Capsule Wardrobing

How Much Is Enough for Back to School?

Happy day, dearest reader!

Here in the US, Back to School season is in full swing! It seems that no sooner are we through the 4th of July, than the back to school merchandise starts flooding the shelves. Retailers expect to pull in over $82 Billion (Yes, billion with a B.), with more than a third of that spent on clothing. Schools give parents a list of what supplies the children need to get them started on the adventure of a new year, and guidelines for uniforms if needed, but what about the basics of how much? Here are some factors to take into account when deciding…

Uniform or Play Clothes?

How much clothing your child needs depends on a few factors. Does he or she wear a uniform to school, or play clothes? If they wear uniforms at your child’s school, does your child change after school into play clothes? This is recommended as a way to help their uniforms last longer, and to help your child make a distinction between work and play. When the uniform is only worn for school (the child’s work), it lasts longer, and puts your child into “work mode” when the uniform is on. Yes, there is a reason that teachers (and administrators) are less than keen on out-of-uniform-days.

If your child wears play clothes to school (or wears the uniform for play after school), you will need a few extra outfits for the days that they get filthy and need to change. (Raised three boys. ‘Nuf said?) Food for thought: Even if your child’s school does not have a prescribed uniform. You can prescribe one. Yes, you can. You are the parent. You might decide that jeans or jean shorts, or a jumper and a polo shirt are “school wear” and that the logo and superhero tees are for play. (This works well when they are little, but needs some compromise as they get older… That’s another post completely!)

As for the complaint that buying both uniforms and play clothes is a waste of money, I get it. Money always feels tight when you have little ones. If so, forgo the extra pair of shoes, buy just enough to make it through the week, and make sure they change out of those uniforms right after school. Try thinking of it this way: When you have work and play clothes, both last longer because neither is getting the same amount of wear as if only one was worn. Many schools have used uniform sales either at the end of the year, or in the weeks before school starts. This is a great way to snap up uniforms at a deep discount! Check with your school’s secretary.

Laundry Frequency

If you wash weekly, then you need a week’s worth of school uniforms. (An extra set may be required for the classroom if you have a Pre-K or Kindergarten student.) Bottoms can often be worn more than once before washing, but this is far less likely with littles! If shorts or trousers are options, you need to decide which your student will wear more. Here in Georgia, shorts get more wear during the nine months of the school year. If you live in a colder climate, more trousers are likely the better choice. Remember that trousers with worn knees can be cut off and hemmed to be worn as shorts again when spring comes! Are uniform sweaters or sweatshirts needed? These should not need washing after every wear (Ideally!), so two or three will do.

Similar numbers are good for those who wear play clothes to school, but you will need a few extra outfits for the days that they just get so filthy, that they have to be changed. (Raised three boys. ‘Nuf said?) Eight days’ worth of clothing should do.

If you do laundry less frequently, you will need to adjust these numbers. If you do laundry every two weeks, double the numbers above. Another thought: More frequent laundry means less outlay on clothing… When our boys were small, I found it easier to do a load of laundry every day, rather than letting it pile up and having to spend hours washing, folding, and putting away. During those stretches of life with no washer, we went at least weekly to do laundry. Often more frequently, because doing sheets, towels, and clothes all in one trip was overwhelming!

What Size?

What if they grow? That’s not a what if, rather a when! Buy what fits them now but with a little room to grow. Buying clothes big enough for how large you think they will be in eight or nine months is not a good plan… Buying for next spring means too large clothes now, and clothes that fit only for spring, since they’ll outgrow those too during the summer! Too large shoes are a tripping hazard, and make it hard for your child to run and play. And they make it especially hard to walk through the halls without shuffling! Too large clothing constantly shifts and slips, making it more of a challenge for your student to concentrate. A little large is fine, but please, if the pants fall down, or the shirt is halfway down to the knees, size down.  Since growing is a given,  a D-Ring style or braided belt is infinitely adjustable, and you don’t need to worry about the holes ripping out.

Dress Clothes

Your child probably needs one or two “dress up” outfits for special occasions, like church or dinners out, special parties, or family events. There’s no reason to go overboard on these. Most children will not wear their dress clothes enough to wear them out before they grow out of them, so two outfits that mix and match should keep them appropriately covered! The boy’s mini-capsule below can create more than eight different outfits, and the girl’s can create 12 (or more…)!

How does back to school clothing work for your crew? Do yours wear uniforms? Or is there a non-uniform dress code at your child’s school? Do your children have more clothes than they need? Do you find keeping up with laundry a challenge? Good grief, I have a lot of questions! I love to hear from you… Please share your experience or questions in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

All the clothing shown above is from Lands’ End.

Many thanks to the lovely Jess of Elegantly Dressed and Stylish for the Link-Up!

More thanks to Shelbee of Shelbee on the Edge,  and Nancy of Nancy’s Fashion Style for their Friday Link-Ups! Woo hoo! It’s the weekend once we get to these!




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