Mad for Plaid: The life and times of the Marian Uniform
Uniforms are a staple of the Catholic school dress code, contributing to order, discipline and community. According to the National Museum of American History, “uniforms provided a method of masking obvious class and racial diversity in dress while providing a sense of security, modesty and freedom of movement, particularly for females.”
Today uniforms continue to be valued for their ease, durability and brand identity. They create a sense of community spirit and eliminate the distractions of fashion trends.
Through the years, Marian has had five different uniforms. Each style reflected the times in which it was worn. Let’s take a look back at the history of Marian’s uniforms.
According to the Marilogue Newsletter, May 1955, “distinctive and chic is what the Marian High uniforms are. The uniform consists of a weskit with a full skirt and a long-sleeved white blouse with a pointed collar and French cuffs. A snappy little visor cap completes the outfit. The uniform material is gaberdine of an off-shade of royal blue, which we choose to call ‘Marian’ blue.” Saddle shoes were also required.
Skirts were expected to be no more than 13 inches from the floor. According to Sr. Peggy Miller, OSM, ‘65, lots of girls were sent to Sr. Marcella’s office to check their skirt length. Sr. Marcella, Marian’s first principal, was very proud of her girls and very proper. Students were frequently reminded that they carry the blue and white of Marian wherever they go – in or out of uniform.
Summer and winter uniforms were issued. The summer uniform was a shirt dress, and students could choose from pastel yellow, pink, green and blue. Winter uniforms included a wool skirt in tan and blue plaid with a blue blazer or cardigan sweater.
By the 1970s, short skirts became the fashion trend. Students were known to roll their skirts up and then down when necessary, all camouflaged by the loose cardigan sweater. To address this trend, new culotte skirts were introduced in 1973 – shorter, but modest.
Students weren’t the only ones changing uniforms. The 70s marked the last step in the gradual modification of the Servite habit. The sisters’ wardrobes evolved from full black habits to shorter skirts and veils to street clothes.
In 1973, new uniforms for freshmen were phased in – a plaid culotte for warmer weather and a navy wool herringbone skirt and navy cardigan for winter. Wool again. This author does not recall how her skirt was laundered.
“What an itchy thing to wear,” said Jane Mayberger Dineen ‘82. “I wore the same skirt all four years. By senior year, I had no buttons left and had a variety of safety pins to hold the skirt on.”
Marian girls were known for expressing their individuality in the 80s and the uniforms reflected this self-expression. Girls cut the buttons off their sweaters and sewed on a more artistic mix. Leg warmers, tights, bandanas hiding sponge rollers, slippers, waffle stompers and crazy socks were tolerated with the uniform.
The appreciation for a unique uniform ended in the fall of 1985 and the uniform code became more defined. The incoming freshmen began wearing a black watch plaid skirt and green crew neck sweater or navy cardigan with a white Oxford button-down blouse. Many points were meted out by Mr. Sporcic for untucked shirts, recalls Amy Schumacher Bauman ‘92.
The battle of the loose shirt tails waged on until the oxford shirt evolved into a polo shirt and, finally, the banded polo and no-roll skirt hit the uniform market.
The beloved, classic black watch plaid had a long run until there was a call to incorporate school colors in the uniform in the late 2000s.
The style we see today was introduced in the fall of 2010. The Class of 2011 was allowed to retain the black watch plaid uniform, while all other students adopted the royal blue polo and the Anthony plaid skirt or skort. Expanded uniform options were added with a grey cardigan, black crew sweater and several uniform-approved sweatshirts.
Megan Han ‘13 remembers wearing both the black watch plaid and the current uniform. “It was a little bit frustrating; as freshmen, we had bought new uniforms, then we had to buy a whole new set of uniforms for our sophomore year. Plus, we really loved those green uniforms; they were basically indestructible.”
Loved or despised by students, the uniform and its variations or violations make for fond Marian memories.