Growing up in a public school system, back to school shopping was my favorite part of the year. With it either be buying the newest Bobby Jack shirts, or those ugly plaid shorts we all owned, the start of the new school year was the start to reinvent yourself. While my school did implicate the standard no spaghetti strap, leggings, or ripped jeans rule, students were allowed to wear what they pleased to express themselves. It wasn't until the beginning of 9th grade that the dress code rules changed drastically. I loved my high school, my teachers, and all of the amazing people I met there. It helped me develop into the person I am today, and I am so happy to of gone there. I just wished at points I was able to wear color and express myself. These unifroms were meant to limit what we could wear and be "stress-free", but in the long haul caused more stress.
1. Where's you collar?
The first major change in it all was wearing a collar. No matter what we wore as a layer, a collar had to be visible at all times. The collared shirts added an extra layer, and as a growing teenager were not flattering whatsoever on my body. Untucked was too baggy, but tucked in it added a weird bulge in my pants and made it skin tight. Many students quickly realized the discomfort, and opted to make "dickeys", which was essentially just cutting the collar off the polo and having that. But even then they would pop out of sweaters in the back, or not cover the entire neckline of shirts.
2. What is primary red?
My school's mascot was a cardinal, and that resulted in our primary color being red. Any polo or layers you had to wear had to either be red, white, gray, or black. With all of the colors except red, the shade did not matter as long as it was considered one of them. However with red, it was stated it should be "cardinal" red, but when you're out school shopping you aren't going to be caring a color swatch around with you. It became so difficult, because what some teachers would consider acceptable red, others would state there was too much of a purple undertone. Whenever one would wear red, the thought of "Is this too orange? Or purple? Or pink?" would constantly be in the back of one's mind. Unfortunately, it just became easier to stick to the muted colors, instead of the one color we were allowed to wear.
3. Lift your scarf!
As previously said, the collars had to be visible at all points, but how does that work when accessories such as scarves are worn? Simple. At the beginning of home room, and periods throughout the day, the teachers went around and had to ask students to lift their scarf to prove they were wearing a collar. Now I never was one to use this tactic, one would think that since the collar would be covered it wouldn't matter if it was worn. I know students who were sent to in-school however for having a lack of collar underneath the scarf. The fact students had to have class time interrupted to ensure dress code was being followed always kinda mind boggled me.
4. Just let me feel confident!
Since I was younger my legs have always been long, and my arms shorter. With that being said any dresses I buy just appear to be short. This made it extremely difficult to dress up, and feel confident when things I wanted to wear I would get in trouble for. Wearing khakis and polos on the day to day gave me little motivation to dress well. If you don't enjoy what you're wearing, why put any effort in? It's difficult to feel confident and cute in clothes you hate. Whenever I would wear a dress, however, I could expect someone to say "That's a little short no?". The only time that I got dress coded was because of my dress length, and as we were walking to the closet they kept clothes in I started to cry in frustration. Why was it fair that I was trying to put effort into myself and look nice, while I had to stare at guys "sagging" their pants in the hall?
5. "You're going to have to wear dress code in life, so you may as well get use to it now."
I had a teacher who whenever someone complained about our dress code said this without a doubt. Of course, many of us are aware we are going to have to fit in the social constraints later in life, but being a teenager is about finding yourself. After not being able to dress however I want since 9th grade, I lost those crucial developmental years. Another reason this expression irritated me, is that when we're older we'll be getting paid for it. Now, I am not saying that education isn't valuable in itself, but I think me wearing jeans v.s. khakis wouldn't deteriorate my education. Like hey! I'll learn that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell whether I'm wearing leggings or whatnot, and the information is all the same!
6. Whats my fashion?
Upon packing for college I noticed one thing quickly. I owned little to no color. My closet consisted of primarily only my school colors. My high schools uniform was not the most strict by any means, but it did limit me from experimenting with clothes. I did not have any clue who I was stylistically. I did own a few items of clothes I enjoyed for dress down days and for weekends, but an entire wardrobe? An unthinkable thought. After hours of Pinterest scrolling, and just other ideas of what I thought was trendy in mind I have started to build up my wardrobe now.
7. What do you mean your spirit week wasn't lame?
My school's spirit week was just a chance for us to semi-dress down. With basic days such as jersey day, Hawaiian shirt, and others of that line, it gave students the chance to wear colors. It, unfortunately, had too strict of guidelines for students to go full out. After having a discussion with my college friends about our spirit weeks did I really realize how little effort we went into. My friends showed me pictures of people being Barbie and Ken (in their boxes), Kayne in Roblox form, Aladdin on his "carpet" (or a hover-board), and other creative ideas, while all I had was my friends in leis. Of course, I am FOREVER grateful for my spirit week, because any collar free day is a good day right? But with my school's dress code being so tight it wouldn't be plausible for students to be that creative. Also, if people actually participated it may've helped it be more fun!