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Students Showcase Their Style Even in Uniform by eliza walpert

When Upper School students returned to campus last April, something was different. Sure, the entire school wore masks, half of the students attended via Teams, and COVID testing kiosks became the hot spot at lunch every Wednesday, but something else changed for students. For the first time, they could come to school everyday in free dress.

After the initial free dress excitement, many felt the pressure to maintain their reputation for wearing cute or stylish outfits. Julia W. ’24 said, “Free dress every day felt like I had to try to look good. You know, I had to think about it the night before. Now it’s so much easier. If you want to express your style, you just wear cute jewelry or shoes.”

With the return from the free dress, students, missing the freedom they had, have especially been trying to personalize their uniform. Figuring out how to set yourself apart while still in the same outfit is the dilemma of the day. Addie K. ’24 and others have begun to learn how to use the uniform as a set of guidelines for the outfits they put together. She shared, “For me, it’s a set of parameters I can work within, have fun with, and just try and push. Like, ‘what qualifies as a white shirt?’”

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

For many, expressing their style means using make-up. While some gravitate towards a more simple look, eyelashes coated with mascara and cheeks covered in blush, others try more complicated designs. Briar B. ‘’23 stated, “I really like eyeliner. I’ve been getting into eyeliner art lately and eye make-up. I think it’s really fun because with the mask it’s the only part of your face that people can see, so it’s fun to make it a little special. And it’s a good conversation starter.”

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Fiona H. ‘’23 agreed. “I feel like make-up is such a fun way to express yourself just because it doesn’t have to be super complicated.”

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

In the rush to get out of the door in the morning, students don’t always have time for elaborate make-up looks. Jewelry and other accessories can play up and personalize an otherwise ordinary outfit. Rather than shopping for their own jewelry, a lot of people visit their mom’s closet for unique necklaces, earrings, and rings from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. “Most of my jewelry is from my mom, and my earrings are from my older sister. Neither of them thinks they’re cute, so they give them to me,” said Julia W. ’24, looking down at her layered necklaces bouncing against her chest as she walked.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Different people don’t leave it up to the luck of the draw in their mom’s closets, and instead have certain types of jewelry they enjoy wearing. “I like to wear crystal jewelry, specifically. I’m having a bit of a crystal phase, and it’s so fun,” said Lola B. ’23.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Some try out other types of accessories like headbands or ties to break up the monotony of white and black against khaki. “Accessorizing was and still is a major part of my getting ready routine in the morning before school. Whether it was kneesocks and peacoats in middle school or tights with sweaters now, it’s an easy, fun way to make the uniform feel more personalized,” said Frances M. ’22.

Others go for more permanent looks. At Westridge, a wide spectrum of hair colors ranging from blue-raspberry-blue to a deeper blood-colored red grace the crowns of many a student. Unlike other schools, Westridge permits dyed hair. “I love how Westridge allows us to dye our hair. That’s been a really big thing for me,” commented Ivy A. ’24.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)
(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Additionally, most of the Westridge population who dye their hair feel a very strong connection to their hair and can’t imagine parting with it. “I don’t know this thing on my head if it’s not dyed. I used to be like, ‘I’m never going to dye my hair,’ but now I’m like, ‘who’s that cool person in the mirror?,’” said Alex S. ’24.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Instead of adding on additional pieces, some work with the white/black shirt and khaki skirt/pants combo they’re given. While a plain t-shirt is the traditional uniform look, several students have used the blank white canvas to play with necklines, sleeves, and layers.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Although on most days the temperature has been hitting around 90 degrees, this doesn’t deter those hoping to wear long sleeves or jackets. With a smile, Arden R. ’25 shared, “I have been wearing some blazers, and people think I’m in speech and debate, but I’m like, ‘no, I just like blazers.’”

Later on she added, “I would love to get more button up white blouses just because there’s collars, there’s balloon sleeves, there’s French sleeves. There are all these different types of sleeves. I like sleeves, if you can’t tell.”

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Addie K. ’24 also finds herself trying out different types of tops. ​​“Honestly, sometimes I just go through my mom’s closet, and I’m like, ‘what weird white shirts does she have from the ’90s?’ And I wear them.”

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Sometimes a shirt designed specifically for Westridge also gives students the chance to switch things up, especially color-wise. For example, “Eden Experiments” written in metallic silver or “All in the Timing” on a maroon background. “Theater shirts are a great way to bend the rules because they’re colorful,” said Alex S. ’24.

(Photo Credit: Lauren C. '24)

Shoes are another classic way students make their uniform more interesting. High top Converse, platform Dr. Martens, and bleached white Filas, still untouched by dirt, pitter-patter against the concrete as students run to class.

Although students have different ways of showcasing their style, for most, it’s about what’s going to make them feel the best that day and power them through six and a half long hours of school. Lola B. ’25 said, “I don’t really have a defined sense of style, but I think it’s important in the morning to go to school in something that you feel nice in. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into it. You don’t have to do anything so long as you feel good.”