My boys have to wear uniforms to school. While I like that it's easier to decide what to wear to school, what I don't necessarily like is paying for those uniforms.
Determine What You Already Have and Create a List
Ask each of your children to try on all their existing clothing to see what they can still wear. Then, create a list of items that you’ll need to buy for school (as well as sizes) and check off items as you buy them so you don’t accidentally buy too much.
Be a Minimalist
How many uniforms do you need for your child? Since there's not a lot of differentiation between outfits, decide how many days worth of clothes you need and buy only the amount needed. My boys wear uniform tops 4 days a week and then a Spirit shirt on Fridays. So, I buy them each 4 polo shirts, 5 uniform bottoms (shorts and pants), and a spirit shirt. So, we don't need a ton of outfits. Since there are only 3 colors allowed for tops and 2 colors allowed for bottoms, I could buy them less and do laundry more if I wanted to.
My boys have to wear school-specific polo shirts, so I can't buy them retail. However, that doesn't mean that I need to pay full-price for the polos. Each year our school offers a Swap Shop where I can sell polos (and shorts/pants) that my boys have outgrown, and I can also buy others used polo shirts at over half the price of new ones. A previous school did a uniform exchange where used uniforms were placed on a table. You could choose one piece for every piece you added to the table – a great way to swap uniforms for free.
I've also seen others advertising used uniforms on Facebook, so you might want to keep an eye on local Facebook groups or Craiglist to see if you can pick up any used bargains. Plus, eBay is a great source for used uniforms.
Shop the Sales
Similar to saving money on back-to-school clothes, you'll want to shop the sales. Check the flyers in each weekend's papers for any sales on uniforms. You can also sign up for the newsletters for your favorite uniform brands (like Old Navy and French Toast), so they can send you e-mails about any upcoming sales. Old Navy has great sales on uniforms during the summer – $5 for polos, $8 for shorts, and $10 for pants. My neighbor also got a great deal on polo shirts for her older son at Hollister recently.
You can also check your local Costco or Sam's Club for uniforms. My local Costco currently has a table with uniforms, and last spring I was able to get a great online deal at Costco on uniform shorts for my son who outgrew everything he owned. Additional sources for school uniforms include: Amazon, Lands' End, Target, Walmart, Justice, Macy's, and more.
Plus, if you plan to shop online (my favorite), you can check my coupon database for online coupon codes and online sales.
Shop During Tax-Free Days
If your state has a tax-free shopping day for back-to-school clothing, you might want to consider shopping during that weekend to save tax on your purchase. In Texas, sales tax is 8.25%, so I’d automatically save 8.25% right off the bat. However, since tax-free days are typically later, selection may be limited and stores don't always stock up on uniforms again when they run out of inventory.