School Clothes Shopping :: Easy or Awful


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    When I was little, I hated back-to-school shopping. My mom and I didn’t see eye to eye on how I should dress, and she insisted I try on clothes that made me uncomfortable. Based on my elementary school pictures, she liked to dress her sporty tomboy as a tiny businesswoman in tailored outfits that included corduroy blazers and high-necked blouses.

    Another problem was that I wasn’t allowed to buy anything name brand. But, since I was no budding fashion plate, that part didn’t bother me and by high school, I just paid for those things myself. My husband, on the other hand, was very scarred by this same rule growing up, so he happily buys our kids the Vans that he was deprived of.

    But so far we’ve had it easy as parents. My older son is going into high school, and it is the first time since he started school that he doesn’t have to wear a uniform. That said, he still has a dress code, which sets obvious boundaries. So, since he can’t suddenly decide that he wants to express himself though clothing, it should still be relatively easy to find stuff that he will wear.

    It got me thinking about parents who may not have it so easy with dress codes and uniforms. Maybe clothes are your passion and shopping with your kid is a lovely, bonding experience. But for those of you concerned it could be a future problem, maybe you should think about implementing your own school “uniform” once they start kindergarten and hopefully avoid potential back-to-school headaches. (Preschool seems too young to start fighting about whether the Superman costume is appropriate for school or not!)

    Using my son’s school dress code as a starting point, here are some basic ideas for creating your own clothing guidelines.

    1) Shirts: Avoid crazy logos or advertisements, but let them choose the color.

    2) Skirts: Decide on a length and stick with it. Also think about tights and what goes underneath.

    3) Pants: No holes or sagging.

    4) Shoes: Insist on closed-toed (safer on the playground).

    5) Outerwear: No hoods up indoors and use the temperature to insist on wearing it or not, (e.g., always wear an extra layer if it’s below 60°).

    Hopefully back-to-school shopping will be an enjoyable experience, and you don’t have a kid who insists on wearing her scratchy, polyester Elsa dress everyday. But, if you are concerned, at least making your own dress code is food for thought.

    Good luck with the new school year!

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    Within months of graduating from Cal, Erin met her husband Rick and for the last 14 years has been raising a family in San Francisco. Their two sons love the city as much as they do and are proud to call themselves natives. Erin works as a freelance writer and editor but also enjoys the freedom that comes with blogging. She was the SF Frugal Family contributor for a few years back, and if you are looking for creative ideas for getting out around town, you can still find her work at In her free time, Erin loves to read, cheer on the Giants, try new restaurants and practice yoga.


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