The Verdict Is In: School Uniforms Raise Self Esteem

Dr. Karen Rezach

Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School

Having just celebrated the last day of summer marking the beginning of fall, my thoughts turn to the start of the school year and everything that means to parents and their children. Back-to-school shopping for clothes can be especially trying for teens and their parents.Three years ago I interviewed Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School and we talked about the value of wearing school uniforms. I realize that our conversation is as relevant today as it was then. Much has changed in three years – the sons I reference are now 20 and 17! – but what hasn’t changed is the pressure that teens feel and how wearing uniforms can be a release from that pressure. I went into the TFIO archives to bring back this important conversation with Dr. Rezach … for you …

My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person:

MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?

Dr. Rezach: It’s a question of Kent Place School’s mission. Traditional uniforms were not in line with the mission of Kent Place to develop independent leaders. We chose to offer choice for our students; in the color of the tops and in the different styles of skirts and pants – offering the students a degree of self-expression as well as maintaining a sensitivity to all body types.

MKG: Why do you think wearing uniforms is so important, especially for girls and younger teens?

Dr. Rezach: There is so much pressure on young people today, everything is “Like Me” on Facebook. What kids are wearing becomes a big issue; they are often judged and made fun of. In addition, there is a broad-range of economic backgrounds among our student community which may affect clothing choices. And wearing uniforms creates a mindset for students and a seriousness of purpose to their academic study: They know they are in school and they are here to learn. For all of these reasons, wearing uniforms is a valuable aspect to their life at school. Continue reading

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Rally Behind Rallier!

Oliva Rose Fay

Oliva Rose Fay, wearing a Rallier  dress from her debut collection

Incorporating social missions into fashion and accessories brands is an undeniable and exciting trend. There is such a synergistic relationship between wearing a brand you love and supporting change you believe in.” ~ Olivia Rose Fay

There are some stories that tug at your heart. Some fashion stories that soar beyond fashion to the core of the human condition. One feature on TFIO about fashion and philanthropy was not enough to tell the entire story of Olivia Rose Fay, the CEO and Creative Director of Rallier. Rallier officially debuted its first collection, consisting of 15 dresses, just last month, February 2016. But Olivia’s inspiration and purpose started when she was a young girl watching her grandmother, who had immigrated to San Francisco from Shanghai in 1954. Olivia’s grandmother supported her family by designing dresses, eventually opening her own dress store called Lily’s.

At the age of 28, Olivia has already begun the process of conceptualizing her own legacy by looking at a cause that matters to her most: education for girls and gender inequality. Continue reading

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Hey fashion brands! Are you listening? You’re forgetting tweens!

Lauren and Lindsay

Lauren and Lindsay

Being twelve years old isn’t easy. And I imagined, being a twin twelve year-old is challenging, too – a twin and a tween. But that was before I met Lindsay and Lauren. And their mother, Victoria. Because these twelve year-old sisters are growing up with a sense of confidence and grace. And their mother, Victoria, is supporting them in the very best way. I sat down with all three ‘girls’ to talk about life and fashion and why, as Victoria notes, shopping for a pre-teen is “very difficult” and “takes a lot of research.” Hey fashion brands – are you listening??

MKG: What is it like to be a twin? Do you dress like your sister or do you express yourself individually?

Lindsay/Lauren: Being a twin feels normal; it’s the only thing we’ve known. And we are friends with a lot of twins so that feels normal, too. We try to be individual but we do share clothes and end up dressing similarly much of the time. Our style is somewhat preppy because we like to dress simply. Continue reading

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Move over moto – the elusive “get” is the varsity jacket!

The elusive "get" for a teenager: the Varsity Jacket

The elusive “get” for a teenager: the varsity jacket

If you’re a teen, there is one item of clothing highly coveted: the varsity jacket. Perhaps it’s because I am reading Ilene Beckerman’s book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which I reference here, but I have been thinking a lot about what clothes mean to us at certain times in our lives. And so there was an interesting moment during my morning walk, when I saw three high-school-aged girls walking ahead of me. At first glance I thought one of the girls was wearing a varsity football jacket and assumed it had been given to her by her boyfriend. Continue reading

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