Thursday 13 August 2020

A back to school clothing guide. (For older kids)

A couple of weeks ago I did the majority of the back to school uniform shop! I feel so lucky this year that I didn't have much clothing to buy. For the last 2 years I have had to buy Ellie a full set of uniform. One for starting secondary school and last year for starting a new secondary school after we had moved house. It was a tad expensive so this year just having to buy trousers, a school bag and shoes felt like a real treat.

We did the majority of the stationery shopping on Monday which cost more than usual because with Coronavirus Ellie has to take everything she could possibly need at school. Things that she would usually borrow from school like glue sticks, scissors, pencil sharpeners, post it notes and other random things.

I feel so glad that Becky doesn't have to wear a uniform at college now and gets everything from the college stationery shop using her college finance. Phew!

Here are some top tips for getting ready for going back to school. 

Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Don’t buy extra things and don't buy things which might be nice to have, they are probably not needed. School uniform can be expensive so don't spend more than you have to!

How much of everything do I need?

Assuming you do at least one load of washing during the week you will probably need:

2 Sweaters/ cardigans/ sweatshirts.
2 or 3 Polo shirts/shirts.
2 Trousers/skirts.

It really depends on the age of your child and how messy they can be. Think spilling their lunches down their tops, paint and gluing accidents and playing on the grass/mud at break and lunchtime. Even with older kids it happens!

At least 10 pairs of socks - They will get lost. I ended up buying about 20 pairs of black socks for Ellie and coloured one's for Becky just so there was no arguments over who's socks were who's.

A P.E Kit including trainers - When my girls were at primary school they needed plimsolls for indoor PE but in secondary school it was all about the trainers. They also wore leggings in the winter and sometimes shorts in the summer but to be honest my girls have always just worn leggings.

A P.E bag if they have a locker to put it in if not they will have to make do with cramming it in their school bag. Ugh. Always make sure that they bring it home to be washed or it will get stinky!

1 pair of school shoes with growing room to spare. A couple of years Ellie made the mistake of wanting a bit of a wedge heel. I went along with it and 4 days into the new school year her dad was doing a mercy run to Asda to buy new shoes as she could hardly walk because of blisters, we had to get my friend to give her a lift to school as she couldn't walk there. Get shoes which are comfy!

A tie - If there's a clip-on/elasticated option use that it is so much easier than having to help fasten a proper one each morning. Wet wipes come in handy for cleaning them. We always made sure to have a spare because they easily go missing. It was always the first thing my girls threw off when coming in the house.

A school coat - Waterproof and with a hood if they have to walk on the school run but if they are anything like my girls they will never wear it.

A school bag - The book bags are great for younger children but my girls needed a backpack to carry everything when at senior school.

If money is tight find out if there's a second hand uniform shop run by the school or try local Facebook selling pages. Charity shops local to you may have uniforms even one's with the logos, especially at this time of year when people might be having a clear out.

If your family is on a low income you could be eligible for funding to pay for some of the uniform. Contact Citizens Advice or your Local Education Authority to find out more. 

If you’re struggling to afford your child’s school uniform, speak to a teacher or the head teacher at your child’s school. They may know where you can get discounts or find cheaper items. At the very least they will understand your situation better.

Over the years of buying school uniform I have learned a few things:

Double check whether you really need it before you buy any item of school uniform. Many items are compulsory but some are optional. On the uniform list at my girls old school it said to need a netball skirt, rugby top and various other things. They didn't.

Buy online as long as you don't need to try things on. Sometimes there is more choice in sizes online, from supermarkets. I remember a few years ago I went to Asda and they didn't have my girls sizes in but online they did.

At the end of the summer holidays supermarkets and high street stores are often tripping over themselves to tempt you with cheap uniform deals and BOGOFs. Don't rely on these deals to get the uniform for the autumn term but do buy items in the next size or two up to come in when it gets to later on in the school year.

Buy only what you have to from the official uniform store!! They are so over priced!

Instead of buying a school branded jumper, can you sew the school badge on to a generic jumper? This way you can buy cheaper items but still comply with the uniform regulations of the school.

Kids will grow! Buy as large as you can without your child absolutely swimming in the school uniform. I bought my teen the blazer in a couple of sizes bigger and folded up the sleeves. It lasted all the way from year 9 until the end of year 11!

Don't forget to label EVERYTHING!! If you haven't got the time or the patience for sewing on name tags a biro will do!! Make sure to show your child where you've put their name, so they can check it themselves. It won't stop uniform being lost but it does help!

If the school's uniform list gives options such as skirts or trousers for girls and you're unsure about your child being the odd one out ask around among those with older children or even look on the school website or Facebook page and see what the other children are wearing.

School shirts get filthy. Invest in some stain remover to soak stained polo shirts or shirts in before washing. I have found both Vanish and Ace to work brilliantly!

If the school list says black shoes only, don't be tempted to push the rules with blue or brown. Chances are you'll have to fork out for a second pair of shoes.

Have you started the back to school shopping yet?


  1. This is a useful guide that gives good information to help you prepare for september X

  2. This is super handy! I remember how stressful uniform shopping was before we home schooled. Fab tips x