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Part 1: The Cost of School Clothes and Uniforms

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(Photos by Michelle Durham)

(Photos by Michelle Durham)

Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
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Regional Affairs Council - August 2011

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Even though summer is in full swing, for Delaware Valley parents of school-age children the back-to-school shopping season is already under way.

How do you get everything you need for your child without spending a small fortune, especially now that many Philadelphia public and charter schools, like area Catholic schools, require students to wear uniform clothing?

“You can generally get away with two jumpers, three blouses, a sweater,” advises Kevin Flynn (below), who with his family runs Flynn and O’Hara, a Philadelphia-based school uniform outfitter that was founded in 1972.

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uniforms kevin flynnohara durham Part 1:   The Cost of School Clothes and Uniforms

(Kevin Flynn, of school outfitter Flynn & O'Hara.)

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Many families, Flynn says, have learned how to spread the cost of clothing across the full school year.

“There’s a whole array of things you can buy,” he says, “and you can buy them year round.  And now the uniforms are more seasonal, so you have a winter uniform and an optional summer uniform, and a gym uniform.  We can pretty much outfit anyone any time of the year.”

So, says Flynn, spread the cost throughout the year.

“We visit schools throughout the year — families can be measured at their school, although families don’t take advantage of that as much as they used to.  They put a $25 deposit down or visit one of our stores and do the same thing.  Layaways are available up until August 1st.”

That way, Flynn says, you don’t wind up spending $300 or $400 all at once.

And if you have more than one child, the uniforms can be passed down.

“Pants and jumpers, sweaters, they all transition back and forth well between all the children in the family,” Flynn says.  “Obviously the blouses and shirts take a little more of a beating.  Like the socks, they take a little bit of a beating.”

But Flynn says once parents make the initial investment in the uniforms, it saves them money in the long run — especially since schools do not make changes just for the sake of current fashion.

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uniform nazareth bannerskirt durham Part 1:   The Cost of School Clothes and Uniforms

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“Schools have been wearing some of these plaids for over thirty years — they generally don’t change.”

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060

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