Tips for School Uniform Design

Designing attractive school uniforms is as much an art as it is a science, and when approaching the uniform design process in this holistic approach we ensure that the end product, “the school uniform”, ends up meeting and exceeding all expectations.

When designing a school uniform there are few factors that need to be identified and decided upon, to ensure that the school uniform meets client expectations, these include:

– choose your material

– choose the style

– logo placement

– artwork

1. Choose Your Material

The first important factor that needs to be determined is the selection of appropriate material for the uniform, two important factors are price and quality. The two most popular materials in typical uniform design, are cotton and polyester, with hybrid cotton/polyester also being a popular third option.

Cotton is generally renowned for its comfort, skin sensitivity, smooth feel, long history in the apparel industry and popularity amongst concerned parents. However it is not as long-lasting as polyester, requires more care when washing, is generally a heavier material than polyester and has added concerns with environmental processes expended to produce it.

Polyester is renown for being exceptionally durable, is more resistant to the elements (hence its popularity in sports apparel), lighter than most apparel materials, and cheaper and easier to produce. However polyester is often regarded as being uncomfortable, due to chaffing and rashes in sensitive skinned people.

Hybrid blends of cotton and polyester are arguably the best material option, however these blends often cost more to produce, so again you must accurately gauge your school’s uniform shop funding and capital.

2. Choose the Style

Once you have come to a decision of the material the next logical step is to determine what style or cut your base school uniform will be shaped to. It is important to understand your school for this stage, if for example you are a private christian school, you may require long sleeve button up shirts with collars and pockets. On the other hand if your school is a government public school the uniform policy may require you to have polo shirts instead. It is vital to consult your school’s uniform policy and if your school does not have one it may be time to consider drafting one, as it will help improve your school’s credibility to the parents of the children.

The categories of styles here can be viewed as Formal and Non-Formal.

– Formal: long sleeve shirts, blazers, traditional skirts, ties, vests, pants, black shoes, wide brimmed hats

– Non-Formal: polo shirts, t shirts, plain pants, caps,

There are many sub-styles relating to the base styles outlined above, however this article will not go in-depth, typically companies have pre-made styles they get from suppliers or styles they manufacture themselves.

3. Logo Placement

Once you have decided on the material and style, its time to consider how to attach your school logo to the uniform. Before you decide where you are going to place the logo, it is important to source a high quality image of the logo, this will help you later down the track when it comes to eventual printing or embroidery of the logo. Typically the image needs to be 300dpi quality, typically in vector, PDF or JPEG format.

Where to place the logo?

– right hand breast

– left hand breast

– sleeves (left & right)

– underneath collar

It is recommended generally that the logo be placed on the right or left hand breast of the front of the shirt as this is the most professional looking place. Depending on your school specialty though, you may find a more abstract location to better reflect your specialty (art specialist schools would be ideal candidates).

How to attach the logo?

There is a few methods for attaching logo including using threads with embroidery, using vinyl with screen printing, or dye sublimation. I would highly recommend using embroidery for the normal school uniforms, however screen printing and dye sublimation are good methods for sporting uniforms as they are generally cheaper and carry less weight.

4. Artwork

So you have sourced your materials, the style and attached the logo in the appropriate place on your school uniform, but its missing something, the cherry on top to make it perfect. If you find yourself in this position it is often a last piece of artwork that can help finish off your school uniform design.

Again it is very important here to understand your school, including the school values, school specialty (is it sports? is it the local community?), the school history and obviously the school colours. It is good to make a brainstorm of all the things that make the school tick, I would highly recommend also plotting the school colours and all the complimentary and contrast colours, to help you with additional artwork.

While creating designs it is good practice to match the design process with the eventual printing process, depending on your printing decision, whether it be screen printing, dye sublimation or embroidery. Typically screen printing and dye sublimation impose no barriers to artwork creativity, however designs that are to be embroidered or sewn on the uniform, can not have designs with sharp curves or right angles.


The key to designing, manufacturing and developing a school uniform is a fairly involved process, especially if you take pride in the end product and your own brand. It is important to maintain strong communication with your client to ensure that the material, the style, logo placement and artwork considerations meet their end product expectations.

Working to a plan like this helps with organisation of tasks, and ensures that you meet and exceed client expectations. I work to this formula when I receive uniform enquirers at my company, working with my customers to co-create a solution that leaves everyone happier.

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