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Skirting issues

By Nickunj Malik - Jun 22,2017 - Last updated at Jun 22,2017

The convent school that I attended as a child had a very austere dress code for all its students. The shirts were in crisp white cotton and the skirts in an unusual shade of sky blue. White socks and black shoes completed the ensemble. There was nothing we could do to alter this clothing, which was probably designed by the same tailor who fashioned the ascetic garments of our nuns.

Considering I wore the same outfit day in and day out for ten years I cannot recall exactly when I decided to make some changes to it. It must be between my middle and high school that I subtly modified the length of my skirt. Actually to be very truthful, it was not my idea to begin with, but when a bunch of my classmates started to turn up in smart and shortened, above-the-knee skirts, I was obliged to follow suit.

There was nothing you could do with the white shirt anyway, other than take the two unfastened ends and tie it in a knot, mimicking the style of the celebrated polka dotted blouse that the Indian actress Dimple Kapadia had made famous in the blockbuster film Bobby. Incidentally, everything the superstar wore in the movie became an instant rage, from her shorts, shoes, dresses to oversized sunglasses and even her hairpins.

But the thing was, nothing escaped the sharp gaze of our nuns and converting a staid shirt into a stylish top instantly, was quite impossible under their watch. Who wanted to be sent to the headmistress’s office and be awarded the punishment of having to write the entire speech of Mark Antony from Julius Caesar, over one hundred times? In our best cursive at that! If the handwriting was bad, we had to simply repeat the whole process from the beginning.

Thus, shortening the skirt was a safer option. In any case, our skirts could hardly keep up with the speed at which we were growing taller. Also, in the most likely scenario of being taken out of the assembly line by our strict disciplinarians, we could always feign innocence by saying, ‘‘but sister, this skirt was stitched last week only’’. Not willing to advocate any kind of wastage, they would then, in sheer exasperation, ask us to pull the waistband down as much as we could. But too much of pulling would result in the potential risk of baring our midriff, which would hurt their prudish sensibilities and could lead to rewrites of Mark Antony’s speech, all over again.

Our daughter, who studied in an international school, was not even prescribed a uniform, so she could never understand how adventurous it was for me, as a youngster, to circumvent the rules. Her lanky limbs were clothed in the same outfits as those of the boys in her class, and there were no puritanical restrictions imposed upon them. She burst into giggles whenever I narrated how because of my inability to sew anything, I used safety pins to shorten the hem of my skirts.

Once, long ago, I was on stage for the annual recitation contest.

“Your knees are visible,” my class teacher hissed from the front row.

“Should I pull the skirt lower?” I asked the serious looking nun.

“Your waist can be seen now” she frowned.

“Let me pull the skirt up,” I exclaimed.

“What is that? A row of safety-pins?” she questioned suspiciously.

 

“Friends, Romans, countrymen,” I started reciting from Julius Caesar.

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Comments

Hahaha. And we the more "innocent" boys thought we were being rakish, with just the flair of the bell bottoms to play around with!

Wish I was there to get enthralled by the speech- Friends, Romans and countrymen... I come here to bury the hemline .... not to raise it!

A delightful read, Nickunj M! School dress is one interesting wear of life; I think girls are more inclined towards fashion so they try various styles to look pretty, different and always want to call themselves as trendsetters.

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