The school uniform post – Feel free to skip if you read last year’s, or the year before that etc…

I have finally got over my migraine, so decided to give myself a stress related coronary by shopping for school uniforms.

A change is as good as a rest and all that…

I loathe the shopping for school uniforms part of the summer holidays. I absolutely loathe it.

If you are a long term reader you know this to be true because I moan about it every, single year without fail.

I have to do my shopping now for two reasons:

Firstly, the primary school my children attend, have decided to change the uniform, and some of it is now only available from M&S, and if you order it online, which I have done because I loathe M&S with the same passion I loathe uniform shopping with – it takes up to ten days to arrive.

Word on the street is that sizing runs small. I may have to send things back. If I don’t start this farcical activity now I may end up with nothing to show for it, despite having ordered in advance.

Also, when I ordered mine yesterday, they are already out of stock on some items which are ‘required’, so I will have to place another order. This has not made me happy.

It has already cost me £100 to buy in M&S what I would buy from a supermarket for half that price, or less. And it is only a fraction of what I need.  I would, under normal circumstances, bulk buy certain items I know my children will go through like a dose of salts. Aertex t-shirts for example. I usually buy three in a pack for between £5 and £7. Each child gets two packs, so that I don’t have to spend my entire life doing laundry. They are £8 for a single top at M&S.  White t-shirts for p.e. which I buy for £2 or £3 each are also £8 each at M&S.

I have bought one or two of each item and will have to wash and dry myself to a husk. I am totally unthrilled by this.

And so it goes on.

I dread the day they lose their cardigan/jumpers, which they do with alarming regularity. At £13 each, I have told them that if they lose them, they replace them with their own savings.

Secondly, today is the only day for the next three weeks when a) all my children are together and b) we are free.  There are other days when we are all together, but we are on holiday. The rest of the time it is a lottery as to who will be there. As I revile uniform shopping I am totally not doing it over three days.

It is, if you are a parent, faced with much the same dread as Christmas shopping or teenage parties in your home.  No matter how you do it, there comes a moment where you want to throw knives at your children’s heads, and lay down on the floor swearing like Malcolm Tucker (see how fucking topical I am? See? See?)

Today was that day.

Firstly we had to do the dreaded bra shop for Tilly. I distracted the two small ones as best I could, although they still hid in the mannequins and wore bras on their heads.

Wot Joy.

I appreciate that this is not part of school uniform by the way. It is just an unhappy coincidence that her bras have all exploded simultaneously and it is the only time we have to buy new ones.

Tilly can’t make do with vests and bandages any more. She needs proper bras, properly fitted.  This means proper prices.  I do not approve of bosoms going wild and free in the wind. I may be an anarchist hippy on many fronts but I am a firm believer in the stoutness of properly fitted undergarments and a good haircut for all.

As we know, I despise M&S, which is the usual place people who aren’t me go for the fitting of the undercracker departments. The last time someone in M&S fitted me for a bra, it was for a maternity bra. She was a poisoned dwarf who worked out the size I would need (post baby, milk just in), by shoving her finger in her ear and waving it out the window whilst thrusting the cold end of the tape measure into my chest and shouting. I bought two bras, neither of which fitted at any point in the entire history of me having a bosom. Sixty quid I’ll never see again, and at that point I had no children who were old enough to be interested in wearing bras on their head to compensate.

Now they charge you a fiver for that fitting service.

We went to John Lewis.

Lovely, competent ladies, a distinct lack of poison dwarves and shouting. Not worried about small children with bras on their heads. All good. Apart from the fact it cost me £40 in bras.

Onwards to Sainsburys.  No navy tights because it is summer. Despite the fact that by the time they get back to school it won’t be, and they had grey, black and red tights in stock. Blue is so not this season.

Otherwise we leave £140 poorer.

By this point I am hyperventilating.

We buy cakes, we go to the library. We go to granny’s house and eat cakes and read books.  We pretend we do not have to go out and buy shoes.

I stop hyperventilating.

We go to the shoe shop.

As predicted, everyone has had an inexplicable growth spurt in the foot department.

Tilly needs trainers for home and for school. Tallulah needs trainers for school (she shuns trainers at home). Oscar needs school shoes.  Tallulah and Oscar need plimsolls.  Tilly needs wellingtons. Tallulah needs wellingtons. I buy a pair of trainers because by this point I might as well be setting fire to tenners in the street I am spending so much money and what difference does one extra pair of trainers make (brown Adidas special edition, orange laces – I am so down with the kids)?

We are at the Shoe Warehouse, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It is in a small, nondescript village about twenty minutes from my house. It is saving me pounds and pounds.  Despite this I come out £160 poorer.

I still have to make another order with M&S for PE bags, because apparently it is important that they have the school logo on them now, otherwise God alone knows what might happen.

A zombie apocalypse at the very least.

I have even had to buy the right colour hair accessories.


I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t get nits every six weeks, as regularly as clockwork, from some scrofulous little fecker whose parents cannot be bothered to delouse their child. Is a blue gingham hair bobble going to stop that?

I think not.

It’s not a new thing, my hatred of uniform. You can check back on the blog if you don’t believe me. I’d refer you to the rant when it cost me £250 to kit out Tilly alone when she went up to middle school.  Another joyous day.

I hate the fact that I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t with regard to the new uniform policy.  I don’t want to take my kids out of the school because of uniform. The teaching is good, the staff are lovely. I volunteer there I like it so much.  That would be stupid. And I still wouldn’t help myself much, because if I did that, I’d still be buying two new lots of uniform for a new school.

I am between a rock and a hard place, and they’re both made of navy blue polyester.


I know it isn’t any use to rail and shout at what you can’t really do anything about.  But, I think I am entitled to a minor strop when up to now it has cost me the thick end of £400 and I STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED.

And my point when asked about my hatred of uniform remains the same as it ever has.

The only people who are ever put in uniform are people who you need to behave like drones (the armed forces, the police etc), people who work on the deli counter, and people who work at McDonalds.

I understand why you might want children to behave like drones.  I don’t agree with it though.

I do not aspire for my children to a)  be mindlessly obedient (unless it is to me) or b) work for minimum wage flinging hazlett at women with hairy upper lips and varicose veins over a chiller counter –  or serving sweaty teenagers Big Macs.

Ergo, I don’t see why they should wear uniforms.

Stephen Hawking doesn’t wear uniform.  Stephen Fry doesn’t wear one either. Nor does Grayson Perry, or Buckminster Fuller, or John Peel or Brendan from GBBO.

When they do. I might bring myself to have a change of heart.

4 responses to “The school uniform post – Feel free to skip if you read last year’s, or the year before that etc…

  1. Heartily concur with all your objections to schooliform, and when still curating took great pleasure in saying so to the meeja, who always assumed that someone who worked in a museum must think that uniforms are A Good Thing (don’t ask). “It’s such a great leveller” was the one that really got me going – oh, so you think the rest of us didn’t notice that X had new everything every five minutes, or designer shoes, or got brought to school in a posh car? Bah, humbug! And have some more cake…

  2. S went to a high school with a uniform that was essentially white blouse (pick any) with a pinafore style dress with school logo that appeared to have been designed circa 1900. Red blazer with logo for number one dress days, insanely expensive. The dark blue material of the pinafore was supernatural – it absorbed anything without staining. We were lucky in that every year in June they had a second hand uniform sale and everyone took advantage. The girls just kept wearing the pinafores as they grew so that by grade 12 some of them were scandalously short.
    B’s school made you buy everything new, from them, and it had to be measured by their seamstress so the kilt was to her fingertips. Ruinously expensive.

  3. I have shorter than average arms so my fingertips would make an almost indecent length kilt, what if you had really short arms? Why yes I am standing in front of the mirror looking at where my fingetips come to, isn’t everyone at this point?
    We’re lucky Pesk doesn’t lose school jumpers (I Know, I know, I’m frankly stunned by it, he loses PE shorts and caps if it’s any comfort) and has had the same 2 for 3 years now. That said I probably should buy him some more for this winter. His school are relaxed as long as they wear white airtex shirts and grey or black trousers, cheap but not particularly cheerful. Mainly it’s shoes that we go through and dear god they’re expensive, and in juniors he needs trainers as well as pumps and black (boring, boring) shoes.
    I really can’t see why they wear uniform in primary school, secondary school makes more sense but only because I had to. I think it’s a case of feeling if I had to suffer as a teenager in an appalling uniform so does everyone else rather than any belief it’s a leveller, as Noreen says, it patently isn’t.

  4. this is my first time reading your school uniform rant. I have felt your pain in the past but thankfully mine are too old for school now. i will leave you with one consolation…….. they arent just any aertex T shirts, they are M&S T shirts!! 🙂

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