The ultimate school uniform quality checklist: trousers, skirts, shirts and blouses

The key items your child needs for their uniform are also the items that are most likely to cause you a headache when it comes to shopping. A good pair of school trousers or a smart skirt, plus a couple of shirts and blouses, are essential back-to-school clothing, yet they’re also often the hardest to buy.

These items do the ‘heavy lifting’ of your child’s school uniform, as they’re worn every day come rain or shine. While trousers and skirts need to be hard-wearing and stain-resistant, shirts and blouses need to be kind to skin, easy to wash (repeatedly!) and comfortable. These items are always on show and most likely to exhibit signs of strain, such as trousers looking too short or shirts feeling too tight. They need to last, which in turn means choosing wisely – what fabric, size or style is going to be the best for your child?

Our checklist is designed to make your purchasing decisions simpler by giving you quick tests to perform on any garment you’re thinking of buying, based on our years of expertise in designing and manufacturing high quality school uniform.

Take it with you the next time you shop for school trousers, shirts, school skirts and blouses to help you feel sure you’ve made the best choice for your child and your budget.

Trousers and skirts

  • First, check the sewn portion of the waistband. Is it sturdily constructed? It should feel robust when you handle it and, if you give it a tug, it should feel firm and hard-wearing.
  • Check the elasticated part of the waistband if it has one. Does the elastic feel firm? Stretch this portion out – does it take some strength to stretch it, and does it snap back? This indicates the elastic is of a good quality.
  • Does the waistband have adjustable portions? This can be helpful as, when your child grows, you can adjust the waistband rather than buy new trousers.
  • Check the zip and other fastenings. Does the zip open and close cleanly? Does it stay up if you try to pull it apart gently? Poor quality zips will slide open and make the garment difficult to keep up. Are the buttons sewn on securely, or do they feel loose?
  • On a skirt, check the length of the side zip. Is it long enough to make the skirt easy to put on over your child’s hips?
  • If the skirt or trousers has pleats, ask the supplier if the pleats have been heat-set. This means that the pleats have been permanently ‘creased’ into the fabric, which means there’s no requirement to iron them in each time.
  • Check the hem of the skirt or trouser legs on the outside of the garment. Can you see a line of stitching where the hem has been sewn, or is it ‘invisible’? The latter is called a blind hem and is an indicator of a more professional, smarter finish. This construction method also requires a deeper hem, meaning you have the option to take the trousers or skirt down as your child grows taller.
  • Examine the material the garment is made from. For fitted skirts and trousers, there should be some stretch in the fabric; pull it gently horizontally to see whether if there is some ‘give’. For trousers and non-fitted skirts, check to see whether the fabric feels heavy and thick enough to withstand daily wear.
  • Turn the garment inside out and look at the seams. Are they stitched in a straight line, or do they look wobbly? The latter can be an indicator of lower quality.

Shirts and blouses

  • Lay the shirt or blouse out on a flat surface so it’s easier to examine.
  • Check the buttons and buttonholes. Gently tug the buttons – are they sewn on securely? Are the buttonholes a snug fit around the buttons and cleanly finished?
  • Take a look at the collar. Does it have a thick lining which feels sturdy? Alternatively, does it have collar stays – small plastic inserts which go into the corners of the collar? Both of these will keep the collar looking smart without too much ironing.
  • Run your hands over the seams at the shoulders and side of the shirt or blouse. Can you feel (or see) a line of stitching? This means the seams are top-stitched, which makes them more durable.
  • Hold the shirt or blouse with the side seam in front of you. Pull on either side of the seam to check how strong it is. Does the seam look wobbly? When you pull on it, can you see small horizontal stitches or ‘teeth’? This suggests it’s poorly constructed and may not stand up to the wear and tear of daily use.
  • Finally, take a look at the material. Does it feel soft enough to be worn next to the skin without causing discomfort?


For more tips on choosing a high quality school uniform, read our other checklists:

The ultimate school uniform quality checklist: blazers, jumpers and cardigans

The ultimate school uniform quality checklist: polos, sweatshirts and jogging bottoms