The Grand Uniform

The École Polytechnique full-dress military uniform, complete with tangente sword and two-cornered bicorn hat, has become an established symbol of the institution. Since its creation in 1794, l’X has had around ten different uniforms, reflecting the evolution of the French political system, but the uniform has not seen any major changes since the Third Republic. Today, students only wear their formal uniform for military ceremonies or special occasions related to life at the institution, such as the Bastille Day parade and the Bal de l’X. In the past, the color of the stripes on the indoor day uniform indicated a student’s year group: yellow for students who joined the institution on an odd year and red for those who joined on an even year. Although the indoor uniform has been out of use for some time now, the tradition of using the colors yellow and red to designate a student’s year of entry remains. In 1972, École Polytechnique allowed female applicants to take the competitive entry examination for the first time. As such, a female Grand Uniform was designed, with a skirt, a tricorn (three-cornered hat) and hair decorated with a tricolor cockade. Since 1996, however, female students have worn the bicorn, the same as their male counterparts.