Boys strive to stand out - in uniform

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014
student Joe Reid
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ Fairfax NZ
WORKING IT: Wellington College year 13 student Joe Reid says some senior boys are turning their uniform trousers into ‘‘skinny’’ pants to fit in with fashion. 

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Teenage schoolboys are continuing to go to fashion extremes in an effort to keep up their image despite wearing a school uniform.

Finding a friend or family member handy with a needle and thread is commonplace at one Wellington secondary school.

Wellington College boys have been keeping in vogue by turning their school trousers into "skinny" pants, introducing puffer jackets to the uniform, and pushing the boundaries with longer hair.

Year 13 student Joe Reid said senior boys in particular were really obvious about trying to do their own thing with the uniform.

"Puffer vests and jackets are worn heaps because they're warmer and they look cool."

Some boys would "skinny" their pants if they were a bit wide, to avoid "looking like an egg". One of the senior students had a brother who was a handy sewer and had hemmed a few of the boys' trousers.

Hairstyle was an easy way to make a statement, and some students did their best to hide rat tails, he said. "The pony tail on top of the head was also coming in to school for a while."

While untucked shirts were always common, clothing and hairstyles were changing all the time.

"Most of us like having a uniform though, because it's easier and you don't have to decide what to wear. The senior uniform is quite nice and I wear it on Saturdays for rugby as well, and there's a lot of pride in that."

At Otaki College, senior students have been the driving force behind the school dropping mufti for year 13s this year and moving back to a uniform.

"They decided it looked better, and they would be better role models in uniform," principal Andy Fraser said. "There's only a few girls that push the boundaries with the length of skirts, but on the whole there's no issues with the girls or the boys."

Head boy Hamish McMillan said uniforms had made it easier in the mornings, but accessories like wristbands and hats were still worn by boys wanting to stand out.

Deputy head girl Phoebe McInerney said everyone being in uniform removed the "who is wearing what" stigma.

"There are people putting a lot of effort into what they're wearing and accessorising, but we're trying to set a good example as seniors and most people are on board with it now."

Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said students amending uniforms was almost a "rite of passage". There was a place for school uniforms, but school boards should always be reasonable about how they enforced it, he said. "You need to pick the hill you want to die on."

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