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Tuesday 7 June 2016

Dressing 'Smartly' - Do Your School Uniform Rules Stay With You?

Top: similar here. Trousers: similar here (I have these too!) Shoes: Russell & Bromley. Jacket: Zara. Sunglasses: Miu Miu. Bag: Chanel. Earrings: Dior. 
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I read quite a funny article on Buzzfeed a few nights ago, all about American high schools and their rules regarding education-appropriate clothing; no racer back tops, no showing your collarbones, no 'unnecessarily' short skirts. Pardon me for my ignorance, but how short does a skirt have to be in order to be deemed 'unnecessarily' short? Answers on a postcard.

It got me thinking about my school uniform. Are all of those rules somehow related to my subsequent love of tailored, smart looking clothing? I think back to myself aged 14; a fringe that resembled a helmet and a lot of very illegal eyeliner, but you better believe my shirt was done up to the correct button and my shoes were shiny. I occasionally attempted to bend the rules, but I always looked smart whilst doing so. 

I wonder if my penchant for such a look came from having uniform related rules banged into me since I was a small child? There's something about the tailored, put together, office-chic look that I'm just drawn to. I occasionally stray away in an attempt to look a little more 'edgy' but I always seem to fall back to it. I can't shake it. Perhaps its the ex boarding school pupil within me (fortunately, due to living down the road, I didn't have to actually board!).

In fact, funny story intermission - on my very first day in the 6th form, when we were finally permitted to wear skirt suits instead of an actual uniform, I turned up in an outfit that (IMO) adhered to the rules, but was a little more... extravagant. The skirt was knee length with box pleats and probably 25% more voluminous than a standard suit skirt and the jacket was structured with shoulder pads and gold, military buttons. Basically I was a female Michael Jackson dressed for a very important business meeting. However, nothing about skirt volume, shoulder pads or button colour was in the rules. Obviously I appreciate that one can't turn up to school in a knee-length tutu and state 'well there was nothing about skirt volume in the rules',  but I think as a 16/17 year old, you'd expect to be granted a little leeway to assert your individuality whilst also keeping to the rules. I was literally sent home to change into something more 'appropriate' and then had to walk in late to the first Headmasters Assembly of the year, in front of the entire school. May as well have had a judgy nun walking behind me, ringing a bell and proclaiming 'SHAME, SHAME' over and over a la Game of Thrones.

So do these rules, even if we don't necessarily agree with them at the time, stick with us?

No coloured nail polish. No earrings except pearls or diamond studs. No dyed hair. You are not allowed to wear a jumper if you're not wearing your blazer. You are not allowed to have your hair down until you are in the 6th form. You are not allowed to wear makeup (LOL. I broke that one.)

I'm recalling these rules now and chuckling, but then I look down at my uncoloured, french manicure. My natural, dye free hair. I look towards my over worn, Dior pearl earrings and my wardrobe full of shirts, blouses and suit trousers and wonder if all of that has shaped my style as an adult.

Did you have a uniform at school? If so, do you think you've unintentionally carried any of those rules with you into adulthood?

Photos by Paige of Paige Joanna


  1. While I think uniform can be a good thing I do think that it gets in the way of learning sometimes. I'd struggle to concentrate in class because I was so hot and uncomfortable in a blazer that we were only allowed to take off if it was an exceptionally hot day
    The Lipstick, The Girl and Her Wardrobe


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