Scottish Boys' Clothes: Personal Experiences

I came across your web site and found it rather interesting. I'd like to add some of my own personal memories and comments.

I went to school in Elgin, Scotland, during the 1960s. Nearby was Gordonstoun, the Public School attended by Prince Charles. Apart from this claim to fame it was well known throughout Scotland for its uniform--boys of all ages wore short trousers. Because of this, many of us local boys were also kept in shorts longer than might have been expected. What was good for Prince Charles was good enough for us.

Like all boys I started secondary school in shorts at age 12. This was normal wear at the time. During year two there was a gradual drift to longs but there were still 5 or 6 of us in shorts by the end of year two. By this time, my best friend had switched to longs because Cairds, the local school outfitters, couldn't supply shorts big enough to fit him. I managed to persuade my mother to follow suit at the start of year three. I had to wear out my existing school shorts during the school holidays but I didn't mind. When year three began, 2 or 3 boys were still in shorts but these quickly disappeared as winter approached, only to make a brief return during the following summer and one boy, I recall, was still in shorts in year four.

The Gordonstoun boys also wore kilts on frequent occasions, as did many of us local lads. It was standard party wear for younger boys and a Sunday best option to school uniform for older ones. Many of my friends disliked wearing a kilt - they thought it was sissy and girlish - but I didn't mind, preferring it to my school uniform. I wore it to church and Sunday school on Sundays, as formal wear when going out and always when my grandmother came to visit. Contrary to popular opinion, we always wore red or green "trews" underneath our kilts, depending on the tartan they were made from.

The kilt was standard uniform at the Scout troop I attended during this time. so when the Scout movement adopted long trousers (in 1967?), it didn't make any impact on me. We continued to wear kilts for formal wear and shorts for active wear until I left Scouts at age 15. After that, I kept my kilt and wore it regularly until I grew out of it at about age 17.

On reflection, it seems absurd that we were made to wear shorts through the rigours of a Scottish winter but no-one seemed to think it odd at the time. Nowadays, I feel the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction when I see young boys struggle sweatily to school in long trousers in the height of summer but it seems traditional school shorts have been firmly rejected by all but the very youngest.

Christopher Wagner

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Last updated: July 21, 1998