Plan to shop early. Selection and quantities are best in early July. With more customers in stores in August, desired sizes are starting to disappear, especially slim and husky sizes. And driving from store to store to find what you need the week just days before school starts is no fun for anyone.
4. Become a fan of your local uniform and webstores. Add yourself to your store’s email list. Follow the store on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram. Here’s where you’ll get the scoop on current sales and promotions being offered by the stores.
5. Take your student shopping. You already know it’s not his or her favorite outing, but in the long run, having your child with you as you shop for schoolwear will prevent you from (a) making purchases of incorrect sizes or garments in a fabric uncomfortable for your child, and (b) making a second trip to the store for exchanges or returns, hoping the right size is still in stock! You’ll also be teaching your kids how to shop for themselves in the future.
6. Hit resale stores. Does every garment have to be new? Resale stores are full of top quality pieces, some with tags still on, others barely or never worn. Here’s where you’ll score on big ticket items like plaid skirts, sweaters and jackets. Follow the social media posts of these stores, too.
7. Buy new tops wisely. Once you’ve exhausted the resale offerings, it’s time to buy new pieces. Polo shirts are probably tops on the list, as few of them survive the wear to make it to resale racks. To minimize shrinkage, look for poly cotton blends. Pique polos, while very durable, have the most shrinkage with every wash/dry cycle, while jersey or interlock polos are stretchy with far less shrinkage. For that reason, buy pique polos with extra room, but buy jersey or interlock polos that fit well.
8. Look for bottoms with growth features. Shorts and pants with adjustable waists are a mom’s best friend. The waist can be drawn in simply by cinching the elastic sewn into the waistband. Likewise, look for girls skirts and jumpers that are sewn with a growth seam, enabling easy alterations as your daughter grows.
Once you’re home with new uniforms, how can you keep them looking their best and lasting longer? Well, as unsurprising as it sounds, proper laundering truly is the key!
9. The vinegar bath. To prevent the fading of dark colors, try a vinegar laundering. Pour a half cup of white vinegar into your washing machine or laundry basin and fill with cool water, just enough to cover garments. Immerse the dark colored pieces in this solution for a 30 minute soak. Complete the laundry cycle without detergent. This will help to set the dye in your new pieces.
10. Hang to dry. Once they’re laundered, polo shirts should be hung to dry. Air drying goes a long way in minimizing shrinkage. Not always easy for a family on the go. If you prefer to dry them in the dryer, choose a lower heat setting and remove your pieces promptly.
Uniformity is a school uniform retailer and reseller in Lafayette, Louisiana. For these and other school uniform shopping smarts, follow Uniformity on Facebook at www.facebook.com/uniformityschoolapparel or on Instagram @uniformitylafayette.