Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fashion Friday: Unintended consequences edition

Greek soldier: {reading from a scroll} His Royal Highness King Antiochus has decreed that you may not observe Shabbat; you must wear ugly shirts emblazoned with a logo; and you may not perform a brit milah.

Assembled people: {shocked} What do you mean we have to wear ugly shirts with logos?!

(From a comedic scene used to great effect by many Israeli kids in their recent Chanukah plays)

Ask any teacher or principal across the country about the newly-mandated school uniform shirts, and they’ll inevitably start gushing about what a wonderful development it is.

You’ll no doubt hear how the shirts engender school spirit and how the staff spends less time dealing with inappropriately and/or immodestly dressed students.

And in spite of the requisite grumbling (see: the aforementioned skit), most students don’t really seem to mind the uniforms that much either.

After all, the shirts generally come in a wide range of colors – giving the students some room to express their individuality.

Yet, nevertheless, school uniforms aren’t immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

You see, no one could’ve predicted that the modern version of uniforms waste precious time every morning.

Here’s why: (Note that these issues mainly apply to girls’ schools.)

  • 1) Sartorial considerations: Since the skirts and shirts weren’t purchased together (because the uniforms don’t include skirts), the shirts don’t necessarily match every skirt in a girl’s closet. Which frequently translates into a last-minute frantic scramble to find the single skirt which matches that oddly-hued light green top…
  • 2) Political and social considerations: If you’re an elementary school girl, choosing which colored shirt to wear on a given day involves numerous factors. For instance, do you want to wear the same color as your older sister? Yes? But is she willing to match you? And what about your BFF? You arranged with her that you’re both going to wear your beloved pink shirts tomorrow, but – horrors! - it turns out that your pink shirt is still in the laundry. And so on…

In other words, as the Hebraically-oriented among you would say, “zeh loh pashut…” (Literally, it’s not simple – i.e. it’s a real problem…)

Not too long ago, a mother of a teen told me that she wishes her daughter’s ulpanah had a uniform.

It would save her so much time in the morning,” the mother said wistfully.

I had to laugh…smile_teeth

!צום קל ומועיל ושבת שלום ומבורך


  1. Add in time to choose the accessories that allow said child to continue to express their individuality despite wearing the same shirt as every other girl in the school!

  2. It seems the new shirts create side-effects (problems/anxiety) particularly for the mom! Probably not intended when the idea was introduced.

  3. I would have *never* thought that there would be these problems with uniforms! Except for the laundry. There's just no getting around that one, is there? Fun post, as always!

  4. My daughter hasn't complained that her 2nd grader is having trouble with it. I think that most of the colors look fine with denim skirts.
    Now she has lots of sweatshirts with the logo. This first year is pretty expensive. I can imagine that it's a burden for family with lots of kids in school.

  5. Rachel - Good point about the accessories!

    Ilana-Davita - The solution is to have the kids pick out their clothes the night before. Of course, this is something we did anyway, but I was surprised that uniforms made it even more necessary!

    Galit - LOL! It's true! Somehow everything always revolves around the laundry... :-)

    Batya - I agree. Denim skirts go with just about everything. The question is what to do with all the other skirts, which don't necessarily match the shirts. It seems silly to go buy new skirts - when one has plenty of nice skirts hanging in one's closet...

  6. I agree with Galit about the fact that there is no getting around the laundry. But for this year, I warned the daughter who puts EVERYTHING in the laundry that she has to wear her uniform skirt at least 3 times before getting it washed. Her shirts, though, are washed after each wearing. The logos are not yet required on the shirts, though they are on the sweaters and sweatshirts in high school. I don't like it b/c I don't care for writing on shirts, and the logos add about $5 to the cost of each piece. As Batya said, that can add up.

  7. Ariella - Here in Israel, some schools insist that the kids' sweatshirts have the logo, but others aren't as strict (for financial reasons). In the latter schools, as long as one of the underneath layers has the logo, the child is considered to be wearing the uniform.


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