Figure 1.--These English boys wear both the sweater, ties, and short pants that they normally wear at school. Some of the boys have put on their blazers, perhaps day boys preparing to go home. Notice that three of the boys in blazers have their briefcases with them.
Conventions for wearing school uniforms have varied over time and from school to school. Some schools had a dress uniform and school uniform differing only in that they wore white rather than grey shirts. Other schools had the boys wears suits for dress occasions and blazers for regular schoolwear. Other schools had cord shorts and jackets for everyday schoolwear. Often at school boys only wore their sweaters and not their blazers. In many cases rules were different at day schools and boarding schools. Some boarding schools insisted on the boys wearing their uniforms all day long. This included the ties. Few schools allowed the boys to take theie ties off after classes--although they perhaps were not quite as strict about having them tied correctly late in the day after classes were over. Other schools let the children change into their own clothes after classes. This was a very popular option for the children, but most schools insisted on th boys waering their uniforms all day. This was especially the case at the schools which were all boy schools
English school uniform through the 1950s tended to be quite formal. Private schools often had quite elavborate uniforms which included rather formal garments like suit coats or blazers, Eton collars, and ties. A boy's parents would be given a daunting list of garments and accessories that he needed to bring to school. When the different games (sports) gear was added to this list, a small boy had a huge trunk of items to transpport. It was also a considerable expense. State primary schools did not commonly have uniforms, but parents often followed the formal styles worn at prepartory schoos. So through World War II boys would come to school in peaked caps, ties, short pants suits, and kneesocks.
English school uniform through the 1950s tended to be quite formal. Private schools often had quite elavborate uniforms which included rather formal garments like suit coats or blazers, Eton collars, and ties. World War II in particular introduced many casual styles which by the 1960s had become increasdingly common. Schools where boys once needed permission to take off their blazers were introducing daily uniforms where the boys did not even wear ties. Many schools still require ties and blazers, but there are now many schools where boys do not wear the more formal garments during the regular school day. Some schools have destincrtive casual uniforms such as turtle-neck sweaters.
Most English prep schools still require blazers, but in most cases they are not worn during the day at school for regular schoolwear. Often at school boys only wore their sweaters and not their blazers. The most common oufit at most prep schools during the school day was a grey shirt, grey sweater, tie, shirt pants, kneesocks, and sandals. Other schools had cord shorts and jackets for everyday schoolwear. Substantial changes could occur seasonally. This was less true for the schools wear boys wore cord shorts. At some scools boys changed from wool to cotton shorts. Other chools switched from kneesocks to ankle socks. At other schools the boys sandals without socks. Some schools did not require ties during the warmer summer months, but most did. In many cases rules were different at day schools and boarding schools. Day schools were much more likely to have bouys wearing their blazers during the day.
Most private schools will have dress uniforms, even though the children may wear casual styles diring the normal school day. In some cases the boys wear their blazers and even tyies to school and take them off once they get to school. In other schools the dress uniform is reserved for special occassions. Conventions for wearing school uniforms have varied over time and from school to school. The uniforms at many English schools still look rather formal to Americans, but they would look rather informal to school officials and paremts only a generation ago. Some schools had a dress uniform and school uniform differing only in that they wore white rather than grey shirts. Another common difference was black leather shoes rather than brown sandals. Caps used to be always required as part of the dress uniform. Schools varied, however, Other schools had the boys wears suits for dress occasions and blazers for everyday school wear. At many schools it was the blazer that was the dress uniform. Of course boys always wore ties, but they were also worn at most schools for every daywear. The destinction between dress clothes and everyday schoolwear was more common in the early 1990s. By the 1970s and 80s most schools had adopted only uniform, primarily to reduce the substantial costs associated with purchaes of large numbers of garments.
Figure 2.--These English prep school boys are gardening after school. Note that they are srill wearing their cord uniforms and ties--rather formal attire for gardners. Notice the bog in long pants wearing wellies.
English schools often had attitudes toward schoolwear that seem a bit unusal to more informal minded Americans. Some boarding schools insisted on the boys wearing their uniforms all day long. Other schools let the children change into their own clothes after classes. This was, however, not a common option. At most schools the boys continued wearing their uniforms after classes. As a result boys often engaged in play and recreatiional activities in rather formal lokking school wear--often wearing their ties. At many schools you might see boys gardening or fishing after school still wearing ties. Boys goung today schools also had varying conventions after school. Some mothers insisted that that boys change clothes before they went out to play. Others did not insist, but boys wanted to change out of their school clothes are school uniform. Oher boys could not be bothered. Boys going to private school often got home later than boys going to stte schools. Many didn't change because there wasn't much time to go out and play. This varied, however, from family to family.
It was common before the 1960s for boys not only to wear their school uniform after school, but as their either primary clothing or their dress up clothing. Here it is often difficult to tell. Available images from England often are difficult to assess. We are not sure if boys are headed to school are going shopping or to outings in the park or even the beach. One factor here is that boys until well after World War II tended to have much smaller wardrobes than is the case today. Thus many boys might not have a suit, but wear his school blazer when dressing up or even for various outings when not dressing up. We also see boys dressed in their school uniforms when going on vacation. Even seaside holidays. In facr=t it was not uncommon to see boys going to beach dressed in blazers ans ties. One example here is an unidentified Lowestoft boy durung the early 1930s.
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