School Uniform Garments: Jumper Styles

Figure 1.--These boys from a small prep school wear plain grey jumpers without the school colors. Note the name tag one of the boys wears on his kneesocks.

The school jumpers worn by British boys were originally plain grey wool sweaters. Many schools continued to wear the plain grey jumpers because they were the least expensive. This was most common at state primary and secondary schools. Even some prep schools, however, had plain grey jumpers in an effort to keep the cost of the uniform as low as possible. This was particularly common at small prep schools. British school boys have worn several styles of jumpers. The long sleeved "V" neck permitting the tie to show has been the most common since the 1960s, but several differet styles have been worn at various schools:


A popular style of jumpers in the 1940s and 50s had collars attached. These were mostly grey, but some blue or brown. They were all made in heavy wool for winter wear. They were mostly worn at prep schools but many primary-age boys wore them to school even tough there was no uniform requirement. This style was very popular in the 1940s, but had generally disappeard by the 1960s. A few prep schools, however, as late as the 1980s still required them for the school uniform. This style of jumper did not have a "V" front and was often worn without ties. Some schools required the boys to wear ties, but they were barely visible.


The dominant style of jumper used by schools in England is the "V" neck so they could be worn with ties. This style has been worn since the 1920s when Eton collars went out of fashion. Boys began wearing soft collars with the modern school tie. The sweaters needed to have "V" necks so that the tie could be seen. The "V" neck sweater has continued to be the primary style worn by English schoolboys through the 1980s. Many schools in the 1990s, however, are replacing "V" neck sweaters, ties, and blazers for sweatshirts with the school logo. The trend reflects the increasinly casual appraoch to school uniform in many countrues--even England. Cost may be another factor motivating this change.


Given the climate, most English school jumpers were long-sleeved. A few schools, however, have sleeveless jumpers. Almost always the sleevless jumpers had "V" necks. Some schools had both sleeved ans sleveless styles an the boys could choose which omes to wear. Some schools may have mandated the seasonal changeover, but HBC does not know of any at this time. We also do not know of anu schools that onlu had the sleeveless style.

Cadet Jumpers

Another type of jumper were the crew neck sweaters with shoulder patches, Some had elbow patches and pen holders as well. They look like hunting jackets, but the origin seems to be military uniforms. This was not a common jumper style, but we note it being worn at several schools. These are often called cadet jumpers. They were commonly worn at Enhlish public (exclusive private secondary) schools that had cadet programs. Some British preparatory (exclusive private primary) schools also aopted them for younger boys. They are usually blue or blue grey. I have seen Scout groups wearing olive green sweaters in this style, but the olive green ones were not common at prep dchools. They appear to have been based on the military style intriduced by cadet programs at the public schools. We are not sure just what branch of the British military may have used them, but believe all three used these sweaters. These jumpers were as far as we can tell, made with a crew neck. Thus it basically covered ties. Most schools did not require ties to be worn with these sweaters, but some schools did.


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Created: December 4, 1998
Last updated: 3:41 AM 10/28/2010