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News > St Swithun's History > The story of our uniform

The story of our uniform

St Swithun's uniform over the years
1930s tunic and 'house' belt
1930s tunic and 'house' belt

A great highlight of the archive project this year has been the unfolding of our school uniform history.

Over many years Old Girls have kindly donated items of uniform to our collection and as they were being organised we were surprised to find that some of these items date back to the 1920s.

Money for the archive project, which was generously bequeathed to the school in a legacy from an Old Girl, has enabled us to purchase essential conservation materials to preserve these pieces long term.  The white Tyvek bags prevent dust and insects from settling on the fabric and the padded coat hangers stop the fabric from creasing which can cause irreparable damage to the integrity of the clothing.

When the school opened in 1884 there wasn’t an official uniform but by 1890 our photographs indicate there was more standardised clothing, especially for the older girls, which consisted of a long dark skirt paired with a white shirt and tie and accompanied by a belt.

The school prospectus dated approximately in the 1900s provides more details about the original uniform.

The original games tunic which would have been worn between the 1920s and 1930s for sports, specifically lacrosse, is the oldest piece of uniform in our collection.  We have many photographs showing the girls wearing the tunic and as the school progressed into the 1930s the tunic became more of a staple part of the everyday uniform and would be paired with a belt denoting the house colours of the boarding house they belonged to.  In the summer they would wear white panama hats with the school hatband, as well as a white cotton shirt and white skirt with the school tie.

In 1935 a new uniform was introduced following a long discussion about the impracticalities of the blue uniform.  In the School Chronicle Headmistress Ethel Finlay wrote:

From this point on brown tweed was a staple part of the uniform until the 1970s.

In the summer the girls were required to wear pink and brown striped cotton dresses with a fawn cardigan or brown blazer and coloured purse belt.

There was also a change to the sports kit which was slightly more practical than a tunic dress, although perhaps a little itchy.  This lasted into the 1980s when a red polo shirt and black and white check skirt replaced the wool skirt and jumper.

1995 - 2015: In 1995 the school revived the daisy symbol as the school’s emblem and put it on their new uniform.  Historically the daisy has represented independence and this was emblazoned on the school jumpers.

In the summer a blue striped cotton dress was worn with a coloured purse belt.

The current school uniform (2021) was introduced in 2015 and reflects the modern-day St. Swithun’s that we are today.

Article by Elly Crookes, Archivist

If you have an item of uniform that you think may be of interest and that you would like to donate to the school, please do get in touch with Elly: crookese@stswithuns.com, thank you.

Follow St Swithun's archives on twitter @StSwithunsArch

 

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