The Girl Scout Uniform, Updated for Gen Z

The Four Percent


A vest designed for the modern Girl Scout must have pockets, and those pockets must be large enough to fit the largest model of the iPhone.

“In all our fittings that was the No. 1 thing,” said Wendy Lou, the deputy chief revenue officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA. “Can you fit the iPhone in there? Yes? Let’s go.”

The new vest was designed by three students from the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was released on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen separates for Girl Scouts in grades six through 12, including things that are likely already in their closets, like black spandex leggings and a denim jacket.

The student-designed collection is an attempt to make the Girl Scout uniform more versatile and relevant — to infiltrate the modern teenage wardrobe with scouty swag, sometimes camouflaged as athleisure. (Although loungewear has never been more popular, the collection was finished pre-pandemic.) The organization hopes the new styles will help encourage older girls — those in the trenches of middle school and high school — to stick with being a scout.

“We’ve really modernized and changed everything that the girls are learning,” Ms. Lou said, pointing to new STEM and entrepreneurship programs adopted in recent years. Today, girls earn badges in coding and cybersecurity, in marketing and making business plans. The outdated uniforms “didn’t really reflect that same progression,” Ms. Lou said. When the three F.I.T. students met with a few dozen Girl Scouts to present ideas and get feedback during the redesign process, it was clear that “they wanted something cooler,” said Melissa Posner, 24, one of the designers. Girl Scout events are often held after school, but many would rather quickly change clothes after the final bell than wear their uniforms to class. “They wanted something that wouldn’t be so embarrassing to wear to school,” Ms. Posner said.

The centerpiece of the official Girl Scouts uniform is a vest or sash — or, for some younger girls, a tunic — in blue, brown, green or khaki, depending on the scout’s grade level, decorated with their badges and pins. When officially representing the organization, girls must layer their sash or vest over either a white shirt and khaki bottoms, or Girl Scouts-branded “official apparel” — a previously limited selection of mostly polo shirts and plain skirts.

For preteen and teen scouts, the khaki sash hasn’t visibly changed much in the F.I.T. redesign; there are only so many ways to redesign a diagonal loop of cloth, although it got a hidden iPhone-size pocket, too.

The khaki utility vest is another story. It has a new notch collar, epaulet shoulders, snap buttons and a cinched waist. The color is lighter and the fabric softer. It’s the Burberry trench of Girl Scout vests.

But the most dramatic expansion is the new range of about 20 teen-targeted “official apparel” items for girls to wear underneath their vests or sashes. Ranging from $10 to $49, there are crew-neck sweatshirts and drawstring joggers, short knit dresses and short cargo skirts, a belt bag and a denim utility wrap.

Despite the lull in recent decades, Timothy Winkle, a curator at the National Museum of American History who organized an exhibition around the group’s 100-year anniversary in 2012, said that the Girl Scouts has changed its uniform more than any other major scouting organization.


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