Schoolwear Chronology



Figure 1.--Many British schools required school uniforms. This class photograph shows a Form 2 class at an English grammar school (selective secondary school) in 1953. We do not know the name of the school. The boys wear a traditional school blazer, striped school tie, short trousers, and kneesocks. The boys would have been 12-13 years old. Some wear sandals rather than shoes.

Schoolwear for the most part is a good reflection of overall children's fashions and how they changed the years. Schoolwear like all clothes have changed along with fashion fluctuations over time. Children also worn some of their best outfits to school, but they were basically a reflection of popular styles. A factor here was social class as until the 19th century, working-class children did not attend school and if they did it was just to obtain a very bsic education. School uniforms are to a large extent associated with England where they were first used to identify charity children in the 16th century, Only in the mid-19th century were uniforms adopted by exclusive private schools. It was in the 20th century that uniforms were adopted by schools all over the world--often as a dempocratic reform. American schools for generations avoided public school uniforms, although that begun to change in the 1980s. Many European countries have also avoided scool uniforms. Surprisingly even the NAZIs did not adopt school uniforms at state schools. We hare developing an overall schoowear chronology. There are also chronologies on specific countries and garments, although many of these are still under development.

Century Trends

Schoolwear for the most part is a good reflection of overall children's fashions and how they changed the years. Schoolwear like all clothes have changed along with fashion fluctuations over time. Children also worn some of their best outfits to school, but they were basically a reflection of popular styles. We eventually hope to develop information on ancient amd medieval schools, but at this point most of our informatiin is about the modern era. A factor here was social class as until the 19th century, working-class children did not attend school and if they did it was just to obtain a very bsic education. School uniforms are to a large extent associated with England where they were first used to identify charity children in the 16th century, Only in the mid-19th century were uniforms adopted by exclusive private schools. It was in the 20th century that uniforms were adopted by schools all over the world--often as a dempocratic reform. American schools for generations avoided public school uniforms, although that begun to change in the 1980s. Many European countries have also avoided scool uniforms. Surprisingly even the NAZIs did not adopt school uniforms at state schools. We hare developing an overall schoowear chronology. Socialist countries which claimed to opose militarism in contrast often imposed school uniforms.

Country Trends

Chronological changes in schoolwear have generally involved fashions trends that spanned national borders. Children's clothing until after World war II, however, was often quite varied from country to country. One could often identify where a photograph was taken by the fashions the children were wearing. Sometimes this mean individual countries, but if not countries at least regions. After the war these difference gradually began fade, but are not entirely gone. As many countries, especially European cointries, did not have school uniforms, this generally ment regular clothing fasions. Of course countries with school unifgorms are especially easy to identify. Here school uniform fashions while influenced by reguklar fashions, often lagged in actual changes.n We have begun to build chronologies on schoolwear trends in individual countries. We only have enough information on a few countries to create national schgool chronologies. We have only developed these chronologies for the major countries, but are constantly expanding our coverage.

Garment Trends

We are also building chronologies for the basic schoolwear garments like headwear, shirts, jackets, neckwear, sweaters, trousers, hosiery, and footwear. We have begun several od these pages, but are just beginning to link them here. The popularity of school garments like other fashions have varied over time. The countries that did not have uniforms closely followed overall fashion trends. School uniforms tended to lag behind overall fashion trends. This information can also be used to date undated images. These school photographs are very helpful in dating images because public education became wideespread at about the same time that photographt was developed in the mid-19th century. And after only a few decades, school photography became a well established annual ritual. While our 19th century archive is spotty, by the turn-of-the 20th century we have a very substantial archive, at least for the larger countries. School wear could be rather formal, at least in cities, during the 19th century. Rural schoolwear was more informal. Overalls in American rural schools became common (1910s). We still see formal schoolwear in the early-20th century, but school clothes became increasingly informal after World War I. Not very many children wore uniforms in the 19th century, but some countries mandated smocks. This continued in the 20th century. Communist countries tended to require uniforms fter World War II. Many British public (state) schools began requiring uniforms in the 1960s. And some American schools began mandating volutary uniforms. This began with parochial schools (1960s). This was also began to be adopted in inner-city schools (1970s).








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Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Late 19th century] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]



Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Knicker suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers] [Blazer] [School sandals]



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Created: October 2, 2000
Last updated: 9:38 AM 3/28/2017