An English Schoolgirl’s Wardrobe

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I thought I’d share today about something that is so normal and classic here, but that still makes me roll my eyes– school uniforms. Granted, when I was Amelia’s age, I was being homeschooled with a bunch of other kids, and the only rule about what we could wear was that we had better not have slept in it the night before!  I have never had to wear a school uniform in my life, although all of my Filipino friends wore uniforms for absolutely everything. Not only were the school uniforms distinctive, but you could also figure out where almost anyone worked, just based on their outfit– entire offices of workers wore the same colors and styles. But I still don’t totally get the obession with uniforms.For our first year here, Amelia was going to the state (public) school down the street. Uniforms really only involved a standard gray dress or skirt, with a white top and then royal blue cardigan or sweat shirt. You could find all of the necessary pieces at any store, and they were all really inexpensive. The only tricky part was finding the royal blue cardigans, since that color is not as popular in our area as navy blue, red, and forest green, required by most schools. It was really nice to only need regular clothes for the weekends and vacations, and replacing worn out uniform pieces was fairly easy and inexpensive. And I LOVED the gingham summer dresses!

And seriously, what could be more adorable than a box-pleat skirt and crocheted knee-highs?

Then, we switched to a private Montessori school this year. And uniforms became a big deal. There has been so much talk and energy spent on uniforms! Every time I hear the words “proper uniform” I just want to roll my eyes and shake my head! I don’t know how anybody gets it right, day after day. And the whole uniform situation in private schools is very expensive. We are lucky, in that there is a second-hand shop at our school, where uniforms that have been grown out of can be recycled to younger students. This has been our saving grace– another family we know spent £500 getting one child fully outfitted, with only one dress, and all of the basics. I know that my UK readers may think I’m just being silly here, but let me assure you– the school uniform situation in the USA is just so different, in my (admittedly limited) experience.

On Amelia’s first day at her new school, she was already sporting two dress code violations.

OK, so what exactly does an elementary schoolgirl have to have in her wardrobe for a private school?
Well, first there’s the basic uniform:

Plaid dress (we would call it a jumper, but in the UK, a jumper is a pullover sweater, and a dress like this is a tunic,) white collared shirt, school sweater (jumper in UK terms,) wool blazer with school emblem, red or gray tights, black dress shoes, and the all-important boater hat. Super cute, right? Hair must always be worn up, too.

In the summertime, the girls wear light cotton collared dresses. Amelia’s looks like a candy-striper’s outfit. And I need to fix the button and find the belt that goes with it before the summer weather arrives. (Sigh.)

These are worn with either red tights or white cotton knee socks.

Here’s the one that seriously cracks me up: The Boiler Suit. This sort of thing is pretty much only worn by mechanics in the States. But the kids at Amelia’s school change into these every single time they go outside. “It’s recess, kids! Go change into your boiler suits!”

I guess it’s a good idea to protect those super-expensive uniforms, after all.
Then there is the P.E. gear. One set for indoors and warm weather, one set for outdoors or cold weather.

A collared shirt with the school emblem, and tiny little navy blue shorts. I’m glad they are OK with pink shoes, even though I’m sure they’d prefer black.

 Sweatshirt and track pants, both bearing the school emblem.

In addition to the summer and winter ensembles, the kids each own a smock that they wear for art classes (and maybe cooking classes, not sure!)

 And then, there’s outerwear. Amelia has a big red parka, red mittens, a scarf and a red beanie with the school emblem on it, plus a gray rain slicker/ wind breaker. In addition, she has a huge school-branded duffel bag and backpack. It’s a lot for a kid her size to carry.

Not pictured:  specifically-designed red swimsuit, and school-branded red swim cap, swim-gear bag, shin guards, mouth guard, hockey stick, and a pair of “wellies” (rain boots) to be kept at school.

So, let’s review:
Plaid dress, white collared shirt, school sweater, wool blazer, red or gray tights, black dress shoes, boater hat, cotton collared dress, knee-high socks, boiler suit, P.E. shirt, P.E. shorts, sweatshirt, track pants, tennis shoes, art smock, swim suit, swim cap, beanie, gloves, scarf, parka, rain slicker, sports gear, and wellies.

And to be honest, I’m probably neglecting some odds and ends, and to be even more honest, we’re probably a little non-compliant, missing other pieces of her required uniform that I’m not fully aware of. The staff are probably rolling their eyes and bringing us up in staff meetings as a problem family who can’t seem to keep their kid in “proper uniform.”  Especially when hair clips are blue or pink, instead of the accepted red or black. Proper uniform is apparently super, super important. It’s how the school presents themselves. Anything that is not the same as the other children draws attention and, in a way, disgraces the school. Uniforms seem to be another status symbol, as well– in my experience, the need to dress your kid for a private school is an big expense on top of paying the tuition– it is prohibitive, as most schools do not have a second-hand shop. We only own one of each dress, and all of the items that have a school emblem on them– you can’t buy them cheaply, you have to go through a specific department store or company that has a contract with your particular school.

And here are my questions for you– Americans:  Does this seem a little excessive to you? Brits: Do you struggle with outfitting your kids, or am I being a big baby? Other nationalities: What are your school uniform situations like?

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An English Schoolgirl's Wardrobe

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53 Responses to An English Schoolgirl’s Wardrobe

  1. Joanna February 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Oh yes the school uniform. One advantage they reckon is that it reduces the possibility of those from poorer families standing out, when they don’t buy the newest stuff. That works okay when it is a basic uniform and not the super expensive things for the private schools and even some of those schools that aspire to be private but aren’t. Hope Amelia enjoys the school though, that is the most important part.

    Why did you decide not to home educate? Was that due to your previous experience?

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Joanna. I think that the first set of uniforms at the state school did exactly what you describe– kind of leveling the material playing field, so to speak. I liked them, too!

      I don’t home school my daughter because of her personality (and mine.) She is one of those kids who lives for social interaction at all times. She loves going to school and interacting with as many people as possible. She would be SO miserable if I kept her home with me! And, I would be just as miserable too, since I am the opposite of her. I live for an empty house and for passing hours without speaking to anyone. So going to school works for all of us! I am just glad we are able to send her to a Montessori school, where the approach is similar to what I would do if I were teaching her at home.

      Being home schooled was a fine experience for me. I think I would have done fine in an outside setting, as well. I actually started attending boarding school in 8th grade, and went to school on another island until I graduated from high school and went to college. So I’ve done both extremes, but never just “regular” school.

  2. Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Okay, this is really cute — and obsessively extravagant. And this is a Montessori school? This surprises me.

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      Yes, it is surprising for a Montessori school– but it IS an English one, so that must explain it!

  3. my honest answer February 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    “Uniforms seem to be another status symbol”
    I went to a British private school, and I can tell you, amongst the kids the job uniforms did was the complete opposite. You all looked the same, so there was no worry over someone having ‘cooler’ shoes than you, or the right brand of backpack, no begging parents for the latest anything.

    I do remember it was expensive though, and I had a lot of second hand items, and a lot of stuff bought very big ‘to grow into’. I thought all schools had a decent second hand shop though.

    Also, re: the hairbands and things, I know you think it’s not a big deal. But as a kid who’s mum was always, ‘Oh, green, blue, whatever!’, I’ve got to say that it was annoying because the teachers pull you up on it ALL THE TIME. As you walk out of assembly, you get pulled over. Particularly strict teachers mention it just when they walk past you in the corridor. Once, I had to remove a non-regulation scrunchie (ah, the 90s!) and was given a rubber band to put my hair up with. We all know how much they hurt when they come out! Get yourself to a pound shop and bulk buy the appropriate colour. I swear it will make Amelia’s life a bit easier.

    And pink shoes?! She’s so lucky, we had to wear regulation white plimsolls!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      When I was writing this, I forgot to consider my total lack of experience, in terms of being in school and there being competition for labels, etc. That was never, ever part of my experience, being home schooled, and then going to a boarding school for missionary kids. I can completely(!) see the point in how uniforms would be really positive in that regard. Even in the public school last year, I could tell (because I pay attention to details) which uniforms were more well-made, and which were cheaper. Well-off families definitely chose the more expensive uniforms, even when there were lots of options. I can definitely understand how this could be a big distraction in schools.

      And, I promise you– I DO buy the red clips all the time! But with 3 or more wardrobe changes each day, of course they fall out and get lost at an insane rate. I’ll do better, though. Thanks for the insider perspective! 🙂

  4. Rois February 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Oh my,I think I got lost in the translation.I can see why it could be a full time job getting Miss A ready for school.When my boys were young all I had to really worry about was if they had their homework and lunch box.

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      I know! And to tell the truth, homework, glasses, and allergy-friendly snacks are already a lot to think about each day. Now we have to keep all of these clothes clean, make sure they’re all there, make sure hair is UP, with the right colors of barettes, etc. It is a lot of work, adn the sense of urgency and importance is still something I don’t “get”– but I do my best to act like it’s really important.

  5. Bonnie Rose February 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Let me just say that your daughter looks so cute. I have two boys so we dont get to do all the cute socks and gingham dresses. The private school they were going to last year the girls also wore cute straw hats in the summer.

    Okay so last year the boys were at the Private school that I mentioned and it had a used shop too. Which helped us out big time because we really could not afford all the different outfits for each season plus sports to get brand new. Despite the fact that maybe the jumpers looked a little less new in person it was nice seeing how all the kids looked alike. Plus they looked so cute in their blazers.

    This year we moved and both boys have just started at new schools. since we came here at the end of December and the schools basically have one classroom per year my boys did not get into the school near our house. One boy is at one school and the other is at another school and they are both on a waiting list for another school. Which makes the uniform situation a little more complicated if we change schools this autumn. For the schools right now they both need different coloured schemes and we unfortunately are breaking the dress code in areas until payday. But like you I am glad that all the staple pieces are relatively inexpensive. I love sending them off in Uniform.

    At their old school and at the primary school I went to as a child in Norfolk, each student got assigned a house colour. So we could wear the school shades and then wear that one colour. So for my boys they were both in the Green house (which we affectionately nicknamed ‘Slytherin’).

    Since I dont have girls I kinda like to dress my boys up in buttoned down shirts, vests, ties, etc. So even on the weekend I have them dressed up. They have their ‘american’ clothes for when we go out on country walks and for lounging around in the house.

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Bonnie Rose, I hope things move quickly for you to get your kids into the schools you want! That’s a whole lot of transition in a year!

      I agree that the uniformed kids all look really cute. And the new school’s uniforms are way, way more adorable than the first one’s. I can understand the allure of having all the kids in your school look impeccable each day. It just takes a TON of energy to keep it up! And it is expensive, and the clothes get lost in between multiple changes, and the second hand items are often pretty threadbare, IF they have the right size. What can I say? It just seems like a LOT!

      And I am with you– I like having a well-dressed kid on days off. Since we both take a lot of photos, that makes perfect sense!

  6. Nats February 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    As a Brit I’ve always had to wear a uniform, I was four and a half when I learnt to tie a tie, a proper tie not those ready made things on elastic! It was always drummed into us that we were representing the school when we were in uniform, my mum went to private school and they werent even allowed eat on the way to and from school in uniform, she lost an icecream to a drain when a teacher spotted her once. It is a status thing, for a lot of parents as well as the schools, the more expensive the school, the more wacky the uniform (generally) 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      That is so cute, Nats, that you were tying a tie at age four! This is one of those things that you think are being exaggerated in British movies, that, when you finally get here you realize are totally real and maybe even more intense than you thought!

  7. Hazel February 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    Personally, I like uniform, for all the democratic reasons already mentioned. It gets rid of the competition in wearing the best label or latest style. But I don’t like spending a fortune on regulation swimming costumes and coats…

    My three are all at state schools and Connie’s uniform is red gingham dress/grey skirt/red jumper (sweater!)etc, so I can but it anywhere and use a lot of hand me downs and pass a lot of stuff on myself. They do have a school PE t-shirt and shorts but can wear their own tracksuits and swimming costumes etc.
    The elder two are at secondary school which is stricter and more limited as to where I can buy the tie/pullover/girls blouses/blazers. They have an indoor/outdoor PE/games kit but no swimsuits and coats etc are their own; they’re just supposed to be black.

    Private schools are notorious for being very particular over their uniform- I’m not surprised you’ve had to buy all that equipment really, but I do think it’s overkill.

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Yes, I think that the uniforms are a positive thing, in terms of being an equalizer… But the part I struggle with is how HARD it is to get the proper uniform, and how expensive. I totally wish I could walk into Sainsbury’s buy something off the rack there. But the school is worth it! And it’s refreshing to hear an English person admit that it’s overkill. Thanks. 🙂

  8. Rocio February 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Wow, that is one complicated uniform set, but at least there’s no arguing over what the outfit of the day should be. On one hand, as an American, I understand your frustration with the situation. It does seem like a lot of clothes. On the other hand, I support the idea of uniforms for the all of the reasons mentioned here. There’s a lot of unstated social stigma on the poorer students in U.S. schools. In a way, it could be a form of encouragement to all students (i.e. you cannot stand apart with your clothes so stand out with your mind, etc).

    I wonder if wearing a uniform during the week has led to some odd clothes pairings on the weekend? Has Amelia bottled her fashion creativity Monday through Friday and then gone Alexander McQueen on Saturday? Yes, that’s a serious question. Ha!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      Ha! Amelia’s definitely got a fashion flair, but she is very aware of what everyone else is doing, too, and does an impressive job of picking up on those nuances. She likes to get dressed up on the weekends with as many articles of clothing as possible (one scarf at a time, babe!) but nothing too wild.

      I agree about uniforms being positive overall. I never experienced the normal competition for material status in the school setting, so this is something I don’t always think of– but it’s totally relevant.

  9. Jenny February 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    The boiler suit is just too much!!
    She looks so adorable in her “proper uniform.”
    When we lived overseas (in Australia and England) I LOVED the school uniforms. Ours were of the more basic variety. So wish we had them here in the US.

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Isn’t the “monkey suit” too funny? I just can’t imagine having to get changed every time I went outside! I have saved the gingham dresses from Amelia’s school last year, to keep for her or as hand-me-downs for younger cousins– they are so sweet and classic.

  10. Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    “it is prohibitive” — maybe this is the point? Keep some out of the school?

  11. Tanya February 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I knew the British schools required uniforms, but I had no idea they were so extensive! We don’t have uniforms at my kids’ international school. Sometimes I wish they at least had to wear a school shirt with khaki pants/skirt to give everyone a neater appearance. The boiler suit is such a funny look. I can imagine a class at recess looking like a group of 6-year-old mechanics!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      I do want to witness the “crew” at recess! It cracks me up every time I think of it.
      I think that basic uniforms are great– they usually look neat and tidy, and do take a lot of guesswork out of getting dressed each morning.

  12. Marisa February 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Oh my – absolutely love all of these delightful pictures of Amelia kitted out in her varied school regalia!!! She is a great subject – very game for posing and such. I bet she had fun doing this photo essay! But man – that is a LOT of stuff. I do understand the idea behind uniforms. And honestly I think it is actually a really great idea for many of the reasons others have listed in the comments. It really can help to level the playing field for the poorer students – which seems like a very good thing. But it also seems that there are uniforms and then there is “going overboard!” This seems to my American eyes to be in that category. But I do also recognize that you are living in a different country and that there are historic and cultural reasons behind it all that aren’t familiar to me. I guess in the end, you just have to embrace it and do your best with it. And one day, when Amelia is all grown up, you will relish this slide show of uniforms!! And that boiler suit – oh my goodness that is awesome! I have to admit that it had me laughing out loud. You need to get a picture of Amelia lying under a car or something – photo shoot style!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      It’s been interesting to read both British and American perspectives in this thread. It kind of solidifies my own perspective, that this is super British, and Americans just don’t “get” it the same way the natives do. It’s clear to me that uniforms are just really, really important. I can understand that cognitively, but it’s hard for me to adopt that value for myself. But I’ll just do my best, and maybe still roll my eyes privately when I hear the phrase “proper uniform.”

      And I had a ton of fun taking these pictures with Amelia. I’d just given her a haircut and blow-dry, and she was feeling like a million bucks!

  13. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    Wow…that’s a lot to keep up with. Here in my area of Alabama there is a dress “code” at school ofcourse (no tank tops, skirts and shorts must be a certain length, etc.) but I know of only 1 public school near me that requires a uniform. And I believe they just have to wear khaki pants, skirts, jumpers or shorts and there is a certain color polo style shirt they can wear and white dress shirts too I think. I have a co-worker whose child attends that school and she says she loves the simplicity of it. Another co-worker has two children that attend a private school but I don’t think they have an actual school uniform, just a dress code similar to the public schools. I have to say Amelia looks totally cute in everything, but my sympathy is with you all having to keep track of it all. I’m certain I would forget something. I’m not against uniforms…but I think the simple style is better!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Yes, I am with you, Julie– I like uniforms, but wish it was way, WAY more simple and easy! And we had a dress code at my boarding school, but I remember all of us spending a LOT of time speculating on how far we could push the interpreation of those rules!

  14. Tina @ Girl Meets Globe February 27, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    We’re still in the house hunting phase, so no school uniforms for us yet. I’m so curious what they’ll be though!! I do love the box-pleat skirt and adorable crochet knee highs! Too cute!
    I do think the uniform policies are a bit overboard and excessive. We just came from 6 months in the US. The kids attended public school while there and the uniforms were a simple polo and khaki type pants/skirt/dress/shorts. Lots of options and quite a bit of leeway. I liked it!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Yeah, I like the simple uniforms, with more options to choose from. And the uniforms for the public schools here are so much more affordable here than they are in the US, even! It’ makes so much sense! I LOVE the new school, but this is the one thing that is kind of a drag. Worth it, though!

      And good luck in your house hunting! I hope you’re settled in soon!

  15. Jasanna Czellar February 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Even with the second hand clothing, I’d be broke! I was home-schooled as well and we just couldn’t wear our pajamas! I do like the idea of uniforms though, it just seems more proper and less discriminatory! It would be nice though, if they could limit the items with their school logo on it to 1 or 2, and you could buy the other items elsewhere to make it a bit more affordable!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      I agree completely, Jasanna! This is definitely one of those cultural things that I thnk most Americans will struggle to understand…

  16. Cassie February 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Amelia looks super in her uniform! I love the boiler suit best of all though. I find supervising 30, year 2 kids getting changed for pe stressful enough, let alone, getting them boiler suited up for playtime too! Btw really enjoy reading your blog!

    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Cassie, I’m really happy to hear you’ve been enjoying reading my blog. I know what you mean about the clothing changes. Her class is very small, but I do wonder just how much time they spend changing clothes every day!

  17. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Wow, great post. Loved it! And Miss A is such a great model for her mummy. The clothes are adorable, but yes, it is overkill.

    I went to Catholic school in the US and we had wooly plaid pleated jumpers, white shirts, red ties, the boys had to wear navy pants, white shirt, wooly plaid tie. I never minded it, but we didn’t have the boiler suit (coveralls), swimsuit, etc…

    Now I work for a bank and have to hurt my brain every morning over what to wear. My hubby works for the US Forest Service and wears a uniform….. I’m jealous because he never has to wonder what to wear.


    • Ariana Mullins February 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

      Laurel, one of my favorite things about working at home is that I don’t have to come up with new outfits every day. I tend to be very, er… French(?) about these things, finding one great combination and then wearing it for as many days in a row as I can get away with! Then I find a new ensemble and wear it for all its worth, changing up my hairstyle and scarf, hoping people don’t notice…

    • Anonymous October 18, 2013 at 4:13 am #

      DUDE! You have the same first name as me, Anon.! That is so cool! ^_^

  18. Camilla February 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Wow, this seems to me like somebody (grown up) is walking around the ‘adult school yard’ saying; ‘Look at me, my school is much better than yours!).
    I live in the UK but am Swedish, when I was in school back home we were taught that we were all unique and to celebrate our differences. To me this streamlining of kids is upsetting. And you know what, kids aren’t stupid, when it comes to determining who’s rich/poor, they here about what you did in the holidays, go to the birthday party, see the car you’re dropped of in etc. I am so impressed you’re able to keep your mouth closed 🙂
    Ps.your daughter is very sweet

  19. Caterina B March 1, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Hmmmm….I like the idea of a school uniform. At the very least it would prevent Kindergarteners showing up for school in tutus or party dresses only fit for a costume party. Lots of our Kinder students arrive at school in the winter with spaghetti straps, shorts with tights under them, etc. For the spaghetti straps there is a dress code. The child is taken to the nurse’s office and a t shirt or long sleeved shirt is put on over the revealing dress or top. Last year a first grader came to school with short shorts and silver strappy HIGH heels. I did have to call her mother. Mom said that she had told her daughter that she couldn’t go to school in those things but somehow daughter defied her. Wow! Who is in control here?
    Our school is not many miles from a ski area so you know that it snows a lot here! I don’t know what parents are thinking when their young children arrive at school without a winter jacket or snow boots. It seems that some parents just don’t think. And….this is not a case of the child not owning winter gear, I know for a fact. Sorry for the rant! Yes, I like uniforms!
    But…not so many different ones, you know, just one outfit. That certainly would make it easy and not expensive for the parents and maybe it would prevent little girls from arriving at school on Monday with yet another teeny bopper/celebrity outfit from Walmart with offensive words like “SEXY.”

  20. Mama Macfennell March 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    What a lot of different items for one small person! Your little girl is adorable though. I think the boiler suit is hysterical! I’m not really a fan of uniform (Ssshhh, don’t tell, I’m a teacher you see) I wrote about this topic here

  21. Great Aunt Gretchen March 2, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    As a teacher of students in uniforms sometimes it made our job easier and sometimes more difficult. The first few days of school & on the play ground, it was harder to learn their names, as they all looked fairly similar. But as the year progressed, we could occasionally say, “Little boy in the blue shirt, stop it!” and most of the boys would stop whatever naughty thing they were doing! 🙂
    When our kids wore uniforms we could get them at the local stores & loved hand-me-downs. I wonder if you could buy the logos online? Then just sew them on. 🙂

  22. Dana March 6, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Wow. This is all very interesting. We live in northern Italy where my daughter attends a private Catholic primary school. While most elementary school kids in both private and public school do not wear any types of uniforms, the kids in her school are required to wear smocks over their normal clothing. On physical education days (two times a week for her), they do not wear smocks and are supposed to wear a PE uniform, which is a t-shirt and jogging suit with the school logo; however, any old comfortable outfit will do! She also keeps a pair of sneakers at school to be used exclusively for PE.
    There are no rules regarding smocks — any color and style will do. In fact, I’ve never seen or heard of any steadfast rules regarding dress code, and just yesterday my daughter went without a smock bc we couldn’t find it! No problem. She attends what is considered the most exclusive school in our area. (On another note…tuition at this school is not crazy expensive, either.)

  23. Dana March 6, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    On the other hand, my neices and nephews attend public schools in South Louisiana where students are required to wear uniforms. My sister and sister-in-law shared a bit about their thoughts on it last summer… some good, some bad. As an educator, I find it absurb that an elementary school student would be pulled out of class and made to wait in the principal’s office, thus missing class time, for her mother to bring in her belt! Ridiculous. My older neice told me stories of socks! White socks only…no color, ever, anywhere…with long pants! Not even a little bow or flower or anything. What? Meanwhile, LA is usually last in nationwide rankings for education.

  24. Dana March 6, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    PS. I do love the little Italian smocks. They really do a great job “protecting” the clothes most of the time. Of course, when it gets to be really warm out, kids are allowed to remove them during recess. No boiler suits, either 😉
    You girl is darling in all her school-girl finery.

  25. medi April 3, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    I’m all for uniforms in schools, especially as children’s clothing has gotten so ridiculously ADULT for the most part and that becomes a huge distraction in schools – both socially and in terms of learning. We lived in Spain for about 5 years and in the Preschool & Kindergarten there children are required to wear their button down smocks for art projects, but regular clothes otherwise. My older son’s private preschool before that required the school uniform, which was only a pair of light blue track soft track pants & matching sweatshirt w/school logo on it as they were just toddlers in diapers. When we moved back to the US his public school in Oakland, CA required a simple uniform of navy or beige pants & a navy or white shirt. They weren’t hardcore about it, but it did help minimize the “gangster” look that had begun to creep in (to elementary schools!) a few years prior – as well as the economic disparity between students. I thought they all looked so much nicer in uniforms than what passes as children’s fashion in the US now (everything for girls super tight, short, sparkly, revealing, & everything for boys branded and either gangster or mini-macho wear)!
    Now we are at a private Waldorf school which doesn’t require uniforms but has a dress code of “simple” clothing with no writing or advertising on it, ideally only solid colors, stripes, or simple all-over patterns (like flowers or polka dots), and clothes that COVER them up so that they are WARM (hats required for outside play, as is rain gear when it’s wet or winter coats or layers when it’s cold!) as they spend a lot of time outdoors playing, hiking or gardening. Again, it really takes the focus away from children thinking about how they or their peers LOOK, and back onto what’s happening in terms of learning or playing. It also helps the younger children not have their play/games influenced by what is on someone’s t-shirt – i.e. a Star Wars shirt will lead right into that kind of play, whereas a plain shirt keeps things more “open” to the child’s own imagination & ideas.
    I think it makes a lot of sense! That being said, your daughter makes quite the adorable model for the proper British schoolgirl attire…:-)

  26. Kr Oli June 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Amelia is so adorable and shows a great sense of humour trying out all the school outfits!Boiler Suit is certainly a hit!:)
    We have to equip three children,luckily 2 are in the same school. I was too extremely excited about the gingham dresses as my school uniform was very dull(brown colour with black pinafore!).Though it seems a bit excessive at times to me as a foreigner the amount of uniform items.
    Kindest regards and best wishes,

  27. Abigail August 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    I just discovered your blog, and I am enthralled, I have to keep reading! I need to find out how/why you ended up in England as it is a dream of mine and my husbands! And seriously, the uniforms sound kind of like a pain in the butt, but SO adorable!

  28. Jennifer Clewley August 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    I am an expat living in Mexico City. 99% of the schools here use uniforms. Due to the fact that public schools in Mexico are very bad, my girls are in private school. I actually love the uniforms, I think it is something that we should have in the US. I spent about $700 USD for the 2 girls plus $200 for shoes. The uniforms are durable, there is no fighting in the mornings and they look well put together. I do not know how to send you a picture but 4 days a weeks they wear the daily uniform of a jumper, polo and sweater and once a week is pants as they say which is wind pants, matching jacket and t-shirt.

  29. Ann Sato August 25, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    I attended private school in the US from 3-5 grade. We wore V-kneck dresses, white peter pan collared tops, navy blue tights or knee socks and black or white shoes. The boys wore light blue polo shirts and navy blue pants. We wore our uniforms for recess but could wear shorts or loose pants for gym. It did make it easier for us to get dressed in the morning and shopping for our weekend and summer clothes was a treat. When I started public school in 6th grade, I had no idea what to wear. I don’t remember our uniforms being overly expensive, but then, I wasn’t paying for them. Also, in a family of 2 girls, 2 boys, items were handed down.

  30. Anonymous October 18, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    Give that kid a big hug from me, ’cause she’s just the most adorable little one ever and deserves the love!
    Anyway, I came to this site looking for what british schoolkids wore in the 80’s but this is awesome too.
    I’m a cosplayer and any ideas I can get are good ones. I’m thinking of making a female version of Vislor Turlough of classic Doctor Who fame. I’ve already got a male version but it might need some perfecting.

  31. monika January 1, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    Hi Ariana,

    I came across this on the Eton College uniforms, and well, thought of your post here:

    How does Amelia enjoy her uniforms, especially the boiler suit?

    Really, the boiler suit is an admission of the impracticality of the uniforms, especially for little girls. How are little girls supposed to run and play and be active during recess if they have to wear a dress or a skirt every day?

    When I was little and attended schools with uniforms, there were no pant options, but these days I notice that just about every school which requires uniforms offers a pant options to girls. They aren’t the dress uniform, but may be worn on other days. I’m betting though, that the idea will not catch on in the UK 🙂

  32. Abigail Stevens January 24, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    My goodness! Yes excessive, but awfully darling. So delighted to read a snippet about your life, Ariana.

  33. C September 3, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    This is hysterical!!! I am DYING laughing! I cannot believe that the school uniform situation is that complicated! I am used to school uniforms, but the school uniforms involve one outfit that everyone wears to school, besides extracurricular sports teams, if you are on a sports team at the school. Nothing else. This is absolutely very funny to me! I have lived half my life in America and half of my life in other places in the world. Nothing, nothing beats this obsession with a full wardrobe of required uniforms for school! I would absolutely refuse! Very funny to me.


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