vintage uniform

Lace up your saddle shoes and get that moth ball smell off of your autumn sweaters, it’s back to school time.

I wore a classic school uniform to High School: pleated grey skirt, white collared shirt, plus knee socks, black loafers and a cardigan on special occasions. I loved it because I could sleep in late and not really have to worry about choosing an outfit in the morning. My school’s uniform was a serviceable attempt to both equalize the many socioeconomic classes represented by our student body and to give us something small to rebel against. Perhaps if we stood up to the man with verboten socks, we would not give blowjobs, set off cherry bombs or cause whatever general mayhem the administration imagined we were cooking up.

From punk rock to Miuccia Prada, subverting preppy styles with school uniform inspired looks is a ubiquitous fashion party trick that everyone seems to have mastered. Perhaps because so many people who were subjected to strict dress codes learned how to establish personal style not in spite of but in conjunction with the outfit restrictions placed on them during their formative years.

Though I’m no longer a prep school or collegiate member of society, I won’t forget my school girl roots any time soon. With the rampant fetshization of traditional school uniforms, you could say it’s more appropriate for me to wear these looks now than it was when it was required. You can pry my knee socks off of my age inappropriate corpse!

10 Back-to-School movies with inspirational school girl looks (in no particular order):

1) All I Wanna Do (1998) Every woman you know who went to an all girls school worth her weight in Norton Anthologies can probably quote the hell out of this movie. Aesthetically, it’s 1990s doing 1960s perfection:

all I wanna do inspired

2) Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) Spooky and visually stunning, another all girls school classic.Though the looks aren’t preppy boarding school style as we know them, they’re inspirational nevertheless:

picnic at hanging rock

3) Battle Royale (2000) This movie makes the Hunger Games look like it’s for weenies. Here’s some arithmetic for old time’s sake: School uniforms + carnage = radical.


4) Satan’s School For Girls (1973) I haven’t seen the remake featuring queen Shannon Doherty, but the original is a made for TV masterpiece (you can find it on YouTube). I mean, look at Pamela Franklin’s collar:

satan's school for girls

5) An Education (2009) I don’t even love Carey Mulligan, but I was charmed by her in this flick. Clearly, the 60s were a great time for school uniforms:


6) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) This movie based off of a book is about a teacher who plays by her own rules and her clever and adorable hat wearing students:

miss brodie

7) Pretty Persuasion (2005) The tagline to this film is “The Devil wears a gray skirt.” This dark but hilarious movie is criminally underrated. Evan Rachel Wood looks flawless as a diabolical school girl:

pretty persuasion

8) Dead Poets Society (1989) Not including this in a list about school movies would be like excluding Catcher in the Rye from a list of books about teenagers. School boy style can be as great as school girl style. Check out their athletic steez:


9) A Little Princess (1995) This version came out when I was a little girl, so it’s my preferred iteration. Check out the hair ribbons and pinafores:

a little princess

10) Innocence (2004) The film opens with a young girl arriving at boarding school in a coffin. That’s all you really need to know before falling in love with its weirdness:


Did you grow up with a school uniform, what did you have to wear and did you love it?

Top image via Shutterstock, all others via the production companies that made the films.