Australia: Boys' Clothes: 1970s

I come from a very large family with five brothers and two sisters. As I was the youngest my parents were approaching their fifties when I was attending primary school. My mum was old fashion and very keen for me to wear a grey school uniform with shorts and long grey knee high socks, even though the Primary school I attended did not have a dress code. I didn't like it. I didn't mind wearing shorts. The other boys wore the latest style "stubbies" which were shorter and also more casual. I hated just being dressed more formal than the other boys.

I always wore grey knee socks to school. I never wore short socks with my grey shorts to school. I liked football socks best, but could only wear them after school.

In Australia the government run schools are known as public schools and those run by religious and other groups are called private schools. Public school uniforms were phased out during the 1970's. I went to a public primary school from 1973 to 1980 and I did not attend one day without wearing school greys with black leather lace up shoes. My mum obviously was not keen for my to keep up with those "crazy" fashions of the 1970's.

I remember only one other boy dress in school grey, but his mother allowed him the privilege of wearing long trousers. I had to stay in baggy grey shorts, which came down two my knees, all year round. By the time I was in grade 4 I was nearly 10 years old and took more notice of fashion. I had several fights with my mum over wearing short pants to school in winter, but her argument was All the boys I went to school with in England had shorts all year round and it was a lot colder there than here. (We were living in South Australia at the time). I remember receiving quite a spanking at the age of 12 for really kicking up a fuss. I had received a couple of smacks on the leg, from Mum for arguing on several occasions, but this time my Father became involved. As it was easier for him to side with Mum, he intervened. I never argued again but I still hated going to school dress in grey shorts and long grey socks when the other boys where wearing their jeans and "T"-shirts.

The other boys teased me about by long grey shorts a good bit. Mainly it was the fact that I was dress in school grey shorts and had them on all year that usually drew attention to me. The fact that they were long in length just added to what they teased me about. Are those long shorts or short longs, I would constantly be asked.

During the 1970's other boys mainly would wear jeans to school, some did where shorts in the summer. The main type of shorts were called "stubbies", these shorts were very short and came in blue, black, grey, green, brown and white. With stubbies long football socks were popular, in the colour of their favourite football team. "T"-Shirts were also popular. These fashions were for at school and after school. After school my mother let me wear jeans, stubbies/"T"-shirt or a track suit, like my mates.

I can't recall what the boys who were in the scouts were wearing at that time.

I wore black leather lace up shoes to school, always! After school and on the weekends I wore sneakers or jim (gym?) shoes. Jim shoes were like sneakers but covered the ankles. I never wore those English-style sandals, but other boys would sometimes wear them, mostly younger boys up to 5-7 years. They were not popular with us boys.

The was an age gap between me and my older brothers, and I don't recall what they had for primary school. But in high school the were allowed to wear what the wanted, meaning jeans, "T"-shirts, amd jim shoes. I thought was most unfair. When I got to high school, however, I was able to wear what I wanted as well.

I also had a grey short pants suit. The fashion, however, was fading. Whenever I had to wear it, I would always jump in the family car as quick as possible so my neighbourhood friends would not see me. The suit was a light grey with long style shorts and matching long grey socks that I wore only with the suit. It was the only time I would wear a tie. When I grew out of the suit (about age 9) it was never replaced, thank goodness.

Keep in mind that this was what the boys I grew up with were wearing. Other private schools boys still had school uniforms which were mainly grey and very similar to the English style.

I wore the grey short pants to school all the way through primary school. That means until I started High school at age 12/13 years. Omce I started high school jeans, "T"-shirts and jumpers (sweaters), and sneakers. No uniform was required at the public High School I attended. For some reasons wearing shorts, even on hot days at High School was not the done thing. However these days its common. Outside of school I would wear shorts in the summer always, as would most boys. In Australia shorts have been the fashion in summer for most boys and men for as long as I can remember.

In Australia these days only the private schools have the traditional school uniform. Those more elite schools still have the boys in jackets and ties. Some schools still require the boys, mainly the younger boys, to wear grey shorts and long socks. Some smaller private schools require the boys to wear short ankle socks and with their grey shorts in the summer months. My son is in grade one this year. The uniform for boys in grades 1 to 7 is a light blue short sleeve shirt, navy shorts and long grey socks during summer. In the winter they change to long grey trousers and dark blue v-neck jumpers with ties. The school is a small private school.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 18, 1998
Last updated: June 18, 1998