30 July 2016

Starting Senior School with M&S 'Decades at School' Uniform.

When you've been doing something for over a century, the chances are you're getting it right and, this summer, M&S is celebrating exactly that - helping us all get ready for what they call 'the back to school adventure' for that long!

They've launched a campaign called #MySchoolYears asking us about our memories of going back to school vs. how our children do it and it's really worth checking out the old photographs on their campaign page -taking a look at the history of school wear and seeing how it's changed from 1920's - 2010s.

They want to hear our stories and chat about them across all their social media channels (links below).

Here's me as a young girl with one of my younger sisters at school in the 1970s.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears,
My younger sister and me in our school uniform in the 1970s. 
We walked to school or we caught the school bus.  My boys get driven by car then terrorise the locals on their scooters.  We played harmless Hopscotch, Cat's Cradle or with French skipping rope (jumping over elastic round two people in parallel lines), Sevens with a tennis ball against a wall and Jack's - a tiny rubber ball with equally tiny metal 'jacks' to pick up with one hand, which, coincidentally I saw and bought my boys for Christmas!

They still run around  a great deal, but the fight to keep them off screens is increasingly fraught and, as my eldest son heads for secondary school, one of the questions his friend is asking is about what they will do at playtime because he's noticed, on their taster days,'Everyone's on their phone.'  They're worried about being considered childish for playing 'Champ' or 'Manhunt' - what we used to call 'It' or 'Tag.'

All the boys had to wear shorts all year long whatever the weather was in our day, but both they and the girls have an array of long trouser styles and fits to wear now.  Gone, too, are the shirts, ties and jumpers we wore - it's mostly polos and sweatshirts these days.

And when we were at Primary our parents were mostly forced to shop at an official Uniform retailer for said ties and tunics and blazers and such. My mother dreaded the trip to our 'Ricards' up the road and would always moan about them having the monopoly.  It wasn't exactly a fun, enjoyable experience and she always had to do a lot of sewing!

The eldest, aged five in his primary school uniform.
But when all the basics became readily available at shops like M&S (or Marks & Spencer / Marks & Sparks if you were particular fond of them as it was then) getting kitted out for going back to school became much more of an exciting event because no-one felt royally ripped off anymore.  They were innovative times.

Nowadays, it's all about getting stocked up and piled high as early as possible.  Those of us parents who are a few years down the school road know to buy our uniform early.  Gone are the days we see how much the children grow over the summer holidays and we scrabble about at the last minute when most of the sizes we want have been sold!

Oh no, we're the wise ones and I'm really impressed that M&S now sell trousers (and skirts and blazers) with adjustable hems (/cuffs), so when they inevitably shoot up at some point, there is more leeway than usual.  I went in to the Brighton store to check these out and it's a simple case of unpicking a hem that's already sewn for you.  Nice.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears,
An array of styles and fits and their adjustable hems explained. 
As far as I'm aware, they're the only shop to offer this, together with their other Trademarked stuff like Stainaway (non iron) shirts and Front Supercrease and Stormwear Crease Resistant trousers, so the innovations evidently continue.

However, to be able to order it all on line, with the help of this brilliant size guide is surely the best one of all as it's nothing short of fantastic!

My youngest son always inherits the eldest's clothes, so quality counts and I've dabbled with other brands but always come back to M&S.  There's no question that even their school uniform lasts both boys and then still gets handed down to younger children we know.  It's priced fairly and everything washes up well.  I find adding soda crystals to a whites wash keeps everything bright.

And whereas our old fashioned flat black lace up shoes have generally been replaced by trainer type ones through to the Juniors, once you hit high school, they have to become more serious again, so I was really relieved to find these in M&S. They're quite a good compromise - real leather, available in the wide fitting he needs and only £32.00.

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears, senior school shoes,
Perfect for senior school - a good compromise between trainers and proper shoes - £32.00. 
Another of the dreaded biggest purchases is always a new winter coat.  It's especially important for the eldest this year who will now be travelling by bus along the coast in all weathers and, fortunately, we found one of those on line at M&S too - a beautiful black parka at £35.00. He loves the bright and warm lining.

Absolutely everything has to be approved by him before it's popped in the basket and he's very pleased with what's arrived.  That's another thing that's changed - we didn't have the same kind of say!

m&s school uniform, decades at school, #myschoolyears, adjust-a-hem,
All grown up and up and ready for senior school.
We congratulate M&S on their of 'Decades at School' campaign and wish them every success with it. Getting school uniform right for a century is certainly worth celebrating!

Have you got any old photos or stories to share?  Please feel free to link up with M&S using #MySchoolYears.




Disclosure - This is a collaborative post.  All words and pics are honest and my own.  


  1. I used to spend hours siting on the bathroom floor playing jacks. I still have a set here. And in the summer, more hours spent throwing that ball up against the wall playing sevensies. (We called it sevensies). Happy memories.

    1. Oh isn't is nice to take a trip down Memory Lane and to have such stuff in common?! Was over the moon to see a set of Jacks and to get them for my children. We spent hours playing them too - and I stand corrected about 'Sevensies' - you have reminded me of the correct name, too, thank you. I teach my boys that too, but finding a blank wall is harder than it used to be! Thanks for sharing Rachel xx

  2. I would never have guessed that they'd done uniform for 100 years that's certainly worth celebrating. Those adjustable hems are nothing short of inspired. I've got Aaron's shoes for reception and year 1 from Next each year buying 2 but hubby said he wanted something slightly smarter this year so those pictured are perfect. We usually spend £28 so £32 is both big shakes.
    Oh and I can't go without saying that your lil youngest is your absolute doppelganger based on that photograph. What cuties you both are. I hope the holidays doesn't go too fast. There's being uniform ready yes but I'm not ready for Summer to be over as then we'd be on the home to dare I say it Christmas. Yikes xxxx

    1. It's an amazing achievement, I agree and the adjustable hems is such a simple idea. We always used to have to buy everything big because it was all so expensive and my mum spent hours hemming and unpicking over all our school years! I'm glad you like the shoes. My son picked them out himself because they're supposed to wear smart shoes now and yet they're not the most practical for active boys. You'll find the price goes up alongside the size of their feet, generally and I think these are a real find - especially with that crucial wide fitting.
      And thank you for that about my littlest - hadn't noticed it myself, but now you mention it, I can see it more! Ikwym about the holidays but they always fly past and I've learned to get organized early so it's not hanging over us the whole time. They grow slower as they get older, so it's safer. As for Christmas, that stays under my radar until after November 5th, so no worries on that score ;) Thanks for commenting xxx

  3. Aw so lovely to see you in your schools days. Someone else is looking SO grown up too!

    1. I loved your post and seeing how your two are growing up too Penny!

  4. I played pretty much the same games as you. My boys don't wear uniform officially, but of course they all wear the same clothes. The pressure is high to conform.

    1. It's so good to go down memory lane and see how we were all playing the same games in different parts of the country. Your comment has made me wonder if school uniform is what affects the wanting to conform later in life!

  5. Your childhood uniform was so like mine! I think a lot of your memories of school are similar to mine. I used to spend so much time outside, how quickly things change. I think schools should take more responsibility. They don't need phones in school or at playtime! Love a bit of M&S school clothing, it is where all mine came from and where I still shop. The quality is great. Lovely post.