What Not To Wear

When I was a kid in grade school, there was one day we all looked forward to: anti-uniform day. These days came far and few in between but this made each one special. The day you got to dress up in your own clothes at school for $1.

In The Bahamas, students must wear a uniform, in both private and public schools. Each school has it’s own rules concerning what was appropriate and allowed.

I went to two religious private schools for junior and senior high so the list of what you were allowed to wear was extensive, or minimal depending on how you look at it.

  1. When standing at attention, skirts or short pants must be past the tip of your fingers.
  2. Clothing cannot be too tight or fitted.
  3. Shirts must have sleeves (i.e. no tanks tops, halter tops, tube tops etc..) unless it’s being covered with a jacket (to be worn at all times).
  4. No visible stomach.

Leggings weren’t a popular item at that time so I’m not exactly sure how administration is dealing with it these days. The uniform rules were even more detailed.

Students in Kingsway Academy uniform. I went to this school from 9th-12th grade.

Students in Kingsway Academy uniform. I went to this school from 9th-12th grade.

Despite these rules, I would dress up every single time, because it represented a slice of freedom. Freedom of individual expression typically unseen in my knee-length hunter green skirt and white, short-sleeve button-up with the school crest on the pocket.

Two of my favorite outfits came about in 9th grade. One was a baby blue terry cloth J-lo track suit. The other was an Asian-inspired fitted shirt and some jeans my grandmother bought me that I still have and wear to this day. They were, to me, age-appropriate “sexy” when everyone else thought I looked so cute.

We on the uniform-wearing side of the fence used to wish that we could wear our own clothes everyday and those that do wear their own clothes to school would probably gasp at the thought of wearing the same stuff as everyone else. But I understand it. Worrying about what to wear is annoying and time-consuming as it is now, but imagine this during a time of teenage hormones and social pressures. Look at some of the issues American schools are facing with what is deemed acceptable school attire:

Leggings

Graphic Tees

Cheerleaders

These and many more issues could be avoided by simply wearing uniforms. Now of course, this does not mean it will eliminate social pressures… The brand of school bag (Kipling), shoes (Clarke’s) and brand of pants (Dickie’s) were all status markers. But think of how much less financial stress it would be if you only had to buy your kids 2 or 3 new shirts instead of an entire wardrobe each semester.

I think many of us could not wait until we got out of high school and into college so we could wear whatever the heck we wanted but for many in the work place, this still meant another uniform of some sort. In culinary school, I wore a chef’s uniform and my first “job” after college also had a uniform. In a way, all that uniform wearing just prepared us for the real world.

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