You know that first day of school when your parents prepare your clothes for school? Did you know where this first start?
Having a huge impact and being at the same time a symbol and a utility, uniform today is an indispensable element for the performing of a society. Uniform present, only with the help of a few details, a culture, a space and the history of a society. If we are talking about a police officer, a doctor, a pupil, a military, a priest or a railway driver, each carries with him, through his clothes, a story, a history, a code of laws, a set of behaviours. At the sight of the uniform, people have predictable expectations, assumptions.
Where did all begin?
The uniform has a quality which many, still, have lived by differentiating one from another. For example, from the first years when we understand which they mean, we understand the responsibility of some institution from just looking to some clothes. Uniforms in schools have a tradition of centuries, a tradition started in England – the first time when it was introduced was in 1222; even so, only in the 16th century, the students wore uniforms, at a bigger scale. Later, in the 18th century, it became a way of life and, at the same time, a way of presenting yourself to society: the wealthy students must be recognized! They had impressive wardrobes, consisting of dozens of jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, hats, gloves – things have developed so much that even within the same school the pupils’ uniforms had small differences, codes that signaled their position, the privileges they enjoyed.
Depending on the number of buttons on a jacket, how to wear the hat and other details, the others knew whom they were dealing with. The 1960s, with their liberation spirit across the Western world, have relaxed the iron traditions of English uniforms, but they have never been abandoned, and today is a reason for pride for students in educational institutions. What is important to mention is that in schools where poor children were coming to this method of wearing uniforms was used to distinguish them from others. They were forced to dress simply because they lived in charity, their worn clothing showing their material condition. For three centuries, only poor children wore uniforms, but after that, this was established in all UK educational establishments.
The first models of uniforms appeared in the UK were made of a blue jacket, like a trench, white shirt, and pants. Blue was used for these because it was the cheapest color and meant humiliation – the uniform was set up to place orders where there was none, and chaos was the order of the day. After the idea of the uniform appeared, it became an obsession for the British and a method of gaining some order in society and creating some delimitation. Many of the public, preparatory or military schools have adopted this style quite fast; the uniform is representing a visible symbol and a way of highlighting the social status.
History of school uniforms – the evolution of societies
Even if we are referring to British school uniforms or American school uniforms, we can say that things become a little complicated as time went by. A schoolboy, at the end of the 18th century, could have tons of shirts, ties, jackets, pants, hats, gloves, socks and shoes. As early as the 19th century, the wardrobe became even more complicated, given in sports (which required special equipment) were better organized. Also, since that time, when the girls started to attend schools, their wardrobe was even more elaborate: dresses in various cuts, skirts, hats, watches, corsets, shoes, handkerchiefs, gloves and stockings. So, we can say that when was school invented, so was the uniform.
In France, the school uniform was introduced only between 1927-1968, in Poland – only until 1988, and in Germany and Switzerland, it reminds very much of the costumes for sports. When we are thinking to totalitarian societies, we need to know that they had other perspectives when it came to the issue of school uniforms. The State Party, called nationalist, fascist, or legionary, wanted to equip children, prepare them to be guided in the spirit of discipline and propaganda, to enter the army of civil servants or to create a man in a society in which no one is indispensable, all of them are identical and substitutable, only pieces of the state machinery. As for the Russian uniform, it appeared in 1834 – it was made after the military uniform. In 1896, uniform appeared in gymnasiums: brown dresses with collars and aprons, black for every day and white feast.
Even if the conservative British kept this uniform until today, unchanged, we all could say that they know how to wear them with pride. Even if for many this is just a detail, you need to know that this is an important one in the development of a society. At some point, even I was unsure of this matter, and I decided to pay someone to write my research paper about this fact. Not only that I received tips for good writing, but I had a professional view and an objective one with all the information needed.
General opinion regarding the school’s uniform?
Many would blame this way of rule, but at the same time, many choose to have, with pride, a uniform in their school. It is important to see the side on which this obligation is put on: to make a differentiation between some children (the ‘bad side’) or to help them understand that at some point there is no need to create barriers between people and having the same cloths help everyone understand that.