Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School Uniform Challenge - $200 Budget for a Boy's Public School Wardrobe

This is the first in a series of posts from the Back to School Uniform Challenge.  Participants completed a survey with basics information, including the back to school shopping budget.  It was my job to find options that fit the dress code, the kid, and the budget.

Meet Noah

He is in 3rd grade and lives outside Pittsburgh, PA.  He attends public school with a dress code that requires pants or jeans and a collared shirt which can be solid, striped or plaid.  Noah's Mom, Amber, did a guest post for us last fall.  She told us that it is hard for her to find school clothes for him because he is tall and thin. Amber told us that she previously found school pants for Noah at Nordstrom's which were more expensive than she wanted to pay.

The Budget

The average cost on uniforms for school is $249 (per Statistics Brain), but Amber challenged me to find a full wardrobe with a budget of $200.  

The Climate

Near Pittsburgh, they experience all four seasons. When the kids head back to school in the fall, the weather soon turn to what I call 'football weather'. This is reflected in the dress code which doesn't allow for shorts. Pants year round for these boys.  Winters in Pittsburgh can be cold and snowy. For the most part, it doesn't begin to get summertime hot until after the kids are out of school for the year.

The Recommended Wardrobe

So given his slim frame and her tight budget, I looked for discount store that carry a slim fit.  I'm going to recommend she try George brand boys pants in a slim fit from Walmart.  Another option is French Toast which carries slim boys pants with an adjustable waist and a double knee. Since Noah is allowed to wear jeans to school, I'd recommend Amber snag one or two pair when she catches a sale.

For tops, I'm going to recommend Walmart again, the George Boys Polo 4 pack of short sleeve shirts. We have the long sleeve version for my daughter which is soft and has held up wonderfully (read more on the George Polo here).  When shopping online, you can select different colors and still take advantage of the bundle price.  They carry a choice of 14 colors.  For winter, I'll recommend the 2 pack of long sleeve George polos. Again, you can mix up the colors.  B
oys oxford shirts can work for school or other dress up occasions.  French Toast offers great pricing on these in both the short and the long sleeve versions.  

Rounding out the wardrobe, I'll recommend a basic sweater which can be worn over polos when the weather turns colder. The budget friendly option in a nice cotton fabric is the v-neck sweater from the Children's Place. Another option from Walmart is a boys zip up in acrylic.  

French Toast carries boys accessories at a great price. So when ordering the pants and oxfords recommended above, add in the reversible dress belt and a boys tie to the order.

Lastly for shoes, Payless offers some of the most budget friendly options I've seen.  Loyal Uniform Mom readers know of my bias for shoes with a leather upper, and not "Man Made Materials". Payless offers many options in boys school shoes, but only one lace up dress shoe in leather.  They also carry Champion boys sneakers.  

So here's how the recommended options break down for a wardrobe for a slim boy at a public school:

2 at $11.99 ea
Crazy 8 Straight Jeans (Reg $19.95)
Total Back to School Spend on Clothing

Overall, this is a pretty good haul for under $200! There are 5 bottoms, 8 shirts, a sweater, 2 pair of shoes and accessories.With a tight budget, Amber can carefully sort through any items from last year that might carry into this year. If she finds some, she can then cross those items off this suggested list and instead buy additional sweaters, jackets, snow boots, backpack or lunchbox that might need replacing for this school year.

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