School Uniform in the 1960s.

There have always been school uniforms and certain features never change – dark colours, ties, blazers, badges etc. One of the main things I remember about wearing a school uniform is that it was a rite of passage. Back in those times, in Britain, state primary schools didn’t normally have uniforms. My first school uniform was my high school one. How exciting it was, during that summer, to buy all the items on the list in readiness for moving into my new school in September! Learning to tie a tie was one of my tasks over the summer holiday before moving up to ‘big school’.

At that time, in my school and probably most others, the first and second year pupils wore gymslips (girls) and short trousers (boys). A gymslip, for those unfamiliar with the term, is not an item of gym wear but a pinafore dress, much like a skirt with a bib top.  In your third year, as you were coming up to 13 years old, girls moved on to skirts and boys to long trousers. With the skirts, gymslips and short trousers we wore long socks. Girls wore short white ankle socks in summer. Under the skirt or gymslip we wore big, thick navy knickers. They were worn over normal white cotton pants so I can only think they were for warmth and maybe decency – in case your skirt blew up? They were perhaps the least favoured item of uniform.

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The hat was an intrinsic part of the uniform. In our school the girls wore berets, the boys caps. Our berets were called tams. The hat had to be worn whenever you were outside the school premises in your uniform, even if it was well outside school hours. If a member of staff or a prefect spotted you in the town without your hat on you were punished. Most girls pushed the limit by clipping the hat so far on to the back of the head that they looked as though they had no hat on – which was also punishable! We had uniform scarves too, and navy belted gaberdine macs.

There was no choice of school bag style – it was a leather satchel. I had the same one all the way through high school – seven years! On PE day the regulation sports bag was a navy duffel bag.


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This is a photograph of a group of girls from my school with two teachers showing the shirts, ties, skirts (regulation length – although we used to roll the waistband over when there were no teachers looking to make them more like mini-skirts) and the white ankle socks.


As an afterthought, here is a photograph of all the staff at my high school in the mid 60s – no uniform except for the fact that those who had degrees taught in black gowns. . . .


. . .  and one of a class (we called them forms) with their form teacher for that year, who was our Geography master.




14 thoughts on “School Uniform in the 1960s.

  1. I’m afraid I never learnt to tie my tie! I had a loose knot in it, so just dropped the tie over my head and tightened it. We wore black stockings with our gymfrocks (as we called them here). When I started high school we regarded them as hideous, but by the time I left school black stockings or tights were fashionable, and considered sexy!

    Our summer uniform was a horrible light green pinafore, worn over a short sleeved white cotton blouse, with white ankle socks. We wore matching green “rompers” underneath, over our normal knickers. We did PE in our rompers. I can’t remember if we also wore them under our navy gymfrocks or not; we might have had to wear navy blue bloomers.

    I hated almost every minute of high school, so I want to say, “Yuk” even when thinking of the uniform after all these years.

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  2. Sounds very similar to my uniform when I started at secondary school in 1971 – gymslips for the first 2 years and then skirts. Both had to be at least knee length and worn with regulation navy blue ‘gym knickers’ underneath. Indoor PE was done in just gym knickers and a white polo shirt, which came as a shock after being allowed to wear skirts or shorts for PE at primary school.
    We all hated our berets too.


  3. I went to a girl’s Grammar School in 1961 and the worst part of our uniform was the hat. Not just a beret – oh no – it was a felt Panama hat in winter and a straw one in summer. We too clipped them to the back of our heads, but as they were a large dome shape, they must have looked ridiculous! Our skirts were nowhere near as short as the ones in the photo. We had to kneel down, and if our skirt didn’t touch the floor, it was too short. It had to cover your knees fully – except when we rolled the waistband over and over to make them into mini skirts. Until a teacher caught you, that is!

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  4. I loved looking at your photos then I chuckled when I found out that the teachers were those who had degrees 😀😀. In modern times many people now have a degree and having a masters degree or Phd is now a common thing😀. Thanks for sharing this.

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  5. Started grammar school in 66, gymslips for the first year then over to pleated skirts. The beauty of the pleated skirt being it rolled up to make it shorter, that was, after all, the mini skirt age!
    We had the navy blue knickers, and inspections for them! I never wore other knickers underneath and don’t recall other girls doing so, though I can’t say that I kept a check on that!
    Had the usual summer dresses, a lot cooler if it was hot, but rather thin and the and the darker colour of your knickers tended to show through if the didn’t wear an underskirt.

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