The simple answer to question of how you can prolong the life of a school uniform might be to not let your child wear it! But that's hardly practical. There are some easy ways to make sure that it lasts as long as possible. And school uniforms are hardly cheap. My son starts Year 1 at a state school in September, and has to wear a blazer, jersey with logo, tie etc. Just the basics, and this only includes one blazer, came to nearly £80. We've still to buy the shoes.
A friend of mine whose son is starting at a comprehensive in September ended up having to fork out over £250 for uniform and school equipment. And that isn't even everything!
So, everything you can do to make items last that little bit longer has to be a GOOD THING surely?
Learn to sew. Or grab a granny to do it for you (which is what I have to do but I am learning!). I can do the basics. Like this one. Mum of two Madeliene says that "although it sounds like a total faff, do go through all their shirts when you buy them and re-sew on the buttons. It really does save you so much grief later in the year when there's so little time to sort these things out. The machines that make these shirts never sew the buttons on properly, and they take a lot of abuse."
With my step-son, my mother-in-law helped out by sewing on patches inside the knee as soon as we got a new pair of trousers. I don't know what he did all day but if we didn't do that he'd wear out a knee within a month.
I talked about patching and mending earlier in the summer - Patch and Mend: Sewing and Darning.
At the beginning and end of each school year, there seems to be a rash of thefts from school cloakrooms. I know of parents who've been affected by this across a broad spectrum from private prep schools to inner city secondaries. Winter coats are also very prone to going missing.
It isn't all theiving fingers of course. Our kids, especially when they've more important things on their mind like the custard and cake in the canteen, tend to forget about things like where they put their jumper or left their blazer. In those instances, a well named item will quickly find its way back to you.
For this purpose I always sew in labels into the important stuff. This includes his coat, blazer, and jersey. Yes, it is a pain, and I hate it with a passion. I loathe sewing! But the iron-on labels just don't last as long, and fabric pens wash out over time. It also provides him with a little loop on his jersey so he can hang it securely on the peg during the warm weather, so it is less likely to fall on the floor and get kicked around! For other items like shirts (£3.50 for three at Sainsburys) I just use an iron-on label.
For that extra bit of protection against thieves, I take a fabric pen and write his name in huge letters on the inside. One one of his jackets, it is right across the bottom of the back part.
PlayPennies mum Sho has this tip "I always also named the girl's jackets, cardigans, and coats somewhere 'secret' that couldn't be readily seen. Because we live in a small village with just one shop many of them end up with the same items. This way if a girl accidently picks up your daughter's cardi, you can discretely point out to the mum that it is in fact yours."
It'll all come out in the wash
Take care with the washing of clothes, and they'll last that little bit longer for you. For this reason, always use a cool wash. Thirty degrees is friendlier for clothes (and the environment!).
Always wash items like jerseys, jumpers, trousers, skirts and dresses inside out. It'll protect the material from damage and the colour from fading. I also hang them out this way when the weather lets me do so outside, as it keeps sunlight from fading the colour too.
Do the opposite with your whites. Here's what my mum used to do - she would soak our white school shirts in water with lemon juice. Then hang them out in the sun to dry. I always liked the smell of this but have only just worked out why she did that after googling it for this article. Lemon juice and sunlight work as a natural bleach. Who knew?
At the moment my son is growing out of his shoes faster than he is wearing them out so I hadn't really worried about ways to make the shoes last longer. One tip I found online was to use dubbin - a tin will set you back about £2. Well I don't know if this is better to use on shoes than Scotchguard, but according to Wikipedia it is made of natural wax, oil and tallow, and will soften, condition and water proof leather.
I loved using this stuff on my hiking boots when I was a teenager. And it really did keep my feet nice and dry!
I'm sure that other mums have way more practical tips than I've given here. What other things do you think I can do/shouldn't do to make a school uniform last longer?