Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm goes off for the fifth time and you roll out of bed, knowing you will probably be late for school. As you run around trying to get out of the house as quickly as possible, you attempt to put something on that you haven’t already worn this week. If you’re a girl like me, you want it to be something decently cute and put together so you don’t regret your decision later that day. This process takes ten minutes as you scan your wardrobe for the perfect outfit. All the while, the clock is ticking away and you’ve missed the first few minutes of a very important math class. This scenario has happened to most of us at least a time or two. While this is no single excuse to have a uniform, it presents a good point – uniform would mean little to no morning stress. Now picture this: that same morning where you continually press the snooze button, except this time you know what you’re going to wear. It’s very easy—throw on the uniform and head out the door.
It’s unfortunate that uniforms get such a bad rap. Yes, they can limit one’s freedom of expression, and yes they have the tendency to be uncomfortable. But what about the simplicity that uniforms provide? Uniforms would allow students to enjoy easy mornings, virtually no back-to-school shopping, no worrying about what trends to follow and reduced clothing expenses. Ever since I’ve had the freedom of no uniforms, searching for clothes to wear and pulling outfits together has been a hassle. As much as I longed for the days when I got to express my style in high school, I now miss the days of brightly colored polos and khaki skirts in middle division. First of all, (and I think I’m speaking for most girls here) I constantly wonder if my clothes are breaking the dress code. I ask myself before I buy almost anything, “Is this too short?” or “Are these pants too tight?” And if I wear anything that I think might be questionable, I’m looking over my shoulder to see if a teacher is giving me the “detention” look. With uniforms, there is no question of appropriateness. I never have to worry about what I buy. But with freedom of dress, I, along with every other Berkeley student, must spend a lot of time and money trying to find clothes to wear to school. For guys (they’re lucky), it’s pretty basic—all they need are a few polos and a few pairs of pants and shorts. For girls, however, it’s not so easy. Girls care a lot about what they wear; they don’t want to be wearing the same outfit everyday if they have the choice.
Uniformity and conformity are two different concepts. I do believe it’s not as easy to express oneself while being forced to wear the same outfit everyday. However, wearing a uniform doesn’t have to mean one is conforming completely to some sort of standard. Individuality can still be expressed through academics, clubs, sports and social interaction. A uniform can be a mechanism of simplicity, not one of freedom inhibition. In fact, I would argue it provides more freedom in that it removes one more decision from a student’s stressful day.
So if Friday is your favorite day of the school week perhaps one reason is because it’s the one day of the week when the decision of what to wear has already been decided. You can focus instead on what to do for the weekend.