Darrell Rivers looked at herself in the glass. It was almost time to start for the train, but there was just a minute to see how she looked in her new school uniform.
‘It’s jolly nice,’ said Darrell, turning herself about. ‘Brown coat, brown hat, orange ribbon, and a brown tunic underneath with an orange belt. I like it.’
Poor, deluded Darrell, eh? There she was, dressed like a cross between a Dutch footballer and a chocolate Michelin Man, and all she could think to say was ‘I like it’. I hate to piss on old Darrell’s chips, but put me in that kind of get up when I was twelve and the only thing I could have done in the mirror would have been a noiseless recreation of Edward Munch’s The Scream before running in to the nearest wall. Brown coat, brown hat, orange ribbon, a brown tunic and an orange belt? That’s not a uniform, that’s the old London Underground seat covers.
Luckily, for those of us who are about to be launched ‘back to school’ this season, uniforms have come a long, long way since Enid Blyton tortured Darrell with that Malory Towers outfit. Ah yes, September; the month of new pencil cases, fresh exercise books and, for the lucky ones, a whole new wardrobe.
My school uniform was a pretty simple affair – black or grey bottoms, a white shirt and a red jumper. While this meant that I spent much of my early adolescence looking like a wandering waitress, it did at least curb some of my more ill-conceived fashion ideas (ripped flares and boob tubes made of dish cloths spring to mind).
Modern school pupils can now enjoy all the uniform-inspired fashion fancies the modern retailer has to offer; blazers, pencil skirts, crisp shirts, v-neck jumpers, low heels, thick tights, blouses, brogues and knee-high socks have all enjoyed their moment in the fashion sun over the last few years.
So, forget about the corridors of power. This autumn, sartorially-minded children across the country are going back to cool. Owch.
First published by Director-e, September 2010