Can one really look at school uniforms as fashion statements? Schoolchildren in fact are encouraged to keep away from all things vain, and being fashion consciousness can easily harbour such vanity. Instead, they can be smartly turned out, neat, clean and tidy, and importantly spartan in attitude, at least during their schooling years.
However, for students who attend senior school or high-school, can perhaps take a few liberties with accessories, hair styles and subtle adornments that go with their school uniform, without contravening school uniform guidelines. When these very accessories or hair styles come into vogue, it then creates fashion. So yes, anything outside the school uniform and sported by school-goers of a certain age, becomes trendy, is fashion that can be associated with the school uniform.
A simple example of how a neat hair cut which also looks chic. While in vogue the hairstyle goes subtly with the uniform the school girl is wearing (see image appended)
Pic 1 Stylish blunt haircut
Turning out smart, neat and clean is also what school uniforms do to one’s appearance. The colour, design, style and even the monogram, can make a statement, well then? a fashion statement!
Let’s look at the first school uniform ever introduced, which the students of Christ Hospital School, London, was believed to have worn, way back in 1552! This was predominantly a long blue coat and yellow knee-high socks. Bright and smart and in today’s context – very corporate. No wonder then, that this colour-scheme and uniform has carried on in that school, even till today! Incidentally, the livery of some of the world’s finest airlines boast of a similar colour scheme – Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines!
Pic 2. Christ Hospital School uniform (since 1552)
For a well-groomed and stylish look, observe the closest items first. Pay attention to hair, nails, and makeup (subtle albeit, if at all)- one can sport a trendy yet neat haircut that also goes with the outfit, have well-manicured nails, buffed especially for the young ladies who will have to do without nail paint. For hair maintenance, best to stick to a natural colour. Ladies can use a styler to create curls that look neat, pinned up or otherwise. For an easier style, a ponytail, high bun, or French braids work. Adds to the neatness, keeps hair away from face.
If permitted, ladies can opt for light, natural makeup that highlights the best of one’s features. A light or medium foundation should give a finish that needs to be understated.
Young gentlemen may try slicking back their hair for a more retro look. Hair should be kept off the collar if the school mandates it. Older boys must shave regularly if required and trim facial hair regularly to keep a well-groomed look.
Young ladies may experiment (if permitted) by wearing statement jewelry, that enhances style without being overwhelming. A simple necklace paired with simple ear tops, can look elegant too. A ring or two, embedded with stones can add colour and match the uniform colours as well.
Pic 3. Ear tops look elegant with the school uniform
Young men on the other hand can try a button or brooch pinned onto their blazers or shirts, just to break the monotony. By this, students get to express their style without breaking school dictates! A letter, word or symbol on the button or pin can personalize the adornment.
Ladies can wrap a trendy scarf around the neck in the cooler months that matches the uniform. A woolen scarf with a trendy pattern in the winter gives a cozy and fashionable at the same time. Silk or satin scarves with a bow makes a classic fashion statement, provided the school permits wearing of same.
Pic4.Scarf worn with style while matching the uniform
Boys on the other hand can use a pocket square with a blazer, for a dapper look. One must ensure that the fabric matches the school uniform or tie. Patterns like stripes and dots give an interesting feel to the get up. For the techy nerd a pocket square printed with binary code!
For male and female students, a bow tie instead of a regular tie – patterned or solid-colored bow tie with a topical, seasonal or special occasion theme, would make an interesting accessory. If there’s a special occasion coming up, the print can showcase that and add an element of celebration. All this if the rules allow.
Roll up the sleeves of a guy’s uniform for a ‘cool’ look, if a blazer or sweater is not worn. This will give a more carefree, style. Half rolled sleeves till mid-arm is an option where schools don’t allow fully rolled sleeves up to the elbows.
Pic 5. Boy in unform with rolled up sleeves
Finally, a statement jacket to and from school travel, (and not inside the premises may allow) students to carry off their fashionable side and keep themselves warm when it’s cold. A puffer or leather jacket, or one’s favourite bomber jacket, a classic denim coat, or a woollen coat, will do the trick. However, inside school premises students will need to change into woollens that are part of the uniform.
Pic 6. School children carry off their overcoats with great style
Design Trends in School Uniforms
At best, a school uniform is a great equalizer where all dress alike clothes, shoes, socks etc. It also stems the ‘me too’ syndrome where due to peer pressure, one must get the most expensive looking sneakers the other is sporting. It also helps students focus on their school work and not get distracted by fashion or possessions of others. Students also take great pride in their uniform, that establishes their identity. While these beliefs remain constant about the positives of uniforms, certain trends can be seen in this all-important aspect of school life.
Pic7.Including a headscarf as part of the uniform looks fashionable and respects multi-cultural sensitivities
Current fashion trends do tend to influence school uniform designs, from hair styles to shoes. Patterns have become a major differentiator for schools. Preference is for stripes or checks with plain trousers or skirts. Some of the schools prefer black and white stripes or simply stripes, while some prefer check print shirts with plain trousers and much more.
Stylish, as in today’s modern society is style conscious and this permeates into the school uniform category as well. Unforms for the summer in lighter colours, winter uniforms are designed to cover up, and more recently sportswear uniform designed for days that include sports.
Pic8 Fashionable sportswear as part of the school uniform
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