Scottish Boys' Clothes: Personal Experiences in the 1980s and 90s

The following contains some recollections of growing up in the south of Scotland during the eighties and nineties. For the record, I started primary school in 1989 and secondary school in 1996. Neither school I attended had particularly strict uniform policies, allowing a wide range of possible uniform combinations. My motherís rules regarding uniform only extended until I got home at which point, unless we were going out, I could wear what I liked. Sometimes I changed completely, sometimes not at all. On non-school days I was free to wear (almost) what I liked, and this usually consisted of typical 1990s boysí clothing: brightly coloured T-shirts or sweatshirts with jogging trousers, or sometimes checked or other coloured shirts with jeans, always worn with trainers. On a few special occasions, such as family wedddings, I wore my Scout kilt. I was an active Scout, involved in Beavers, Subs and Scouts.

School

When I started primary school, my uniform comprised light blue long-sleeved shirt, striped school tie, grey shorts (mid-thigh length; these were by no means compulsory - long trousers were common even in the first few years, and certainly by the time I had reached primary seven, I was the only boy in my class to wear shorts), knee-length grey socks, grey v-neck jersey with the school colours around the collar, black blazer (again, worn by increasingly few pupils) and black school shoes (which had a Velcro fastening at first, until I learned to tie laces). During my time at primary school, the one major battle I had not won regarding uniform was the wearing of shirt and tie as opposed to a polo shirt. I had convinced myself that the switch to a new school would be the perfect time to at last change to a truly casual uniform. You could buy both sweatshirts and polo shirts from my new school with the logo, and most people wore these. Unfortunately, my mother was having none of it. While she did buy me one polo shirt, it was for wear only during P.E. lessons - at all other times I would wear the same sort of uniform I had worn at the end of the previous year, namely: grey or black sweatshirt emblazoned with the school logo, white long-sleeved shirt, striped school tie, black trousers, grey socks and black leather shoes.

After School

My motherís rules regarding uniform only extended until I got home at which point, unless we were going out, I could wear what I liked. Sometimes I changed completely, sometimes not at all. Usually I at least loosened my tie. If we were going out, I would either have to neaten my uniform (tuck my shirt in, etc.) or change completely. Not surprisingly, I usually took the latter option.

Weekends and Holidays

On non-school days I was free to wear (almost) what I liked, and this usually consisted of typical 1990s boysí clothing: brightly coloured T-shirts or sweatshirts with jogging trousers, or sometimes checked or other coloured shirts with jeans, always worn with trainers. Until the age of about 10 or 11 I often wore shorts during the summer months, but above that age I only wore them when actually away on holiday or at Scouts; even before this (when I was still wearing shorts to school every day) I would usually change into trousers after school, and would never wear shorts at home in winter. On special occasions, such as Christmas or some outings, I would usually wear either one of my smarter check shirts (or sometimes a school shirt) with a pair of plain trousers or smart jeans and possible a jumper. (At about age 10 I also had a hated pair of denim dungarees that my grandma had bought as a present; I avoided wearing them at all costs - they looked, in my opinion, incredibly juvenile.)

Special Occasions

On a few special occasions, such as family wedddings, I wore my Scout kilt.

Scouting

I was a member of the Scout Association for several years, first as a Beaver (from the age of 6 to 8), then as a Cub (from the age of 8 to 10 1/2) and then as a Scout (until I was about 15).

Beavers

The Beaver uniform I wore consisted of a grey sweatshirt with logo, grey jogging trousers, a blue neckerchief (or neckie) with the Beaver badge at the rear centre point, and a red plastic woggle. The Beaver uniform had been updated a couple of years previously; before that the uniform (in our colony anyway) was almost like a school uniform: long-sleeved grey shirt, tailored grey shorts, long grey socks, black shoes, neckie and woggle.

Cubs

As a Cub I wore a green sweatshirt, my grey school shorts, knee-length grey socks with turnovers, held up with garters with two green tabs, my black school shoes, neckie in group colours, plastic woggle (in the colour of your six) and cap (green with yellow piping and the arrowhead badge in the centre front; this was the only time I ever wore a cap as part of a uniform). At the start of every meeting there would be an inspection with points awarded to each six depending on neatness. For this reason, I would take great care before leaving for the pack meetings to ensure that I was tidy. During my time as a Seconder, and then as a Sixer, it was my job to check my six before inspection to make sure that neckies were straight and neatly folded and socks were pulled up, thus ensuring that we earned as many points as possible. At that time it was the prescribed uniform and so a requirement of membership.

Cub caps have now all but disappeared from the cub packs now, and over half of the present cubs wear long trousers.

Scouts

To Scouts I wore a green shirt with neckie again in group colours, and a leather woggle. As we were a Scottish troop, we wore kilts (in any tartan) along with fawn knee-length socks held up with green garter tabs, black shoes, a plain sporran and Scout belt. Not surprisingly we changed into more practical shorts and T-shirts after the opening flag ceremony and inspection, and changed back again before prayers and the closing flag ceremony. For camps and other outings we would usually just wear our shirts and neckies.

I should mention that recently Scouting in the U.K. underwent some major changes, including the restructuring of the sections, effectively splitting the old Scouts section into Scouts and Explorer Scouts . At the same time, the uniform was also reviewed and updated .








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Created: August 30, 2003
Last updated: September 4, 2003