As stores and TV stations rev up in the hope of increased sales, it's time for the annual expense known as school uniform.
How things change! Today, supermarkets vie with each other to offer value deals on uniforms. Harassed parents with truculent or excited offspring in tow scour the isles.
Yesteryear when I left Junior school and headed for Grammar school things were a lot different. A letter arrived detailing what had to be worn and where to buy from. No supermarkets in those days. Instead we crossed the threshold of one of the most expensive dress shops and headed up stairs.
Colours - navy and gold, not yellow. Navy blazer (wool) with school crest badge to be sewn on at home. White cotton blouses, navy v-neck jumper (wool) Knife-pleated skirt and gabardine raincoat.
Oh the effort that went into pressing those knife pleats to keep them 'just so'! How happy we were when in our second year they brought out Courtelle blouses in blue or gold. No need to starch them and far more comfortable to wear. They were warmer in winter than cotton.
Not forgetting sports wear - must have hockey boots and plimsolls (no training shoes in that era) and a wrap around games skirt. The letter even detailed undergarments. Shoes and socks too had to be regulation.
Girls in the Lower and Upper 3rd were only allowed to wear knee-socks or ankle-socks. Stockings and suspender belts were for Upper Fourth onwards.
We made our summer uniform skirts in needlework lessons. Pale blue poplin 3 yards of 36 inch wide material; to be made into a hand-gathered and mostly hand-sewn skirt with 3-inch waistband.
How we envied the sixth form whose skirts were made the same way but in delicious coral or marine blue.
What provoked this blast from the past? Two things Sayre of Sayre Smiles shared a photo of her son in his school uniform. How cool and casual his apparel looks.
Then this morning an article in a newspaper caught my eye. 'School skirt ban'
It seems that in order to focus more on studies and less on the rebellious nature of teenage girls the school skirt has been omitted from many uniform lists.
And to think that at one time, girls had skirts, dresses or shorts no trousers. That is until the advent of the trouser suit. My first was a three-piece - jacket, trousers and matching skirt. Hooray for designers like Mary Quant and their influence...but that's another story!
To think that there are prestigious schools today whose pupils still wear uniform – breeches, yellow socks like those worn 450 years ago!