Catholic Chic, a Schoolgirl’s Sartorial Rebellion

I attribute much of my style savvy today to the three years I spent pushing the boundaries of my cookie cutter Catholic girl’s school uniform. Uniforms are simultaneously sites of severe conformity, inspired individuality and rife rebellion.

When I, a public school kid, was thrust into this Catholic alternate reality (mid-way through high school) it seemed like nothing could have hindered my personal style more than the dooming sentence of wearing the exact same thing as everyone else every single day. My frequent infractions often ended in afternoons of copying out lines of the dress code in the principle’s office. But I studied the document during these sessions and, like a shrewd detective, uncovered every loophole in that ugly text. (We can wear khaki shorts!)

I made it my personal mission to disguise my assigned garments to the max. While I was disgruntled by the challenge, I eventually learned to embrace my new uniformed lifestyle. In retrospect, I see that this was a unique opportunity to showcase my eccentricity and to exert a clever ability to manipulate my appearance with very few materials. I was a part of this group but Baumhofer burst from every seam of that old polo shirt and pleated skirt.

Baumhofer's Catholic Uniform Uniform Survival Guide

Motto: Modifications are a must 

Style Muse: The illustrious Amelie

  • The Uniform: Skirt unzipped and rolled down to hips at slightly disheveled angle (this was before high-waisted was in!) Patterned boxers worn under skirt. Skirt swapped out for long khaki short with top cut (secretly) off to sit at hips.
  • Layers: Non-uniform blazer or jacket worn over the designated polo or sweatshirt. Scarves, hats and jewelry added for good measure.
  • Hair: 90’s baby bangs and short, darkest-brown, Amelie-inspired flip-out.
  • Footwear: Black Converse go with EVERYTHING. Occasionally swapped out for Pepto-Bismol pink slip-ons.
  • Accessories: Unending collection of vintage silk scarves and ties. Both can be worn multiple ways, including around the head, neck or waist. Chunky leather watch. Black glasses.
  • Makeup: Rosy cheeks and red lipstick (some things never change).
  • DIY: Pen doodles on hands, arms and legs.
  • Emmism: Never go anywhere without a refillable water bottle and a book.

Crowning moment: Being asked by a friend why I had free dress… when I was actually in my uniform. (Mission accomplished!)

Ultimate eff you dress code move: Shaving my head the first day of junior year.

Baumhofer's Free Dress Day at Catholic School

Free Dress

Motto: Always take advantage of free dress day

Style Muse: The epitome of cool- Erykah Badu

  • Renegade: One pierced ear done with a needle and ice-cube at a party.
  • Accessories: Chunky, hand-beaded necklaces. Ties around waist. Red “traveler’s” satchel.
  • Clothes: Long skirts (dark denim or fabric), track jackets with colored stripes on sleeves, skirts and t-shirts.
  • Footwear: Knee-high black leather boots or Converse.
  • Hair: Poking out from under cap. Full, un-plucked brows (that I’m still trying to grow back).
  • Signature: Red lips.
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4 responses to “Catholic Chic, a Schoolgirl’s Sartorial Rebellion

  1. Whilst being nowhere near as creative as you clearly were, I also remember trying to be push the boundaries of a school uniform! Once we didn’t need one anymore I was completely lost as to how to entertain myself!!

  2. Students at the all-girls high St. Agnes academic high in the 1950s had to wear Jumpers and white blouses along with stockings and oxfords which we called ox-farts. In the absence of pantyhose in those days we were required to wear a garter belt in order to hitch up the stockings so they would not fall down around her ankles. Needless to say, we tolerated them until the weather got hot. At that point we abandoned both garter belts and stockings and substituted a black ink line drawn up the back of our legs from ankle to calf to thigh, just in case the wind caught our skirts and revealed our rebellion. The oxfords became the object of our abuse along with the leather schoolbags that we were required to carry. From day one they were systematically scraped,soaked, torn, written upon with indelible ink, and scuffed to the point that by the end of each school year it was necessary to toss them and start anew in September.

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