The Material Construction of the Anime School Uniform

I realize that I’m putting too much thought into something rather mundane, but have you ever stopped to consider what anime school uniforms are made out of?

For the longest time, I had merely assumed that anime school uniforms would be made out of cotton. I guess I figured that because cotton uniforms would be inherently attractive and useful to busy school students since they would be able to just toss said school uniforms straight into the washing machine.

Upon further review, however, cotton seems to be an unlikely choice. Even though it’s easy to care for when it comes to washing, cotton also creases easily and I can’t recall the last time I saw an anime school student walking around wearing a wrinkly school uniform. Even if school uniforms were made out of cotton and every student frequently ironed or pressed their uniforms, cotton still doesn’t breathe too well which is a death sentence in humid Japan with its scorching summers.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t actually end up reasoning any of this out until after I watched the third episode of Machikado Mazoku. During the aforementioned episode, Shamiko accidentally shrinks her uniform, which causes her mom to tersely remind her that wool clothes need to be handled carefully in order to avoid shrinkage. To me, that was an eye-opener. Are (anime) school uniforms actually made out of wool?!

As most of us are aware, anime school students tend to wear two types of uniforms during the school year. They don the warmer variants, which usually include long sleeves, during autumn and winter whereas they garb themselves in seemingly cooler uniforms, which often feature short sleeves, during spring and summer.

Given that Shamiko’s shrunken uniform has short sleeves, I think it’s safe to wager it’s the latter (the spring/summer uniform). Since I typically consider wool to be a colder weather fabric, I was a bit thrown off by this until I remembered that wool is essentially Mother Nature’s first high-tech performance fabric as it’s resistant to wrinkles, breathes well, and (supposedly) regulates temperature – meaning wool warms you up when you’re cold and cools you down when you’re hot. So if that temperature aspect is actually a thing or if they use a more open and looser weave or if they use a wool blend that’s mixed with lighter fabrics which suit the blaze of summer, then spring / summer school uniforms can definitely be made of wool. The fact that wool absorbs moisture quickly also helps.

The only drawback is that wool is considerably harder to wash compared to cotton. These days some wool clothes can handle being tossed into the washing machine when it’s set to a low-temperature cycle, but traditionally wool garments have to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned to avoid damage and / or shrinkage.

This disadvantage is slightly alleviated by the fact that wool can be washed less frequently compared to that of cotton, but it does make me curious about how anime school students are affected when it comes to washing their uniforms.

What if they get their only uniform dirty and don’t come home from school until it’s late, which means they won’t enough time to wash their uniform since it’ll still be wet in the morning even with wool’s inherent ability to quickly dry? I guess they would either wear their gym clothes to school or they’d have to keep wearing their dirty school uniform if that’s the only one they got…

Posh students like Momo, of course, can afford to own multiple uniforms, which eliminates most of the above limitations which could potentially inhibit Shamiko.

With that being said, the fact that Momo chooses to take her uniforms to the dry cleaner’s also makes me wonder about her schedule. Does she wear one uniform while the other is getting dry cleaned? Does she have to turn down invitations to go hang out because she has to pick up her uniform from the dry cleaner’s? Yes, none of this is interesting enough to show in the series proper, but surely the characters have to consider such things off-screen or else they might get stuck wearing stinky school uniforms for extended periods of time.

So yeah, I guess anime school uniforms are made out of wool and it took me way too long to figure that out, haha.

3 thoughts on “The Material Construction of the Anime School Uniform

  1. Very lightweight wool would be a good choice for a summer uniform. I have a couple of “summer weight” suits and the slacks from them work wonderfully in heat and humidity. They are lighter than cotton t-shirt material. Wool is naturally hygrophobic, meaning it will not absorb water and any moisture placed on it evaporates immediately. The oils in wool naturally discourage bacteria growth.

    The shirt you wear under it would likely be a no-wrinkle cotton-poly blend, just like a man’s dress shirt.


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