* school uniform: England

English School Uniforms: Age Trends

English schoolwear varied as to the age iof the children and this varied over time as styles changed and age conventions changed. We do not have much age information before the modern age when Englanf began developing a public school system. We note boys at early grammar schools wearing tunic-like robes (16th century). We are not surewhat they wore underneath, at least until pants-like breeches developed (17th century). We do not, however, notice any age differences here, but our infornmation is very limited. We know much more with the advent of the 19th century as England began building a public school system and photography was developed (1840s). We notice younger boys at private schools which incongrously became known as public schools wearing tunics with peaked military caps and tassels--a Napoleonic War stryle. boys Private schools gradually instituted uniforms. Prepatory schools appeared at mid-century for the younger boys who originally attended the public schools with the older boys. The public school uniforms influenced the prepatory schools, but differences developed for the younger boys at the prep schools. And over time age destinctions developed. Younger boys at private schools by the end of the 19th century were wearing peaked caps (which came to be called school caps), Eton collars, single breasted suits, often with knickers. Older boys might wear soft collars, ties, and long pants. Older boys were often allowed to wear bright colored vests (waistcoats) as a sign of individuality. Conventiions and rules varied from school to school. England was relatively late (far behind America and Germany) in building a public (state) school system. Boys wore clothes at the state schools that were influenced by both private school unifirms and popular fashions. There were no uniforms required at early state schools. Boys at British schools began wearing blazers which originated as a ganes (sports) garment. Younger boys wore short pants with knee socks and sandals. This varied from school to school as well as among families. Grey school shorts becanme common for boys into their early teens. After World War II, state schools also began requiring uniforms. Short pants unifiorms were common. This began to change when we see more boys wearing long pants, even younger boys. We also see fewer sandals.

6 Years

There were at first no standard age at which children began school. Early dame scghools taughre more child minding operations than schools. By the late-19th century age 6 years became increasingly accepted by state educational authorities as the age at which children began school. Private schools were more flexible. There were private day schools for the boys headed for prep and public schools. Boys by the 20th century were wearing jackets abnd Eton collars. After World War I, schoolwear became somewhat mjore informal. We see boys commonly wearing short pants, knee socks, and sandals.

8 Years

We note English boys at age 8 years wearing knee pants and long stockings in the early 20th century. School cap had become fairly standard as wwere jackets and Eton collars. After World War I we note blazers becoming popular as well as sandals. Gradually 8 years of age became the standard age for boys attending bording preparatory schools, although therecwas not hard set rule. Not all prep schools had uniforms in the 19th century, but it was fairly standard in the 20th century.

10 Years

School boys in theearly 19th century wore ling pants. This would have included skeletin suits and tunic outfits. By mid century boys were wearing suits, still with long pants. It is at this time that photography was develped and we begin to have increasing numbers of images. Boys commonly wore suits to school. We see boys wearing collar-buttoning and cut--away jacket suits, mostly with long pants. Gradually we see 10 year olds beginning to wear shortened-length pants in the 1870s as Britain began to develop a major state education sysrem. Uniforms were common in provare schools, but not worn in stte primaries. By the 1880s shortened-lenhth pants were very common for 10-year olds worn with long stockings. This included both knee pants and knickers. We also see a lot of 10 year olds with Eton collars. A few boys wore sailor suits, but they were not nearly as common as on the Continent. Lapel jackets become increasingly common, but we contiunue to see lapel jackets. Shortened -length pants were nearly universal by the end of the century. At the turn-of-the 20th century we mostly see 10-year olds wearing knee pants suits to scchool. School caps became common. Knee socks begin to replace long-stockings. In the intr-war period boys continued wearing short pants suits to school. Sandals weew also common. Blazers were common. Short pants and knees socks were virtually universal. Webegin to see uniforms at stte primaries in the 60s. We begin to see more boys earing long pants andn casual clthing by the 70s. We begin to see casual uniforms appearing by the 1980s. Many private schools continued to wear more formal unirms, but schools caps were vno longer common.

Figure 1.--Here we see an unidentified English boy at a public school or grammar school, we think in the 1920s. He wears a suit rather than a blazer. Notice the knee socks with two colored bands.

15 Years

Once Britain began building a public (state) school system (19th century), most children only attended primary school to about age 13 years. So most boys had finished school by age 15 years until after World War II. Before that that only boys a public (private mostly boarding) schools or grammar schools were still in school at age 15 years. Age 15 was raher a mixed age. We see some boys at public schools wearing suit jackets and Eton collars with both knickers and at other schools long pants. This seems to be a school rule, but at some schools it may have been parental choice. Knickers becane less common after the turn of the 20th century, but we see more boys wearing short pants. We also see more blazers. This varied from school to school. Most prep school had uniforms with short pants, but for the 15 year old at public schools the situation was more varied. Often the younger boys during the first two years (13-14 years old) wire short pants with their uniform. Some of these boys turned 15 during their second year. After this we see boys increasingly wore long pabts, although some schools required short pants for all boys. A similar pattern trabspired at the grammar schools, but there after the first two years, the boys and their parents generally decided about short or long pants. After Wold War II the state scecondary system was significantly expabded. School uniform rules were largelybunchanged, but we see more long pants by the late-1950s. This changed during the 1970s as fewer schools made the younger boys wear short pants. Most schools, however, to insist on blazers and ties.

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Created: 1:47 AM 7/24/2013
Last updated: 2:43 PM 1/10/2020