Saturday, May 17, 2008

Buy your uniforms now

At the park the other day, I listened to some moms talk about buying uniforms for their kids starting kindergarten in the fall. One of the moms said, "You need to shop now because they run out of the stuff." Here's a list of places where you can buy uniforms.

Land's End

French Toast

Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.


  1. We are currently planning on sending our son to a school with a uniform policy (the wonderful Rosa Parks JBBP) unless we somehow get our longshot waitlist choice.

    Does anyone have an opinion on how many blue pants/white shirts to buy? I can't imagine buying a whole wardrobe only to not use most of it after the 10 day count (though it IS unlikely).

    How hard is it really to find blue pants/white shirts after labor day???

  2. Oh how I wish my kids' school had uniforms. I had uniforms growing up and even though I grew to hate them I STILL wish my kids had school uniforms.

  3. Not hard to find blue pants/ white shirts at all - Target/Kohls/Macys/ even Gap and Old Navy have them. Same for Black and white. I buy uniform items year round for my son and daughter and I have never found a problem. We all LOVE the uniform routine it makes morning so much less stressful than when my daughter attended a non uniform school. Good luck and don't worry about finding the uniform.

  4. Dennis Uniform on 13th (at Division) stocks pretty much every private and parochial uniform. Plus they have every size of khaki and dark blue pants, and white collared shirts.

  5. I buy from The Gap online for uniform pants. They come in a slim style which works better for my kid.

  6. has great uniform choices.

    Anyone want to vote for which school has the WORST uniforms? NDV! Those kids look ridiculous in those awful sailor suits. Yuck.

  7. can parents currently enrolled tell us newbies what the uniforms are? i know fairmount and flynn both have uniforms...others?

    i for one am looking forward to the end of the daily battle/insistence on all things pink, garish and blingy.

  8. I love the uniforms at Cathedral, but only when the boys are wearing their navy blue v-neck sweaters over their blue shirts and gray pants/shorts. Kind of pulls the whole look together.

  9. A lot of the SF Public schools require a white collared shirt with either dark blue or black pants (depending on the school).

    I know Paul Revere is black pants with the white collared shirt, and dark green or black sweaters. I can't find information on Flynn, but if I remember correctly, I think its white shirt, blue pants, and plaid jumpers. Can anyone confirm?

  10. OMG!! I so totally disagree with the comment against NDV's look.

    I nominate NDV for the BEST uniform out there. They are quite strict at that school with the whole child's ensemble. Kids at other schools look shitty when they throw on the jewelry and running shoes and all that with their uniform, destroying the orderly team look. Most other schools look ratty.

    NDV sailor suits are fabulous. The kids look sharp and feel all part of the same team.

    I am totally for school uniforms. Totally.

  11. "so totally" Totally. Like, uh, ya know, uh, TOTALLY.

    Wow, a valley girl who likes little kids to look like faux sailors and little Madeline dolls.

    Like, uh TOTALLY.

  12. Damn, you people can be so childish. I'd bet your 5-year-olds have better manners than you. At least I hope so... but consider what you're teaching them: Hostility, incivility, disrespect, hatred, among other things...

  13. For the public schools with uniforms, is it any white collared shirt with any blue or black pants? Or is it a particular style that we have to get at the above mentioned stores?

  14. At Rosa Parks JBBP the uniform policy is pretty lenient - white or navy blue top and navy blue bottoms. No more detailed than that (IE doesn't have to be collar shirt, my kid refuses to wear collars - or buttons!). Lots of kids will wear white shirts with a logo or design on them even - the limit gets pushed for sure. At Rosa Parks you can wear whatever you want on Fridays.

    To the parent who asked about how many to buy (first poster on this thread) - I started with 3 white shirts, a couple pair of pants and a few navy skirts. I too hoped to get into my wait list school (didn't) so had that 10 day count concern in mind too. The school actually actively looks for donations for families who can't afford to buy the clothes, so that's a good option if you do get your longshot!

    I will also add that my daughter is messy and we are not the greatest launderers, so those white shirts got stained pretty fast - if you can convince your kid to wear some navy too, you're in good shape!

  15. My vote for cutest girls' uniform goes to Convent of the Sacred Heart. What could be sweeter than their kindergarten pinafores?

  16. To ANON @ 7:57

    It is my understanding that it is ANY collared shirt or pants, as long as it falls within the color scheme (white/black, white/navy, etc.).

  17. why does every thread on this blog these days descend into puerile sneering and snottiness? i sincerely hope the children are better behaved than their parents (not too difficult).

    a friend commented that in the sfusd, uniforms are only required at schools that might be perceived as having more problems (i guess what we would call "hidden gems"), the rational being that uniforms will help minimize conflicts. any truth to this?

  18. Marlowe's MomMay 19, 2008 at 10:14 AM

    Mervyn's is another option for uniforms. We got navy pants and shorts at Geary & Masonic at the last minute. Less than $10 a pair for pants, even cheaper for shorts, they had slim, regular and husky fit, and were very well stocked in all sizes. We knew we were sticking with our school so bought 5 pairs of pants and 2 pairs of shorts. (Logo polos and T-shirts were sold at school and I bought 5 shirts total, knowing I only do laundry on weekends and our son is messy.)

    To get white shirts clean, try this: Soak in Biz for at least 4-6 hours before laundering, overnight is even better (mix a scoop of Biz with 2-3 gallons of hot hot water), then wash in hot water and bleach along with your other white laundry for the week. Our son has art every day so his white shirts get pretty spattered with markers, paint, etc., and he still gets a lot of lunch on himself. This is not the most environmentally friendly method but it works. If others have had success with less chemical methods I'm sure other parents (including me) would appreciate your sharing.

    I am another fan of the uniforms and NDV and Convent Elementary; love the traditional look. My gay brother-in-law, when our daughter started Convent HS, said "Those high school girls are so cute, I'm tempted to convert!" (Before anyone flips out, no, he's not into under-age anybody, he meant it in a very sweet, funny way.)

  19. We are enrolled in a uniform school (JOES) although hoping to move closer to home.
    I completely understand the value of uniforms and know that they really are a great idea and good for the kids....but can't get over my deep dislike of forced conformity. It's funny, but this is one place where my teenage rebellious streak just has not died:-)

  20. I think uniforms are an OK idea, at least the basic navy blue pants and white shirts or skirts.
    My son's charter school doesn't have uniforms but at least they have a dress-code about those awful girls clothes that say "juicy" on the girls' rear ends.
    I agree that the NDV uniforms are too doofy and costume-like. No offense meant to the school, which I hear is great, but I couldn't stand to dress my son up in those sailor suits every day. (shudder)

  21. as usual, the visceral aversion to uniforms (silly, forced confortmity) has everything to do with the parents' own issues and has nothing to do with the kids. uniforms do not rob kids of their individuality -- are we actually saying that clothes make the kid? if that is the only way your kid can express him/herself, that's pretty sad.

  22. To 1:01 pm. Your tone and attitude leave much to be desired. Yes, it is my issue and that is exactly what I said.
    However,your point is a good one. Clothes certainly do not make my kid and I will keep that in mind as I squash my irrational feelings on this.
    Thanks (sort of).

  23. Yup, the decision to dress your kid up like Little Lord Fauntleroy is also driven by your own weird parent issues.

  24. before i entered the public school (or any school) fray, i thought uniforms were silly and bizarre. now i get it. now i think anything that is an equalizer is a good thing. also, i like that it takes an area that gets too much attention from some kids -- at the expense of more substantive matters, like SOCIALIZATION and LEARNING -- and deemphasizes it. kids can only gain. they can always express themselves with their, uh, socks.

    this sounds weird, but...what, technically, qualifies as a collared shirt? polo? button-down? and why white, fer god's sake? ours will be yellow in a matter of weeks...

    kim "and now ve vill dance" green, yearning for black Ts and pants (image of small children performing bob fosse numbers as xmas revue....eek.)

  25. Yup, the decision to dress your kid up like Little Lord Fauntleroy is also driven by your own weird parent issues.

    are you directing this at the parents who send their kids to NDV (who have no say in what the uniforms look like?) or the school? because i would sincerely hope that parents pick a school based on more serious considerations other than fashion sense (or lack of). if i thought NDV would be a good fit for my child and family, i would have no problem sending my child there regardless of what the uniform looks like. the idea that parents wouldn't even consider a wonderful school because of the uniform is scary to me. let's try to get our priorities straight people.

  26. I agree with Kim that uniforms level the playing field which is especially important in public or parochial school where the socioeconomic gap between kids can be huge. The same would be true of private schools if they actually succeeded in recruiting low income families (I have not seen evidence of this at any of the "top" privates). I attended a snooty private school on the East Coast and recall one student who was on scholarship who despite being smart and talented and funny was subjected to much mean taunting because she could not afford the hip designer duds worn by the popular girls. Uniforms wouldn't have erased this problem (is that white shirt Gap or Ralph Lauren?), but it would have made this less of an issue.

  27. Ross also carries some uniform basics (white shirts, blue or black pants) at low prices.

  28. Marlowe's MomMay 19, 2008 at 5:01 PM

    One thing I like about our current school's uniforms is that the school requires the shirts and sweaters to have the school logo and there's only one source to buy them--the school! You don't have that Gap versus Polo thing going on.

    When I went to a uniform school, you COULD tell the wealthier kids by the brands of their white blouses and sweaters. Of course the money really came out to play on free dress days.

    I have to say, though, that in that school, and also in our daughter's recent Convent experience, the cliques did not seem to revolve around clothes or money so much as the usual things: personality, interests, geography to some extent.

    If a person has a real chip on their shoulder about that kind of stuff, or feels very insecure and is unable to give back as good as they get with the kind of crap that's part of childhood and adolescence (i.e., me) they might voluntarily exclude themselves from "the popular group" or whatever group the clothes horses seem to dominate.

    I just do not understand people who seem to keep posting that the so-called "high end" prep schools have only token economic (and other) diversity. Are they less diverse than their public counterparts? Sure, most private high schools don't have unlimited scholarship funds, and the applicant pool weighs toward people from more privileged backgrounds who have those schools on their radar and consider them within reach. But they are certainly a lot more diverse than they were 30 years ago.

    Like a lot of other historically elite, white institutions (the practice of law and the environmental movement are two examples that come immediately to my mind) even with the best of intentions, it takes a long time, maybe generations, to become more inclusive. The institution has to change its assumptions about who can succeed and what constitutes success. Even when there's a strong institutional commitment to diversity, it's a huge challenge to figure out how to reach out to communities that have historically had no involvement with the institution and get them to participate. Outreach involves time, money and figuring out how to connect with people whose culture and assumptions may be very different. People outside the institution may feel like it's got nothing to do with their lives and never will. Why should they initiate involvement, or even respond to an invitation to become involved (which may not be couched in a way that works culturally anyway)?

    I'm not trying to make excuses, only saying that I know a lot of private schools ARE trying, and even though they may seem "rich," the resources are not unlimited and the challenges are significant.

  29. Diversity at private schools is better than the masses on this blog would lead you to believe. Our incoming private school kindergarten class alone is 38% non-white and has 4 families with same-sex parents. Can't speak to economic diversity with exact numbers, but more than 25% receive some sort of tuition assistance.

  30. HI there - you can find out what clothes/color requirements are for the public schools in their handy dandy "guide" to school enrollment. That is where I learned that the school colors for John Muir - the school we didn't ask to be sent to, has navy and burgundy as their school colors. Actually I find the color scheme to be rather pleasant. I must say that the uniform bit does alarm me, as it is an equalizer for those who need to have clothes equalized. What one wears is not just something that is of interest/concern to those in the upper income brackets.

    So besides being concerned about my child going to a school that requires everyone to conform to make the school "safe", I also am saddened that my child won't have a choice to wear his blue jeans one day, or his black "priate" pants as he calls them on another day. How do you explain this to a 5 year old who isn't even old enough to get caught up in possible "meanings" that we adults might ascribe to clothing?

  31. "To get white shirts clean, try this: Soak in Biz for at least 4-6 hours before laundering, overnight is even better (mix a scoop of Biz with 2-3 gallons of hot hot water), then wash in hot water and bleach along with your other white laundry for the week."

    Ug. I am such a bad mom. I can barely get the laundry DONE each week.

    That said, my daughter did not like the uniforms - wanted to wear whatever she wanted. Again, like I said earlier our school (Rosa Parks JBBP) is pretty willing to bend the rules quite a bit! Or my daughter would wear a shirt of her choosing under her white shirt - or colored tights - there are many ways to let them pick what they want to wear despite the uniform!

  32. I don't think it's THAT hard to tell a 5 yo that they have to wear a uniform to school. That's what they see everyone at school wearing so it's the norm for them, and a 5 yo is certainly old enough to understand rules. Plus, many kindergarteners love their uniforms - it's only down the road that they get completely sick of them.

  33. **I just do not understand people who seem to keep posting that the so-called "high end" prep schools have only token economic (and other) diversity. Are they less diverse than their public counterparts?**

    Yes. Throughout the entire existince of this blog, visitors to private schools have commented approvingly on the diversity of privates that are 25-30% nonwhite. SFUSD schools are legally designated "resegregated" if they are more than 60% any one ethnicity.

    I agree with Marlowe's Mom that given the history... remember that the WHOLE POINT of private schools used to be to keep us away from people who aren't "our kind." Some cynics might wonder... well, never mind.

    IMHO we are certainly quite forgiving of that not-so-distant history. As a parallel, my 11th-grader claims he will refuse to apply to any college that ever had a Jewish quota (don't know if he'll pull that off, but we'll see), and that doesn't strike me as all that fanatical an attitude.

    Back to uniforms -- I was really into that idea before my kids started K, and then it lost its appeal once they attended non-uniform schools. Both kids have always been quirky about clothes -- my son would only wear light gray sweatpants, no other pants ever, for some years in elementary school, and wore khaki shorts every single day of middle school; my daughter went through a several-year period where she would only wear boys' clothes (we negotiated on underpants and bathing suits). I can't guess how they'd have adapted to uniforms. Now they're more flexible -- IMHO my daughter has some fashion flair -- but both kids' favorite shopping destination is Thrift Town.

  34. Uniforms have worked great for us and our three kids. Telling four and five year olds that it's a non negotiable rule, similar to sitting in car seats worked fine. When they got older they accepted it for what it was and spent time concerning themselves with what they were doing and learning rather than what they were wearing. Once the older two hit rebellion they experimented with illegal colors, skirt lengths and styles and I was grateful for a lack of piercings, tats and hair dye! Not for everyone I'm sure but for our family a uniform policy has been perfect.

  35. FWIW, my daughter is VERY excited about wearing a uniform to school. I suspect the novelty will wear off soon enough. Until then our mornings will be less bumpy!

  36. my daughter's going to be a harder nut about the dark/white thing. she once gasped in horror because she walked too close to a pair of "ugly spiderman boy shoes" in a shoe store. seriously. i think if she ever actually runs and scrapes her knees, pink glitter will well up instead of, you know, blood.

    vis-a-vis the uniform, i borrowed israel's policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and she folded forthwith.

  37. Too funny, Kim!

    I think my daughter and yours are very like-minded.

  38. i think my daughter bleeds pink glitter too. sounds like we've got a bunch of Fancy Nancys on our hands ... (anyone else's 4-5-year old like those books?)

  39. remember that the WHOLE POINT of private schools used to be to keep us away from people who aren't "our kind." -- Caroline, on the history and meaning of private school

    Here's a different version of history excerpted from this source :

    -Private schools are created, controlled, operated, and principally financed by private individuals and groups rather than by governments.

    - About 11 percent of American elementary and secondary school (high school) students attend private schools, and 24 percent of all elementary and secondary schools in the United States are private.

    - Private education [includes] preschools... many colleges, universities, and technical institutes.

    - In addition to revenue generated by tuition payments, private schools are supported mainly by funds from other private sources, such as religious organizations, endowments, grants, and charitable donations.

    - The term independent school refers to any private school that is independently governed by a board of trustees, rather than by a church or religious organization.

    - Unlike public schools—which are controlled by state and local governments—private schools in the United States are relatively free from governmental regulation. Consequently, private schools vary considerably in their philosophy, mission, and educational method.

    - ... private schools typically share certain characteristics that distinguish them from public schools. These include (1) a decentralized system of governance, (2) high academic expectations, (3) small enrollment and class size, and (4) shared values.

  40. ".. private schools typically share certain characteristics that distinguish them from public schools. These include (1) a decentralized system of governance, (2) high academic expectations, (3) small enrollment and class size, and (4) shared values."

    This left out the fact that they pick and choose their students and keep out whom they wish, which should really be No. 1

    Also, the adjective "exclusive" used to be universally viewed as a huge attribute when applied to private school, and is still often used except by the extra-enlightened.

    That means they exclude.

  41. do SOTA and Lowell.

  42. "they pick and choose their students and keep out whom they wish"

    SOTA and Lowell do that too

  43. So they exclude---So what?

    Shouldn't parents (for example) who want their children to grow up in a faith based learning environment or who'd like to have their children in a single sex environment with a strong focus on academics be allowed to have this choice?

    I don't see a problem with this and I'm a public school parent.

  44. I agree that private schools have the right to exclude and admit whom they wish -- of course they do. I'm just saying it's a primary characteristic that distinguishes private schools, and that posted definition of private schools omitted any mention of it.

  45. As a Rosa Parks Elementary JBBP parent of a Kinder daughter, I am so glad each morning to have the "I don't want to wear that" be a non-issue! And it makes "Free Dress Fridays" so much fun for her to choose what she will wear. We bought most of our stuff before July, and most of our clothing from - it has lasted longer than any of the other clothing items, even Land's End (and much cheaper). We started the year with 1.5 week of clothing (a bit of a pain when we were away for the weekend and didn't have time to do the laundry), and ended up with about 2 weeks worth of stuff (8 shirts, 6 bottoms - skirts, pants, and 3 dresses).

  46. My daughter’s been at a public school with a uniform policy (Fairmount) for 6 years now. I hate them. I hate them vociferously. I rant every once in a while (twice a year or so.) I will rant right now:

    First of all, the public school uniform policies aroung here are really just restrictive dress codes. At Fairmount, students must wear white tops and black bottoms. But any white shirt, blouse, or jersey will do (as long as it has no logo and covers the right parts.) Likewise any skirts, skorts, and jeans will do--as long as they are black. So there goes the argument that uniforms mask status differences. Kids can get stylish white shirts or not; high-status shoes or not. Here’s high irony: My daughter was teased unmercifully because she wore the same kind of white shirt all the time. Yes, she was teased for wearing a uniform uniform.

    From my practical-mom POV, uniform shopping and laundering are both nightmares. Many parents insist that shopping is a breeze with uniforms. This is not my experience; quite the opposite. First off, with sensitive skin, my kid can’t wear polyester, the cloth of choice (maybe with a little cotton or rayon thrown in) for 80% of the uniform clothing widely available at Target et al. The happy-with-uniform parents say, “just order online.” Don’t other people have trouble with fit when ordering by mail? But either online or in brick and mortar, finding a pair of pants that fit in the waist, don’t bunch in the crotch and don’t have any harsh seams that rub is hard enough with the rainbow to choose from. Looking for black makes things even more challenging; the uniform departments in most stores or online carry little if any black. Take a look at that Dickies site posted above; none of the skirts come in black, and only a few of the pants. When my daughter was going into kinder, my sister and I scoured stores, brick and mortar, and online, trying to find size 5 black skirts. We found 3, two of which were so big in the waist that she couldn’t wear them. I was sooo frustrated.

    It got to the point where I’d walk into Target, where I’d been happily buying her clothing for years, and start crying at the aisles of cute, cheap, practical tops and stretch pants that I couldn’t buy her. Yes, crying—and swearing at whoever chose black, of all the uniform colors, for Fairmount. If your school requires navy or khaki, your shopping life will be a bit better than mine.

    Black is problematic for shopping; white for laundry.And most of the SFUSD uniform policies have white tops in common. I am never going to be the mom who soaks overnight in Biz. I am the mom running laundry at 5 am on Monday morning so that my daughter has something, anything to wear to school. I am lucky if I manage to use bleach. Even with bleach, the white shirts look horrible dingy after a month or two. Other moms told me not to worry; so will every other kid's. Now that's a good way to foster pride.

    I should mention that my husband is the one who bought my daughter five of the same white shirt. I am the one who delights in finding a black velvet skirt with subtle leopard trim---while I am scouring the racks for any size 8 in black. I usually score one for individuality around Christmas-time. And I have to admit , it’s partly my old hippie, non conformist roots that sets me up to hate uniforms.

    More importantly, though, look at which public schools have uniforms—it’s inner city schools. Now, private schools uniforms can and do signify high status to the rest of the world. They work with the rest of the private school environment and trappings to do so. There’s a much different message delivered by the image of mostly non-white children dressed in same colored pants and tops---in broken down buildings with graffiti, crappy bathrooms and off-putting cafeterias. Do you get that picture? Public school uniforms are a symbol of control and authority in a most unpleasant way. The kids down in Palo Alto elementary schools aren’t decked out in blue pants and white shirts.

    There’s a good survey of research—Brunsma, 2004-- on uniforms, debunking some of the myths. Looking across studies, there is no evidence that uniforms help students focus on their studies, reduce status differences or give students a sense of school pride. Brunsma has a bias, and I share it, but his survey of existing empirical research employs standard techniques and seems fair.

    I never took this up as a battle to fight during my daughter's years at Fairmount. There was too much else of urgency to fight for; art in first grade, for example. And hey, we never even got to the putrid chemical smell eminating from the cafeteria drain. But there you have it, my little treatise on why uniforms suck.

  47. I go to NDV, and have for 9 years, and I have to admit the whole Sailor Moon outfit gets annoying when you grow up.
    My friends and I are 14 now. We look simply ridiculous browsing at Bloomingdales after school in an ensemble that would look more at home at an anime convention.
    However, I now understand the concept of uniforms. Girls in my class dress well and expensively, and look down on anyone who doesn't. I think the whole uniform-creates-equality-no-judging-based-on-how-you-dress idea kind of back fired. Now, when we do have free dress days (maybe 5 a year) outfits are endlessly scrutinized to the point of shoelace choices.

    If you ever go to the Starbucks outside the China Town gates after 3:15, you will always see some NDV kids. Always. That's one of the (one out of one) reasons I love NDV- location. Downtown is the greatest after school with friends.
    Suck on that Star of the Sea!!

  48. ^^Thanks!!