Back to school – purchased the uniform yet? Read this first

The most rigorously tested school uniform survey in the UK has voted Marks & Spencer as the top pick for school uniform. The survey also revealed the backlash against the cost of school-branded items.

Not long to go now till the kids head back to school (albeit preschool for my little one). Wish I had read this one before I went and spent a fortune getting the new school branded kit the other week online.. most of which looks already to be a little too tight. I fear I may be back purchasing new kit by November to be honest. Darn these fast growing little ones and their shrinking school jumpers.

I don’t know about you but my biggest bugbear (actually I have a few) on the uniform front is the fact that Amelia’s kit is supposed to be a bright red colour – which after a few washes fades big time, and that when you put it in the dryer (a must unless you buy a different jumper each day) it shrinks A LOT. So much so that at the end of each term I end up trying to push Amelia’s sizeable head into pale and faded red, tiny dolls clothes with paint stains all over. Poor little thing.

So where to buy uniform then that will last and won’t cost the earth?

Well MadeForMums families put all the elements of school uniform rigorously through its paces – including size adjustments, washing and adaptability for different body shapes and special needs.

School uniforms from major high street retailers and supermarkets were put through a judging process and at-home trialling by family testers. A further 694 families were surveyed in July 2021 answering over 50 questions about the school uniforms they buy each year. The winning products were chosen based on a range of criteria including quality, fit, effects of washing and value for money.

The findings reveal the need for durability with families prepared to pay extra for choice, adaptability and robustness.  They also raise the issue of the cost of buying “unnecessary” branded items. YUP!

Susie Boone, Editorial Director of MadeForMums, said:

“Helping parents make confident choices is what MadeForMums specialises in as the number one parenting review site in the UK, and the hot topic at this time of year is where to get the best school uniform. Marks & Spencer are the deserving winner with parents commenting it is worth the extra outlay to have a quality uniform that washes well, is a good fit and withstands the daily rough and tumble of school life.”

MadeForMums school uniform survey findings broken down for you

  • MadeForMums parents voted Marks & Spencer as the overall top provider of school uniforms. They highlighted elements such as adjustable waistbands, longer lengths, slim fit styles, good colour choices, and the “easy dressing” range for SEN children. Although M&S school uniform can be more expensive, an overwhelming number of parents felt it was worth the money due to how well it washed and wore. One of our testers said, “Would 100% recommend…Now that we’ve tried it, I will be buying the rest of his uniform from there. Can’t fault it.”
  • A quarter of parents estimate they spent over £100 on school uniform (excluding school shoes) when their child first started a new school. 38% then spent over £75 on uniform clothes every subsequent year to kit each child out.
  • A strong trend is parents’ frustration with the number of compulsory school-branded/school logo’d items that push up the overall cost. While a jumper with an embroidered logo is commonplace (and there are benefits to having an identifiable uniform) parents questioned why polo shirts worn under branded jumpers needed to have a logo. Many schools also require branded PE kit (including expensive hoodies) and even specific colours or items for different sports etc. Many parents suggested that if the school requires a logo it should be sold as an iron-on or sew-on badge. One parent said, “My daughter has to wear polo shirts with a logo, even though she wears a pinafore over the top and the logo isn’t visible.” Another commented, “My son’s school insist on green PE shorts, which cost £8 a pair. If he could wear black, navy or white shorts they’d be half the price in a supermarket. He only wears them for two hours a week.”
  • The biggest overall issue parents find with shop-bought school uniforms is shrinkage of polo shirts, even when washing at the recommended temperature. This was an issue with a number of the uniforms we tested.
  • There was praise for ranges that catered for non-standard body shapes: trousers and skirts with adjustable waists were highlighted by home testers and families in the survey, and also lots of praise for easy-on shirts/polos with Velcro necklines and faux buttons.

For the full list of the findings visit MadeForMums

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