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Column: Jenny Beake talks 'itchy' school uniforms and dressing like her dad

Hideous design, too expensive, doesn’t fit properly. Itches. I am of course talking about the classic school uniform.

Autumn is upon us and with recent flooding in Heacham, reminds us that the hazy sunny days ( I jest) are long since gone. Perhaps we will have an Indian summer, suggest the more optimistic amongst us.

Every autumn feels to me like the turning of the season and a sense of a new beginning.

stock of children in school uniform walking to class Picture: David Jones/PA (39808006)
stock of children in school uniform walking to class Picture: David Jones/PA (39808006)

And what better way to celebrate that than with a brown and yellow blazer, starched collared white shirt, brown pleated skirt and sensibly measured shoes from Clark’s. Maybe some itchy tights that are too long as I will grow into them.

Welcome to primary school. When I went to junior school the colours changed to red and grey. So it was a grey pleated skirt, starched white shirt, red and grey tie and oversized blazer (fashionable now I am assured) and sensible shoes.

However, school uniform wasn’t even compulsory at my school. My parents just had an idea that being dressed smartly in the uniform would encourage my work ethic.


The only other person in the whole school who also wore a full school uniform (all the cool kids just wore their own clothes, Elisse and Adidas and Puma - now retro classics) was my friend Edward.

Even more unlucky for him, the poor wretched soul, was that the school colours changed from brown and yellow to grey and red but his parents hadn’t got that memo - so he had to wear the old school uniform for four years.

They decided not to bother updating it due to the expense, or his expense, perhaps.

Obviously I look back and laugh at this now, it’s character building, it’s important to feel smartly dressed and ready for the working day at the age of eight.

The two of us were bonded in this unique sense that we were the only two kids in a school of more than 500 children wearing a full non compulsory school uniform.

So rather than being individual by not wearing school uniform, we were individual because we did and nobody else had to and it was simply accepted that those were the values of our parents.

When I went to college in Norwich aged 16 I was at last able to wear whatever I wanted to wear, which consisted of doc martens, baggy jumpers and clown trousers.

Luckily nobody else dressed like this and I was at last able to express myself through the medium of clothing. I even went through a phase of dressing like my dad.

After all he was a vicar and wore a dress, sort of.

I suppose it’s in the jeans.

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