By: Wayne Capaletti

Like everything else, gym or physical education uniforms have evolved over the last twenty years. For many of us, the standard gym uniform when we were in school consisted of a polyester knit pair of shorts and a 2-ply, reversible cotton or 50/50 gym shirt. In many cases, in addition to our school name, we would have a "name bar" screen-printed on both garments with which to write our name. In addition to being unattractive, these uniforms were downright uncomfortable and were not what you would prefer to wear for any athletic activity.

As more and more schools began to require gym uniforms the trend became to find less expensive alternatives since students were required to purchase these in many cases. Some changes were:

* Knit shorts were replaced with mesh.

* T-shirts took the place of the reversible tops.

* The shorts got longer and a vast majority of these products began to be produced overseas at lower cost (and lower quality).

These uniforms were a little more comfortable but were still mass produced with no differentiation between male and female students.

All along, one of the biggest problems with phys. ed. uniforms has simply been getting the students to wear them. Like it or not, young people are fashion conscious and they want to wear attractive, yet comfortable, clothing in gym class just as they do in any other class. Phys. ed. teachers have been fighting this battle forever but as long as schools continue to purchase these uniforms on the basis of price the problem will continue. The lesson that we have learned is that the schools are generally more concerned about cost than the students/parents are. Like any other clothing that they purchase, they want something nice.

Today we have many other options. Reputable, American manufacturers can design uniforms in a variety of ways that are both affordable to the school and tailored to the wants and needs of the students and teachers. Here are some of the ways uniforms are being designed:

* A variety of new, state of the art "moisture management" fabrics on the market are used to construct functional gym shorts and even tops in many cases.

* In addition to providing a variety of material choices, good manufacturers are customizing the uniform to the particular school's needs. For instance, inseam and rise measurements can be altered.

* Separate patterns are available for women and men. At some schools, girls in particular can be a problem if they are forced to wear men's or unisex shorts. Again, if you provide the students with a uniform they like you have effectively ended the compliance issue.

In summary, there are many options available to the gym uniform purchaser today. There are still generic, low cost (usually imported) products available but there are also higher quality garments that are much more attractive, comfortable as well as functional if schools can separate themselves from the "cheapest is best" philosophy. Those schools that choose to spend the little extra that it takes are having much less problem with compliance and even find that their students buy extra sets to use at home. Even a t-shirt, when combined with a modern gym short, can make for an inexpensive yet popular uniform when the proper graphics and accents are applied. And most importantly, the students will want to wear them.

About the Author

Cisco Athletic is a high-quality athletic uniform manufacturer. Their custom-made team uniforms, warm-ups, and accessories are available for all major sports, including gym uniforms. Visit their website at or call 1-800-437-1757

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