I never really saw myself as a rebel, until Lola started private school in kindergarten. I went from a mild-mannered rule follower to a crazy woman with a bedazzler. Every day, when I sent her to school, I pushed the envelope a little more. At one point, I all but begged the administration to let me adorn her navy and green plaid jumper.
The answer was no.
The also said no to funky jewelry, like her adorable crochet Lemon & Lime necklace and the beaded Gymboree necklace. Pink, red, and white heart argyle socks were also rejected, as were colorful cardigans and belts.
So I decided to indulge in my passion for shoes. I found every cute navy shoe that had ever been made. I bought little plaid ballet flats from J. Crew, Bass saddle shoes, Morgan & Milo navy suede mary janes with a dark pink flower, Venettini navy patent loafers, Lelli Kelly embellished navy sneakers, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada athletic mary janes… For fun, I also picked up some non-navy styles: leopard print Sperries, hot pink Primigis, a super-cute pair of Bogs. I went a little nuts with the shoes. And the hair accessories.
I had to find a way to compensate for her un-sparkly jumper.
And I got creative where I could. Or, rather, since I lack the talent to actually create, I found other creative people on Etsy, and bought adorable felt hair clips and headbands and socks with ribbon ruffles in uniform colors. I even bought tiny crocheted characters that I attached to plain solid colored socks, since patterned socks were out of the question. I took the boring hand that we were dealt, and made it a little more interesting. (And now that my girls are no longer at that school, I occasionally find myself missing the simpler days of uniform dressing. Occasionally.)
Here, a few ideas for styling your daughter’s school uniform:
1. Know the Rules: If you don’t know the rules, you can’t bend them. 😉 If you are tied to a basic uniform and solid colored black and white shoes, for example, find the cutest pair you can and then dress them up with cute socks.
2. Have Fun with Hair: Hair is an accessory too, so experiment with braids, buns, and cute ponytails. For inspiration, check out Cozy Friedman’s helpful book, full of ideas and photos. And then add the cutest hair accessories you can find. I liked playing up a uniform’s preppy vibe by adding ponytail streamers or monogrammed bows, or add a girly touch with glitter headbands or flowered clips. Belts, sunglasses or eyeglasses, and scarves can also work if the rules allow.
3. Take a Shine to Shoes: The more restrictive your dress code, the more creative you need to be. Confined to solid navy? Go for a textured, perforated or patent style, and adorn them with navy bow hair clips. If that doesn’t fly, try the decorative socks. Even schools that won’t allow funky socks will usually permit socks with colored ruffles or appliques. If only a solid tight is permitted, make it sparkly.
4. Go for the Gold: Most schools will permit a simple studded earring or an understated necklace, so make them special. Use them to add color and switch them often, especially on older girls. Younger girls can wear sweet charm bracelets or simple wooden or crocheted necklaces. Older girls can add cuffs, bangles or chunky necklaces, if permitted. If not, you may be able to get away with a watch.
5. Outrageous Outerwear: Cardigans might be standard school-issue navy, but many schools will let you choose the backpack and coat of your choice, within reason. Find a pair that is practical and pretty, and expresses your child’s personality. Go for a pretty flowered backpack, a cool preppy satchel or a boldly colored parka to add interest to the everyday uniform.
Need more inspiration? These boards offer styling ideas for red/black/white uniforms and navy uniforms. And for all the items on this page, and many more ideas, check out this Pinterest board.