The standard school attire dilemma

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Dear Home Ec 101,
Here’s my dilemma –now that school is nearly out, it’s like a “Click and Clack” theoretical dilemma, but a month ago, it was the hot topic in the house. I know other people have wondered, too. So here it is.

I didn’t really buy enough standard school attire outfits at the beginning of the school year, and now that we’re at the end, SweetCheek is on the verge of outgrowing some of it. We’re left with only about 6 skorts, shirts, and trousers, depending on her mood that day and whether she will wear something a little too short paired with leggings, or the slightly non-compliant skort with cargo pockets.

My argument is that school is nearly out, and she’ll grow over the summer, so we should wait until August. In lieu of buying, we’ve been doing an extra load of laundry midweek to wash the two or three most-acceptable items.

So which is cheaper — 50 percent more loads of laundry for two months, or buying the $15 for trousers or skort?
Muddled in Metro

Should I buy more school uniforms?

Ivy says:

Can I just point out here that this is why I’m glad I live in Rutherford County and not Metro Davidson? For non-Nashvillians, Metro Nashville went to a “standard school attire” that has been the bane of every Metro Nashville parent I know.

Now, to answer your question, I really think this is a matter of preference. On one hand, depending on the size of the load you’re washing (are you only washing the SSA stuff, or are you washing other stuff?), you might be able to save a buck or two. But time is money, so that might negate the cost savings.

But being the total hippie that I am, I also am throwing in environmental considerations. If you’re washing the clothing in big loads with an environmentally friendly laundry detergent, then washing is the way to go. But if you’re like me and adore Tide and are just tossing in small loads, then buying might be the way to go. (For the record, we’ve started using an eco-friendly lavender laundry detergent. It works fine, but I miss my Tide.)

But then you have to take into consideration the chemicals used in making these clothes, and the gasoline to get them to the store, and the gasoline to get you to the store. Buying is probably less eco-friendly than washing!

how to launder unusual items
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Of course, you could go to a thrift store, which is economical and eco-friendly. I would hazard a guess that toward the end of the year, there would be more SSA stuff than there would be at the beginning of the year. All things considered, I believe I would buy at a thrift store. If you have a kid that’s like my oldest and absolutely refuses to wear “used” clothing, then I’d go with the washing.

Clear as mud? What would you do, Home Eccers?

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16 thoughts on “The standard school attire dilemma”

  1. My dd loves her non-uniform clothes. I’d buy a couple of extra cheapie play outfits for the summer, and try to pick up some SSA clothes in a bigger size when you find a bargain during the summer months.

    That said, we’re moving in 4 days to Williamson County. From the attire standpoint, I’m sad to be leaving Metro. Now the fights over what is appropriate for school will be between mom and daughter. For the past year, it hasn’t been an issue since she was required to wear a “uniform.” And the girl is only 6!! I hate to see what it will be when we hit the teen years. 🙁

  2. Jenn, I don’t know the *exacts*, but I think the difference between SSA and a uniform is uniforms are like, “You have to wear this ugly outfit in this one ugly color.” SSA is like, “You have to wear this ugly outfit in THESE ugly colors.” As far as I can tell, that’s the difference.

  3. Honestly, I think people do laundry way too often. Wearing something once doesn’t make it dirty. Kids of a certain age might not be able to wear a shirt more than once, but pants, shorts, and skirts? Unless they look dirty or smell bad, they should be aired out and worn again.

  4. Oh, and the reason my oldest son is so snotty about wearing thrift store clothes is because I was a single mom and we were really, really poor when he was younger. I bought him a jacket at Goodwill and he wore it to school. A kid said he used to have a jacket just like my son’s. He looked at the tag and it still had the kid’s name on it. He was teased unmercilessly for the rest of the year.

    My younger kids are so proud of their thrift store clothing that my youngest son always says, “3 bucks, Goodwill!” whenever someone compliments him on one of his outfits. It’s so cute.

  5. I would buy a few things at the thrift store if I could find something. I am lucky. I have boys so that makes it a little more simple, but also I am also lucky enough to live in an area with several children’s consignment stores. I can always fine nice things for about half the cost of new. Check some of the consignment stores in your area. Roxie

  6. We do Good Will.

    Also my daughter (almost 16) gets by on 2 pair of jeans and 5 shirts, one or 2 church outfits.

    I have 2 pair of jeans and 4 tee-shirts. We all wear our pants/shorts at least twice before it is washed. In the winter it is the same for shirts.

    In the summer, we only wear our shirts once….due to it is so stinkin’ hot.

  7. I would (and do) wash. School clothing gets pretty beat up pretty quickly (not like they are top quality clothing to begin with), and while I am not a Goodwill snob… I’ve seen (and smelled) these kids in these clothes and well… ewwwww.

    Of course I use environmentally safe detergent (with my brand I don’t miss Tide in the least) and eco-friendly softener so I have no qualms environmentally (and with my “women” there is ALWAYS laundry to do anyway)

  8. Garage sales are a mom’s best friend this time of year, IMHO. A lot of times you can score barely worn clothing for pennies on the dollar. And, if you go to a neighboring town, you’re much less likely to run into daughter’s bff’s clothing.

    I agree with the not washing as often, depending on how old the children are. I can tell you from experience that boys dont hit that “does not need to be washed after every wear” stage until about age 12. And then it’s still a cr@p shoot on any given day. 😉

  9. Freecycle!! Put a wanted out there for other’s outgrown items that may fit then offer up the outgrown items to someone who may be in a similar situation (to keep the cycle going).

    I hear freecycle varies by area, but so far people have been pretty good in my group to always offer and not take only.

    Otherwise, I would try to wing it as much as possible with what you have. Maybe wash 2 items in your sink instead of doing a laundry load?

  10. I do not buy clothes for school (we can wear whatever we want here-within limits) this late in the school year. Our principal will overlook a pair of shorts that are a little too short this time of year. Thank God for a man with common sense. I have lesser standards than the school system believe it or not, so their shorts look fine to me, while the school wants them at the tips of the fingers (and I have long armed kids). That means what they are wearing now, they will wear all summer.
    I would only buy clothes IF she were going to wear them all summer and get some use out of them come next fall. We wear a lot of capris because they don’t really have a length, so you can grow and they still fit.
    If we had to buy uniforms, I would say do the extra laundry. I do three loads a day around here, so throwing them in with someone else’s wouldn’t be that big a deal.
    If you have to do uniforms, have you thought of asking some of the mom’s in the next grade up if they have any hand me downs they want to get rid of? They might have some they have out grown too that would get you through the year.

    This is why I stand firm against school uniforms. Let them wear what they wear everywhere else. Remember moms and dads, they can only wear what we purchase. If you don’t buy it (or allow them too) they can not wear inappropriate clothing.

    Now I am off to wash another load of clothes. Why did I take last week off from housework. ;(

  11. I just faced this problem with my rapidly growing kindergartner and 3rd grader. I went by hte thrift store, got him two more polo shirts that are actually too big for him, but he likes the roomy. They’ll last well into 1st grade. I also got him a pair of shorts that are a wee bit too big, but he’s gone ahead and worn them even though he has to hitch them up every once in a while. My daughter still has lots of shirts that fit, which is good since I didn’t find any polos in her size, but she did get another pair of shorts too. I also forked out for a brand new pair of nice long khakis for chorus. The pants she got for the Christmas concert were fine then, but very snug at the spring concert. They had one more concert to do that was going to be on the news… so I splurged and got her a new pair of nice khakis that are the next size up. She looked great for that last concert, and she’s one pair of pants ahead for next school year. That was an issue of her self esteem/embarrassment, so it was worth the splurge.

  12. I vote for doing more wash. Reducing your consumption is generally best environmentally.

  13. In my mom’s town (Jacksonville, FL) there are a number of private schools, and a number of public schools with SSA. I, who don’t even live there, can tell you of at least 2 consignment/thrift stores that sell nothing but uniforms! If your town doesn’t have one of these yet, you could make a killing.

    (My vote for your kid, now that it’s really late in the year, so long as you can make a full load of it, wash. Put off buying anything til the fall after all that summer growth!)

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