”Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” – Henry David Thoreau.
It is Mufti Day today at my daughters’ school. The rest of the time they are forced to wear school uniforms, even down to being penalised for wearing anything other than black scarves, not tying their ties properly, or having their skirts too short. I sort of understand the argument that having a school uniform levels the students and protects less fortunate kids from sartorial pressure. But I rant on a regular basis about the perceived need to inculcate conformity. My biggest rant is about the sixth formers who are “allowed” to wear business suits and end up looking like low paid corporate IT staff!
And talking of IT staff… At the BBC there wasn’t really a dress code and everyone, even the managers (mostly) wore whatever they wanted to work. However, in the eighties, when we decided we needed to import IT expertise from the city, the place suddenly filled with guys in cheap suits. They stood out like sore thumbs and could be spotted a mile away. Then, much to our amusement, they started to have a dress down Friday when they looked like us, then reverted to looking like aliens on the next Monday!! What was that all about!?
Back to the school mufti day. The problem with all that bottled up individuality being unleashed one particular day is that it is a cue for a sort of manic fashion parade with pressure to look smart/classy/tarty (delete as appropriate). If you are going to have uniforms and aspire to the pretence of standardisation then I reckon you should keep the pretence up rather than letting it slip occasionally and revealing the full horrors of real life.