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Uniforms

St. Ann's Academy Students, 1925 St. Ann's Academy Students, 1925
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Over the years, the students of St. Annís were required to wear a variety of uniforms. Uniforms were seen as a social leveller, as it was not clear through clothing what level of society the pupilsí parents were from. By having all the students wearing the same thing, there was no way to judge on appearances. One of the difficulties, however, of having everyone dressed the same was that, on laundry days, the clothes would all get mixed together, and often the soap and water would rinse away the name tags, so nobody knew what belonged to whom!

St. Ann's Academy Students, 1965 St. Ann's Academy Students, 1965
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Early Students of St. Ann's Academy 1928 Early Students of St. Ann's Academy 1928
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Tampering with the uniforms was a way to rebel, so one of the first things many of the girls would do when they got outside was rip off their tam. The Sisters often let them get away with this, as it "took care of all the other naughtinesses" in their systems that they might be hatching. The belted tunics were also a problem for some of the girls, and they would take off the belt as soon as they left the grounds. By the late 1960s, mini skirts had become popular, and the girls tried to have this look by rolling their kilts up at the waist to make them shorter, then disguising the wad of fabric around their waist under their school sweaters. Sisters would test skirt lengths. by having the girls stop and kneel on the floor. If the hem of their kilt did not reach the floor, they were in trouble! The uniform was required, and if it was worn inappropriately or not at all, the students were expected to leave, and return properly dressed.

Makeup was not allowed, but small items of jewellery were permitted. This modesty in earlier years was lost when the beehive hairdo became popular in the 1960s. Two hundred girls would all rush to check their hair at the same time, in one small mirror in the second floor bathroom. This congestion became such a problem that the Student Council purchased several mirrors and hung them in the hallway to keep the traffic moving through the school.

Looking at old prospecti, school brochures, and archival photographs, the similarities and changes in the school uniforms over time become clear. The earliest photographs show young women dressed in dark dresses, of varying designs. In later years, a regulation set of garments was required for all the students. By 1910, the wardrobe included 2 coloured summer skirts, 2 dark winter skirts and a student's cap. The girls' outfits changed according to the seasons, and they were expected to have clean blouses.

St. Ann's Academy Students, 1955 St. Ann's Academy Students, 1955
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Last Graduating Class of St. Ann's Academy, 1973 Last Graduating Class of St. Ann's Academy, 1973
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The prospectus from 1930 lists the items that were required by boarders. This was referred to as the wardrobe and stayed basically the same throughout the time that the Academy took in boarding students. It included:

  • 3 changes underwear
  • Kimona and Bedroom Slippers
  • 3 face towels
  • napkin ring
  • 2 all-over work aprons
  • Bathing Suit
  • Toilet Set - combs, brushes etc.
  • laundry bag
  • 3 night dresses or pyjamas
  • 4 pairs black hose
  • 2 bath towels
  • 6 table serviettes
  • 2 black sateen aprons for juniors
  • Umbrella and rubbers
  • 12 handkerchiefs

The uniform was also part of the wardrobe. Navy blue dresses were worn with white collars and cuffs at that time, and a coat and hat, blazer, and shoes were required for going outside. A white net veil is specially mentioned. This was for the girls to wear at chapel, to cover their hair. The other items were found in shops, but there was a note that the veil could be procured at The Academy.

In the 1950s, under the heading "Regulation Uniforms for Boarders", a navy blue tunic and white tailored blouse (4 required) were listed. The tunic was worn with a dark blue tie and black hose. They began to allow the girls to wear nylons, as well as the woollen tights and socks permitted in the past. There was no separate uniform to be worn as gym strip, and the pupils played, studied and exercised in the same type of outfit. In the springtime, they substituted white socks for the black stockings.

By 1971, in an attempt to be more modern, the school uniform had evolved to a Black Watch kilt, navy blue v-neck sweater, navy tie, navy knee socks, and a white pointed collar blouse. This was the general uniform. The gym strip was now a different set of clothes, including navy shorts, a white short-sleeved shirt, white ankle socks and white runners.