Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Dress for success

It's not even fall yet, and already my daughter is having her first struggle with middle school rules and regulations. The issue at hand is the school dress code, which the principal thoughtfully mailed out in time for school-clothes-shopping season, and although it doesn't seem unusually restrictive to me, the fashion dictates have my usually passive girl stomping and fuming. It's not that she's all caught up in wearing the latest stylish thing or the coolest kooky trend. She's always preferred comfort above all, and that's where the rules get her goat — because along with the forbidding of too tight, too short, too high-heeled, too droopy-hemmed, and too offensive couture, the principal has outlawed oversized T-shirts, decreeing that said garments should end at the "high hip area." And my young student-to-be has never heard anything so ridiculous in all her young life.

You should have heard her and her friend squawking about having to wear neater-looking T's to class. You'd have thought the dress code mandated shirts and ties, dresses and nylon stockings, polished shoes and buttoned cuffs. Oh, the indignity, the cruelty, the extreme discomfort of wearing a T-shirt that does not fall to mid-thigh! She hates shorter T-shirts! They're not her style! They don't feel right! Woe is her. Me? Not so much. While I'm personally in favor of any clothing baggy enough to conceal the sort of body she's developing under there, I'm smart enough to know that if I'm going to pick a battle going into a new school, it's not going to be over shirt hems. I'm more likely to fight for the comfortable fit of student and classroom than the comfortable fit of her clothes.

Besides, when I was a kid, girls didn't even get to wear pants to school, much less baggy T-shirts. My daughter isn't interested in stories about the olden days, and it's just as well, because under cross-examination, I'd have to admit that the no-pants rule only lasted through the elementary school years, and that on my first day of middle school in 1971, I wore a very spiffy pair of crushed velvet hotpants. They were of a length that would not pass my daughter's principal's below-the-fingertips rule for shorts and skirts, but I believe my matching peasant blouse did indeed stop right at the high hip area.

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