It’s the start of a new school year and girls around the country are donning their crisp white shirts, pleated skirts and shiny new shoes for the first day of term. I was thinking how easy it was to put on the clothes that were dictated to me day after day for 11 long school years before flying the nest for nonconformist college where, for the first time I faced the dilemma of what to wear? If I’d have known this drama would raise its ugly head on a daily basis I would have opted for sixth form and the safety of the monochrome clothing rule.
I decided to study a HND in Fashion & Textiles at college, I thought that by taking this creative route I would be allowed the freedom to portray my artistic flair in my clothing without prejudice and I was thanks to my fellow wannabe designers. I was so lucky to share my workspace with some seriously talented people who were so self-confident their enthusiasm to shock rubbed off on me instantly. My friend Andrew would wear chaps fashioned from old curtains over Calvin Klein boxers and saunter down to the cafeteria for a bacon butty among the open-mouthed non-fashion students (sadly I don’t have picture evidence) We would make skirts from bubble wrap, wear towering heels with grubby overalls from the workshops and screen print as many foul swear words as you can name onto t-shirts to wear when we went charity shop browsing. I absolutely loved that time at college and I learned that while we were ridiculed for our random/daring/silly fashion choices, thanks to safety in numbers I felt it was okay to be different.
Clothing rules have relaxed so much in the last decade, my daughters infant teacher wears Converse and A&F for school, she always looks smart but its such a long way from the full pleat floral skirt and blouse combo that my primary teacher wore. When I was at high school (not that long ago) there was a teacher who wore Mango tops, Topshop jeans and knee length boots for work and was the envy of a lot of girls in my year. She certainly stood out from the sea of brown skirt suits and black patent kitten heels favoured by the languages department. I wonder if the women who wear a uniform everyday yearn for the freedom to make their own clothing choice in the mornings or are they happier to not have to check the weather, think about feet hurting in heels or remember to put extra tights in their handbag in case of a ladder emergency? Plus if the guys are in uniform too they don’t have to contend with Disney ties, days of the week socks or patterned waistcoats. Guys in uniform equals a win…every time.
To all the teenagers who are already manipulating their boring school uniform into something more fashionable, enjoy the monotony of looking like everyone else because it wont be long before you’re up at 6am dragging everything you own out of your wardrobe trying to find a suitably chic outfit for yet another day at work.