Read a review of our great value F&F uniforms from parenting blog The Clothesline. Find out how this super Mum got on looking for uniforms for her three young children.
Back to School Costs
The Irish League of Credit Unions recently surveyed over 1000 parents on back to school costs. As a parent of three primary school going children, their findings didn’t shock me. Their results showed the cost of back to school has increased each year over the past four, over 30% of parents will get into debt for back to school costs and one in ten parents will sacrifice spending on footwear to make up the costs. The research found that back to school costs (including extra-curricular activities) now stands at €967 for primary school children and €1474 for secondary school children. You can read their full findings here if you wish and their advice is “Avoid Money Lenders, Shop Around and Plan a Budget”
I have found in recent years that back to school now starts in May. Some people complain it starts so early, I welcome it as I am not great at budgeting so spending over four months makes it manageable for me. Money to schools for books, contributions, crested uniform in May and June. Other uniform items, stationery, shoes and runners in July and August. The cost is the same of course but it makes it easier to follow the above advice from the Credit Union.
Back to School With F&F
Last month and this month for me, will be made up of shopping for non branded uniform items, shoes and all the bits and pieces. When F&F, the clothing range available in Tesco, asked for mine and the kids thoughts on their Back to School with F&F uniform range, we were happy to oblige.
I have always shopped around for non-crested uniform items and I have my preferences on which brands to buy and who to avoid based on past experiences. Affordability is of course important but so is the durability of the uniforms. It’s false economics getting a reasonably priced uniform and then having to replace it after 8-12 weeks. I have had good experiences with F&F uniforms in the past and have had pinafores that have been passed from elder to younger sister and their latest range has more improvements and choice whilst keeping the prices low including shower and stain resistant fabrics, reinforced knees, plus fit and easy care fabrics.
My three primary school going children are aged 6, 8 and 10 and they all have their own taste, quirks and opinions when it comes to uniforms. I do take this on board when shopping for them because they are the ones who have to wear it for the 183 days of the school year. What I want from a uniform is comfort, affordability, and durability. What they want varies per child.
The Small Girl Child
The small girl is six. Her uniform requirements are as follows “Not scratchy. Very soft. Looks very beautiful”.
We were sent three items to review from the younger girls range. A two pack of short sleeved school shirts and two pinafores.
The shirts ticked all the boxes. Cotton blend. Easy iron (if you own an iron) and they “didn’t feel tight” with the top button closed. The two pack of easy care short sleeve shirts cost €5.00.
The first pinafore pictured above is a Woven Pinafore. Its stain resistant, has permanent pleats and has a teflon material so repels water, oil and releases ground in stains - sounds good to me! The six year old had a version of this last year and it was her favourite pinafore. She was easily able to put it on and take it off herself and is a fan of the heart detail on the front zip.
As demonstrated, you can “jump and stretch in it if you are tired in school”. Always handy. This pinafore costs €6.50 in the younger girls range and €7.50 in the older girls age and from past experience these really last and they wash well.
The second pinafore is the Premium Belted Pinafore and this costs €9/€10 depending on age group. We both loved the feel of this. It’s made of a soft touch fabric and is very soft and of excellent quality. The six-year-old loved how this felt on and was a big fan of the belt. Her sister also got a larger size in this pinafore so this pleased her too. This pinafore is machine washable and dryer friendly which is always a plus especially with younger children who only get a day or two out of a uniform and you usually only realise at 9pm the evening before they need it.
She loved this and claimed she would be wearing it every day and found it very comfortable. I agree on its loveliness but it has a side zip and between that and the belt it wasn’t as easy to get on and off as the other one. I am sure with a bit of practice she will get the hang of it but it is important to me that the kids can dress themselves without assistance and quickly on school mornings. It’s a really pretty pinafore though and it looks and feels gorgeous.
The Boy Child
My boy child is eight. He isn’t hugely concerned about how his uniform looks. He isn’t into getting his photograph taken either. His main concern is comfort, especially with trousers; it is of utmost importance that his school trousers are comfortable.
F&F have four styles of uniform trousers this year to suit all shapes, tastes and heights. A slim leg, plus fit, flat front and pleat front. The boy child was sent out the flat front and pleat front styles. Both styles met his approval and he deemed them as suitable and comfortable. All have an adjustable waist which is a must for me when buying boys' trousers.
The trousers start at €5 and he received a 2 pack of the pleat style which retail at €10, excellent value as again the fabric feels of excellent quality.
I find the boy child’s uniform items do not last as long as the girls' so was delighted to see the trousers came with reinforced knees, sealed hems and stain resistant fabric without compromising on the softness of the material. He was sent a two pack of easy care long-sleeved shirts. Again, thumbs up to these comfortable and easy care are the magic words to me as an overworked laundry lady.
Boy child happy. I am happy.
The Older Girl Child
My eldest daughter is ten. Ten and with all the opinions. Last year she told me she was too old for pinafores and only wanted skirts from now on. I bought one pinafore and two skirts. She was sent the same Premium Belted Pinafore as my younger daughter. She loves it and said she would happily wear it as “it’s so much nicer than other pinafores”. She too really liked how it felt, its softness, comfort and the belt. The belt is a winner. The pinafore costs €10 for her age group.
Dramatic posing due to heat! I don’t know where she gets the dramatic behaviour from.
She was also sent a kilt skirt which was met with equal enthusiasm. This is really soft but heavy material, it will be perfect with tights over the Winter. Another winner! The Kilt costs €5 - €7.50 depending on age group and is available in sizes from aged 3 to 16.
She too liked the feel of the easy care school shirts and she particularly liked how the collar felt.
She was also sent a padded winter school coat. It's black hip length, faux fur-trimmed, machine washable and shower resistant. She reluctantly posed in the uniform in July for this review as the above photograph will testify. She happily wore the coat during the current heat wave as she likes it so much. I don’t blame her, it’s gorgeous. I would wear it myself. F&F have a good selection of outer wear in their back to school range with rain jackets costing €5.50. This coat is €25 again, excellent value.
Overall, it’s a big fat 'yes' from me to the F&F range. I am seriously impressed with all the items the kids received, especially the quality of all the clothes and the fact that the majority of the uniform items are stain resistant, easy care, easy iron and promise to be easy to look after. The pricing on everything is truly excellent and I found the sizing true to size. I will be hitting a Tesco store in the coming weeks for new school underwear and pencil cases and to check out the shoes and school bags too.
The F&F Back to School range is available in selected Tesco stores nationwide, I was sent these items to review and I am not being paid to write this post. I will be finishing the back to school shopping in F&F as I am genuinely really impressed with everything in the range. You can view the full F&F Back to School brochure here – the school uniform items start from €3.50 and are available from age 3 for tiny junior infants right up to age 16. I would recommend checking it out.
My initial opinion of all the items we received is really positive based on their cost, quality and styles. I will update throughout the year on how they held up to wear and tear and washing and drying but based on how they look and feel I am confident they will last.
We were sent these items for the purposes of this review. I was not paid to write this post and, as always, all opinions are my own.