Editor’s Desk

Column: Clothing can make or break the man

September 13, 2013 

There’s a lot made at the beginning of every school year about what children can and can’t wear to school. Though Wake County’s schools don’t require uniforms, they do have a dress code that, on paper, addresses such things as saggy pants, short skirts and the like.

I know some children have been given a change of clothes, or even had their parents called to pick up their child after a violation of the dress code.

And, while I don’t have any numbers, I think it’s safe to say those kinds of things don’t happen often. Part of that may be because most children wear reasonable clothes to school. Part of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that most teachers probably aren’t looking to start fights with kids. They have their hands full breaking up real fights when they happen.

But clearly not every child follows that dress code as they should. And other kids notice.

The most important place to enforce a dress code is at the high schools, where provocative dress can be more distracting. That’s followed pretty closely by the need to enforce dress codes at the middle school level.

Children don’t come to these kinds of clothing choices overnight, of course. As elementary students, they often don’t care what they wear, content to put on whatever Mom puts out on the dresser. Many boys, I think, don’t care what kind of clothes they wear regardless of where they are in the educational path.

But girls. Oh, now, girls are a different story. In our house there is a nightly routine that involves deciding what to wear to school the next day. There is all manner of borrowing from sister and matching tops and bottoms.

At the end of that process, there’s an audible sigh of relief that what they want to wear the next day will look good.

And all that work goes right out the window the next morning when it’s time to actually put the clothes on.

The previous night’s selection is tossed on the floor in favor of another long, arduous process that selects an entirely different wardrobe.

At our house, the clothing options are finite. They can only have so many shirts and pants combinations to choose from. And, yet, it still takes a freakishly long time to figure it all out.

It’s too bad Mom and Dad can’t retain that parental responsibility through high school.

That would surely eliminate the need for dress codes and the proliferation of blue jeans hanging off butts or tops that leave little to the imagination.

But then, there are those children for whom their clothing and appearance is so important, they actually dress one way to walk out the door and change on their way to school into something Mama and Daddy wouldn’t want them caught dead in.

All the fuss over clothing is remarkable in my mind. I like wearing nice clothes as much as the next person. And people can certainly have varying definitions of “nice.” But at the end of the day, honestly, when I have a choice of places to spend my money, clothes often don’t make the cut.

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