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School uniform 101 - please educate me

(15 Posts)
YouCanDoItYesYouCan Thu 23-May-13 15:01:56


My DD will be starting school this year, and as I didn't grow up in the UK I am basically clueless about school uniform, so would really appreciate an explanation of all the basics.

Her school colours are black, red, grey and white - apparently trousers/skirts should be grey and jumpers should be black or red. I know this much. I also know shoes should be black, and trainers are not allowed. It's not a posh school, so no tie or blazer. Phew.

The school have given us a uniform order form, but the only options are the jumper, a fleece and a PE kit. So I assume we buy the rest in a normal shop.

Having looked at the M&S website, there seem to be so many options though, so how do I know what DD will need?

What I'm wondering about is the following:

What is the difference between the jumper ordered from the school and one from a normal shop?

There will be uniform for sale at the visit days - I assume this will be second hand. Is this a good idea? I'm not loaded, so quite like the idea, but would it be weird if I look at it but then decide not to buy it for whatever reason? What's the etiquette? What is likely to be for sale?

Is a fleece really necessary?

What kind of coat is appropriate for colder weather?

Those gingham dresses are really cute - are these ok to wear, presuming we buy a red one?

What about pinafores - I was thinking a grey one with a white polo shirt underneath and red cardigan on top might be good for colder weather. Does this sound ok?

Should tights be black or grey?

What should DD wear when it's too warm for a woolly jumper, but too cold for short sleeves? (White shirts aren't usually worn at her school I think.)

Should we buy the PE kit from the school?

Where's the best place to buy school uniform things - M&S/John Lewis/Asda?

Please don't think I'm joking, I want to do this right so DD is comfy and also fits in. Whenever I ask her dad, he makes me feel stupid, so I'd be grateful for any advice.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 15:57:13

ok I can only go by the schools I know BUT yes if the uniform order form only lists those things then I would assume the other items are just from any shop. I would assume that these items are named with the school logo. our school have logos on the cardigan/jumper, the school bag, PE bag, PE t-shirt and then they have a tie as well. We had to buy the PE shorts from the school too because they are an hard to get colour.

our uniform sales at the visit days are actually brand new uniform, same as you would get if ordered on the order forms.

does it not say regarding the shirt/blouse/polo shirt? what about on the school website? ours has pictures of a uniform to make it easier.

gingham dresses are normally the summer uniform but not all schools wear them now, some just say short sleeved tops with pinafore or skirt instead.

no idea on the fleece, sorry, we don't have them.

which shop wise we have had a mix. I have been happy with the quality of pinafores and skirts from both asda and sainsburys. summer dresses we had M&S and happy with them, blouses we have had tesco and sainsburys and I have been happy with them too. prices in supermarkets are a bit cheaper than M&S but M&S do have offers on sometimes and I suspect their quality is probably a bit better so if you were going to pass items down to a second child might be worth thinking about. If money tight then asda/tesco are probably cheaper and to be honest given how quickly they grow they will be good enough for the time they are worn.

yes shoes are normally black, non fashion shoes I think is how they describe them. Most people get clarks but many of the shops now do them in the same standard sort of style with the velcro strap over them.

check re PE shoes too - some schools now say trainers as black plimsoles may mark the sports hall floors, some say black plimsoles.

tights - I would assume grey if pinafores etc grey.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 16:03:03

some of the pinafores (I think it was in Asda) are stretchy which personally I think is more comfy for them so that is worth thinking about as well.

also if she has long legs over the knee socks are less hassle than tights (easier to put on as well)

I would hold off buying anything until uniform sale and checking what is actually required. other things you will probably also need will be a lunchbox (most children have the insulated zip up ones) and a clear water bottle for in the classroom. a book bag (school might specify a school one, others are more relaxed and rucksacks are fine) and PE bag. no need for pencil case or anything.

worth investing in name tapes and name sticky labels (shoes need labelling too) or a proper naming pen.

many schools also ask for a pair of wellies to be kept at school (and in summer sunhat) so worth checking that as well. I sent in the old pair that were a bit small and got a new pair for home.

once it gets to winter gloves, scarves, hats etc - best place primark for cost - must label though or they will disappear.

coat wise, any coat is fine normally. We have a sort of big padded winter coat from M&S for each of my kids but they both also have a lighter weight spring/autumn sort of raincoat. M&S are good in the sales (thats when we got ours) or supermarkets have loads of them once the school stuff comes out

Omnishambolic Thu 23-May-13 16:05:24

My daughter wears red tights rather than grey (school colour red), I like colour! I like the jersey pinafores, no buttons or zips at all.

Best thing is to have a good look at what the children are wearing when you visit.

Periwinkle007 Thu 23-May-13 16:06:59

wish we could have coloured tights - red are great. not allowed at our school though, grey or black only grin(

Jacksterbear Thu 23-May-13 16:08:17

Just to reassure you, most of the mums (at least the ones without older children already in school) will probably feeling a bit confused too. Just go with whichever combination your dd is going to feel happiest and most comfortable in. I have always found M&S to be good (although I only have experience of their boys' stuff so far).

HorryIsUpduffed Thu 23-May-13 16:09:17

Can't comment on girl items but at DS's school the fleece is a must-have. They wear them nearly all year round - as a jumper in cold weather and as a coat in warmer weather.

BornToFolk Thu 23-May-13 16:09:39

Don't panic! It seems like a minefield but it's honestly not, even if you get it "wrong" you can always buy an alternative when your DD starts school.

Do you know anyone currently at the school? It might be worth having a chat with them to find out how strict the uniform policy actually is. DS's school is v relaxed (i.e. although it says "dark coloured shoes" loads of kids wear trainers) which makes life easier but I know that some schools are more fussy about things like colour of tights/socks or coats.

The jumper and fleece that you can get from school may have the school logo on. Again, it depends on how fussy the school is as to whether they insist on a logo'd jumper or whether a plain supermarket one would do.

DS's school sells fleeces but I haven't felt the need to get him one yet! Not really sure if they are intended to take the place of a jumper or coat. hmm

His trousers are from M&S, with some polo shirts from there too and more from Asda and BHS. All have been fine, TBH but I like the M&S Stainaway ones best.

If I were you, I'd go to the uniform sale at school and chat to the staff there about your queries. You could also try lurking round the school gates at chucking out time to see what the kids are actually wearing!

DewDr0p Thu 23-May-13 16:14:14

It might be worth checking some of this with the school secretary/clerk - they will know what people usually do. In addition to the info on the form, there is usually a more comprehensive description of the uniform in the school brochure - have you got that? That might mention the summer dresses for example.

I usually get school sweatshirts and a token school polo shirt and get the rest in M&S or wherever. Everyone has different opinions on how much they need but I find 3 of everything works quite well for us. (maybe 4 polo shirts, they seem to get grubby v fast in the summer!)

Your pinafore idea sounds perfect. I'd go grey tights (although my friend's dd has same uniform colours as you and she wears red tights which look cute)

re coats: they will be out in all weathers in the winter (ours go out unless it is lashing it down) so it needs to be warm and waterproof. Mind also have lightweight coats for "summer". I've never bought the school fleece but we were given some handmedown school coats (a kind of reversible fleece/waterproof combo) which have been really handy for Spring and Autumn.

Most schools have a bookbag in school colours and I think you will probably need a water bottle (but this can usually be any design)

And yy label label label. After PE it will be very difficult to tell which of the 30 red jumpers is yours if it isn't named!!

noramum Thu 23-May-13 16:28:06

DD wears pinofortes, I think easier for young girls as you don't have the hassle of shirts going coming out of the skirt all the times.

We have knee heights from autum to whenever it is cold enough for tights, usually after autumn half-term. They are both grey until she swaps over to Summer dress which is either white knee heights or socks.

DD wears the school jumper in winter as it is nice and thick. Otherwise she wears cardigans. Check if the logo is compulsory by the school. Even if they can't enforce it it is not nice for a child to be the odd one out.

Coats: we don't have any mandatory ones, some schools I know insist on black, dark blue or grey but we can have whatever we want. It should have a hood and be waterproof. I found we need at least two as more often than not it comes home ready for the wash.

We can't have wellies at school but you need a pair for rainy days and any outdoor work like allotment they may do.

You will need gloves, hats and scarves for Winter and sunhats for Summer. Keep at least 2 spare sets at home as your child will loose them.

I had two Summer dresses when DD started and we had a couple of hot days so they were useful. Def. look at the Second Hand sale, even if it is only for emergency spare clothing.

If the school doesn't offer an information evening bombard the office with questions.

Omnishambolic Thu 23-May-13 16:28:37

My childrens' school the fleece is very useful as they can keep it on in the classroom rather than taking it off. The two reception classes are free-flow between the classrooms and the outside covered area so it's an extra layer when they're outside, and also when they're inside with the door open! (The teacher looks bundled up in arty wooly scarves in winter.)

YouCanDoItYesYouCan Thu 23-May-13 18:16:36

Thank you all! That is hugely helpful! I feel as if I know a lot more now.

We've already been to the information evening blush but they didn't say a whole lot about the uniform. Will see if I can find the brochure, but thought I had already looked at it.

I like the idea of wearing red tights (though grey seems fine too).

Very useful to know that the gingham dresses are traditionally for the summer. Don't want to commit a uniform faux pas in the first few days already.

Interesting to see that the opinion on fleeces is divided. I've never been too keen on them (DD has mild eczema), but if she might not bother putting a coat on, perhaps it's a good idea.

Very good point about pinafores being easier than tucking shirt into skirt!

I'll have a look at what they're selling at the visit days then and will take a list of questions.

Thanks again!

PastSellByDate Fri 24-May-13 14:48:52

Hi YouCanDoItYesYouCan:

First off - have a look on the school website and in the school prospectus - often this will have colour photos of children in uniform.

Go for the basics.

2-pack grey trousers
pack of socks (white)
pack of 2 pair grey tights (H&M do a nice cable knit design - very sturdy)
pack of 2 pair white tights (again H&M has nice tights - on line too!).

Gingham dresses (if there are pictures of girls in gingham red dresses - opt for two-pack. My DDs prefer zipper to button - also easier when young - so go for a zipper style if you can).

pinafore - at least one grey pinafore is worth it for winter (which could well qualify as May 25th - given today's arctic weather here).

grey skirt or culotte is great investment. Marks & Sparks do a nice culotte ([[] - washes well too. Our school have all gradually drifted over to this over a skirt because girls find this easier for climbing/ playing on bars.

Always worth getting extra sports kit shorts - great to slip on underneath a dress if your DD is climbing/ playing on bars a lot and doesn't like tights.

BHS do some lovely soft cardigans: [[[471447|471121]^category~[472046|471447]&noOfRefinements=2]] - also wash well.

My advice is buy in a core wardrobe (trousers, gingham dresses & maybe 1 skirt/ culotte + a few white blouses + sports kit + cardigan) and then hold fire on the rest. You can always buy in more on-line later.

Wait to buy school shoes/ plimsoles nearer to September - feet grow fast at age 4.

On school bag - wait until you have a day visiting the school - some schools insist on school logo bag and others allow anything - your DD may prefer her 'magic fairy princess' ruck sack and it will be easily recognisable for her. (we had school logo and they all kept coming home with other children's bags in YR - if school logo bag my advice is sew or iron on a patch - H&M does lovely flowers/ Hello Kitty/ etc... - to help make it stand out & go ahead on write her name on the outside in indelible ink.

Finally invest in a good indelible black pen and/or name labels if you don't mind sewing them in. Odds are they won't check at the school - but it does help you sort out which is yours in the lost and found.


PastSellByDate Fri 24-May-13 14:50:05

Oh on rules about uniform - check school website under policy and/or check prospectus.

some schools are strict about colour of tights.

YouCanDoItYesYouCan Fri 24-May-13 16:20:16

Thank you! It's really useful to have an idea of how many to buy of all the items.

Will need to have a think about bags - liking the badge idea.

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