Pop Quiz: School Uniforms
Growing up there were two things I was pretty sure would survive a nuclear war, cockroaches and my school uniform. When thinking back about them in terms of fashion the only word that comes to mind is durable. Made from plaid polyester fabric that when new was stiff enough to stand on its own. My favorite one was a jumper (a dress that goes over a blouse) that had been passed down through 2 or 3 families before me and was finally approaching what one might call soft. Day in and day out we wore these clothes, everyone dressing the same. The only choice we were given was to the kind of shoe we wore, and if we wanted to wear a cardigan, but to be honest I didn’t mind. I got up in the morning, threw on the uniform and headed out the door. There was no fuss and no worry about how cool my clothes were, though I did worry a great deal about how cool my shoes were. I was recently reminded of this a few weeks ago as I was listening to a Fresh Air interview with Tim Gunn.
During the interview the topic of school uniforms was brought up and this is what Tim said:
You know, at the time I found it [wearing a uniform] to be very restricting, and I felt something like a prisoner, but I have recalibrated thinking about the uniform. I find it’s very democratizing. You don’t have to get up in the morning and think about: What am I going to wear? And for girls in particular, I love a uniform because the fashion pressures on teenagers and younger women are extraordinary.
And living in New York City, I love the private schools that have a uniform, and I have to say I have something of a disdain for those that don’t because the fashion competition is ridiculously stupid. In fact it’s absurd. I live in an apartment building with a lot of teenage girls who go to private schools, and I am always supporting the ones in the uniforms.
So my question to you is: How do you feel about the school uniform? Is it freedom from fashion pressure? Or is the conformity of a uniform oppressive?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (ET).