English School Uniforms: Richard--Personal Experiences (1970s)

Figure 1.--.

I was born in 1966. My school days dragged through the 1970s and early 80s. I had a mix of education as my father was in the RAF and as a result I managed to attend several schools before settling before the serious examinations loomed! A mix of state primary, secondary, prep & independent senior schools. The RAF bit is important as it was a relatively closed environment with strong views concerning behaviour, manners, dress etc of servicemen and especially snco's or officers children. I initially attended school in Cyprus, had a short stint in Germany but was mainly educated in the UK; even the overseas schools were essentially British. I somehow ended up teaching and working as Head of Boarding in the Independent sector. I'm still not quite sure how that happened as it was never an aim or intention of mine! Anyway here are some notes albeit a little disjointed and incomplete covering my schooling from start to finish. Not a lot of detail about uniforms or clothes worn as I really can't remember a lot of detail other than a few bits which stick out. There are not many photos of me or my brother but when I next go into the attic I'll have a browse.

Clothing Attitudes

Certainly through my childhood one would not have even thought about let alone questioned what one was expected to wear save perhaps when being dressed up in fancier clothes for special events and the like. I would not say boys enjoyed or did not enjoy wearing shorts; it was simply what we wore. My main point here is that children at the time had little input or interest in clothes until their later teens carries through even though it was a period of big fashion changes; mainly led by musical influences. As children we were dressed as per current fashions but that was more determined by parental choice than our own direct input. Obviously that changed as we grew older and more worldly wise and social systems changed. Being from a relatively closed background founded on what one would term traditional values living within a military environment and isolated schooling my experiences are likely to be a lot different to others raised differently but I'd still suggest that children generally simply did as they were told, didn't question much and until mid to late teens were not particularly fashion conscious. School uniform was just an accepted state of affairs whatever you were expected to wear. Outside of school time the later 70s probably saw more of a move towards children determining more with regards to what they wore socially which has now reached the extreme where even pre-school children in some areas/income groups are making demands about exactly what they will or won't wear re designs, brands etc.

Clothing Preferences

There were only a few times in my childhood where I can recall not liking what I was expected to wear. One in particular stands out. I had a pair of navy blue polyester trousers with two yellow bands around the legs near the bottom. Very stylish for the early 70s boyswear. I hated them as in my mind they were the sort of thing girls wore and I fond them uncomfortable due to the cut and fabric. Maybe that was the start of my complete lack of fashion sense but I much preferred to wear 'boys' clothes... Which just happened to include shorts. I did not have any jeans until into my teens. My parents did not like them (probably a class thing) and they simply weren’t worn by my peer group. Other trousers were more readily available and usually cheaper.

Military Family

I had a somewhat unusual background I suppose compared to most. Being raised in a military setting is very insular and probably far more conservative and demanding regarding the expectations placed upon you. I know that those i knew from outside this world were allowed to behave and dress quite differently. that was most noticeable at family parties were we were always expected to be dressed up and sit quietly whereas the others would be dressed much more casually and allowed to run about. we would get 'released' to play only after one of our relatives had made the suggestion to our Mother. It would not be uncommon for us to be shirts, ties and jackets (sometimes in shorts othertimes in trousers) whereas our cousins would be in more casual shirts and trousers or in the case of the girls skirts or dresses. I never saw any of them in 'casual' jackets. Although we were not too keen on being the only ones so dressed up in comparison to the others we also felt that we were much smarter and more grown up, especially when complimented on our manners - behaviour and manners were big things constantly drummed into us at home and at school. I can't remember wearing school uniform at social events like that but did used to have to put them on for a few minutes when relatives visited the first time so my Mum could show us off.

Cyprus (1970-72)

You might wonder what a British boy was doing on Cyprus so a little basic history may be in order. Cyprus was a British colony at the time World War II broke out and provided useful bases during the fighting in the Mediterranean. The British remained in Cyprus after the War as part of its overseas defense and peace keeping commitments. We were strationed there for a few years. My memmories are a little hazzy, but by all accounts I thrived there as a very young boy and had many local friends. I even learned some Greek, but unfortunately forgot it quickly after returning to Britain. As it was very warm, I wore as little clothing as possible. I wish I could remember more as Cyprus was such a fascinating place. Turkey seized northern Cyprus a few years after we left.

Germany (1972)

We had a short stop in Germany on the way back to England but not long enough for me to remember much about it.

Home to England (1972- )

Once back in England we moved around a couple of times usually staying with relatives as my Father had not received his latest posting details yet. He worked on a couple of Stations whilst we lived reasonably close by. This meant that I sampled more schools. Not being at either of them particularly long and only beieng about 6 or 7 at the time there is not much to say other than it was always good to be the centre of attention as the new boy, especially as these schools were not populated by Station Brats (occasionally called Runway Brats) so my lifestyle was something very different. Having a deep tan, blonde hair and (to them) a strange accent all added to the fun. I attended several different state primary schools. I started at a state secondaty, but was not very happ there so my parents transferred me to a day prep school and then I began to board.


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Created: 6:26 PM 3/25/2007
Last Updated: 2:45 AM 3/31/2007