Headwear until the mid-20th century was an essential part of daily dress. Thus headwear formed a part of the outfits chikren wore to school both as part of school uniformas as well as par of the ordunary outfits children wore to school. These styles have varied overtime as well as the convention gor wearing them. Some but not all headwear types became standard parts of schoolm uniform. The most important here was ceratinly the school caps. Most were not commonly worn by boys. This include the mortar board and top hat. Some popular cap styles were worn by Britush boys, but never adopted as part of school uniforms. The most important here was the flat cap, although one prep school did adopt it. England is noted for two types of school uniform headgear. The first is the peaked school cap. Virtually all British schoolboys wore peaked caps through the 1950s. Both state and private schools required them. They at first in the late 19th century appear to have been used as a kind of sports or games cap. Eventually they became a standard uniform item and were even worn at state schools without uniforms. A great variety of colors, including circles and school crests decorated these caps which flooded British streets with boys going and coming to school. The second type of headgear is the boater. This hat was much less common than the traditional
school cap, but it was worn at several public schools and still is at a few like Harrow.
Are chronological information on British schoolheadwear is limited. We are unsure what boys wore before the 19th century. And we are not sure about the eraly-19th century as well. We think some boys wore peaked military caps with tassels. With the advent of photography at mid-century we know much more. The peaked acpm appeared at this timw, at fors as a spots cap, but gradually became more widely adopred as a standard school cap. It was dine in many colors and variety such as colored circles and variously colored segments. You can see the colored circles with the juniform at a prep school (figure 1). We note mortat boards in the 19th century, but believe its origins are much earlier. We also see boaters at mid-century which eens be when they first appeared. Top hats wee worn at a few prstigious public school. The top hat appeared in the early-19th century, but we are not sure when schools like Eton and Harrow adopted them. It was the oeaked cao ghat became standard wear at British schools, even state schools that did not have uniforms. This continued after world War II into the 1950s. After the 50s, schools began to drop the cap as a uniform require ment although they are still worn at a few prep schools.
Social class in England as in most ountries has had a powerful impact in history and society. Class in Britain has perhaps had a more powerful impact thn in most countries because England has not undergone revolutionary change as in many other ountrues (America, France, Germany, Russia, and other countries). The British class system is probably the nost studied in the world. It like that in the rest of Rurope was based or arustocracy and land ownership. It was somewht modified by the English Civil War when the yoemany dominated Parliament stood up to King Charles and roual absolutism. It was also affected by capitalism the Industrial Revolution. This underminded the economic power of the landed airistocracy resulting in a collision between the two during the Victorian era. The advent of democracy led to a struggle between the wealthy, middle class, and working class. The whole story has become even more complicated as the working class has merged with the middle class and Britons debate whether socialism which was once thought to the future is benefeficial or harmful to nation well being. Schools have played an important role in this whole process. Especially with the rise of capitalism and industry, education was the key to success. Yet England lagged behind two of its most important rivals (America and Germany) in building a free state education system. The landed airistocravy resisted. As a result private schools, namely the public (elire private boarding schools) dominated English education and strongly influenced the grammar schools and other schools in the 19th century. This included school uniform because it was mostly at the private schools that school uniform styles including headwear originated in the private schools. And the most important headwear item was the peaked cap. Ironically unlike America where the peaked cap camme to have an upper-class image. Iwas worn at virtually all schools, including schools that did not have uniforms. The peaked cap became a kind of national symbol of English boyhood. It was even worn by Our William--a cartoon charater familar to all English people. While originating in the private schools it was so widely adopted througout the private and state schools that it ceased to have any class connotations.
Headwear was the most diverse schoolear item. and this only increased when more giels began attending boardijg schools. The first schools in England were for boys. This included the boarding schools. When private schools for girls were established (mid-19th century), te schools had to develop a program suited fr their needs. The girls' schools adopted the philosophy and much of the program of the boys' schools with some modifications. This included the uniform. But of couese the girls could not dress like boys. Girls were expected to wear skirts and dresses. Girls began wearing decidedly boysish items like ties and blazers, both strongly associated with the boys' public schools. There were of course differences aswell. The two main differences were headwear and of course skirts rather than trousers. The one boys' headwear style that proved popular for the girls was the boater. Soon we see more girls wearing voaters than boys. Other wide rounded-crown hatswith turned up brims were very popular. Boys in state and private schools commonly wore peaked caps. We are less sure what headwear girls in state schools wore.
England is noted for two types of school uniform headgear. The type most associated with England is the peaked school cap. Virtually all British schoolboys wore peaked caps in the 20th century through the 1950s. They were worn at both
state and private schools even though the state schools did not have unifirms. They at first in the late-19th century appear to have been used as a kind of sports or games cap at private school. Eventually they became a standard uniform item and were even worn at state schools without uniforms. We assune the schools must haveinsisted that the boys wear them. Pyherwise they would have not been unuversal. A great variety of colors, including circles and school crests decorated these caps which flooded British streets with boys going and coming to school. The second type of headgear is the boater. This was a privte school headwear type. This hat was much less common than the traditional school cap, but we see quite afew images. Like the school cap, it firstvappeared in the 19th century. It was worn at several public schools and still is at a few like Harrow. While these are the two best known school headgear, there were a variety of other types of headgear worn by British boys and even morevby thecgirl. .
Owuadey, Seth A. E-mail message, January 2, 2004.
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