Victorian, Edwardian and George 5th U.K.

--- School uniforms in the U.K. ---

Girls' school uniforms
Here we collect information (we could gather so far) about the history of school uniforms for girls. Yet our knowlegde is rather limited. Over decades starting from the late 1910s we note the gymslip (see left picture) as a popular schooluniform. Later we see skirts and blouses. For girls uniforms some parts of the boys uniforms were adopted over time.

Schuluniformen für Mädchen

1910s to 1930s
From the late 1910s through the 1930s the gymslip was the most common style used as a girls' school uniform in Britain. The gymslip originated in the late 19th century when it was introduced as the name suggests for sports. This kind of dress has a low necked yoke and the skirt-part is sewn in pleats onto the yoke. It often was buttoned on the shoulders. There were various stylistic variations, but the basic desisn was quite similar. Usually the gymslip was worn belted. Gymslips were done in differebt colors, but almost always a dark colour. Under the gymslip girls wore a blouse with different styles of collars. Often a tie was worn. The gymslip was normally worn with long stockings and leather shoes. In the early years the long stockings were of dark colour, probably black. Later we also see lighter colours, probably tan. And in later years we also see knee-length and shorter socks. Apparently at a special age the older school girls "graduated" to simple skirts and blouses. The specific rules and styles varied from school to school.

1910er - 1930er

Here we see school girls from a public (private secondary) school having a picnic. Note the three girls in their blazer and with tie. The girl on the left wears a boater. This was one of the most common school girl headwear. There is a school badge on the froint of the hat band.
The girls seem to be wearing skirts rather than gymslips. The picture was probably taken in the 1920s or very early 30s. There is no way of dating the uniforms, but the woman's helmet-styled hat helps to date the snapshot. The women on the right does look too grown-up to be a student anymore. Perhaps she was a teacher or a sister of one of the girls.


1930s to 1950s
Also in later years we see gymslips (up to the 1960s) worn with blouses. Now there were also simple skirts with blouses worn by younger girls (see picture below). Basically the girls wire the same uniform that the boys wear, but with a skirt or dress rather than trousers.

1930er - 1950er

Note the pin on this girls' pullover. Probably she was a prefect or a head girl. This pictures is a good example how the boys uniforms influenced the uniform for girls. She wears a blouse with a pointed collar, a striped tie, a vee-neck pullover trimmed with decorative lining (highly probably in school colours), a short (probably) grey skirt, knee socks and leather shoes. The only obvious difference to a boys uniform is the skirt.
irls did wear blouses rather than shirts. Often the collars were different, but sometimes look rather like the boys' shirts. This picture may have been taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Many schools had seasonal uniforms for the girls. Often a basic, light-colored dress was worn during the summer. Than during the cooler weather the girls would wear skirts, often grey skirts and wear jumpers and blazers like the boys.


Single uniform parts
Information about single uniform parts we have found so far.

Einzelne Uniformteile

As headwear we note berets, straw hats (panama hats or boaters), tams, and at some schools distinctive hats. The headwear was one item where boys and girls wore different items. Boys might also wear boaters, but they were more common at girls schools, especially after World War II.


The school tie was always a necktie and the same for girls and boys.


Boys and girls wore the same blazers, only the buttons were reversed.


Girls wore blouses and boys shirts. Often the blouses had rounded collars that the boys would not have, but there were also pointed collars. In many cases the blouses looked like shirts. They were usually white. Boys often wore grey shirts, but this was much less common for girls. In recent years many schools have adopted polo-type casual shirts for the summer. These shirts are the same for boys and girls.


Boys and girls wore the same jumpers or pull-over sweaters. These were usually grey with colored trim, but other colors were used. Many schools in recent years have replaced pull-over sweaters with less expensive sweatshirts. Again both boys and girls wear the same sweatshirts. Some schools had cardigan sweaters for the girls. We do not note cardigans at boys' schools.


-Everyday fashions of the twentieth century / Avril Lansdell. - Princes Risborough : Shire, 1999. Pages 28, 47


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