In the past, only private schools required that students wear uniforms. Today, more and more public schools are adopting a uniform policy. School uniforms are the easiest way for a school to control compliance with dress codes since there is very little room for individual interpretation. If your child's school requires uniforms, here are a few tips to help you buy them:
- Get a printed copy of your child's school dress code. This will give you exact specifications as to what is and is not allowed. There is usually very little flexibility in the colors and styles of clothing required, so be sure that you know exactly what your child will need. Most schools seem to be choosing polo style shirts or simple button-downs. Cardigan sweaters are typically allowed, as long as they match the uniform. Bottoms are typically required to be plain blue or black, and not denim.
- Ask about allowed accessories. Although the uniform policy will likely state exactly what types of shirts, pants, skirts, and jumpers are allowed, it may not clearly specify about socks, footwear, jewelry, or hair accessories. Often, schools prefer certain styles of footwear and many require that shoelaces match the shoes.Additionally, inquire about outerwear and backpacks. Most school policies are fairly flexible about outerwear, but many are putting limits on the types of backpacks and book bags that children are allowed to carry. Schools are increasingly requiring clear backpacks so that all contents are easily visible.
- Check the department stores. With the increasing popularity of school uniforms, many large department stores now regularly stock a supply of the most requested colors and styles. If you have a large shopping mall near you, it would be worth browsing through several of the large chains to compare prices.
- Consider discount mass merchandisers. Although the fabric quality may be a bit lower than what is sold at department stores, a number of discount mass merchandisers now carry acceptable uniform choices, too. The cost may be considerably less, so they are a good option, especially if you need to buy uniforms for several children.
- Go online. If you do not live near large shopping areas, you may want to make your purchases through a catalog or online retailer. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "purchasing school uniforms" to find options.
- In-school program? If your school has had a uniform policy in place for several years, your P.T.A. or P.T.O. may have a program for buying and selling used uniforms. Children grow very rapidly and often they outgrow their clothing long before it has worn out. If your child's school does not currently offer such a program, you might want to consider starting one.
- Stock up. Be sure that you purchase at least one full week's worth of uniforms for each child. Life is far too busy to have to wash them several times a week!