Leslie's Guiding History Site

Subtitle

Guide Uniform

Guide Uniform

Before there were Guides, there were Girl Scouts.  And just as they adapted all the other parts of the Scout programme as necessary, so they adapted the uniform instructions, often teaming the beige Scout shirts and hats with their usual shin or ankle-length skirts.  They proudly carried their Scout Stave, with the end marked in inches, and wore their haversack and rolled-up coat on their back.  


It was in November 1909 that "The Scheme for Girl Guides" was posted in the Scout Headquarters Gazette, and the uniform it outlined was for a shirt and skirt in the unit's chosen colour, with a shoulder knot in Patrol colours, and the Patrol badge on the shirt.  The significant change was in the hat - gone was the practical Scout 'wide-awake' hat, replaced with a bright red 'Biretta' hat.  

By 1912 there was a more settled uniform, and the 1912 handbook gave more details, but as there was no diagram, it was still up to Guides and their Guiders to interpret the directions: 


"Uniform.  Uniform for Girl Guides is not compulsory.  Guides should, as far as possible, dress alike, especially in each patrol, as regards hat, necktie, and colour of blouse.  

Hat. - Dark blue scouts' felt, flat white brim, with chin strap or elastic.  A band with monogram can be had.

Neckerchief. - Pale blue, forty inches, worn knotted at the throat, and also at the ends, till the good turn is done.  (It makes a good sling for first-aid, stretcher, or rope, bandage, or signal flag.)

Shirt-Blouse. - Of company colour, with patrol crest sewn on left front.  Two pockets.

Skirt. - Dark blue serge, two flap pockets.  Dark blue knickers.

Stockings. - Dark blue woollen, or black, worn drawn up tight over the knee.

Belt. - Brown leather, with two swivels and brass registered Girl Guide buckle and pouch.  Coat strap.

Gauntlet. - Gloves, brown.

Shoes or Boots. - Black.

Staff. - If on ambulance work.

Haversack. - Worn on the back.  White with red cross.  Cooking billy for camp.

Stretcher-Sling. - White, four inches wide, with red two-inch stripe, for parades.  Worn over left shoulder, unless on stretcher.

Badges. - Sewn on the sleeve.

Knife. - On white lanyard, and hitched to swivel on left.

Shoulder-Knot. - Ribbons or tapes of patrol colours, sewn on left shoulder.

Jacket or Cape. - In straps.

Badge. - Safety-pin on necktie; chevrons on left arm.

Title. - Tape name of company sewn on right shoulder top.


In the Girl Guide Gazette of March 1915 it was stated that the haversack should no longer bear a red cross.   And the June 1915 issue stated "At recent rallies there were several noticeable discrepancies in uniform marring the effect.  We have to remind Captains that only the official uniform is admissible for Girl Guides, and any departure from the regulation navy hat, navy blouse and sky-blue tie is not permitted".

In January 1917, the Girl Guide Gazette confirmed:  "smock authorised as alternative to uniform, termed 'Drill Uniform'.  Parade uniform as at present, with extra length to body so as to go outside skirt, when desired, for physical exercise, etc." and also " Patrol Leader - Tenderfoot badge on front of hat and two vertical stripes on left pocket instead of chevrons.  Corporal - one stripe on pocket."


 In February of that same year, the Patrol Corporals were renamed 'Patrol Second'.  And although until now the Guide uniforms had all been made of serge,  "Headquarters is to sell a strong washable dark blue overall for Guides due to the prohibitive price of serge." 


March 1917 brought clarification of the January instructions:  Patrol Leader to wear one Tenderfoot badge on front of hat and one to fasten tie, two stripes on left pocket, not chevrons.


There were further tweaks in the summer of 1918 - In June dark blue drill hats were permitted owing to a felt shortage.  In July a  new uniform jumper (i.e. overshirt) in navy blue jean was introduced, to be worn over the skirt.


So by 1918, the uniform was confirmed as: 

Shirt or Tunic - Navy blue, with two patch pockets and shoulder straps.

Skirt - Navy blue, with two patch pockets.
Knickers - Navy blue.
Hat - Navy blue, worn with a straight brim, not turned up on the side.
Hatband - Navy blue, with official stamp.
Necktie - Triangular, of light blue or Company colour, worn folded neatly into a narrow fold bandage, under collar, not under shoulder strap.
Belt - Brown leather, with official buckle.
Boots or Shoes - Black.
Stockings - Black (fancy openwork stockings should not be worn).
Gloves - Brown gauntlet, if any.
Shoulder Knot - Of Patrol Colour, worn on left shoulder.
Emblem - Of Patrol Flower or Bird, worn on the left hand pocket.
Title Tape - Of Company number, worn on fhte left arm, covering juncture of the shoulder knot with the shoulder strap.
Brooch - Tenderfoot badge, worn on loose ends of the tie.
Haversack - Worn on back.
Hair-Ribbon - Black or Navy.  Hair should be plaited.

Patrol Leader distinguishing marks - two perpendicular white stripes worn on the left pocket.  Tenderfoot badge above the centre of the hatband, in addition to that worn on the tie.  Patrol Flag, white fabric, ten inches deep, with the crest of her patrol stitched on to it on both sides.
Patrol Second distinguishing marks - one perpendicular stripe on left pocket.


At the Swanwick Conference in May 2020 it was decided that the Proficiency Badges would move from having a white background to having a drab one, as this would be easier to keep clean.  And in September, it was permitted for Guides to wear neckerchiefs in colours other than light blue - and "where there are a large number of Companies in one district, parti-coloured ties may be used after all the plain colours have been exhausted.  School Companies are, of course, permitted to wear their school ties, if desired." .


In March 1921 the white haversacks began to be replaced by navy ones, and Guide blouses moved from being worn tucked-in, to being worn untucked, over the skirt.   In May 1921 it was advised that "If desired, Proficiency Badges may be worn in pairs on the right arm, commencing from the top of the sleeve.  Where preferred, however, they may still be worn as before, commencing at the bottom of the sleeve."  And in February 1926, hats with deeper crowns were introduced.


Guide hats changed again in February 1929, when smaller Guide hats were introduced, in a soft felt which could be rolled, replacing the old stiff flat-brimmed hats.  At the same time a new-style Guide overall was brought in with a lower neck and two inverted pleats in the skirt from the waistline, providing a more comfortable style.  In October 1931 there was a change to the Interest Badges - "The new woven badges are guaranteed fadeless and washable.  Therefore, if they are carefully buttonholed on to the overall sleeve when new they need not be removed when the garment is washed.  There should then be no difficulty with regard to the badges fraying."


The camp overall had been introduced in August 1932, and in June 1933 it was confirmed that the blue cotton overall could be worn throughout summer, not just at camp.  This could be be worn with the collar closed by the tie, or as open-neck - in which case the Tenderfoot Badge would worn in the 'V' of the neck.  Camp hat could also now be considered uniform.  And in August 1933 the brown leather gauntlet gloves moved from being a standard part of the uniform to being optional.  Then in August 1934 it was advised that, subject to Commissioner approval, the wool stockings need not be worn at meetings in the summer.


So as at 1935, the uniform was: 

Overall or Jumper and Skirt - Navy blue serge or cotton, with two patch pockets and shoulder straps; black bone buttons; or for summer wear, light blue cotton with short sleeves.

Knickers - Navy blue or black.

Hat - Navy blue soft felt, or for summer and camp, blue cotton camp hat.

Hatbadge - Navy blue, with official stamp.

Tie - Triangular, of light blue or company colour, worn folded neatly into a narrow fold bandage, under collar, not under shoulder strap.

Belt - Brown leather, with official buckle.

Boots or Shoes - black.

Stockings - Black or, for summer uniform, ankle socks (light blue or white).

Shoulder Knot - Of patrol colour, worn on left shoulder.

Emblem - Of patrol flower or bird, worn above the left-hand pocket.

Title Tape - Of company name and number, worn on left arm, covering juncture of the shoulder knot with the shoulder knot.

Brooch - Tenderfoot, worn on tie.

Hair-Ribbon - Black or navy.  Hair should be plaited."


(In this era, 'jumper' is used to mean an overshirt which reached a few inches below the waist, and was worn untucked over the skirt.)


As well as standard Guide uniform, there grew a need to have alternative outfits for wear at camp - it wasn't practical to wear the Guide uniform for several days in a row.  In April 1932 an Official blue camp overall was introduced for Guides, with a choice of long or short sleeve, along with a 'bucket-style' camp hat.  it was advised that: "In the case of Guiders, Rangers and Guides of Ranger age and size, skirts should cover the knee, and as a general rule, stockings should be worn when going through a village or town, except in exceptional circumstances such as going to the beach."  The speed of relaxation in clothing can be seen in the ruling issued in June 1936, that "Shorts may be worn by Guides in camp with the approval of the Commissioner in whose area the camp is held." (dark blue)".



The Guide uniform changed colour in early 1939, moving from navy to a 'Headquarters blue' shade for the blouse or the dress (although skirts remained navy where the blouse-and-skirt option was worn).  So the uniform now was: 

Overall or Jumper and Skirt - Headquarters blue cotton overall (or navy blue serge skirt with Headquarters blue cotton jumper), with two patch pockets and shoulder straps; black bone buttons; or for summer wear, light blue cotton with short sleeves.

Knickers - Navy or light blue.

Hat - Navy blue soft felt, or for summer and camp, blue cotton hat.

Hatbadge - Navy blue, with official stamp.

Tie - Triangular, of light blue or company colour, worn folded neatly into a narrow fold bandage, under collar, not under shoulder strap.

Belt - brown leather, with official buckle.

Shoes - Black or brown (whole company to wear same colour, stockings to match shoes).

Stockings - Black or brown (leaf mould) or, for summer uniform, ankle socks (light blue or white).

Shoulder Knot - Of patrol colour, worn on left shoulder.

Emblem - Of patrol flower or bird, worn above the left hand pocket.

Title Tape - Of company name and number, worn on left arm, covering juncture of the shoulder knot with the shoulder strap.

Brooch - Tenderfoot, worn on tie.

Hair-Ribbon - Black or navy.  Hair should be plaited.


Wartime had an impact on Guide uniforms, too. - especially with clothes rationing, from July 1941 onwards.   "The Guider" gave details of the impact on uniforms: Guide and Brownie - Mackintoshes - 11 coupons, Coats, Showerproof or Pilot Cloth - 8 coupons, Overall - 4 or 6 coupons (4 for up to 39" size), Skirt without bodice - 5 coupons, with bodice - 6 coupons, Blouse or Jumper - 3 coupons, Knickers - 2 coupons, Stockings - 1 coupon (up to 9.5"), Ankle Socks - 1 coupon, 2 Handkerchiefs - 1 coupon, Triangular Ties - 2 coupons, Gloves - 2 coupons, Slippers or Shoes - 3 coupons.  Cotton Fabric 36" was 2 coupons per yard, Woollen Fabric 36" was 3 coupons per yard, Knitting wool was 1 coupon per 2-ounce ball.  

It's worth bearing in mind that initially, adults were allowed a total of 60 coupons for all their personal clothing needs, and children 70 coupons.  This was later reduced to 48 coupons, and continued long after the war finished.  Difficulty in obtaining felt hats led to Guides moving to wearing a navy beret.

But despite the rationing, wartime shortages were still an issue - in November 1942 it was announced that: "The Board of Trade can no longer release supplies of leather for Girl Guide and Brownie belts, and at present no further orders can be taken.  We are still hoping to secure material for a substitute, and as soon as possible further information will be published in The Guider."  And at various times uniform shirts, belts, or hats were unobtainable for extended periods.

Post-war, the felt hats disappeared entirely, replaced by berets, and there were other adjustments too.  By 1950, with clothes rationing ended, the uniform was: 


* Shirt and Skirt - Light blue cotton shirt (official pattern) with two pockets.  Navy blue serge skirt; or

* Dress - Blue dress (official pattern),

(* These are alternative uniforms.  The whole company should aim at wearing the same.)

Jersey - Navy blue with V-neck

Knickers - Navy blue, or to match dress

Beret - Navy blue, with embroidered trefoil above left eye

Tie - Triangular, of company colour, worn folded neatly into a narrow-fold bandage (2 1/4 in. to 2 1/2 in.)

Belt - Brown leather, with official buckle

Overcoat - Navy blue

Shoes - Brown

Stockings - headquarters standard colour

Socks - White; alternative, fawn (the whole company must wear the same colour)

Shoulder Knot - Of patrol colour, worn on left shoulder

Emblem - Of patrol flower or bird, worn above left pocket

Title Tape - Of company name and number, worn on shoulder immediately above shoulder knot

Enrolment Badge - Gilt tenderfoot, worn on tie

Hair Ribbon - Black or navy.  (Long hair should be plaited).

For Camping and, if desired, for summer meetings, Guides may wear:

Shorts - Navy blue (official pattern)

Shirt - Blue (as for ordinary uniform), or open-necked and short sleeves in cellular material; or For camp only: Tee shirt; or Camp overall (official patter and colour)

Hat - Stitched, navy blue, cotton


September 1965 - new Guide blouse launched, in rayon 'Guidex' fabric, to be worn with a mini-neckerchief which passed through loops under the collar at either side before being crossed over, and held in place by the Promise badge, which was pinned on at the crossover to hold the ends in place.  It was to be worn with no lanyard or visible belt. 

So the uniform now was:

Skirt - Navy blue with Shirt (official pattern) - Guide blue or Dress (official pattern) - Guide blue

Petticoat (if any) - Black or navy blue or matching dress

Knickers - Black or navy blue or matching dress

Tie - Company colour (except plain brown, white, black or navy); triangular

Belt (official buckle) - Brown leather

Cap or Beret - Navy blue with embroidered trefoil

Hair Ribbon (if any) - Navy blue or black.  Slide (if any) - Brown or navy blue

Stockings - Neutral or Socks - White or fawn

Shoes - Brown or black

Shoulder Knot - Patrol colours

Emblem - According to patrol

Title Tape - According to company registration

Badge - Gilt

Country, Territory, or County Badge - Silk or cloth

Coat, Blazer, Cardigan or Jersey (if any) - Navy blue

Windcheater or Anorak - Navy or Guide blue

NOTE - where alternatives are given the company is to aim at a uniform appearance

For Camp and where suitable for summer meetings

Shorts (official pattern) - Navy blue

or Skirt - Navy blue

with Shirt - Guide blue; cellular type with or without tie

or Camp Dress (official pattern) - Guide blue; no tie

Hat (official pattern) - Navy blue; stitched

Note: Navy or Guide blue jeans with the cellular shirt may be worn on camp sites or where appropriate for other Guide activities.


"From 1st September 1965 an Overblouse may be worn in place of the Guide Shirt.  In this case the shoulder knot and lanyard are not worn.  The belt, if worn, is to be underneath the blouse.  The tie, is folded in half and worn scarf fashion, 1 1/4 inch wide with a 4 1/1 inch point, placed under the collar, point at the back, and pinned in front with the Guide badge."


August 1966 - "The Executive Committee has agreed that the present overblouse may now be tucked inside the skirt as an alternative to wearing it outside.  Of course, the old-type blouse must be worn inside the skirt only.

December 1967 - The Guide overblouse with long sleeves, flap pockets and higher neckline will be available from 1st January 1968.  "Much thought has been given lately to the Guide tie and as stocks of the present size become exhausted they will be replaced by a tie made of superior cotton poplin costing 2s. 11d.  Slightly smaller that the present tie and measuring 19 1/2 in. x 29 in. x 19 1/2 in., this should be worn single not folded double.  The scarf should be pressed in order to give a flat appearance and then slid through a new Guide blue woggle, price 6d.  The enrolment badge should be worn an inch below the woggle.  The woggle will ultimately replace the loops on the overblouse as we felt it would give a neater neckline.  The aim should be to obtain a neatly pressed flat effect, with the ends crossing at the neck-front as at present."

December 1969 - Guide mini neckerchief replaced by cross-over tie.  Instructions for converting mini necker into tie given.  

So by 1973 the uniform was:
1) Overblouse official pattern - Guide blue

Skirt official pattern - Navy blue

Belt (optional) official pattern - Brown

Tie Official pattern - Company colour

Cap official pattern - Navy blue

Emblem - According to Patrol

Title Tape - According to Company

Country or County Badge - Silk or cloth

Promise Badge - Gilt

Cap Badge - Embroidered trefoil

Coat, Blazer, Cardigan, or Jersey (if worn) - Navy blue

Windcheater or Anorak (if worn) - Navy blue

Stockings - Neutral

Socks - White or fawn

Shoes - Brown, black or navy blue, of a suitable pattern

Hair Ribbon (if worn) - Navy blue or black

Slide (if worn) - Brown

Note: Where alternatives are given the Company should aim at a uniform appearance.

2) In Summer (optional)

Dress official pattern - Guide blue, short sleeves, no tie

3) For an Appropriate Activity or Occasion

Dress

or

Skirt, Shorts, Jeans, or Slacks - Navy blue

with

Shirt official pattern - Guide blue

Track Suit - Royal blue

or

Clothing suitable for the activity.

The holder of a Patrol Camp Permit may wear a green lanyard in camp.



April 1978 - "New Uniform Items.  The Trading Service now has in stock: Leather Guide Belts - small, med and large."  

December 1981 - Guide uniform changes.  Out with the Guide blouse having pockets at the hem and being worn as an overshirt, and the tie held in crossover position by the Promise badge.  In with the plain blouse without pockets worn tucked into the skirt, the necker with it's brown leather woggle, and the navy belt pouch replacing the pockets.
So the new uniform guidance was: 

1) Uniform

Blouse official pattern (worn inside the skirt) - Guide blue

Neckerchief official pattern - Company colour

Woggle official pattern - Brown leather or cord

Skirt official pattern - Navy blue

Belt (optional) official pattern - brown

Belt pouch (optional, worn on the left) official pattern - Navy blue

Cap official pattern - Navy blue

Emblem - According to Patrol

Title Tape - According to Company registration

Country or County Badge - Silk or cloth

Promise Badge - Gilt

Cap Badge - Embroidered trefoil

Cardigan or Jersey or polo necked under-jersey (if worn - Navy blue

Coat, Blazer, Windcheater or Anorak (if worn) - Navy blue

Tights or Stockings - Neural

Socks - White or navy blue

Shoes or School Sandals - Brown, black or navy blue, of a suitable pattern.

Hair Ribbon (if worn) - Navy blue or black

Hair Slide (if worn) - Brown

Note: Where alternatives are given the Company should aim at a uniform appearance.

2) Alternative Uniform as Appropriate to the occasion

Dress official pattern - Guide blue, short sleeves, no tie

Skirt, Shorts, Jeans, or Slacks - Navy blue

with

Shirt official pattern blouse or T-Shirt - Guide blue

Track Suit - Royal blue

3) Clothing as Required by a Specialised Activity

The holder of a Patrol Camp Permit may wear a green lanyard in camp.


February 1987 - "leisure suits" introduced for Brownies and Guides, Brownie suits in brown with yellow collar and hem ribbing, Guides in blue with yellow piping.  These were essentially a sweatshirt and jogging trouser.
July 1990 - and the uniform changes entirely - it's out with cotton blouses, navy skirts, and 'air hostess' hats, and out with formal badge-layouts too.

"All the main items in the new uniform ranges for the girls' sections should be available on September 1st."  "There had been some difficulties in obtaining the waterproof jackets and some of the adult range but these should be ready by November 1."

Sweatshirt or hoodie or jumper - Guide blue

T-shirt or polo shirt - Guide blue

or

Shirt - denim blue

Joggers or culottes - Navy blue

Sash - Navy blue with gilt pin

Belt (optional) official pattern - brown leather

Cap - Guide blue

Necker - Unit colour

Woggle - Brown leather



February 1998 - "Blue jeans are official Guide wear.  Members of the Executive Committee agreed at their meeting in October that, from January 1, Guides and members of the Senior Section can wear jeans as part of their official uniform."  Soon there ceased to be official uniform trousers/skirts/shorts for Guides, with it up to the individual to choose whatever they considered appropriate to team with their uniform top.

September 2000 - New Guide uniform, designed by Ally Capellino, features a navy sweatshirt with red trim collar, light navy round-neck t-shirt with dark navy collar and cuffs, light navy rugby shirt with dark navy collar, and navy fleece gilet.

April 2005 - "Two new items of Guide wear, a polo shirt and a hooded top will be introduced in September to replace the old-style royal blue polo and sweatshirt."

September 2005 - Launch of new Guide tops - "The cotton polo shirt, in dark blue with sporty mid-blue stripes and red trim", "The zip-through hooded jacket, with two front pockets, is also in dark blue with mid-blue stripes on the sleeves."

2016 Guide Uniform.  A mix and match range in blue and red, consisting of blue tunic sleeveless frock with blue patterned hem, blue patterned skirt, blue snug-fit long-sleeve top with red collar and cuffs, blue polo shirt with red collar and sleeves, blue hoodie with red hood lining and patch pockets.
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