Readers are probably interested in how they can save money on school uniforms. But did you ever stop to think about school uniforms can save you money?
According to a 2013 survey from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), 77 percent of respondents estimated the average cost of school uniforms per child, per year, was $150 or less.
Let’s look at another survey on back-to-school spending.
According to the National Retail Federation, in 2013 parents spent close to $231 per child on back-to-school clothing. In 2016 that number has gone up. Back-to-school clothing purchases are expected to be more than $235 per child. New shoes add about $130 to the tab.
So right off the bat school uniforms are saving families about $80 per child on school clothing.
School Uniform Basics
Even if your kid doesn’t need to wear a uniform to school, stocking up on uniform-like items when they’re on sale makes sense. Take my experience with my daughters.
Even though my daughters did not have to wear a school uniform, they did need chinos and polo shirts for certain school functions. This included when they were both in the band in elementary school. That meant that even though I didn’t need chinos and polo shirts as a school uniform, they were a good investment to have. Even now, as college students, both of my girls have needed polo shirts and chinos for their jobs on campus. Again, a great reason to stock up when things are on sale and another way to save money on school uniforms–even if you don’t need them to be uniforms per se.
Why Parents Like School Uniforms
Going back to that NAESP survey, 86 percent of parents surveyed believed that having school uniforms makes shopping for back to school a more budget-friendly endeavor. And based on the numbers above, I believe it.
There are other intangible benefits to school uniforms:
- Eliminate wardrobe battles with kids (94 percent)
- Easier to get kids ready in the morning (92 percent)
- Time saving in the morning (93 percent)
- Easier to shop for school clothes (90 percent)
My daughters did not have to wear school uniforms in the public school system they attended. Most public schools are like that—the NAESP survey says that only 49 percent of public schools do have a school uniform policy in place.
How School Uniforms Save Money
So where do the cost savings come in?
First, the items on a school uniform list are usually more affordable than designer jeans. The most popular public school uniform pieces are chino pants and navy blue polo shirts. On any given day you can find these items at Old Navy for about $10, if not cheaper. You can spend a bit more for them at Lands’ End (which partnered with the NAESP for that school uniform survey), but that investment may pay off in the long run. That’s because Lands’ End is one of those companies with a lifetime guarantee on its clothing and everything else it sells.
Next, if you have multiple children in the same school district, you can hand down uniforms. This is an obvious money-saving move. Whereas with “regular” clothing, child 2 may not have the same taste as child 1, with school uniform basics, “taste” isn’t part of the equation.
Finally, with state sales tax holidays happening throughout the summer, school uniforms are nearly always included on the list of tax-exempt clothing.
You can always buy your school uniform pieces used from thrift stores like Goodwill. National Thrift Shop Day is on August 17 and resale stores like Savers will be having special sales to commemorate the day. Another option is a clothing swap, which many parents will organize before the start of the school year. Finally, you can always check eBay for school uniforms on the cheap.
Brands and Stores that Help You Save Money on School Uniforms
If you’re looking to buy school uniforms new, here are some popular stores and brands that offer affordable school uniform options. Hold out until you can get a sale to really save money on school uniforms.
Boscov’s is always having one sale or another to help you save money. Through the end of September, you can save up to 66% on school uniforms.
You can find Dickies brands at many stores. I found some really good prices on Dickies pants at Walmart.com. Dickies come in regular, slim and husky.
French Toast the brand on Frenchtoast.com has great prices on school uniforms. What’s really cool about French Toast is it has a school finder tool that lets you track down school uniforms that are specific to your school. (Click on Find Your School in the upper right corner of this page.)
My girls were always particular about their pants having a little bit of stretch in them. These Gap khakis, perfect for a school uniform, do indeed stretch.
Kmart carries genuine school uniforms in a variety of sizes and colors. It even has polo shirts in both short sleeve and long sleeve.
You know I like L.L. Bean because its a brand with a lifetime guarantee. What I also like about L.L. Bean, especially when it comes to shopping online, is free shipping all the time. Make sure you start your online shopping for L.L. Bean at Ebates.com so you get cash back on your purchase.
Like everything it sells, Lands’ End offers a lifetime guarantee on school uniforms.
When I searched Oldnavy.com, I found more than 1,800 items that fell under the category of school uniform. I found individual pieces prices at $4, $5, and $10–all great prices. These girls’ uniform Bermuda shorts are a steal at $8.
Sears carries school uniform basics, like polo shirts, in children’s sizes as well as adults. Some are as cheap at $5.
Target recently debuted a new line of children’s clothing called Cat & Jack. This line includes school uniforms. A bonus is that the Cat & Jack school uniforms come with a one-year guarantee.
I found uniform pieces at Walmart (actually Walmart.com) for as little as $4 per piece. That’s a price worth checking out.