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Do people buy new uniform more often these days than in the past?

(19 Posts)
pyrrah Tue 20-Aug-13 11:31:10

Just wondering...

I know when I started at GS, the school skirts were unbelievably expensive and so my mother bought them almost to my ankles and sewed extra buttons in on the waist. By the time I stopped wearing them at end of GCSEs they were just passing the 'inch above the knee' rule.

New pupils always looked drowned with cuffs rolled up several times!

Are today's uniforms of poorer quality and thus don't wear as well as in the past, or are they so much cheaper due to supermarket prices that parents are happy to replace every year rather than make things last by buying way too big?

I went with the 'skirts round the ankles' and DD's wearing the same pinafores this year as last...

mrz Tue 20-Aug-13 13:04:59

When i started GS (in the 70s) my mum bought me a 2 pleated skirts at the regulation length and a blazer. I got new as I grew ...we certainly weren't rich but my mum hated the "grow into them" concept.

BarbarianMum Tue 20-Aug-13 13:12:03

I'm definitely in the 'buy more' category, we have 4 complete sets per child and need it but my 2 are 5 and 7 so maybe I'll need less when they're older.

I send them in spotless, by home time they look like someone's cleaned the floor with them. But I don't want them to worry about getting dirty (I would be cross at deliberate damage and they are good at remembering to bring jumpers etc home.

Quality wise I don't buy the cheapest but do look to replace everything each year - jumpers and polo shirts are wrecked by then and trousers go at the knee (I guess skirts would last longer). They do have good anoraks for winter, I hate seeing freezing kids in the playground.

At age 13 I def had less uniform than my kids currently do but that may be an age thing. I had 2 skirts, 2, jumpers, 3 shirts and 2 pairs of over-the-knee socks plus a blazer I never wore. Remember washing those damn socks out every night and wonder now why I didn't just have 5 pairs. We were not that badly off!

Idespair Tue 20-Aug-13 13:14:55

I try to get things that will do 2 years for my eldest. They only need to do 2 years and then get handed down to sibling 2 years younger and then can be worn til they wear out.

I think particularly for girls in primary, skirts shouldn't be ankle length because they get in the way of climbing, running etc. happy for her to wear big polos or jumpers but not big skirt.

I know people who buy 5 summer dresses for one year. I also know someone who bought one massive one, hemmed it and let it down a bit each year so the one dressed managed 3 or 4 years. Dd would have stained it by then so I wouldn't do it personally! I go with 2 dresses in different sizes so generally use the one that fits and keep the too big/to small as emergency dress!

DeWe Tue 20-Aug-13 13:31:31

Uniforms are relatively cheaper I think.
I know it was cheaper for dm to knit our cardis for primary than buy them, and wool wasn't that cheap.
Skirts went from about an inch below the knee to just above, so not a lot of growth room, but they lasted 1-2 years depending on how much you grew.

We had 3 shirts, 1 skirt, 1 jumper 1 tie for school. I know we didn't have more because the time I pulled my dsis into the bath she had to go without uniform the next day because it wasn't dry. grin

I think one year I had two summer dresses and that was considered really impressive by my friends.

teacherwith2kids Tue 20-Aug-13 13:35:50


When I was at primary school, uniforms were very, very rare in the state sector (I attended 5 primaries, my elder brother a couple more, and none had a uniform). So there wasn't the concept of 'buying new uniform each year', we just had clothes (and they were MUCH more expensive, relatively speaking, so everyone had fewer than they do now).

I think it's at primary that uniform gets 'worn out' each year, because children are so much more physical at hat age.

Secondary uniform needs replacing less often - but again, it is MUCH cheaper than it used to be. DS's bog standard comp black blazer is cheaper now - at less than £30 - than my brother's one was 35 years ago - my mother reminded me that it was £40 and represented all of her housekeeping budget for a significant period. Googling seems to suggest that is the equivalent of around £180 today - no wonder there was the attitude of 'buy big and make it last'!

bruffin Tue 20-Aug-13 13:45:52

My mum went to GS in the 1950s and said her gymslip was over £20 which was horrendously expensive.
My DD is just going into year 11 and I have not needed to buy her any new clothing since she started (other than tights and shoes obviously) until now. I bought her a new blazer on saturday which was £31 which included the badge.

eddiemairswife Tue 20-Aug-13 13:50:56

My first school blazer [aged 5] was bought large for me to 'grow into'. My mother shortened the sleeves by making a tuck in the linings, but couldn't shorten the blazer itself, so I was constantly complaining that my dress didn't show below and "people will think I'm only wearing my knickers."

pyrrah Tue 20-Aug-13 14:41:12

Relative prices are incredible. My school skirts were £40 each in 1985 - just looked it up and that was the equivalent of £140 today... yikes!

Fun site for calculating:

It was a boarding school so we were only allowed 2 as they were dry-cleaned each week (one at the cleaners and one on).

Considering they had a great 2nd hand uniform shop, they must have been made of Teflon or something as they looked in v good condition when they sold them.

(Ideally I would have done ankle length for primary because of the running around, but DD has a growth issue and so that was the smallest I could find - the school logo cardi came down below her knees!)

teacherwith2kids Tue 20-Aug-13 14:45:02

Great site Pyrrah.

Tells me that £40 in 1978 is £194 now in terms of RPI, but nearer £300 based on average earnings - which given that my parents were in low-paid work gives some insight into just how much that blazer cast, and why it HAD to last all 5 years!

tobiasfunke Tue 20-Aug-13 15:00:25

At GS school (in the 80's) every year I was bought one school skirt, one cardigan/jumper, and about 4 blouses. My school tie lasted me 7 years and I also had a very expensive blazer which lasted me 6 years.
We were middle class with a reasonable income but clothes and especially uniforms were so much more expensive. Everyone was the same even the much better off kids just had the one set of uniform.
I doubt I've spent £60 on my Ds's (p1) school uniform for 2 pairs trousers, 6 shirts, 3 ties, 12 pairs socks, and a wool jumper (all from M&S) and a pair leather shoes.
Clothes are just so cheap nowadays. I remember at university most girls I knew bought maybe 2 pieces of new clothing a term. Miss Selfridge was fairly cheap and I remember tops there generally cost £35.99 in 1987. I'd probably spend the same now 25 years later.

Periwinkle007 Tue 20-Aug-13 15:10:46

I was at a private school so our uniform was very expensive and was always bought 'to last'. For my daughters it is only a few items specific to the school and the rest can be bought from supermarkets so not as bad cost wise but my eldest's blouses from last year are fine, as are her socks, PE kit, winter coat and jacket. She has grown 6cm though so needed new skirt/pinafore and I got her a new cardigan at Easter because the original one had always been too short on the sleeves (I obviously bought the wrong size but it can be passed to her sister so not wasted).

My children don't have loads of sets of uniform though, one skirt and one pinafore each, one cardigan and then blouses (4 or 5 depending on where they came from) and only 2 summer dresses. They make do, they haven't ever gone in looking scruffy but I warned right from the start that they had to keep their uniform vaguely tidy.

NoComet Tue 20-Aug-13 15:21:57

Yes they are wildly cheaper, in real terms, than in the past.

About 1980, school skirts cost £5, from C&A and a plain M&S jumpers were £8 (I know due to getting acid on a brand new one and DM being less than impressed). This is much the same as primary uniform for my DDs in 2009

life in 1980 While Britons got by on an average wage of £6,000 (the equivalent of about £19,000 today, article 2009), petrol cost 28p a litre (90p), a pint of beer was 35p (£1.10), a loaf of bread 33p (£1.10) and a pint of milk 17p (54p).

ie school uniform now costs about a third as much and oddly I bet many of us have three sets, so in fact we spend about the same.

I wish the same could be said for petrol.

NoComet Tue 20-Aug-13 15:41:22

Using pyrrah's brilliant link

*In 2012, £8.00 from 1980 is worth:

£29.00 using the retail price index

£43.10 using average earnings*

Given my Ddad either earn about average wages or was out of work around 1980, I can see why ruining jumpers was so unpopular.

it makes £17 for our logo'd senior school ones look much better.

noramum Tue 20-Aug-13 20:08:31

I am now two years into DD's school life and so far none of her jumpers survived the school year. They were washed out, hems runined and looked totally out out of shape.

Thanks to strange sizing of 5/6 and 7/8 they already look far too big and in pinofortes she looks like wearing sacks in the best fitting ones. No way I would send DD in one a size larger than she normally wears. At the moment we can't swap to skirts as she has bowl problems, making anything tight at the waist uncomfortable.

I work and have no time to wash uniform all the time so she has 5 set of everything.

The only thing which is ok to give to our second hand sale at school are her Summer dresses.

tallulah Tue 20-Aug-13 20:59:40

I don't know where the Torygraph got those wages figures for 1980. £6000 was the average wage in 1980? I got married in 1983 and my salary was just over £3000 and DH's £3000 exactly. Unless the average was well skewed I think they've over estimated there.

I had a Saturday job in 1978 and earned £2.50 a week. I could afford to buy clothes in C&A on that!

Clothing was more expensive because there weren't the cheaper shops, and people just didn't have as many clothes then as we do now. My DD (6) has 2 pairs of trousers and 3 pinafores; 5 polo shirts; 2 jumpers and 4 cardigans. She always comes out of school looking like she's been down a mine, so she couldn't wear something more than once. But when a school jumper is £3 from a supermarket I can afford to buy several.

bruffin Tue 20-Aug-13 22:10:41

I dont £6000 is to far out. I started work in 1979 at16year old on £2400 as a junior admin and was on £3400 after a year.

MiaowTheCat Wed 21-Aug-13 19:03:05

I think that the more "user-friendly" uniforms that have taken over (although every academy round here seems to be going for the "clag as much obscurely coloured braid on obscurely coloured blazer as we can" approach) don't last as well. Polo shirts and sweatshirts vs proper white shirts and knitted jumpers etc.

Plus, again with the academy thing - most schools round here have at best changed their school crest (and associated school sweatshirt and the kids have whined for the new version), and at worst, changed their entire bloody uniform.

MiaowTheCat Wed 21-Aug-13 19:04:34

Although I remember always having brand new shoes (aaah the queue out of Clarks' door at mid/end August) and the utter utter joy of the brand spanking new set of school stationery. The sheer bliss of going to WHSmith and my mum giving in to the whining for all the pens and pencils I wanted.

I'll admit it - I only went into teaching to be legitimately allowed to go nuts in the back to school stationery aisle (and to pick all the dried on PVA off the glue pots).

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