Mind The (Dress Code) Gap

I attended a public school my entire life.  Regardless of public, private, Catholic or Non-demoninational school — all have to wear a uniform.

One of my most favourite colours to wear is grey.  Slate grey.  This is 60% intriguing and 40% amusing to me.  You see, twenty-nine years ago, I stepped into a school uniform for the very first time:  Slate grey skirt, white shirt, grey cardigan (even though it was August) and a black blazer, complete with a carefully sewn on embroidered school badge.  My tie was red and black thick diagonal stripes.

It was a curse and a God-send.

You see, ask any non-assuming Secondary School kid these days and they’d say they’d love to get the chance to wear anything they wanted to school, like the majority of their American counterparts.  If truth be known, the stringent uniform standards had slackened within the first five years after I’d left 6th year in high school.  Girls were suddenly allowed to wear trousers in the colder weather (so, basically, every month but 2 weeks in July if you ask me) and I’d also see open neck button-up shirts with a knotted, loosely draped tie.  It looked fine, but I know if I had done it, I would have been verbally reprimanded.  There had been occasional instances where people in my class would be sent home from school to go change — home being two miles away from high school, just for me.  But I was never sent home, of course.  Non-one drove to school either, the legal age to drive is 17, and by then, most have just months to go before they leave.

Looking back on everything though, I am grateful I had to wear a uniform five days a week for 13 years of my life.  I knew what I was going to wear to school that day, except maybe varying which standard issue skirt style to go for in the morning.  There were no school clothes and play clothes, they were all mine.  My vanilla uniform (with the best intentions) was (supposed) to be taken off when I got home for me to change into my skivvies.  On the flip side, I am on the brink of experiencing this with Ian.

In September he started his second year at pre-school, and, like my own experience in Nursery, gets to wear what he wants.  I would love that he could wear a uniform.  We are up to three pairs of jeans, two pairs of ‘smart’ trousers and a pair of dungarees with the knees ripped out.  I can no longer mix n’ match play and school clothes.  Then again, it definitely trips me out that next August he would be in P1, and very likely wearing a full-blown uniform.  Of course, small kids have it a little easier these days, they can don polo shirts with the embroidered school badge on the left breastage along with the option of the starched white button-choking shirt.  They also have sweatshirts in the matching blazer colour with, right, you guessed it — the embroidered school badge on the left breastage.

Back in my day . . . spit, smack, slap, knee to the groin and the complementary headbutt...

But I’m not bitter, no really, I’m not; because I walked away (mumble, cough) 16 years ago with a memento, a wee shiny thing most others don’t have:  A little blue badge.  This blue badge brought me respect amongst the terror-ridden 1st years (in HS, 11-year-old’s).  I (amongst a dozen or so others, but really, it was all me.  Gillian, if you’re reading this, shut your dirty mouth) was the connection between the staff and the pupils.  We watched out for them, kept them in their queues at the stagnated lunchtimes and helped them to class if they were lost.

The Oxford English dictionary states:

prefect: noun chiefly Brit.
A senior pupil authorized to enforce discipline in school.

Now, if I could just project my prefect powers on my small children, I would be a happy woman.

And let me just say this, I am very glad my scanner died an untimely death, I am spared from posting a high school photo.


21 responses to “Mind The (Dress Code) Gap

  1. I find it sad somehow that there is really no American counterpart to a prefect. I wish my kids had to wear uniforms, it would have made life, and school mornings much easier.

  2. I wore a grey uniforn too but only from aged 11. It was actually a lot easier….and my children here wear a uniforn from Kindergarten on – well except the shoes – they can wear ANY shoes and that in itself drives me mad…..smart uniforms and pink shoes, orange shoes, you name it shoes. Also on photo day they want them OUT of uniform and into their own ‘Sunday best clothes’ – which again strikes me as strange…

  3. Chant – High school photo. High school photo. Anyway, that’s a very posh Prefect badge. Ours were straight, BUT I was Deputy Head Girl so mine was more of a shield thing. I don’t know about liason between girls and teachers tho – I just got to walk around the grounds and the loos to make sure no one was smoking! It’s a wonder I didn’t get my heed kicked in.

  4. there are definitely days that i wish my daughter wore a uniform. teenagers. gah.

  5. LOl- you don’t really think we BELIEVE that GUFF about the scanner,now do you?

    We sort have Prefects here in the states….only we call them Hall Monitors.

    I was one- for about a day and a half -before I let my power go to my head and was stripped of my sash!!
    Oh the SHAME!!!

    I had the last laugh tho- guess what I do for a living now? I’ll give you a hint……It involves Law Enforcement.
    LOL!!!! And UNIFORMS!!!!

  6. Siobhan, as a first time visitor to the UK at age 5 (and every year since) I have seen the uniform changes over the ensuing 47 years. I have to say, today they still wear uniforms but it looks more like “what can we get away with.” I’d say keep ’em and enforce them or get rid of them entirely because the whole thing has become a joke now. I think the uniform thing is good because it adds an element of discipline into the process. But what do I know.

  7. Ha! I thought that badge said Perfect. Damn dyslexia. 😉

    My sis and I were just talking about how we wished our kids had uniforms at school. It would make things a bit easier I think.

  8. I think with all the peer pressure to be in style–especially for girls, school uniforms are not a bad idea. I went to public school and never wore one. And, I think it would make mornings go a little easier when getting ready for school.

  9. I’m so glad I didn’t have to wear a uniform to school, but now I kind of wish there was one for Ally. It would be so much easier.

    BTW, way to go on being a prefect!

  10. I vote for school uniforms. I also vote for a high school photograph. I’d say go to Kinko’s, but I suspect for you that’d be a 200 mile trip. And two hundred miles through the wilds of Montana is intimidating for anybody.

  11. Pah! I should have known you were a Prefect! I never was. Probably because I never wore a uniform – they were expensive! And being the 5th of 6 kids I never got any new clothes so I looked like a tink all the time.
    I think Scott might have been one though…

    And I do like to wear grey. I suit it.

  12. I got to wear a uniform up until HS until I switched out of private school…only I hated it. Lol. They didn’t really make clothes for very petite kids, so everything hung off of me in a horrid way. The pants we had the option to wear were more like…mompants. With a huge space in the front to stuff balloons, should we need them. My SMALL cardigan? It went to my knees. And was itchy. I think they look cool (some of them) if only they fit everyone!

  13. My sister STILL (over 20 years later) won’t wear a grey skirt or cardy because it reminds her of school uniform! She hated having to wear a uniform and was one of those who did everything she could to modify it. I didn’t mind mine – one less decision to make every morning. She was the one who ended up in a job where she had to wear a uniform – and loved it!

    I had a prefect’s badge just like that one, but mine was green. It’s long-gone though 😦 As is the house tie 🙂

  14. My prefect badge was exactly the same but, green! I still have it somewhere actually! And, the same happened to me — not long after I left school, the girls were allowed to wear trousers! Ggrrrrr! My uniform in secondary school was navy blue — which I don’t mind at all! Still wear it!

  15. I think school uniforms are a good idea – of course, I can say this now that I’m out of school and don’t have to wear one. 🙂

  16. You’re right. Mind the Gap is a perfect title. Where’s my Scottish Word of the Week? And, honey? You were the prefect?!! I love it. My son is in unis at preschool. And, I begged for them for years until my parents sent me private. I loved not thinking about what to wear.

  17. aaahhh seriously? This post would’ve been complete with that photo from high school!

    I like the idea of uniforms for the very reasons you pointed out! But my kids go to a public school where they wear whatever!!! Dang it all!

  18. A good one about the scanner …

    My kids wear whatever as well, just as I did. My brother went to a uniformed school and I think it was a lot easier for him in the long run.

    It was actually quite amazing how creative some of the kids got with their uniforms in high school to reflect their individual flavour, at least what I recall from when I’d drop him off at school, even for boys…

  19. Our city public schools switched to uniforms a few years ago. Nothing fancy just a polo shirt and blue dress pants or skirt. The kids hated it at first but the Moms loved it. It made school clothes shopping much easier for them.

  20. I agree completely with uniforms. We had, from primary school through to secondary school in Trinidad and at one point I envied my American friends. BUT the thought of having to keep up with the Joneses everyday at school blows my mind. I tell my son the same thing when he complains. No standing in front of the cupboard wondering what to wear, and when last you wore that outfit etc etc – same thing day in day out. Perfect!

    Our school body voted for prefects, but teachers had a right of veto – I should be ashamed to tell you I was popular enough among friends to get the vote, but vetoed by the teachers… hahaha!

  21. I, too, wore uniform – right up until I was 18. Ours was navy, with a white blouse and striped tie.

    In summer we wore striped blazers and a panama hat AND WHITE GLOVES – I ask you…. Most of our time was spent trying to lose said white gloves!

    In winter we wore the uniform, covered with a burberry mac.

    When I was in the sixth year, we were allowed to wear navy duffel coats as a nod to ‘fashion’ (aye, right!)

    I was a prefect, too – but our badges were green.

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