Yvonne Marquette | 4/19/2005 10:28:31 PM
Buying new clothes for school is expensive enough without purchasing outfits that can’t be worn. LSU AgCenter apparel and textiles expert Dr. Yvonne Marquette says to read the school’s dress code carefully before shopping.
An increasing number of schools today require uniforms, which makes the back-to-school shopping task somewhat easier. In other schools, children can wear whatever clothing they have, as long as it complies with school guidelines.
"If the guidelines specify navy pants, not just any pair may do," the apparel and textiles expert says, explaining, "Uniform styles are usually classic, so those navy baggies with multiple cargo pockets will likely need to be reserved for after-school wear."
If new to the area, families should check with the school, other parents in the school district and some of their children's new friends. Many schools prepare a list of available stores where school uniforms may be purchased. School buy-back sales and local thrift stores are also good sources for uniforms.
"Next, look at your child’s spring uniforms and summer clothes to see if they still fit properly and are in good enough condition to wear the first few weeks of school," Marquette says, adding, "It may be necessary for each child to try on certain garments to check the fit."
The LSU AgCenter clothing expert suggests evaluating separates to determine whether by adding just a piece or two you can update and extend a child's existing wardrobe. That way, it may not be necessary to purchase everything new at one time, and the school clothing expense can be budgeted over several months. To further stretch the budget, items such as sweatshirts and jackets also can be purchased, closer to season, from stores that carry this inventory year round.
"With the assistance of your child, make a list of what is needed, because the more input children have in clothing decisions, the more likely they are to wear the garments," Marquette suggests. Plus, if you have agreed on the shopping list and the amount of money to spend, the shopping expedition should be a pleasant one for both you and the child.
"If you don't know your child's size, and especially if the child is not shopping with you, you should measure the child's chest, waist, hips and shirt/pants' lengths," Marquette says. Then, take a tape measure with you when shopping, and check these measurements against the garments you are considering.
Dimensions for the same garment size usually vary among brands. Garments with growth features such as double stitched or wide side allowances and generous hems allow for altering, which extends the life of the garment.
"Give children choices. Let them make the final decision. Where uniforms are not required, it is important to children to be dressed like their peers," Marquette stresses. "They have definite likes and dislikes. If you listen to them, and understand their reasoning, both of you will be pleased with their choices, and you will have fewer school morning hassles."
By shopping together, you can make the most of the opportunity to teach your child how to judge quality in clothing and the importance of reading labels.
"Choose school clothing that is easy care," Marquette urges. "You may want to look for soil- and stain-resistant finishes, and you need to read carefully all labels and hangtags, so you do not have any surprises about how to care for the garment.
"And don't forget, school clothing should be durable. Children are very active and subject their clothes to hard wear. Make the most of your clothing dollar by shopping wisely for their clothing."
For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/ For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.