School Uniforms: the Unisex Equation

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Hands up who remembers their school uniform!

A straw poll of the Fashionizer office has revealed that the colour might have varied – navy, bottle green, red, burgundy and an emotionally damaging pea green – but we are united by the fact that we rolled up our skirts at the waistband to make them shorter.

The trouser-wearing school boys, of course, escaped this particular fashion-conscious ritual, so it is with interest that we read the story of the New Zealand school that has implemented a gender-neutral policy whereby girls and boys can choose from five garments: trousers, a kilt, shorts, long shorts, and, unfathomably, culottes.

It’s not the first time that the question of school uniform equality has come up. Last summer a group of Sussex schoolboys protested against having to wearing trousers in hot weather by turning up at school in skirts.

Having a policy that allows a particular ‘look’ across all pupils is understandable, but is it possible to provide uniforms that are completely unisex? Well, no. You might just get away with it in primary school children, but by the time secondary school looms, the physiological differences between girls and boys mean that they can’t possibly wear exactly the same garments. The position of the waistline, leg length, the shoulder-to-waist ratio are just a few examples of how male and female shapes differ – and that’s without even mentioning boobs or hips.

While school uniforms may be on a trajectory towards gender-neutral clothing, the trend in hotel uniforms is heading in the opposite direction. Fashionizer has seen a massive increase in the number of dresses we are asked to create for our hotel projects. In the past two years we have been asked to design as many dresses as we have in the previous 18 years. That’s some rise, and is despite the fact that fitting dresses can be more complex than fitting separates (size 12 top, size 14 bottom anyone?). According to Vogue, dresses over leggings is very 2017, but in the world of uniforms, more dresses means more decisions about shoes – and that’s a whole other story.

Mostly, a unisex policy in hospitality is about having the same look across men and women and not a one-size-fits-all programme of garments. We accept that schools are a different ball-game, but we’d venture that a gender-neutral policy is probably only workable if you are somewhere between five and 10 years old…

Check out our unforgettable school uniform Pinterest board.

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