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July 8, 2014 2:15 AM   Subscribe

My 5-year-old boy is attending a school that has a uniform. How much of each clothing item should I buy? There are uniform sales coming up this summer, but I still don't know where to start. Also, I try to hang dry things, so only having 3 pairs of pants, for example, won't work well.

BOTTOMS
1. short, walking
cotton twill, cuffed or un-cuffed, length just above the knee (allowed from opening of school
until October 31; and from April 1 until end of term); navy or khaki
MUST BUY FROM Dennis Uniform, $21 (I suspect that some of these will be at the used sale)

Maybe I should try to buy 2-3 pairs of shorts used?

2. pants
cotton twill, corduroy, elastic waist or pleat or plain front, straight leg, (NO cargo, oversized or skinny-fit pants). Pants must be ankle length, worn at waistline, pant waist must be no larger than student’s normal waist size; navy or khaki
CAN BUY FROM ANYWHERE. My kid is so picky about pants and prefers the $10 H&M twill pants, although those tend to get holes in the knees after about 2 months of wear. Should I buy a ton of the H&M/Old Navy in Navy and Khaki (a color he doesn't like as much) or is it worth it to buy nicer brands and have them last longer? On dress up days boys have to wear khaki pants.

Maybe ~5 pairs of navy pants, ~2-3 pairs of khaki pants?

TOPS
1. polo shirt short or long sleeve, plain or picot collar, non-stretch (no spandex, Lycra, etc.) fabric; white, navy, “true” red
CAN BUY FROM ANYWHERE. I don't have to buy this from Dennis Uniform and my fabric-sensitive kid is okay with wearing polo shirts and I suspect this will be the key wardrobe item. Should I buy a bunch of red and navy ones from Old Navy/LL Bean/whatever? They have dress up days where a white polo is required, so maybe buy 2 of those?

~7 short sleeved polos, ~7 long sleeved polos? This one I'm really not sure about.

2. spirit tee SCHOOL Logo; navy, red
MUST BUY FROM Dennis Uniform, $11
I think that there are days they have to wear these. Maybe I should start out the school year with one of each color and see if he wears them a lot and maybe buy more?

3. sweatshirt SCHOOL Logo; navy
MUST BUY FROM Dennis Uniform, $27 (My kid doesn't like sweatshirts, I'm sure these will be at the used sale)

Please help me smart MeFites!
posted by k8t to Shopping (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
How much laundry do you want to do? How often?

I would buy 6 days worth of each that is applicable, and be done with it. I would buy everything a size larger (like, if the pants have those adjustable elastics, no worries on bigger shirts) and let my kid grow into the items.

I have a 3 year old. This is what we do, especially since he's super tall for his age.

Don't make your life crazy. It is not worth the savings you have laid out.
posted by jbenben at 2:23 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Found this 4 pack of polo shirts at Old Navy. $7/each

Lands End polos. $18/each

LL Bean polos. $17/each

Nautica brand, on sale at Macy's. $18/each
posted by k8t at 2:25 AM on July 8


I tend to do laundry 3 times a week, hang drying the clothes. And this is without him repeating any shirts, pants, or underwear during the school week usually. But there are times that I can't do it 3 times a week, so I'd rather be on the safe side. Last school year he probably had about 10 pairs of pants, with 5 favorites that he rotated through.

My kid is very tall and skinny, so pants are a little difficult to buy for him. The pants he has in September are very likely to not last until June, unless they're high quality and have an adjustable elastic waist.
posted by k8t at 2:28 AM on July 8


Agree with jbenben. I did uniforms for years.... Shorts, khakis, polos, very much the parameters that you are laying out. Think about your weather, think about your child's preferences and buy all you can at the used sale. They will have a lot. And you might have to start using the drier some. Especially with a small child. You won't believe how many times you will realize the night before that you need a different outfit for the next day..... But that's better than spending tuition and closet space on it now when a little guy will grow out of it fast.
posted by pearlybob at 2:29 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Also, spend the money on higher quality polos at the used sale or in the store rather than the cheaper ones. With as much wear and washing as they get, the cheap ones, fade quickly and look awful, especially if classmates have the better ones. And you'll only buy once a year.
posted by pearlybob at 2:31 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


The key words to look for on pants are "adjustable waistband". These will have button hole elastic resizers built into the waist band.

Depending on the cut of the pants, you can go a little longer on them for the wider waist band.

With a small bit of tailoring "too short pants that fit in the waist" become next season's shorts. Alternatively, look on Craigslist or other local reselling site for used uniforms. They seem picky in the OP about pants fitting at the waist and ankle, but I suspect they mean an outrageous difference in size (putting a size 8 kid in size 12 pants).

I had old navy polos this year and they faded quickly. I did however get them for 99 cents or something ridiculous like that, so I don't care much how quickly they fell apart. If I had other kids coming up behind a kid, I bought the higher quality Lands End polo shirts. If it was the last kid in the line, I looked for sales at Old Navy. This year I've racked up $60 worth of "Old Navy Money" points on my card, so I may get more polos at Old Navy.

If you hang dry in the sun, be aware of fading, especially on the navy pants.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 2:43 AM on July 8


If he goes through pants quickly, get cheap ones.

Congratulations on your son starting kindergarten!
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:52 AM on July 8


That seems like so many pairs of pants! Like, literally more pants than I own, total! I know little kids are messy but are you sure you need to wash his pants after every wearing or can you brush them off at the end of the day? If you can go two wears between washes then the pants will last longer and you won't have to do as much laundry. Shirts you probably need more of because of food and art class and stuff.

Also is he going to be wearing the clothes after school? If you can have him change into play clothes after school the uniform clothes won't get so dirty and you can get multiple wears per wash. Obviously this might not be possible if he's going straight to daycare or an after school program.
posted by mskyle at 4:07 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


First, yes, buy high quality polo shirts. I had one LL Bean (Lands End? one of them) that lasted at least ten years. I wore it every other day in middle/high school, some through college, and then once/week while I was working. Seriously. Ten years. That thing was fantastic.

I had 2 pairs of pants, and I wore them two days in a row, then Mom did laundry. If I got really desperate, I also had a kilt. I had 3-4 shirts.

But Mom did a lot of laundry, and my sister wore the uniform, too.

Then again, I was older, wore things multiple times, and my mom did a lot of laundry. I'd recommend 5 of everything, so you can get through a week.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:50 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Don't forget to buy a set that can be left at school for "emergencies"... (mud puddles, spills, art class, etc)
posted by HuronBob at 5:25 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Off the top of my head, it seems like the questions for shirts are 1) how long do you think it'll take until he outgrows the first set (quality-wise LL Bean/Lands End is worth it, but maybe not if he's just going to outgrow it quickly and you have no use for hand-me downs), 2) how often does he wear long-sleeve shirts and maybe 3) is he allowed to wear a non-uniform sweater?

I mean, I don't think I owned 7 long-sleeve shirts at any point in my life. My brother probably did--he was very into turtlenecks. But if he's not going to like wearing the school sweatshirt and not allowed a non-uniform sweater, then maybe he wants more long-sleeve shirts than he would otherwise in case it's cold at school.
posted by hoyland at 5:29 AM on July 8


Go with the least expensive that still looks nice. Old Navy is a good choice. He will outgrow, stain, get holes in, and/or misplace everything at some point because he is a 5 year old boy.

I always buy 3 pairs of bottoms and 4 shirts. I then add to it as needed.

My children's school keeps the ac on low and they must wear sweaters to survive in class.

Decide on one style/brand of socks and buy only those for the next several years. It can be very frustrating to be running late in the morning and have 15 left socks, none of which match the other.

Navy pants will hide grass stains better than khaki. Go with the H&M since he already likes them. No reason to hit him with too much new at once. You can sew patches over the knees. Old Navy also has a nice twill but you have to hunt for it. Gap does as well.
posted by myselfasme at 5:53 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Pants/ shorts don't need to be washed with every wear. I would get 3 of each. Five short-sleeved and five long-sleeved tops total, including one white polo and one spirit tee.
posted by metasarah at 6:36 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Old Navy uniform pants have really declined in quality the last few years. A friend who works there told me cotton got more expensive so they went cheaper. Anyway, my son's Old Navy uniform pants start looking dingy fast now, and get knee rips quickly.

With new brands and styles and colors, I'd suggest getting one pair and seeing if he likes it. I know you want to take advantage of sales, but never-worn clothes are a waste of money too.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:06 AM on July 8


Coming back to say that yes, on many days, with a little one that doesn't "stink" yet, you can change into play clothes after school and get a few wearings between each wash. YMMV and this becomes dangerous the closer to middle school they get, but everyone does it in the still sweet smelling, younger grades. :-)
posted by pearlybob at 8:00 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Target has great prices on kids school uniform stuff. And they have boy's slim. (at $20 it's an investment, but Dickies should be indestructible.)

Order online, try 'em out, and take back what doesn't work.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:35 AM on July 8


ARe you near a city where the public school district requires uniforms? They usually have stores that do exclusively children's uniform clothing for dirt cheap (like $3-$5 shirts, $7-$10 pants). I wouldn't go the expensive route for a quickly growing (and maybe mess making) 5 year old
posted by WeekendJen at 1:34 PM on July 8


Facebook friends also suggested Gap's stain resistant pants and the uniform company pants as being very resilient.
posted by k8t at 10:49 PM on July 10


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