Cheap School Uniforms
Many of our budget stores also carry pieces for kids who wear school uniforms. Before you go shopping for cheap school uniforms, be sure to find out from the school exactly what to buy, so the items you choose meet any guidelines and special requirements.
At the time of our original shopping cart test and when we checked again in 2013, Kmart had by far the cheapest school uniforms, but they were available only online. The French Toast brand items ranged in price from $6.39 to $7.99 for school uniform shirts; bottoms started at $8.79. Target also had low prices for its Cherokee brand uniform apparel, ranging from $7.99 to $12.99 for both boys and girls. There was limited selection in the store but a wider assortment of cheap school uniforms is available online. If you'd rather have your kids try things on, Old Navy is a good place to start. A good selection of uniform shirts for both boys and girls started at $9.50 -- or $25 for a bundle of five boys' shirts -- and bottoms started at $14.50.
Kohl's features Chaps brand uniforms online and in store, which ranged from $17 to $26 per piece. Sears offered a slightly bigger in-store selection than Old Navy or Kohl's, with Dockers brand uniforms ranging from $18.99 to $26.99 per piece. The Izod brand uniforms at JC Penney's were the cheapest, with prices starting at $6 for girls' uniform shirts and $20 for boys' uniform pants; other uniform items fell in between. There is no comparison on selection -- JC Penney wins this category hands down. The retailer maintains a completely separate uniform section with abundant options.
Cheap Kids' Pajamas.Kids 7 to 10 still seem to appreciate printed pajamas. Boys, we found, favor comic book characters, video game personalities, sport figures, and the like. Girls tend to like Disney characters, as well as generally girly things such as flowers. The cheapest kids' pajamas we saw were at Target, where cheap boys' pajamas cost $8.99 and girls' pajamas cost $8. Girls' pajamas started at $8 (but you had to spend $16 for a two-pack) at JC Penney, although boys' selections were pricier, starting at $16. Walmart had a slightly better selection of cheap kids' pajamas and charged $5 for boys and $12 for girls. Kohl's also offered a wide selection of cheap kids' pajamas with prices of $24 to $28. Old Navy didn't offer any boys' or girls' pajamas in store, but cheap kids' pajamas are available online.
Cheap Kids' Underwear.Underwear is pretty straightforward for boys: boxers, briefs, and undershirts. Most stores on our list carry Hanes brand underwear and undershirts, and Walmart ended up being the cheapest, at $7.27 for five undershirts ($1.45 each) and $5.27 for three pairs of boxer briefs ($1.76 each). Kohl's, Sears, and JC Penney were at the high end, ranging from $2 apiece for boxers to $5 apiece for undershirts.
Girls' undergarments get a little trickier at this age. Several parents of girls at the older end of our 7-to-10 age range report that their daughters need training bras in addition to underwear, leggings, and tights. Girls' underwear was extremely cheap, ranging from the Joe Boxer brand at Sears for 60 cents each to Hanes at Target for $2.33 each. Tights and leggings were cheapest at Walmart, where they cost $10 for a two-pack of Faded Glory leggings ($5 each) and $4.97 for a three pack of George tights ($1.66 each). Training bras cost anywhere from $12.99 at Kohl's to $2.99 each at Walmart. Among the frugal shoppers we polled, one mother noted that Walmart is perfect for stocking up on these cheap items because, as she says, no one sees them, and she doesn't mind if they fall apart a little sooner than they should because the price is so low. On the other hand, a mother of a 10-year-old girl said Kohl's is the place to buy underwear because it has a wide selection -- especially in training bras -- of high-quality pieces at low prices.