Wearing a uniform – for school, work and London 2012

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 24th November 2011

There are loads of arguments in favour of school uniforms. Headteachers say they help to maintain discipline, encourage pupils to focus on their schoolwork and build a sense of loyalty and belonging. Parents reckon they’re cheaper than forking out for everyday clothes and mean fewer battles in the mornings. But even so, I’m not keen on them at all. I’ve rarely seen anyone look chic in a school uniform and some are downright dreadful. As a teenager at a (very strict) girls’ school I wore a St Trinian’s style navy pinafore, blazer, tie, beige socks and grey felt hat with a badge on the front. We had to wear black shoes outdoors and brown shoes indoors. The outfit put me off uniforms for life – which is partly why my son now goes to a school where he can wear what he likes. Despite my antipathy towards school uniforms, I can understand the need for them in some professions – the armed forces, police, transport staff and airline pilots just for starters. And I can see that insisting the 70,000 volunteers and 6,000 staff at the London 2012 Olympics are in uniform is a sensible idea. After all, they’ll need to look smart, efficient and easy to spot in the crowd. But given that London has more talented fashion designers than any other city on the planet, creating a super-stylish uniform should have been a piece of cake. Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton (creative director of Alexander McQueen), Stella McCartney, Erdem, Betty Jackson – the list of fantastic designers is as long as your arm. Surely one of them would be perfect to dream up the Olympic uniform? But no, the job of designing uniforms for 2012 “games makers” and “technical officials” has been a collaboration between the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, adidas and Next. And I’m sorry, but the result is hideous. The games maker version consists of a purple polyester jacket with red collar and cuffs and beige trousers, while the technical officials will be clad in blue jackets with turquoise piping – not quite so bad, but nearly. What do you think? Image: London 2012

15 comments so far

  • I think they look naff, and assuming we have a bit of decent weather during the games they will all smell foul in all that polyester. I find the colour of the trousers to be exactly right for showing off every dirty mark.
    So, couldn’t agree more!

  • My heart sank when I saw them as I’m still waiting for the results of my interview as games maker…. Purple & red are just NOT my colours! Manda

  • Haha – hidieous! But I guess you would be able to pick them out in a crowd.

    I can’t believe that they have found over 70,000 people who would agreed to wear that!

  • Hmm, yeah, looks like they should be working in JJB!!! Maybe thats the look they wanted but for the Olympics you would expect better!! Bet they make them really sweaty too and aren’t cut right – unifirms never are lol!!

  • Thanks for commenting, Fiona. The designers have missed a real opportunity to show British style at its best, I think.

  • I am always fascinated by schools that don’t have uniforms. As a teacher headteachers always told me looking after the little things left room for the bigger things. But I felt I spent too much time telling kids off about uniform and that they lost their individuality.
    Not at all impressed with the colour contrasting in those uniforms!

  • Thanks for commenting, Penny. Also, did you watch Educating Essex recently? The wonderful deputy head seemed to spend half his mornings telling teenagers off about not wearing the right uniform!

  • I quite like the idea of school uniforms. Mine was horrendous but I do think without it we would have spent so much time worrying about what to wear and there would have been inevitable divisions between the girls with more or less money to spend on fashionable clothes. On the other hand these are awful. What were they thinking?

  • That’s a good point, Catsyellowdays. It’s awful when children agonise about what to wear to school. But isn’t the London 2012 outfit terrible?

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