Last year the Guide Association announced a new uniform – the first in 14 years. I remember that one of the great things about the 1990 uniform was that they provided ‘coulottes’ an item of clothing that allowed girls to be boisterous and outdoorsy without worrying about skirts. As a Guide I personally wore the coulottes and even occasionally jeans (at less formal occasions of course!) When I became a Guide Leader in 2004 the with a different uniform than I had worn the girls really enjoyed being able to wear whatever they wanted on the bottom and then choose what they wanted from the range of t-shirt options. I have mixed feelings about the new designs. Whilst I think that they look current and quite flattering I think the biggest flaw for me is the reintroduction of uniform skirts/dress with no uniform trouser. Girlguiding has said that after consultation with members it was realised that members preferred to wear their own trousers. Official smart uniform guidelines state; “When an event is described as a formal occasion however, the uniform top – either the long-sleeve or polo – should be worn with one of the following: the optional uniform skirt and navy or black leggings or tights; a smart skirt or trousers (such as school uniform); or the uniform dress.” (New Uniform FAQs). Girlguiding have also said that they included the dress and skirt in response to girls’ wishes. Personally, I feel that Girlguiding is giving out the wrong message by including a skirt and dress but no trousers in their official range. I feel that through this they are saying that although girls CAN wear trousers, it is not really promoted by Guiding. In a society in which what girls wear is policed by the media, any uniform design for a girls organisation needs to take into consideration the fact that girls are being conditioned from a young age into viewing some clothes as acceptable for women and others as too masculine. I think it’s great that the uniform evolves with the girls, but I also think we all need to be very aware of subliminal messages with provide girls with about clothing.
Jeff Banks, 1990s Guide Uniform