School uniforms are common in primary and secondary schools in many nations. They are the most widely known form of student uniform; other types of which include uniforms worn by students participating in higher vocational training, such as in health occupations.
Traditionally, school uniforms have been subdued and professional. Boys' uniforms often consist of dark trousers and light-colored shirt, tie. Girls' uniforms vary greatly between countries and schooling systems, but typically consist of a dress or a blouse worn either with a skirt, culottes or under a pinafore. Gender-specific uniforms have been a point of contention, with some schools permitting female students to choose either skirts or trousers while still requiring male students to wear trousers. The use of a blazer or suit-like jacket for either gender is also fairly common, especially in cold weather.
In continental Europe, they have not been required in public (state-sponsored) schools. Private schools, though, often have a school uniform or a strict dress code. This is different in the United Kingdom and Ireland, however, where the majority of state secondary schools adopt a uniform for a more formal look.
School uniforms in Australia have traditionally followed the model of their British counterparts. Most private and government schools, in all Australian states, have a compulsory uniform policy, though the degree of enforcement varies. For boys, the uniforms generally include trousers, shorts, jumpers and a button-up shirt and/or polo shirt. Girls' uniforms generally include skirts, culottes, dresses, jumpers, blouses and/or poloshirts and sometimes also trousers and shorts. At Private schools, uniforms for either gender often include a blazer, tie and hat. A different uniform specifically for sports is usually worn for physical education activities. These can include skin tight leggings, shorts, tennis skirts/netball skirts. Some schools require special shoes to be worn. The uniform displayed in the left picture is from a public school.
Government schools, especially primary schools, in Australia tend to be more flexible with the way the school uniforms are worn. In stark contrast, most private schools are strict when regarding presentation of the school uniform.
In recent times Year 12 students at Australian schools have been allowed to wear special jumpers (Leavers Jumpers) or printed tops to denote their final year status. In some schools this has taken the form of a different coloured jumper (sometimes white or cream), a special commemorative year 12 top (eg a rugby top) with the last two digits of the year and a name or nickname displayed, other tops are printed with the names of all students in that year level.) Some schools also have different ties or blazers for senior years.
There are also some schools in eastern Canada that have converted to being Academies as opposed to standard secondary schools. These facilities usually require a uniform, most often a white shirt over a grey or dark patterned skirt or pants.
A few private schools also require students to wear formal British-style school uniforms (blazers and ties).
From the 16th century, students (especially of secondary or grammar schools and similar institutions) were often subject to regulations that prescribed, for example, modest and not too stylish attire. In many cases these regulations were part of wider laws concerning the clothing of all citizens of certain social classes. A blue coat became a widespread, obligatory status symbol of students of secondary schools; it fell out of use during the latter half of the 18th century. In newer times, school uniforms in any real sense did not exist outside of convent schools and private boarding schools. At times, certain fashions became so widespread that they approached uniform status; this is true in particular for so-called student hats (Schülermützen) that became widespread from the 1880s on and remained somewhat popular until they were banned by the Nazis. Their wearing was advocated by teachers and the students themselves and occasionally made mandatory, but never on a national or state-wide level. Another instance are the sailor suits that became fashionable around the turn of the 19th century. These, too, were not usually a prescribed uniform.
The Nazis banned student hats – the last remaining, if voluntary, form of unified student clothing – because they considered them an attribute of class society. They did, however, institute mandatory membership in the uniformed Hitler Youth (HJ) from 1936 on. HJ uniforms were worn in the Adolf Hitler Schools and in the Napolas; students of other schools sometimes wore them to school at their own discretion.
In recent times, the introduction of school uniforms has been discussed, but usually the expression "uniform" is avoided in favour of terms like "school clothing." School clothing has been introduced in a small number of schools, for example in Hamburg-Sinstorf in 2000, and in Friesenheim and Haag (Oberbayern) in 2005. In these cases the clothes are collections of shirts, sweaters, and the like, catering to contemporary fashion senses. Uniforms in a more traditional sense are almost never proposed in earnest.
School uniforms used to be the norm in Israel in the early days of the state's existence, but have since fallen out of favour. However, in recent years, the number of schools using school uniforms has been increasing once more. Many teachers, parents and students all around the country are in favour of returning the school uniform into common use as to prevent the deepening of the gap between children who aren't well-off and children who are. Nowadays school uniforms are mainly associated with schools belonging to the national religious school system, which is separated to secular Jewishi schools . Arab Israeli schools also frequently require uniforms: for girls, it's often a pinafore to be worn over trousers and shirt.
Today, school uniforms in Israel consist only of a shirt with the school logo. In the summer, the uniform shirt is a simple T-shirt, while in the winter, the shirts worn are warm sweaters and hooded sweaters. Although the shirts are uniform, they usually come in various colours, and allow students to customize and express themselves even while wearing a uniform. The shirts sell for a very small amount of money, so that even those who do not have a lot of money can acquire them.
However, until the early Seventies many high schools required girls to wear black grembiule (resembling a doctor smock) on top of their clothes: no uniform was required for boys. Perhaps this was because back in the days high schools were the only public schools to be co-ed (as opposed to junior schools and elementary), and girls may be required to "cover up" not to distract their male counterparts. Indeed this policy was highly disputed during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and later abolished.
Nowadays, many pre-schools advise parents to dress their children with a grembiulino, ie a small grembiule, usually shorter and more colourful, that can be purchased for very cheap.
Some elementary school advise some kind of grembiule for the younger pupils. Sometimes girls are required to wear a pink or white grembiulino, while boys may be required to wear a short cotton jacket, usually blue or black. In other cases both boys and girls may be required to wear a more neutral blue grembiule.
Some parents send their children to school in a grembiule even if the schools does not require it.
Poet and children writer Gianni Rodari used to describe adults' life as "a school without grembiule and school desk"
In 2004 the Italian chapter of WWF warned that synthetic grembiule were harmful to pupils.
In July 2008 Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini proposed the re-introduction of grembiule in publich schools, promting a debate on the Italian press.
Japan introduced Western-style school uniforms in the late 19th century as a part of its modernization program. Today, school uniforms are an established part of Japanese life. They are almost universal in the public and private school systems with various schools being known for their particular uniforms. They are also used in some women's colleges.
In many areas, elementary school students do not need to wear a uniform to school. Where uniforms are required, many boys wear white shirts, shorts, and caps. The uniform codes may change depending on the season to work with the environment and occasion.
The junior and senior high school uniform traditionally consists of a black military style uniform for boys and a sailor outfit for girls. These uniforms are based on Meiji era formal military dress, which were in turn modelled on European-style naval uniforms. While this style of uniform is still in use, many schools have moved into more western pattern parochial school uniform styles.
Students are also required to wear white socks and white shoes with the above uniform. For modesty reasons as well, most schools require female students who wear the baju kurung to wear a plain-coloured camisole underneath.
In addition to these, schools usually have their own school badges which must be sewn or ironed onto the uniform - generally the left chest. Some schools also require students to sew their name tags in addition to the school badge. For upper forms, students generally have to wear a school specific tie, except those who are wearing the baju kurung.
In Malaysia, Muslim girls tend to wear the baju kurung. Most of them start wearing a white hijab upon entering secondary school, for religious reasons. Non-Muslim girls tend to wear the pinafore. Some non-Muslim girls also wear baju kurung, and some Muslim girls wear the pinafore. This crossover is quite common, and is usually due to the girls wanting more variety in their choice of uniform, level of comfort, or wanting to blend in or stand out with the more commonly worn uniform in their school.
Girls who choose to wear the pinafore, especially those attending co-ed schools, also usually wear shorts under their pinafore to allow for carefree movement as the skirt of the pinafore only covers up to the knee. Those who wear the baju kurung tend not to wear shorts under their long skirt as their long skirt already covers their legs.
Public schools also have their own authority to set special school uniforms for prefects, class monitors, librarians and as such, there are many varieties of them depending on schools.
Neckties are often worn by prefects, class monitors, librarians, and other students of rank. Some schools have neckties as standard issue, but even then, the neckties are generally reserved for school events and public appearances, and are not part of the everyday school uniform.
The hairstyle of students is also given attention by schools and the Ministry of Education. Schools do not allow students to colour their hair. For boys, there is usually a maximum length of hair allowed, for example, the hair must be a few centimetres above the collar, and no sideburns are allowed. The use of hair gel is prohibited in some of the stricter schools, in order to prevent excessive hairdressing. For girls with long hair, their hair must be properly tied up, often into a ponytail. Some schools dictate the colour and type of hair accessories that can be used. Some schools even prohibit girls from having long hair. Also, wearing make up in school is prohibited.
Schools usually enforce their school uniform code thoroughly, with regular checks by teachers and prefects. Students who fail to comply may be warned, given demerit points, publicly punished, sent home from school or even caned.
The uniform in most Malaysian kindergartens is the sailor uniform. These schools also tend to have a sports uniform. The remainder have uniforms identical to that of the public primary school uniform.
Being allowed to wear long trousers as part of the uniform, rather than shorts, often marks the transition from junior to senior classes. At some schools, seniors are allowed to wear mufti casual clothing. It is customary for boys' schools to have long ("knee-high") socks in school colours worn with shorts, in contrast to that of American or Mexican schools, where girls wear knee-high socks..
During the 1980s and 1990s there was a tendency for the traditional uniform to be replaced by cheaper and more 'modern' options: polo shirts, polar fleece tops, or a complete doing away with uniforms in favour of mufti. This trend seems to have been reversed in recent years and only a small number of secondary schools have now abolished uniforms entirely. Intermediate schools usually provide the option of skirts or culottes for girls and sometimes shorts while boys will wear shorts. Also bike shorts or tights are sometimes worn under girls skirts. At high school girls will usually wear skirts or pants and boys will wear shorts or pants. Some Girls Schools also have navy blue skirts and open necked white blouses long in winter and short in summer as the skirts are not allowed higher than below the knee; the skirts also have splits up the center at the back
Although strictly enforced when young, older school children personalise their clothing e.g. by wearing low coloured jeans instead of pants, or girls might wear a hijab. Young kids however can face fines, can be sent back home and can even face verbal and physical punishment for not wearing the right clothes. Some school provide a day where boys and girls can wear "coloured clothes" i.e. anything that they wear normally while others do away with uniforms altogether by the time they reach A levels.
In madraasas, boys normally wear a white cap and the traditional Pakistani dress of shalwar kamiz. Girls also wear this but almost always wear a hijab or a "dubatta" (shawl) on their heads. Shalwar kamiz is a traditional dress which is not only worn as a school uniform, but is also worn as normal clothing. It is also very necessary for a girl to wear a hijaab or a "dupatta", to show respect and look disciplined.
School uniforms are common in Philippine schools for both elementary and high school, as well as a few colleges. For boys, a school uniform normally consists of a white shirt (some similar to the Barong Tagalog) with short sleeves and slacks of either khaki, black or blue. For girls, a uniform would be a white blouse with short sleeves, a ribbon, a necktie and a pleated skirt.
In the 1970s and 80s, school uniforms were usually white long-sleeved shirts and neckties with black slacks for boys, while short or long sleeved blouses with ribbon and blue pleated skirts for girls. During that time, the skirts were usually shorter, ranging from about half an inch after the upper knee or shorter, while the longest was 1 inch before the lower knee. Due to the growing cases of abuses, the school uniform code for girls slowly grew stricter until the late 1990s, when skirts were made much longer.
Some schools, especially for boys, require wearing a coat and tie alongside the white shirt. But it is usually required in colleges and international schools.
The style of Soviet school uniform was modernized in 1962, and since that time was modified each decade. There could be some variations across different Soviet Republics. Boys generally wore dark blue pants and jackets, girls — brown dresses with black aprons and black bows (on special occasions, white aprons and bows were worn). The members of the Young Pioneer organization, to which literally every student belonged, wore famous red neckties. Special sport uniforms also existed for physical education classes. In the early 1980s, a dark blue three-piece suit was introduced for girls and the strict rules on haircuts were loosened.
In 1992, mandatory school uniforms were abolished. Today, there is no unified standard uniform in Russia, however, many gymnasiums and lyceums, especially prestigious ones, as well as certain schools may have their own uniform that students are required to wear. Educational institutions without a uniform may also have a certain dress-code.
There is also modern-day tradition for girls to dress into brown Soviet-style school uniform for their graduation ceremony.
Girls' uniforms may differ from school to school, however all uniforms are a white single piece frock. The differences may include the dress having short sleeves or no sleeves and having a collar or not. Most girls schools require their students to wear a tie.
For ceremonial occasions both boys and girls may wear the a white or black blazer (depending on the school, with its badge) with the school's tie.
International schools have their own individual uniforms of different color and styles.
In summer months teachers usually allow their students if they do not prefer to wear uniforms. Also during trips students usually do not wear uniforms. None of the universities or higher education institutes have uniforms.
School uniforms have a long history in Turkey, the reason it was first introduced was because normal clothing would give hints about the child's family's economic situation. In order to prevent groupings amongst children from different social classes uniforms were accepted.
Schools vary widely on how prescriptive uniform is, and how much the wearing of it is enforced.
Typical British secondary school uniform sometimes, but not exclusively, consists of:
Many schools also specify PE kit, which might consist of:
Many schools (both private- and state-funded) have moderately strict rules on the wearing of make up, jewellery or 'trendy' clothing. Most schools in the United Kingdom do not suffer the fairly common 'clothing cliques' found in countries where uniforms are not so prevalent. However children with cheap or poorly kept school uniform often become socially excluded.
Over the last ten years a trend towards wearing school sweatshirts and polo shirts or t-shirts, (as well as more casual styles of trousers, such as plain, dark-coloured jeans, cargo pants or tracksuit bottoms), has spread throughout schools in the UK, particularly in London. This was seen as a way to modernise the uniform as well as make it more affordable to lower income families who couldn't afford blazers, etc. Equally temperatures in classrooms have changed over the last 50 years in the United Kingdom due to both environmental reasons and also the introduction of central heating systems. This has in most schools made older uniforms such as thick jumpers, blazers and shirts highly impractical, especially in the summer months, prompting many schools to adopt more casual temperate uniforms. Still, in some cases, schools are re-introducing the blazer and tie in a bid to 'smarten up' their pupils and combat bullying.
In most state schools girls can wear trousers instead of skirts as part of their uniform. Particularly in sixth-forms which have uniforms, the tailored shorts that are now in fashion in the UK are being permitted during the summer months. Unlike in the United States there is no law forcing gender-impartial uniforms. As a result, especially in privately funded schools, the girls' and boys' uniforms often differ significantly from each other.
Although never an official part of the uniform, the Snorkel Parka became extremely popular as a school winter jacket in the 1970s and 1980s. It was a relatively cheap jacket, affordable by most families and therefore in many schools at the time almost every boy would have one though they were less popular with girls. Although unpopular during the 1990s the Snorkel Parka is now becoming popular again, though nowhere near the popularity it gained in the early 1980s.
In areas with large numbers of people who are not traditionally from the UK, some schools allow female pupils to wear religiously-appropriate clothing, often in the school's typical uniform colours. Depending on the level of religious observance of the pupil, and the school's willingness to permit non-regulation clothing, this can sometimes cause difficulties.
British night clubs often organise uniform theme parties where patrons are asked to wear adult versions of the uniform. Angus Young from the Australian musical act AC/DC often wears his school uniform on stage.
Most state-sponsored schools in the United States do not have school uniforms, though many have dress codes regulating student attire. Dress codes usually include limits on skirt length and skin exposure. They generally include prohibitions on clothing with tears or holes, exposure of undergarments, and anything that is obscene, gang-related, or unsafe. Some school dress codes specify the types of tops (e.g. collared) and bottoms (e.g. khaki) that are allowed, as well as specific colors (often the school colors). In recent years there has been a significant increase in school uniforms (see below) for all levels of schooling. In most cases, while school uniforms vary greatly, a general idea of what is typically permitted includes
According to the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the fraction of American public schools requiring school uniforms rose from 3% in 1997 to 21% in 2000. School uniforms are fairly common for private schools in the United States, especially for Catholic schools. Although many private school uniforms are similar to the ones described above for public schools, a few still require more formal British-style school uniforms, such as blazers and ties. Culottes are also sometimes substituted for a skirt, especially at Episcopalian or non-parochial private schools. In 1994, the Long Beach Unified School District, in Southern California, required school uniforms in all elementary and middle schools. This began a trend for uniforms in American elementary public schools, especially in urban school districts. Most public and private schools in California require school uniform by California state law, mainly to counter gangs and "gang clothing and other gang-related material, especially in the Los Angeles area. President Clinton mentioned LBUSD's efforts in his 1996 State of the Union Address. The adoption of school or district-wide uniform policies (or, alternatively, "standardized dress codes" – which are not as rigid as school uniform requirements, but allow some leeway within set parameters) has been motivated by a need to counter "gang clothing" (or, in the alternative, the pressure for families to purchase upscale-label clothing to avoid their children being ignored by "fashion cliques"), as well as to improve morale and school discipline.
Adolfo Santos, a political science professor at the University of Houston–Downtown, stated that many Hispanic communities in the United States choose uniforms because many immigrants originate from countries with schools requiring uniforms .
"The findings indicate that student uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems, or attendance."
In 2006, a new Education Act was passed within Queensland, Australia. This Act gives school staff within the public education system the power to assign punishment for non-compliance with school uniform dress code. According to the Act, students may not be suspended or expelled for non-compliance with the dress code. Punishment consists of one only of the following three choices for each non-compliance: 1. Detention. 2. Exclusion from any activity that is a non-essential part of the school's education program. 3. Exclusion from any activity where the student will be representing the school. Some Brisbane public schools are readily adopting the strict rules seen in private schools now that they have the ability to do so.
In the Philippines, a presidential order in 2008 abolished uniform requirements in public schools.
In the United Kingdom, technically a state school may not permanently exclude students for "breaching school uniform policy", under a policy promulgated by the Department for Children, Schools and Families but students not wearing the correct uniform are asked to go home and change. If school took religious and cultural beliefs into account when designing the uniform and a student still refuses to wear it, legal proceedings may be brought against the parents for not bringing their child to school.
In the United States, a few states have regulations declaring that public schools must allow students to drop out of uniform policies. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts prohibits dress codes in public schools by declaring that schools may not "abridge the rights of students as to personal dress and appearance.
In 1969, the United States Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District affirmed students' rights to free expression in public schools, although this related to the wearing of a black armband (not to uniforms as such).