Since my kids go to Catholic school, uniforms are a regular part of my life during the school year. Quite a few public school districts in our area have uniform codes for the elementary and middle schools, too. For me, the beauty of the uniform is the lack of decision making every.single.weekday.morning. Seriously, who needs another decision to make in the morning when one needs to get 5 children out the door to school?
Outfitting 5 children in uniforms can be pricey. If you pay full price for 3 sets of clothes for each size, you can easily spend $300. With 8 potential years of wearing a uniform, the total could be as much as $1,200. For 5 kids, that’s a potential total of $6,000 for clothes and shoes in addition to the money we’ll spend on tuition.
My strategy for my teenager who needs to wear specific types of clothes, not specific colors has been to shop at a Goodwill and focus on the labels. If I stick to labels, I can get clothes that are better made, plus classic styles are that, classic. Whatever I can’t find at Goodwill, I fill in by hitting the clearance racks at Kohl’s and Target. Since Kohl’s often has 4 to 5 clearance racks in the young men’s department, I can often find 1 to 2 pieces each time. So far, my son has been generally happy with the clothes I find for him. If he isn’t, I haven’t spent very much on the clothes and put them away for the other kids.
Since the younger 4 need specific colors for their uniform items, I’ve had to adopt a slightly different strategy to save money on their clothes. When I shop at Goodwill, I keep an eye out for Flynn and O’Hara labels, the uniform supplier for my children’s school. I’ve picked up quite a few shirts for my daughter this way. I buy the boys’ shorts and pants at a local Catholic church thrift shop. The school attached to the church uses the same uniform supplier. I can pick up shorts and pants for $1 each. Our school also has a uniform box for hand me downs which I’ll use for my daughter’s jumpers since I won’t be able to find them elsewhere for a discount.
To fill in the missing clothes, I turn to Kohl’s primarily. They carry the Arrow brand which often goes on sale for a good price and lasts well over time. Sometimes I find the Arrow brand on the clearance rack. Target also carries a uniform line in August though I haven’t tried their clothes yet. Since I shop at Kohl’s several times a year, it’s easier for me to hit their clearance racks when I’m in the store.
For shoes and socks, my efforts to save money have been more limited. I’ve had a terrible time finding dark blue socks anywhere other than at Flynn and O’Hara’s. Once I found them at Walmart in the men’s department, but not again. Kohl’s carries a sturdy line of black tie shoes in the children’s department which often go on sale during the year. Unfortunately, my 8 year old son has outgrown the children’s sizes; I’ll be switching to Target’s men’s shoes which are usually around $20.
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