With all the new employee's coming onboard at the USPS these days we are getting a whole bunch of fresh faces in our store, meeting our reps in post offices, and submitting questions via our website. Many are in the same boat and asking questions about the best way to maximize their first full uniform allowance. In fact so many are asking similar questions that we've gone ahead and decided to post our best guidance for how to spend your first year uniform allowance.
For the purpose of this post lets assume that you’re either a letter carrier, MVS worker who has just received your first full uniform allotment. CCA’s, stay tuned as we will publish a similar article just for you.
As of the time of this post first year letter carriers and MVS workers are receiving $517 towards their first uniform allowance.
First off, this isn’t bad, if you are careful with your spend you can make this work and build into a real healthy closet that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
We are going to assume that your USPS postal uniform's need to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, meaning that your climate will experience all four seasons. The only other assumption is that MVS workers typically are not allowed to wear shorts, and we will address their other options.
With that said, lets get into the best way to maximize your first full postal uniform allowance.
Decision Number 1: Postal Uniform Jacket: Estimated Spend: $155.00
You really can’t afford to screw up this decision. With a limited allowance you can only afford ONE jacket.
Go too warm and you’ll be sweating yourself silly in the fall and spring, go too cool and you’ll be freezing in the dead of winter. We wrote a great blog post on the all weather system for those who have more discretion with their spend, but for your money I don’t think you can beat the bomber jacket with zip in zip out liner.
In our opinion this is the only jacket that can be worn year round. In the winter the liner will suffice most days, but throw an extra layer underneath and you’re good to go. In the spring and fall you can unzip the liner and this jacket is nearly as light as our windbreaker.
For these reasons we recommend the USPS Bomber Jacket as our best pick for any new MVS Employee or Letter Carrier needing to stretch their allowance dollar the farthest.
Decision Number 2: Shirts: Estimated spend, $95.00
Pro Advice. Look around your post office. I’m willing to bet you don’t see many long sleeve button down postal shirts being worn by letter carriers or MVS employees. The reason is that most people simply buy the short sleeve shirts and wear their own personal long sleeve shirts underneath.
Unless you have allowance dollars to burn we strongly suggest doing the same, or if you really feel the need to purchase long sleeve button down shirts, try buying one.
Short sleeve shirts are the way to go. We suggest 3 shirts for your first purchase. Either all button down, or throw in a knit polo, and or long sleeve if you must.
Decision Number 3: Pants and Shorts
Here is the reality. You can only afford two pairs of pants, and two pairs of shorts!
When we get to the end you’ll see that you may have a little discretionary money left over for one more pair of pants or shorts.
Estimated spend is $105 for pants, and $97 for shorts.
Pants, what you need to know. Postal uniform pants come in two different weights, and then in three different styles.
Shorts come in one weight, and two styles. Either regular on flexible waist.
Weights, pretty simple. Winter weight, which is heavier and more expensive, and Summer Weight which is lighter and less expensive. Most letter carriers and MVS tend to go with the less expensive option which is the summer weight. The difference in price between the weights will vary depending on where you are shopping but expect about $10 up-charge going from summer to winter weight.
Keeping your limited first year allowance in mind, our recommendation is to go with the summer weight pants. You can always layer with thermal gear underneath.
Styles. Here’s where it gets a little more complicated.
The style difference is all about the the types of waist band available. Our most popular style is also the least expensive, and that’s the regular waist band. Second to the regular waist band would be the flex fit waist band, and last in terms of popularity what is referred to as comfort cut. Here is further explanation.
Regular Waist Band: Not much to explain here. Nothing fancy. If you are a fairly normal shaped guy or gal up to 42” waist (men), or size 18 (women), we suggest sticking to the summer weight regular waist pants. The fit is good, and they are the most inexpensive.
If you stick with these picks you’ll have some discretionary money left over for some splurging.
Flexible Waist Band:
The flexible waist band option is a great option for male and females who tend to fluctuate in weight, or if you generally carry more weight around your stomach area and find that a little give in the waistline would be more comfortable.
While this option is a bit more expensive, if you follow our guidelines you will certainly have enough room in your allowance to get flexible waist options for all pants and shorts.
Expect to pay 10-15% extra for this option in general depending on where you shop
Comfort Cut: The comfort cut trousers give a little extra room in both the seat and thighs. The waistband also gives a little stretch comfort along with help in holding your shirt in place. While these pants seem ok in theory, our customers typically chose either the flex waist or regular paints, as these are really stuck in the middle.
Decision Number 4: Hats
This decision gets a little simpler and personal preference comes into play.
Any of the hats above are priced at about $15-$20. We suggest picking one summer and one of the winter stocking hats.
Remaining balance -$50 to +$30 depending on where you purchase your items.
Now, comes the difficult decisions.
You'll notice that we are missing one big item from the uniform list above. Did you catch it? In case you didn't we are talking about Postal Approved Shoes!
Here's the deal. With your first uniform allowance you will have a difficult time affording postal shoes, and getting properly outfitted. You have two choices. Purchase Postal Approved Shoes with your own personal money, or risk using your own footwear for year one.
We will talk more about this in upcoming posts.