English School Uniform: Personal Experiences


Figure 1.--The boys at this English prep school are discussing a book that they are reading. The ordinary school uniform diring the day was a grey shirt, tie, jumper, corduroy trousers, and shoes or sandals. Kneesocks were required with shorts.

English readers have provided HBC a variety of personal accounts about their boyhood experiences. Some of these accounts have focused on their school experiences. Others have written more boradly, but included information about school expeiences and school uniforms. HBC has received more such contributins from English readers than other European countries. Presumably because England was a country which insisted on school uniforms and of course because HBC is an English language site. (We stress to foreign readers that HBC is pleased to receive contributins in all languages.)

School Accounts

English readers have provided HBC a variety of personal accounts about their school experiences. These accounts focus on the school uniform. We will also add information from published historical accounts and memoirs. We believe that these personal accounts add a perspective that can not be obtained by simply reviewing clothing catalogs or assessing photographs. These accounts provide information about school authorities and parents as well as the boys' own point of view. We incourage English readers to add their own personal experiences to those already provided to HBC.

Various decades

England--Literary notes

The 1910s

England-- Grandfather (1910s)

The 1930s

England--Street photographer (1930s)

England--Theatrical orphanage/school (1930s)

The 1940s

We have a few personal accounts or images from the 1940s which provide interesting insights on school life and school uniform. One observer reports attending Dudley Grammar School during the War years. The boys wore caps and jackets. The school had a blazer, but many boys could not afford them. We see a boy at a county school oufitted in a smart uniform with long trousers right after the War. Another observer tells us about the several different schools he attended during and after the War.

The 1950s

HBC readers have provided us accounts of their school experiences. Some HBC readers have provided us brief accounts of their school uniforms and boyhood clothes. A reader born in 1945, tells us about his strict Methodist parents. Apart fromwearing pyjamas at night, my knees remained uncovered for the first 13 years of my life. Photos as a toddler show him in a knitted outfit with shorts. A reader born in 1943 went to Anfield Road Secondry Modern School in Liverpool. The school uniform consisted of Navy Blue Blazer, with the school badge on the breast pocket, a Peaked school cap also with the school badge on, grey short trousers, either Flannel or more comfortable, poly/cotton material, and long grey turnover top socks. I'm certainly happy to write a few lines about my experiences of at Prep school in the 1950's, and the clothes that he wore as a boy growing up on the east coast of England. Another reader went to three state schools. His first two years were at a mixed (co-educational) infantís school, from there he went to an all boys' junior school for 4 years. A reader brought up in the home counties (London area) tells about his schooldays were between 1952 and 1964 which was a period during which changes were afoot influencing the way boys dressed. Another reader tells us that his father was Polish as his father came frm Poland during World war II. His mother is English.

The 1960s

Many state primary schools adopted uniforms in the 1960s, a trend begun in the 1950s. Uniforms were worn at most secondary schools. Church schools in particular commonly had uniforms. Most were short trouser uniform. Many primay schools, however, did not have uniforms. School sandals were common in primary schools. At grammar schools (academically selective secondary schools) and other secondaru schools, first year boys often wore the uniform with short tousers by the first year boys, but by the end of the decade even the first year boys were wearing long trousers at most schools. Private schools continued to give great attention to uniform. Most preparatory shools had short pants uniforms, but caps were becoming less common. Some schools had cord short. Kneesocks were common, but many boys wore ankle socks in the summer.

The 1970s

Some readers remember being very concerned about clothing and have clear recollections of their school clothes. Other readers recall being not especially concerned about clothes. Many state primary schools had iniforms in the 1970s. Uniforms were worn at most secondary schools. Uniform reqirements varied. Church of England schools tended to be stricter than other state schools. At one school boys wore shorts, but there was no other uniform requirement. Most primary uniforms were short trouser uniform. Many primary schools, however, did not have uniforms. Boys had some wore jeans. School sandals were becoming less common in primary schools. At grammar schools (academically selective secondary schools) and other secondary schools, first year boys still sometimes wore the uniform with short tousers, but most schools had dropped this requirement by mid-decade. Syyntheic fibers were becoming more important and a readr recalls his nylon shirts. Private schools continued to give great attention to uniform. Some prep schools still had very traditional uniforms. Most preparatory shools had short pants uniforms, but caps were becoming less common. Some schools had cord short. Kneesocks were common, but many boys wore ankle socks in the summer.

The 1980s

Many state primary schools in the 1980s had basic uniforms with grey sweaters and short trousers and knee socks. Some such as the Church of England schools had blazers. Some allowed the older boys to wear longs. Many preparatory schools continued to require more elaborate uniforms. Many prep schools discontinued caps, but a few still required them. Almost all had blazers. Most prep schools still had short pants uniforms. Many allowed the older boys to wear longs. Some had all the boys wear longs. Most attempted to simpplify the uniform. Most educational authorities went comprehensive in the 1970s. The schools still insisted on uniforms, in most cases black blazers. Boys even the junior boys wore long trousers to their secondary schools.

The 1990s

  • England--Breief accounts: The 1990s
  • England--The 1990s: Andy
  • England--The 1990s: Richie

    The 2000s

  • England--Breief accounts: The 2000s

    Other English Experiences

    HBC has collected many other personal accounts about the personal experiences over time of English boys with their clothing. Many of these accounts may include information about school uniform and school experiences, although they are not primarily about school uniforms.






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    Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
    [Main Chronology Page]
    [The 1880s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s]
    [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]



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



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    Created: January 22, 1998
    Last updated: 10:03 PM 3/17/2006