Mufti Day

‎”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.

4 thoughts on “Mufti Day

  1. There’s nothing cheap about a Next suit for a 6th form 18 year old. In my experience they are the only ones that fit a trombonist with extra long arms (yep, good image for radio!) My children show off their cultural heritage on Mufti Day (March 1st, in aid of Marie Curie) by wearing leeks as well as daffs. Not to mention the yellow socks……


  2. Euan, I never knew your daughter and my son shared the same school! 😉 Seems that this is a common culture. I strongly identify with the sixth-form comment, although the comment about Next and Top Man suits is pretty much spot on. ‘I expect you to dress as though you may need to attend an interview at a moment’s notice’ is a favourite quote of our Head. Why exactly – how realistic is that? I find myself wondering exactly how many sixth formers have been required to attend an impromptu interview during the school day in the last 20 years since the school opened. It’s a strange ethos, uniform has its place but some schools go over the top. My son was once told his shoes were not of an acceptable standard for school to which he gamely replied ‘They’re in the M&S Back to School range Sir’ only to to be told ‘That may well be, but theyre not in the Blankety Blank School range’ and we had to buy him a new pair! Bloody ridiculous.

    May main complaint about many school sixth form schools however is just how poorly they prepare young people for a university environment and the independent style of learning that goes with it. Factory farming A*s at A level is all very well but it’s akin to to keeping battery hens in my view – when you finally open up the barn doors and let the daylight in, many choose to stay in their cages and turn their eyes from the sun for the fear of the unknown rather than explore a brave new World. This is not the way to develop the people we need to transform this Country into an economic powerhouse.


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