School Uniform of England, Japan, and Indonesia


School uniforms in England were first introduced on a large scale during the reign of King Henry VIII.[1] The uniforms of the time were referred as “bluecoats”, as they consisted of long trench-coat-style jackets dyed blue. Blue was the cheapest available dye and showed humility amongst all children. The first school to introduce this uniform was Christ’s Hospital and it is the oldest uniform of any school.

In 1870, the Elementary Education act introduced free primary education for all children. The popularity of uniforms increased and eventually most schools had a uniform.[1] During this period most uniforms reflected the trends of the age, with boys wearing short trousers and blazers until roughly the age of puberty and then long trousers from about 14 or 15. Girls mainly wore blouse, tunic dress and pinafore later progressing towards the beginning of the 20th century to gymslips.[1][3]

These uniforms continued until the 1950s when after the Butler reforms secondary education was made free and the school leaving age was raised to 15. These reforms encouraged schools to implement uniform codes which were similar to other schools. Distinct “summer” and “winter” uniforms were sometimes required, particularly for girls where dresses were mandated for summer and gymslip for winter.[1]

Today, the Government believes that school uniforms play a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of schools: The Department for Children, Schools and Families strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can instil pride; support positive behaviour and discipline; encourage identity with, and support for, school ethos; ensure pupils of all races and backgrounds feel welcome; protect children from social pressures to dress in a particular way; and nurture cohesion and promote good relations between different groups of pupils.[4]

School uniforms are required to be fair for both genders, provide a reasonably low cost and tolerate religious freedoms e.g. allowing Sikhs to wear turbans.[5]


Japan introduced school uniforms in the late 19th century. Today, school uniforms are almost universal in the Japanese public and private school systems. They are also used in some women’s colleges. The Japanese word for this type of uniform is seifuku

The gakuran (学ラン?) or the tsume-eri (詰襟?) are the uniforms for many middle school and high school boys in Japan. The color is normally black, but some schools use navy and dark blue as well.

The top has a standing collar buttoning down from top-to-bottom. Buttons are usually decorated with the school emblem to show respect to the school. Pants are straight leg and a black or dark-colored belt is worn with them. Boys usually wear penny loafers or sneakers with this uniform. Some schools may require the students to wear collar-pins representing the school and/or class rank.

The second button from the top of a male’s uniform is often given away to a female he is in love with, and is considered a way of confession. The second button is the one closest to the heart and is said to contain the emotions from all three years attendance at the school. This practice was apparently made popular by a scene in a novel by Daijun Takeda.[2][3][4]

Traditionally, the gakuran is also worn along with a matching (usually black) student cap, although this custom is less common in modern times.

The Gakuran is derived from Prussian army uniforms. The term is a combination of gaku (学) meaning “study” or “student”, and ran (らん or 蘭) meaning Holland or, historically in Japan, the West in general; thus, gakuran translates as “Western student (uniform)”. Such clothing was also worn by school children in South Korea and pre-1949 China.

The sailor outfit (セーラー服, sērā-fuku?) is a common style of uniform worn by female middle school and high school students, and occasionally, elementary school students. It was introduced as a school uniform in 1920 in Heian Jogakuin (平安女学院?)[5] and 1921 by the principal of Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University (福岡女学院?),[6] Elizabeth Lee. It was modeled after the uniform used by the British Royal Navy at the time, which Lee had experienced as an exchange student in the United Kingdom.

Much like the male uniform, the gakuran, the sailor outfit bears a similarity to various military styled naval uniforms. The uniform generally consists of a blouse attached with a sailor-style collar and a pleated skirt. There are seasonal variations for summer and winter: sleeve length and fabric are adjusted accordingly. A ribbon is tied in the front and laced through a loop attached to the blouse. Several variations on the ribbon include neckties, bolo ties, neckerchiefs, and bows. Common colors are navy blue, white, grey, light green and black.

Shoes, socks, and other accessories are sometimes included as part of the uniform. These socks are typically navy or white. The shoes are typically brown or black penny loafers. Although not part of the prescribed uniform, alternate forms of legwear (such as loose socks, knee-length stockings, or similar) are also commonly matched by more fashionable girls with their sailor outfits.


Primary schools or Sekolah Dasar (SD) wear a white short-sleeve shirt with red shorts, or below-knee skirts for females. Red forage caps and white jilbab are common. Long-sleeve shirts for the more religious parents of girls are allowed.

Lower Secondary school or SMP: Sekolah Menengah Pertama require navy trousers with a short-sleeve white shirt. Females wear a below-knee length navy skirt or longer and may wear either short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt. White jilbab for the more religious parents of girls are allowed.

Upper Secondary school SMA: Sekolah Menengah Atas require blue-grey trousers with a short-sleeve white shirt. Females wear a below-knee length blue-grey skirt or longer and may wear either short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt. White jilbab for the more religious parents of girls are allowed.[13]

Most school in Indonesia also have a batik uniform which usually used on Thursday or Friday. This kind of uniform consist of a batik short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt with a short or trouser for SMA, and below-knee skirt or longer for females. The motives and color of batik are vary depends on the school.

The scouts uniform are also used in many school in Indonesia at least once a week. The uniform consist of light-brown short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt with a dark brown short or trouser, and below knee skirt or longer for females.

Nowadays, with the increase of the number of private school in Indonesia, most of them have their own signature school uniform. Mostly still consist of shirt with short or trouser for males, and skirt for females which only have differences on the color . But, there’s also many school which have different type of uniform such as wearing a vast, suit-like jacket, sailor style uniform, pinafore, culottes, t-shirt, tartan skirt, military-style uniform etc.

Every school also have their own standard grooming. The males never allowed to have a long hair and not allowed to color their hair either. Usage of accessories are prohibited for males, while the females sometimes allowed to use simple accessories. Some schools also pay attention on the kind of shoes that wear by the student. Black or white sneakers are the most common shoes to wear in school. On the higher level education such as in SMA or SMK required to wear black-leather shoes. The school badge is usually put on the right sleeve. While the school name and location in the left sleeve. And the emblem of OSIS (Organisasi Siswa Intra Sekolah) or School’s Intern Student Organization put on the shirt’s left pocket.


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