From the time I was five until the time I was seven—so, through kindergarten, first and second grade—I went to public school: Brookshire Elementary, home of the Bulldogs. Then, the summer before I turned eight, my parents decided to enroll me in Catholic school. In fact, they decided to enroll me in the same Catholic school that my mom attended when was she was my age.
I remember the announcement being a bit tentative; it was my mother who broke the news to me, and I think she even asked me what I thought about transferring schools, which was a nice thing to do considering the decision had obviously already been made and I was, you know, eight years old. Interestingly, even though I had a group of best friends at Brookshire, I was pretty ambivalent in my reaction to the news—except for one thing.
“You'll have to wear a uniform,” my mother told me.
“You mean like Nancy Drew?” I exclaimed.
You see, in August of 1991 I was obsessed with the Nancy Drew books. I'd started reading the series earlier that summer—my collection, like my new school, had been my mother's before it was mine, and she'd kept the books in perfect condition—and was totally enamored with Nancy, her friends Bess and George, and her boyfriend Ned. And apparently in one of the books I'd recently finished, Nancy or one of her friends had worn a uniform—a detail that had amusingly and oh-so-wrongly shaped my idea of what my new school uniform would look like. I was sure it would be akin to something an airline stewardess would wear—you know, pressed navy blazer, matching pencil skirt, crisp white shirt.
What I got instead was a whole lot of plaid.
A whole lot of plaid that stuck with me for nine more years, because I ended up going to a uniform-loving Catholic high school, too.
Anyway, one of the very few good things about the itchy, pleated skirts I wore for years was that they took the guesswork—and the stress—out of picking out a new outfit each day. Every morning, without fail, I rolled grumpily out of bed at 6:30 a.m. (I'm not a morning person, in case you haven't noticed), stumbled to my closet and put on my polo shirt, my gray skirt, my white calf-height socks and my black Doc Marten Mary Janes. (We had to wear black leather shoes, too. Oh, and we got detentions for uniform violations—i.e., untucked shirts—and had to pay $5 for each. One time I had to go to Saturday School because I accidentally skipped one of these detentions, and one of my teachers began calling me Six Days, as in “she goes to school six days a week.”) (Wow, hello, tangent!). And it was kind of a relief not to have to worry about having the right kind of jeans, or whether my shirt was stylish or totally uncool.
Even these days, I tend to stick to a uniform of sorts—my typical work-and-play outfits consist of jeans (or colored pants), a blousy top and heels—and maintaining that consistency is still just as much of a relief as it was in high school. That's not to say I don't sometimes like to mix it up with a fancy shoe or a crazy print (wow, I live an exciting life, don't I?), but those are for special occasions.
Do you uniform dress, too? Or are you more adventurous than I and try to mix it up every day? Also, did you love Nancy Drew as much as I did? Which one was your favorite? I feel like we are going to have to talk more about this series in future blog posts, because I have a lot of feelings about it.
Photo: beastandbean; effects by yours truly. Yes, I could have pulled out a photo of me in sixth grade, all plaid-ed out, but yeah: No.