School-Uniform-Debenhams-The-FT-Times-Back-to-School-shopping-blog

WHY BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING MAKES ME LOSE MY SH*T

I think we’ve safely summarised by now that I love to shop, innit?! Whether it’s bargains at Bicester or middle aisle madness in Aldi. However, there’s one shopping task that’s at The Bottom of my list – the big back to school shop! Gah! Lemme explain why…

Oh, hang on! That’s not actually true. Shopping for an outfit to wear at my Dad’s funeral, four years ago, was by far The Worst!

So surreal. So shitty.

Walking around H&M, a broken mess after his sudden death, buying everything in black to take home and try on. Thankfully the girl on the till spared me the “Was there anything wrong with them?” when I came back a week later and returned two huge bags – minus the black maxi dress, which I wore in the end.

Admittedly, back to school shopping doesn’t register in exactly the same sorrowful way as that, but it’s the stress of it all that makes me vehemently loathe it!

I’d like to say here that I’m not loyal to ANY brands when it comes to the back to school shop. In the past I’ve picked stuff up for my son and daughter from all over – from Sainsbo’s to Marks.

Quality varies as does detail and price. We do tend to get all their school shoes from Clarks but a few times we’ve gone with Ecco and M&S – as I personally find the styles at Clarks really limiting. The quality I cannot knock but I wish they’d stop this nonsensical gender shizzle.

If we want equal rights then why make girls shoes dainty with diamonds and butterflies while boys shoes are all tractor-treads and tough!

It’s such a bugbear that Mr Husband actually brought to my attention. As someone who thinks all children should grow up being active and playing all sports regardless of gender – he’s coming from a psychological viewpoint and how it’s crucial to embed from a young age how to play, how to win and how to lose. Life skills for adulthood, innit!

Then why make these delicate ballet-type pump shoes for her and rugged shoe boots for him?!

I’m with him on this 100% and in addition, why make girls wear white socks, FFS!?

They look dirty before the morning register (we walk, cycle, scooter to school) unlike boys who tend to wear grey or black socks! Think about it – it’s already conditioning them to think in these age-old, out-of-date stereo-types of girls sitting nicely and boys being rough and tumble. GAH! We are forever reminding our daughter to just play, get stuck in, have fun; it doesn’t matter if her dress/shoes/socks get mucky so as to counteract all that subliminal stereotyping that squirrels away in the background.

Anyway, I am sensationally digressing here, as usual.

Let’s get this post back on track and outline why, in this day and age, where online shopping has made things easier to a certain extent, IMHO, it never really applies to the back to school shop mainly because of one key and simple thing – kids come in all manner of shapes and sizes.

There is no one size fits all, no magic glove when it comes to school uniform!

And unlike when us grown-ups go shopping, we know immediately when something doesn’t fit. Take for example, shoes. Are they uncomfortable because they’re not the correct fit or do they just need a couple of wears to soften up. Kids don’t comprehend this. So cue a chorus of parents asking “But are you sure they’re comfy? Can you wiggle your toes? Are they rubbing? Tell the truth – and not just because you want that toy in the heel!”

The same chat can be heard with regards to waistbands – especially as they get older and hit senior school. You want them to be comfortable but without placing too much emphasis on their weight and shape.

And this, dear friends, are just a few reasons why I struggle with back to school shopping. It is not a simple task.

Especially as they get older and they want things to fit just-so. You can almost get away with it when they’re little as it looks cute to have oversized jumpers – but once they reach The Satan Years – trust me,  it’s HELLISH!

So when Debenhams kindly offered to help me out, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve never done the back to school shop in Debenhams, so as I scrolled online to select some bits for my 14 year old son and 7 year daughter, I was pleasantly surprised to not only find everything available from long sleeve, short sleeve, regular fit, slim fit, generous fit but also  brands like Clarks, Kickers and Nike were online too. Flippin’ fab! Job done right?

WRONG!

And this is where I think there is no magic answer to the back to school shop. Some bits fit, others didn’t and I made the error of buying pleat front trousers for my 14 year old and the look on his face was like thunder!

This is why I loathe the task!

But what does make the challenge more bearable is that once you’ve re-ordered online  (there were plenty of sizes in stock) then gone back a couple of times (the Click & Collect service at Debenhams is so great for this!) then you’re back in control. YASSS!

Returns and exchanges were all done with ease and you have the choice to refund in store or via post. I personally went into my local Debenhams branch in Sutton because it’s the perfect excuse to gander at my two favourite ranges by them Abigail Aherne Edition and Nine by Savannah Miller, ha!

Bobby the Buffalo Wall Art | Abigail Aherne Edition at Debenhams | £80
Moi Aussie T-Shirt | Nine by Savannah Miller at Debenhams | £20

Lastly, don’t leave it until last minute. It’s all possible, of course, you will find a way – but when you find the whole back to school shopping experience stressful enough, my advice is to nail it now (there’s a 20% offer on uniform right now!) and then you can start on the fun bit – stationery! We all love that shop, right?

Good luck gang and see you at the school gates…

For all your back to school shopping, head to Debenhams.co.uk who kindly kitted out my two with their most comfy and best-fitting uniform, to date – result!

F.T.

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