Fashion Friday: Back to School!

The tie was just for graduation.
Yesterday was "Meet the Teacher" night for my first grade son so I trekked on foot in the 102 degree heat over to his school to get a first glimpse of what was in store for this new year. Last year I dressed up a little for this event, (in this White House Black Market maxi dress) being totally new to the whole elementary school gig, because I thought it would matter how I presented myself to Nate's teacher and the other parents I'd meet. Nathan had a great year but my relationship with his teacher was a bit bumpy. I think Kindergarten was a harder adjustment for me than for him.

So with a new year comes a fresh start with a new teacher. Both the kids and the parents are completely new to the teacher and the teacher pretty much holds the fate of the entire year in her hands. That's why I think it's super important to make a good first impression. I decided a dress and heels were not necessary for me this year, especially given the long walk in the sweltering heat, but I did make Nathan change from a t-shirt into a collared polo shirt. Gymboree, of course!

Here's why. I believe that how your child looks on the first few days of school can shape a teacher's opinion of that child. We all make snap judgments about people based on how they look, even when we know we may be wrong and try not to. It's human nature. 

Graphic t-shirts covered in skulls, Mohawks and shirts touting smartass and rebellious sayings are just not a good idea on a small child when impressions are important. Private prep schools use uniforms for a reason. I believe that if my child dresses nicely the teacher is more likely to believe that he is well mannered, well behaved and smart. At least she has to know that his parents are heavily involved in his life and likely to make sure he gets his work done. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm ALL for freedom of expression in clothing choices, but when kids are young and still open to suggestion I'm going to err on the side of preppy at least for the first week of school. 

Tell me what YOU think. Agree? Disagree? 

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MomtoMom said...

I think respect is more attractive than clothing. I don't care how good you look, if you open your mouth and it's "out of fashion" that will set it in cement. I'll take hand me downs and a smile over Ralph. Sometimes I do think our children behave better when they are not in Saturday a.m. casual though. My boys mind their p's and q's more when dressed up.
I also think neatness/hygiene goes farther than the latest look. It says something about character if you show up ready and neat on a consistent basis - about both the child and the mom. Test that theory.
I've had mohawks and ponytails (on boys) at camp that I'd have back in a heartbeat over a few of the boys with my preferred more conservative style.

Sarah Hubbell said...

ahh good points. Creative is not really something we excel at in my house. As for what makes my kids feel happy? Pajamas or just undies. Nathan constantly asks to change into his PJs after coming home from the pool or dinner or what have you. He would live in them if he could. :) 

So I wonder what you think about school uniforms?

Sarah Hubbell said...

As a teacher and a person who has three kids in school, the eldest in 9th grade... what matters the most is that the parent coming to meet me has a BIG smile on their face and is friendly, same goes with child.  I have seen some VERY well dressed jerks (parents and kids) and some very slovenly excellent human beings.

At the end of the day, I want a good human being to be in my class.  

That said, when in doubt, dress well... yet on the other hand my youngest daughter, who I allow to dress herself, has gone to school in stripes, polka dots and rainbows in the same outfit and her teacher's love her... 'cause she has that good human being thing going for her.

Sarah Hubbell said...

I think clean and well-maintained is important.  Beyond that... I think expression of personality is important.  I'm not a teacher, but I work with lots of kids and families as a family therapist.  I probably form a "better" first impression of a family in which the little ones (and certainly teens) are dressed kinda funky (picturing Jenna's description of her daughter).  I would perceive that family as being more relaxed, perhaps more creative, more genuine than a family in which the kids appear "costumed" to make a certain statement.  That statement is about the parents -- "I dress my kid well . . . I earn a certain income . . ." that kind of thing.  I want to know about the kid; I would imagine teachers have the same attitude.  I think most teachers know better than to judge the little books by their covers.  Or by their parents' covers.  That said, certainly different regions of the country have different "dress codes," too.  And certainly there are some children who love the preppy look and would insist on wearing it even if their parents didn't make clothing choices for them.  I've usually tried to follow the "Do you feel happy in that?" criteria for guiding Lily in clothing choices.  So far, I have not been horrified.  (Knock on wood!)

Sarah Hubbell said...

Couldn't agree more about smiles and generally good human beings. I'm sure it's very different for girls than it is for boys too, where there isn't a lot of accessorizing and options are just more limited. 

Sarah Hubbell said...

I wondered what you meant when you said prep schools use uniforms for a reason.  I think you and I might disagree on what that reason is (reasons are).  Some of the urban public schools here require uniforms now.  The benefits of uniforms, IMO, are to prevent precisely the kind of judgments that you're talking about -- whether by peers or by teachers.  I think uniforms are great -- I think they cut down on a lot of judgments and in later grades, on a lot of competition and pressure to spend money that not everyone can afford to spend, for designers, etc.   Uniforms do cut down on personal expression and creativity, but somehow kids manage to overcome that, through hairstyles, socks, whatever.  

I would disagree with you -- I think your children do have parents who excel at creativity.

Sarah Hubbell said...

I appreciate the kind words. Yes that's pretty much exactly what I meant about why schools have uniforms...to cut down on judgements, peer pressure, designer stuff, etc. Distractions. My prep school had a strict dress code and debated the uniform issue for years...my parents were split on it. Now they do have uniforms. 

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