Plaid Skirts and Knee-Highs: I Survived Parochial School

Plaid SkirtFor nine years (from fourth grade through twelfth grade) I attended a private Episcopalian school which required me to attend chapel daily and wear uniforms. Our summer uniforms were dreadful and resembled potato sacks in their cut, with nauseating pastel colors which I could not stand, while our winter uniforms were the standard plaid skirt/white button down shirt/knee high socks/saddle shoes combination which defined most parochial schools back in the day. I respected the fact that the Campbell Plaid was proudly used in our uniforms, and I actually enjoyed seeing the bagpiper players in the same plaid on homecoming day, but those skirts were made of a very stiff and rough wool fabric which caused many of my classmates to squirm in discomfort.

When we made the passage from junior high to high school we were given different plaid skirts to wear which displayed a larger plaid pattern as well as a wrap style which was akin to the kilts Scottish men in the old country wore. Along with this fashionable wrap style was a large gold pin which we were expected to affix to the flap in order to keep ourselves covered in decent fashion. Our way of being rebellious was to replace this gold pin with buttons which had sayings on them which were at times rude enough to land us in detention. We were also given the option of wearing black and white Vans instead of saddle shoes, an option which I gladly chose. I could never stand having my little feet choked by the hard leather of saddle shoes which would often cut into the flesh at my ankle. Another odd feature of my high school days was the fact that the high school was all-girls. In retrospect I think this was a good thing since I never got the chance to be distracted in class by silly boys.

Some people have asked me if I would send a child to a private school which required uniforms, and I have replied the same way. If the education is top notch, I think the conformity of uniforms contributes to the discipline that is necessary for high academic achievement. After all, grade school and high school environments should stress education and not what latest fashion trends are sweeping today’s youth.

On another note, I am well aware of the common fantasy of people wanting to play dress-up as schoolgirls, but this mostly puzzles me. I mean, I do understand the fantasy to some extent, but Halloween costumes are so sexified that they are a far cry from what is found in private school settings. Honestly, a true school uniform is dreadful and not the slightest bit sexy. But to each his own I guess…


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