The first recorded use of school uniforms is in England in 1222. Students at one school were required to wear a robe-like outfit called a ‘cappa clausa’. However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that modern school uniforms made an appearance in recorded history.
During this time, Christ’s Hospital boarding school mandated uniforms, that according to the BBC, citizens provided. The uniforms consisted of a blue cloak and yellow stockings, thus earning charity schools like Christ’s Hospital the nickname ‘blue cloak’ schools.
Private and Preparatory School Uniforms
Later, school uniforms became associated with the upper class as private and preparatory schools began to use them more. Uniforms at these schools were incredibly formal. For example, students at the prestigious Eton College were required to wear a black top hat and tails as their uniform up until 1972.
Today, many students attending elementary and secondary schools in England are required to wear uniforms. The tradition began as a way to give schools a sense of identity and cohesion. School uniforms were meant to bring equality to the students regardless of their parents’ wealth, says BBC.
In the past several years, uniforms have become more modern. Instead of the traditional uniform of a blazer and tie in a thick fabric, T-shirts or polo shirts and sweatshirts in school colors have become standard. Plain colored pants or jeans are also worn at some schools.
On the other hand, some schools have chosen to keep things just the way they have been for hundreds of years. For example, BBC reports that Christ’s Hospital polled students in 2014 and 95% voted to keep the traditional uniform, citing school pride as a top reason.