The benefits of uniforms

When our family first moved to England in 2013, our children were concerned about wearing school uniforms –- something they didn’t have to wear in Canada. After living here for almost two years, we’ve come to love school uniforms for many reasons: they save time, help us stay organized, and save us money.

After experiencing the benefits of school uniforms with my kids, I’ve adopted a uniform-style wardrobe for myself. Keeping a few basic pieces (similar styles of slacks, shirts, etc.) and a limited range colour palette, I can mix and match fewer pieces and still have a varied wardrobe. The uniform-style wardrobe is much easier to maintain and organize and is less expensive than my previous numerous-outfit wardrobe.

The following is an explanation of how my children’s school uniforms inspired a change in my closet:

  • In the mornings, little effort is expended deciding what to wear. The children simply put on their uniforms and I select a pant and top (they fit and they all work with each other).
  • When shopping, we know exactly what to buy for school clothing and I have a specific idea of what I need. The school provides the requirements for the kids and lists a few stores that provide quality clothes that meet the dress code.
  • When doing laundry, I don’t spend nearly as much time as I did in Canada separating clothing out by fabric type and colour. Because both children wear the same uniform, we have one load of white dress shirts and one load of black trousers every week. And, since my wardrobe is in a limited colour palette, I experience similar benefits.

We have found that we are spending a lot less on clothing than we did in Canada. The quality of my kids’ school uniforms is very good. They wear like iron and wash like rags so they do not need to be replaced as often as other clothes. This reduction in our overall clothing budget has led to less packed closets that are easier to organize. The uniforms are neatly stored in one area and separated from the (much smaller) selection of non-uniform clothing.

Do you or your kids have a uniform-style wardrobe? Share your strategies for easier wardrobe maintenance with other readers in the comment section.

11 Comments for “The benefits of uniforms”

  1. posted by Cindy on

    I started noticing that I really liked and preferred a certain style several years ago. I bought fewer clothes and when I did purchase, the clothes were good quality in my favorite style. Last summer and fall, I participated in the 333 Project designed by Courtney Carver. I now pretty much wear a uniform of comfortable neutral colored bottoms and a white shirt. Classic and so easy, so comfortable, and goes anywhere. I’m loving my “uniform”!

  2. posted by pat on

    I have a similar “uniform” approach to my business wardrobe. I have 5 pairs of black pants (3 exactly the same!) that I pair with about 15-20 blouses and tops. Then I have about 5 sweaters and 3 blazers. Black dress sandals in the summer and black dress loafers in the cooler months. I also add in a pair of gray stripe pants and 1 black suit. Other than my shoes, most all items are “seasonlesss” so I don’t change out my closet either. My office is freezing in the summer, and hot in the winter, so layers help. I call it my adult professional “gr-animals” style of dressing 🙂 No worries about anything matching and everything makes me feel confident and looks professional.

  3. posted by Pat Reble on

    I enjoy wearing matching undies, but found it was becoming a nuisance trying to find the “pairs.” Now, when I find a style I like, I buy 7 of each in white and 7 in black. When they start to show signs of wear, I repeat the exercise. I’m finding it saves both time and money because I was tending to wear “favourites” while others got pushed to the back of the drawer.

  4. posted by Her from There on

    All schools (with possibly the exception of Montessori and I’m not certain either way there) in Western Australia (and most of Australia as far as I’m aware) have school uniforms. I’ve found it makes for more washing because my kids get out of their uniforms when they get home and put on normal clothes. I know a lot of children wear theirs for the rest of the day, but I like a clear distinction between school and home since my oldest son’s experience of school has never been positive AND because I dont want the uniforms ruined by food stains or other excessive wear. Ours dont ‘wear like iron’ either because the tops are made from that nylonish material that runs if you rub against brick or climb a tree.

    It certainly does make it easy to get them dressed in the mornings, but other than that there is no saving either financially or in the size of their wardrobes or even the amount of effort needed to maintain two wardrobes.

    I also work in a school and thoroughly enjoy being able to wear whatever I please. I did spend 7 years in the military, so I’ve had enough of being forced to wear a certain colour and style every day to last me a lifetime!

  5. posted by Margaret on

    I enjoy mixing and matching different colours for work, but I still approach it like a uniform. In winter I wear cords in either black, grey, navy or brown. I pick two colours for the coming week and switch them with different tops. My trick is routine. As soon as I am home for the day, I change into my house clothes and hang up tomorrow’s outfit at the same time, so there is no thinking required in the morning. When I travel, I pick 3 colours to pack, and don’t consider anything else, so a last minute packing job is effortless.

  6. posted by Christine on

    My children wear uniforms and I am a big fan. Mornings are easier, “back to school” shopping is more straight forward, and laundry is simpler. My children usually stay in the same clothes, so in theory we need fewer clothes, but they still have A LOT of regular clothing nfrom hand-me-downs and sales. It is less worn by the time they grow out of it, but it gets passed to younger siblings or cousins.

  7. posted by Roberta on

    As a nurse, I wear scrubs and miss white uniform dresses. I learned several years ago, after unable to “match” tops with slacks, that with every wash, I hang a slack with complimentary top. No more searching for matches. I recently read that patients prefer solid tops, so will replace my prints (which I wash inside out to preserve the print from fading) with solids as needed. I’m decluttering my entire home including my wardrobe so this article helps immensely. My downfall? Sweaters. I grew up in MN and SD and am a complete “sweater” girl.

  8. posted by Beverly Douglas on

    Several years ago, I gave my husband a particular shirt, which he just loved. We ended up buying it in several colors, and both short and long sleeved. That is all he has worn, with an exception for very formal attire when he had to wear a suit. He pairs them with khakis or dark blue slacks for every day, and if the occasion calls for more dressy, he adds a blazer. Last year I found a particular style top I love, and bought it in every print they had. I pair them with either black, navy, gray, or white dress pants for work and jeans for home. The problem is that they are no longer making this style so I’m stuck with the dozen or so I have and when they wear out I will have to find something new. But we both LOVE not having to think much about what to wear. Change the shoes, add a sweater or jacket, dress it up or down. It makes the closet cleaner and neater, and getting dressed is easy peasy.

  9. posted by amanda on

    While working in a business casual office setting, I found wearing dresses was my “uniform”. So easy to add a sweater, tights, and knee-high boots during the cold WI winters. During warmer weather, just put on a dress and a pair of dressy Crocs!

  10. posted by MJ Ray on

    I can see the benefits of a restricted range that suits you, but actual uniforms such as school ones have two big problems: corruption and bullying.

    Corruption where the uniform-setter picks things that can only be bought in certain shops and aren’t widespread, both of which mean higher prices, a which can go even higher if the few shops and/or the setter collude. Some of my old school uniform was unusual colours (exact shades of yellow and brown!) And others had logos or other unusual marking. In effect, there seemed to be only two shops in the neighbouring city to buy from.

    Bullying if anyone dares to break the oligopoly and wear a cheaper off-shade or non logo item, either because it’s out of stock (common for mid year school moves) or because their parents couldn’t afford the money or the time off work to go to the 9-5 shop selling it.

    Yes to dress code, no to uniforms.

  11. posted by adora on

    I really miss wearing uniforms. My teacher had warned us about this when we complained, but she was right of course.

    The benefits is beyond utility. The poorer students feel safe to be learning alongside rich students. You can always tell from their bags and shoes, but they don’t stand out as much. There is little need for conspicuous consumption. Far less bullying for those who can’t afford brand name clothes.

    The problem about uniforms was that most of my classmates had only 2 sets, a few only had only one! (They didn’t want to waste money on ugly clothes.) They had to wake up early to iron it and had to rush home to wash it, otherwise it wouldn’t be dried the next day. The stress when it was ruined in mid semester, where uniforms are harder to find.

    My mom was genius. She bought a week’s worth of uniforms. Pioneer of batch processing. My friends would see that my wardrobe being 50% uniforms and think it was crazy. But who is crazy? I wear them 80% of the year!

    My tips is to buy enough so that you don’t feel stress about doing laundry. I was fully grown by age 12, and went to the same school until 17. It was worth it to have uniform custom made with better fabric. For girls, buy the skirt slightly longer or with French hem, so you can make it longer when you grow.

    (I seriously don’t get why the previous reading think the problem is corruption and bullying, while I think it is the opposite. It’s not like school uniform is a lucrative venture. He clearly never worn uniform to school. Or he has a lucrative uniform business?)

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