School uniforms are good for a lot of things — reducing bullying, creating school unity, speeding up the morning routine — but they aren’t particularly good at helping a kid feel their own person. Discovering and getting to know one’s self is a critical component of adolescence, and yet many kids forced into uniforms never experiment with their individuality or look for ways to stand out. If you have a little person in your life who is one-of-a-kind, you should encourage them to work within the confines of their school dress code to find themselves, perhaps by experimenting with their personal style in the following ways:
Most uniforms involve variations on the same preppy theme: collared shirts, blazers, sweaters, chinos, pleated skirts. Yet, even within this narrow window of permitted clothes, students tend to gravitate toward certain options, and the on-trend uniform pieces will shift over time. For some years, girls may only wear skirts and stockings; for others, they may eschew the feminine look for shorts and slacks. At any particular time, there will be unpopular yet approved components of the uniform, and students looking to stand out can use these pieces to their advantage.
Wearing untrendy clothing requires a certain degree of courage, but some teens are able to maintain a nonchalant attitude toward fashion that makes anything they wear seem cool. If your teen is asking for some of the least popular uniform components, you should support them and hype them up, which will help them cultivate and project that sense of unflappability that is essential for going against the status quo.
Well-fitted School Uniform
Too often, uniform clothing fits teens poorly. Though the style of unform clothing can be timelessly chic, when the individual pieces are not appropriately sized, they can make a person appear frumpy and dorky, which doesn’t make a teen want to stand out from the crowd.
To give your teen a confidence boost, you need to make sure their clothing fits them extremely well. The key to this is purchasing pieces that are perfectly sized to their current body size and shape rather than sizing up to accommodate growth. Fortunately, you can find affordable girls’ uniforms from popular brands, so it won’t hurt your bank account to replace your teens’ wardrobe every other semester. If your teen is struggling to find the right size off the rack, you might introduce them to the wonderful world of tailoring, which will help them achieve the stylish silhouette of their dreams.
Even though your teen’s clothing options are limited, they can work wonders with other elements of physical styling — namely, makeup and hair. If your school uniform code allows it. The internet is full of tutorials on intricate hairstyles and dazzling cosmetic looks that will help your teen find their identity and stand out at school. You might take them to a hair and makeup store, like Ulta or Sephora, and work with a style consultant there to find the right products to complement their hair and skin texture and color as well as their personal aesthetic.
Most school dress codes include a section on hair and cosmetic styling, so you might want to review the student code of conduct before you allow your teen to go to school with a full face of makeup and a dramatic hairdo. In many cases, you might need to opt for more “natural” makeup and hair on your teen, and if that seems vague and confusing, you should look for clarification from your school’s administration before you make assumptions that get your teen in trouble.
Often, outfit accessories are left to the discretion of the individual student — as long as they aren’t outrageous or distracting in the classroom. Or against school uniform policy. Thus, your teens should feel free to experiment with accessories like socks, jewelry, hair clips, bags and more. You might regularly take them on shopping trips to get more school-approved accessories or else factor this into their allowance so they can try out different looks and find what fits their identity best.
Your teen deserves to feel like an individual, even within the confines of their school uniform. Fortunately, by investing in high-quality uniform pieces and augmenting their uniform in personally meaningful ways, they can stand out for all the right reasons.