Trying to Break the Dress Code

August 7, 2013 by Trina Bartlett
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I spent the first 45 years of my life hating uniforms. I was never attracted to men who wore them, and I never wanted to wear one myself.

I hated conformity to such an extent that I didn’t even like wearing a name tag or a shirt with my employer’s name or logo. At times, I had to wear them, but I didn’t enjoy doing so.

Then last year I attended my daughter’s middle-school orientation, and I started re-thinking the issue of uniforms.

Even though I’d already spent three years as the mother of a middle-school student, that student was my son. And during his middle-school years, he generally wore whatever I bought him without complaint. (That all changed when he started high school, but during middle school he was fairly oblivious to style.)

But my daughter is different. She’s been fashion conscious since she was old enough to pull clothes off store racks.

Fortunately, Kendall is also fairly level-headed, so I’d never been that concerned about her clothing choices. But her entry into middle school marked my sudden interest in school uniforms.

As we sat in the gym bleachers at her school orientation, I assumed the heavily made up girl in short shorts and a tight t-shirt was the older sister of an incoming student.

I was wrong. She was the classmate of Kendall, who was only turning 11 the next week.

On the way home, I couldn’t resist asking my daughter what she thought of the makeup and clothes.

I was relieved she wasn’t impressed, and even now as she prepares to enter seventh grade, she still prefers modest clothes and a fresh face.  I’m hoping that continues, but there are never guarantees.

For the moment, I have other concerns. The selection of modest and appropriate clothes is getting smaller with every inch she grows. Finding age-appropriate clothes in her size isn’t easy. Many of the dresses are suggestive, the shorts could be bikini bottoms and words on the rear end of pants are just not acceptable.

Then there are the school dress code rules about fingertip-length shorts and see-through shirts that we have to follow. Last year, Kendall was wearing a modest ivory shirt with a tank top underneath and was still told she wasn’t allowed to wear a see-through shirt by a rather militant teacher.

She was embarrassed and devastated and hasn’t worn the shirt since.

Which is why I’ve begun to re-think the whole issue of uniforms. It would certainly make the morning rush a bit easier, because no matter what clothes Kendall lays out the night before, by morning she has changed her mind.

It would also make shopping easier.

I was almost sold on the idea of school uniforms until Kendall performed in the musical Annie this summer.hooverville

She was a member of the chorus and filled multiple roles including a nun, a homeless person in Hooverville and a maid in the Warbucks mansion.

The nun’s costume is self-explanatory and she could have been taken for one of the orphans in her homeless costume.

But when she put on her maid’s uniform, she looked like an adult.maid

And, since she doesn’t turn 12 until the end of August, I had a difficult time seeing her in it.

I know school uniforms are quite different, but that modest maid’s uniform has me once again disliking all uniforms.

For now, I’ll rely on t-shirts, jeans, cute skirts, modest dresses and a great deal of  faith that she won’t grow up any faster than necessary.

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One Response to “Trying to Break the Dress Code”

  1. Kimberly Queen MoldtNo Gravatar says:

    I have always been a proud public school supporter while living in West Virginia, but living here in Florida has caused me to shift. So happy to choose to apply to a charter school with uniforms and so lucky we were high enough in the lottery to get both girls in before school starts on the 17th!

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