Fashionably Uniform

24 Aug

“You gonna write about this?” my manager joked as he raced down the aisle to answer another cashier’s pleas.

For a little extra dough, I had returned to my old stomping ground to lend a hand during the uniform retailer’s biggest sales weekend of the year.

I laughed at the thought. Whatever would I write about? The horrors of retail — the nightmare of watching customers undo hours of work  in one fell swoop? The craze of tax-free shopping?

We lived between the shelves, folding pant after pant in the ultimately exercise in futility, well aware that moments later the mess would return — with a vengeance.

I felt an inkling of Prometheus’ pain,  fruitless repetition, never moving forward, forever fixing and straightening until clocking out.

“What size are you looking for?” I’d routinely ask.

“Let me get that for you,” I’d offer to prolong the neatness as long as possible.

While Dickies were tossed strewn across the shelves and poured over like a hot commodity, lower-end brands gathered dust on the shelves until they were begrudgingly adopted by those who simply couldn’t afford better.

Uniforms are uniforms, right?

 Isn’t the whole purpose of public school uniforms to  serve as a socio-economic equalizer and turn the classroom back into a true environment for learning, instead a thinly-veiled fashion show. 

Like most things in life, it only works in theory—in reality, such mandates must be well regulated to be effective. Vaguely demanding that students wear polos with khaki, navy or black bottoms still subject kids to the same distractions of schol pre-uniforms.

In fact, obsession with fashion are only magnified when options are limited.

In a sea of polos and khakis, the fabric, the richness of the navy and crispness of the white reaches a heightened level of importance. As do shoes and accessories. Small things are the sole way the students distinguish themselves from the masses.

Uniforms seem to be the arch enemies of fashion, which is all about the pursuit and capture of self-expression.

But are they?

Boiled down to barest essence, the season’s fashion trends spread throughout the land, holding both high end and low end retailers captive to the latest fad. Subtle differences in fabrics, slight nuances in cuts mean the difference between $500 jeans and a $5 pair.

A simple stroll through the mall will reveal that fashion and uniformity are not at war: Ironically, they are often one and the same.


One Response to “Fashionably Uniform”

  1. The Nile Valley Griot September 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    What an interesting “spot” I am sure.


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