I Miss My High School Uniform

And it still informs how I dress today. Is that weird?
Publish date:
December 10, 2013
personal style, school uniforms, plaid skirts

My Catholic high school didn't have kilts as part of our uniforms, but I wish it did. The "bad schoolgirl" aesthetic is all I've ever wanted, and it still pulls at my heartstrings now, whenever I spot a perfectly pleated and plaid skirt. I like the look of girls in kilts and plaid. I like knee high socks and Britney's bad schoolgirl look inspired many attempts at recreation, which were immediately stuffed back into my closet and never worn outside the house.

Since we didn't have skirts (they were eliminated from the uniform before I started there, as were preppy v-neck sweaters and red striped ties -- boring school), we had plain black pants, white polos, and a black sweater. In ninth grade, I was nervous and eager to impress, so I wore the strict uniform pants every day, never daring to wear anything different in fear of a random uniform check that rarely came. I wore my polos buttoned up to the top and carried my 10 pound backpack both with shame (at being a niner, aka freshman) and pride (at being in high school.)

As I grew older, I stopped caring as much about teachers and principals and grades in general. Uniform pants were soon shoved to the back of my closet (so long, Uniform Basics outlet!), to be replaced with Walmart yoga pants and, in a smaller act of rebellion, I replaced the black laces in my Converse high tops with bright rainbow laces. Though I briefly wore boys' uniform pants instead of the form-fitting girls' ones (they boys' pants had pockets; ours did not, and what are pants without pockets?), I mostly stayed away from the scratchy fabric after tenth grade.

In grade 12, my friends and I rarely left the second floor art hallway, each of us working on our respective projects/sitting on Tumblr (this was the year we discovered Tumblr.) The art teachers didn't care about our uniforms, and we didn't care enough to even try. That year, I generally wore black leggings, boots, and the uniform polo, which was usually ripped off and replaced with a sweater when in the sanctuary of the art room.

In high school, it was easy to associate yourself with whatever mini-clique you were part of. I mean, my high school was unusually un-clique-ey (perhaps because we were an art school), but everyone had their own group of friends and a certain 'style' among them. For the most part, my friends and I hung around together in the same American Apparel hoodies and stupidly streaked hair. However you accessorized (or didn't accessorize) your uniform spoke volumes. High school, even with our identical uniforms, was not without its pressures -- there was a 'right' way to wear the uniform, and actually wearing the uniform was not it.

But for the most part, I liked the uniform. I liked my pressure-free mornings, where my only question was about the weather, so I could decide if I should wear a sweater or long-sleeved shirt, and I liked the shirts themselves. I also liked that I could wear the same exact shirt for five days in a row, and nobody could tell the difference.

It's been three years (I know, I know -- young!) since I was in high school, three years since I was forced to choose my own clothing, and I've resorted to just wearing black, sometimes throwing in some color -- usually a navy or dark green. I spend a lot of my time wearing black and dressing like Kevin Smith, but on cute days, I'd rather be wearing a skirt, boots, and a cardigan. I miss high school. No. Scratch that. I miss not having to pick out an outfit every morning, and I miss the lack of responsibilities.

At the core of it, I'm just a lazy jerk who doesn't want to tug on tights and a skirt in the morning, and while dressing myself can be tiring, I do like having multiple options. On my bad days, however, dressing myself in a nightmare, and I hate everything I put on -- so uniform was a benefit.

I don't think I'll want to wear the white polo/black pants combo ever again, but my love for uniforms won't end, at least not for a while. I've kept a few of my old shirts in my closet (you know, for the memories) and I still dream of Britney.

Did you wear a uniform in school -- and does it still affect your style today?