There are now more options than ever when it comes to choosing and buying a school uniform for your child. You can buy supermarket school uniform while doing your groceries, shop online or visit a local school uniform shop. But that doesn’t make the decisions on what to buy any easier!
Having a list of your child’s uniform requirements is one thing – but you’ve also got to consider budget, quality, how quickly your child grows and how many garments you’ll need. Trying to decide all that while also doing your weekly shop feels like a lot, so how can you make it easier for yourself?
The key is to know what you’re looking for. We can all tell a cardigan from a jumper, but can you tell the difference between a high-quality cardigan that’s going to last the whole year and one that’s going to need replacing after the first week? Good school uniform manufacturers spend years developing garments that have the right qualities to withstand even the toughest school day, so knowing what those qualities are can help you make the right choice for your child.
Whether you’re shopping for school uniform online or visiting a school uniform shop near you, keep your eye out for these ‘magic words’ to help you select a uniform that’s going to be comfortable, long-lasting and easy to look after.
Whether it’s a pair of smart school trousers with a pleat or a classic school skirt, check the description to see if the garment has ‘permanent pleats’. This means the pleats have been permanently pressed or heat set into the garment, so you won’t have to iron them into place every time you wash it.
Stitched down pleats
For school skirts, you can also look for the phrase ‘stitched down pleats’ which means that the pleats have been sewn for a portion of the length, making them more secure and less fiddly to iron.
Crease resistant fabric
Some fabrics crease very easily, such as linen or light cottons, making them poor choices for trousers and skirts which get a lot of wear and tear. Look for ‘crease resistant fabric’ which indicates the composition of the fabrics includes fibres that are less likely to get or hold creases.
Good crease recovery
You can also look out for this phrase, which manufacturers use to let you know that while you can’t get rid of creases completely, this garment will bounce back. Any creases that do form won’t last long and will be easy to remove.
Stain repellent finish or water repellent finish
Advances in textile technology mean that the days of egg stains embedded into jumpers are now gone (thankfully). Look for knitwear and outerwear labelled as having a ‘stain repellent’ or ‘water repellent’ finish, which means that the fabric has been given a surface coating of a protective substance. Stains – such as paint, food or dirt – and water are unable to easily penetrate the protective substance and enter the fibres of the garment, therefore making it less likely to become stained or wet. This coating is not harmful to your child and will have been tested extensively before production.
Stain resistant finish or water resistant finish
While ‘repellent’ and ‘resistant’ sound very similar, it’s important to know the difference. A garment labelled as ‘stain resistant’ or ‘water resistant’ will still get stained or wet; it’s just harder for the dirt, rain or other substance to get into the fibres than in a traditional fabric.
Stain proof finish or waterproof finish
We’ve included these magic words in our list because they really are magic: fabrics are entirely impervious to substances that might cause stains or water damage. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find classic school uniform items with these finishes, which are often only found on completely man-made, non-woven fibre (like PVC).
Another development in fabric technology means that school uniform items may now also be labelled as being made of ‘easy-care fabric’. But what exactly does that mean? It all depends on the type of garment.
An ‘easy-care’ shirt might be made of a blend of man-made and natural fibres, rather than 100% natural fibres, to make it less likely to crease and quicker to dry. An ‘easy-care’ jumper might be made of a wool that doesn’t pill easily and can be tumble dried at a low temperature.
If you’re not sure exactly what the label means on a particular garment, ask the manufacturer or supplier – they should be able to give you specific details about how this fabric is going to be easy to look after.
As well as regular wearing and washing, school uniforms – particularly shirts and blouses – often undergo a lot of wear and tear from intensive ironing. No-one wants to spend their evenings sweating over a hot iron, so ‘easy-iron fabric’ was developed to prevent that. It can be ironed at a lower temperature than natural fibres and therefore takes less time to do.
There’s nothing more frustrating than finally picking a school uniform for your child and finding that, just a few weeks later, your precious time is being taken up with unnecessary washing, ironing and even replacing of garments. Be on the lookout for these ‘magic words’ next time you shop for school uniform to make your decision (and life) a little easier.