The letter from school clearly states the approved stockists and exact type of school trousers and skirts that will be allowed. It also clearly states that anyone not wearing the correct uniform will be sent home or to the inclusion room (what a fascinating place that must be!!) But teen daughter has different ideas. She will not be wearing anything from Tesco, Asda, M & S or the approved school outfitters shop. She has already acquired the 'it' bag' of the season (must be a new one every term) and we have found (and customized) a pair of shoes we both approve of, so we are on the last hurdle.
We start in Topshop and are waylaid by a Sheryl Colesque sequined top. 'Not for school,' I snap, already irritated. "I was just LOOKING!' she snaps back. We are not off to a good start and I reject a tulip shape skirt, shiny black leggings and shorts (all of which I love, but not for school) We move onto Hennes, where it seems everyone else, has managed to find the perfect black skinny school trouser, but still no luck. Normally I am not one to discourage any kind of extreme fashion choices and often live my fashion fantasies through my daughter, but in this case, I know the school are strict and it simply isn't worth it.
I think back to my own school days, when one of the few joys was to bend the uniform rules as much as possible. Extremely high wooden wedges, extra long high waisted skirts, huge long pointy collars and turned back cuffs, with a short fat tie, flicked hair and shimmering blue eye shadow was the look of choice for the schoolgirl of the 1970's.
Perhaps I am being a bit 'mum like' and should relax a bit. So when we try Marks and Spencers, I totally agree with her 'OMG, I am so not wearing them.'
Why cant retailers see that no teenager wants to look like a frump from Malory Towers (much as I loved Malory Towers). I wonder why they can't put together a range of practical, yet fashionable school clothes. Surely it's as easy to design a pair of narrow legged school trousers, as it is a pair of horrible boot cuts. Or what about a nice slim pencil skirt instead of box pleats. Who wears box pleats apart from your great aunt Ethel at the WI?
We finally leave without anything and decide to look online. Teen daughter seems to think there is a website called Fashionable school clothes.com, but it turns out to be just a dream!! (there's an idea, someone?). We compromise and buy a pair of fashionable (but boundary pushing) skinnies from ASOS and some sensible proper school trousers from Next, which I promise to customize. When they arrive she makes me take them in so much, that they are ridiculously narrow. I try to explain that with non- stretch fabrics its not a good idea to make them too slim, as you cant bend your legs. But what do I know, I've only worked in fashion for the last 20 years!
I watch her hobble to school on the first day back and pray that she doesn't try to sit down!!