‘I tested Tu’s school uniform for 2023 and several items are now top of my list’

998     0
We tested Tu
We tested Tu's school uniform for 2023 with real kids - but what was the verdict? (Image: Narin Flanders)

A week into the holidays and I’m only just getting used to not having to wrangle everyone for the school run, but parents of school-age children know that if you're looking to get the best deals on September’s new uniforms it's important to start early.

Sainsburys, John Lewis, M&S and Amazon have all got the bulk of their uniforms available in store and online, with retailers already cutting prices to tempt parents.

It's a delicate balance between risking a growth spurt while getting best value for money, with so many retailers launching limited-time sales early in the holiday. Meanwhile, you have to make sure you get the items you want in the sizes you want before they sell out because, as anyone who has dealt with a child who doesn't like a particularly scratchy collar knows, not all school shirts are created equal and it only counts as a true bargain if you can guarantee it'll be worn all year.

With my seven- and nine-year-old not-so-glamorous assistants in tow, I was able to get a hands-on look at selections for 2023 and there's some really good quality things worth going out of your way to track down, whether you usually do your weekly shop in Sainsburys or not.

The full range is available in store now and, if my local branch is anything to go by, the budget-friendly pricing (held from 2022, which surely makes it just about the only thing in the supermarket that hasn't gone up in the cost of living crisis) means shoppers have already been snapping up some of the key pieces.

Nursery apologises after child with Down's syndrome ‘treated less favourably’ rriddqikeiqtkinvNursery apologises after child with Down's syndrome ‘treated less favourably’

Don't despair though, everything can be and then click and collected in-store meaning no fruitless visits to track down specific items, which is especially handy if you know everyone in your local area is going to be after the same coloured cardigans and jumpers as you.

Everything also comes with a 150-day guarantee, with shoppers able to exchange or refund items if unsatisfied with the quality - just make sure to keep your receipt or email confirmation of order as a proof of purchase.

Crucially, for me at least, this guarantee also includes footwear which makes me much more inclined to try Tu this autumn for shoes and frankly really made me sit up and take notice.

Both my children hate shoe shopping at the best of times and with the nine-year-old's first school pair of the year not even getting to half term before beginning to let in water I’m absolutely ready for a change (I'm sorry shoe-shop-I-shall-not-name-but-should-know-better, it doesn't count as wear and tear and I'll never be paying £45 for a pair of your children's shoes again).

Spotlight on… Tu boys school uniform

‘I tested Tu’s school uniform for 2023 and several items are now top of my list’Tu's schoolwear was given a resounding thumbs up by our seven-year-old reviewer (Narin Flanders)

The boys has a full range of products ranging from classic trousers, shirts and jumpers through to more unusual options (cargo school shorts anyone?), with sizes starting at age two and going all they way up to age 16.

Enlisting the help of my seven-year-old son we picked out trousers, short sleeved shirts and a pair of school shoes with, I must concede, my expectations pretty low at exactly what the quality would be like for the price.

Little did I know.

Of all the school uniform he's worn since he started school, these are our absolute favourite as, much to my surprise, they’ve solved what has been a recurring problem this school year.

My son has a narrow waist but is tall for his age, so we’ve had constant battles finding trousers that weren’t so loose at the waist that they slipped down but also were long enough in the leg that several inches of sock were showing.

At one point we thought we’d found the Holy Grail, only for him to shoot up a couple of inches within a fortnight and the search to start again.

Striking teacher forced to take a second job to pay bills ahead of mass walkoutStriking teacher forced to take a second job to pay bills ahead of mass walkout

We’ve never tried trousers with adjustable waistbands before, but they’re genius. I was worried it would be fafftastic or difficult to adjust, but it’s a simple buttonhole elastic strip at either side which can add or remove several inches of give on the waistband easily.

At these are reasonably-priced solutions to the problem and the fact they’ve got reinforced knees and are made with Teflon EcoElite fibres, which apparently help repel water-based stains (always a relief on afternoons with art lessons when he seems to come out wearing more paint than he could possibly have used on any masterpiece) is a handy bonus.

I’m always suspicious that these special coatings on fabrics will make them feel rough or rigid and uncomfortable but there were no complaints from my model - and they looked smart with sharp creases.

Both Henry and I were also really impressed with the . Prices start from just £4 for three shirts in the smallest sizes. For age 7 they work out at £2 a shirt which feels like a bargain, especially bearing in mind the quality of the fabric, which is sturdier cotton than I’d have anticipated for that price but also still soft.

Meanwhile, the boys , which were £20 for a size 2, weren't quite his style as at age 7 he is adamant he is too grown up for them. But the quality of the shoes, which had a cushioned in-sole that he particularly liked, paired with that 150-day guarantee means we'll be heading down to our local branch to scope out some other options.

Spotlight on… Tu girls school uniform

‘I tested Tu’s school uniform for 2023 and several items are now top of my list’Tu's girls school uniform range is available now in store and online (Narin Flanders)

The girls also comes with a wide range of items and style - brilliant news in our house as my nine-year-old tends to have very strong opinions on her preferred uniform type. Over the years we've worked through pinafore dresses and skirts and settled on trousers as her ideal, but only if they come with real usable pockets rather than pretend ones.

At first glance it’s hard to spot the difference between boys and girls’ trousers, but the delicate bow-like detailing of the belt-loops on the means I won’t get confused putting away the washing and is something that Lily likes when she puts them on.

Reassuringly though, the price and all other key features of the girls’ trousers are the same as the boys options, with a twin pack coming in at £9 and the fabric also having the stain-repellent Teflon fibres. While having an adjustable waist isn’t so much of an issue here, it definitely means we’ll be able to make the most of the trousers for as long as possible - I’ll be making sure to buy for their heights this school year and just cinch in the waistbands as much as possible for as long as possible.

The big surprise in the girls range was Lily falling in love with the aptly-named having previously discounted all skirts as uncomfortable. They come in a pack of two for £9 and are made of the same kind of material as the trousers and similarly adjustable. The pleats are razor sharp and the skirt hangs really well.

Whether wearing a skirt or trousers they will need to be paired with a regular fit non-iron long-sleeved shirt which comes up at £6.50 for a pack of two. Again, the quality of the cotton was good and the length of the arms was perfect with the cuffs looking smart and the ideal length for her size.

A pair of unicorn themed cost £20 in size 2 in a scuff-resistant patent. With an antibacterial, cushioned in-sole and while she initially said she thought they would suit younger girls more, once she'd tried them on and walked round the house in them for a while Lily commented on how comfortable they were - we'll definitely be making supermarket school shoe shopping our first stop this autumn.

Verdict

Sainsburys is not my usual supermarket so Tu was not on my radar for school uniform but I have been genuinely surprised by the quality, particularly at such a reasonable price point. The white cotton long and short sleeved shirts were a hit with both my testers in terms of how soft and comfortable to wear they were, while anything that is non-iron definitely gets my vote.

Meanwhile, the adjustable waist trousers are the most comfortable trousers my son has tried and seem to be the perfect balance between being practical in terms of durability while also being comfortable and smart.

I might have overlooked Tu for school uniform previously but with such a wide range of items available and the 150-day guarantee it's definitely going to be one of the first places I look from now on - especially for school shoes which I'd never have considered doing before.

Narin Flanders

Print page

Comments:

comments powered by Disqus