7 Ways to Dress Up the School Uniform

I wore a uniform from kindergarten all the way to college. Most people would freak out at the idea of having to conform, of having to look like everybody else, but I didn’t mind. I figured the extra ten minutes of sleep I got each school day was better than having to agonize over my wardrobe options.

So for all students out there who have no choice but to follow a certain dress code, this post is for you! Just to make it clear though, this post is meant to give you basic ideas on how to be creative with your uniforms without breaking the school dress code. But whether or not you have to wear a uniform, remember that fit is the number one factor to consider when you’re shopping for clothes.

Most school uniforms require a solid-colored polo shirt or crewneck tee, or a collared blouse. An easy way to add a touch of individuality to these boring tops is through some good old-fashioned sewing.

1) Replace the thread on shirt buttons with a different color. I once bought a black blouse which for some reason used white thread for the buttons. Each time I wore the blouse, my friends would ask me why I didn’t bother to change the thread to black to make it less obvious. If you’re handy with a needle and a thread, this is an easy thing to do. It’s best to choose colors that will stand out against the color of the top, and two or three different colors will pop even more. This works best if your school blouse or shirt has more than three buttons.

2) Stitch a pretty grosgrain ribbon or lace inside the collar and button placket of your polo shirt. Try to get a patterned one if you can. Make sure that the width of the ribbon matches the width of the placket or collar for a comfortable finish. Whether you pop the collar or wear it conventionally, it’s guaranteed to be visible.

3) Wear pins and brooches. This one doesn’t require any special skill at all. Unless there’s a limit, you can wear your school pins as well as quirky ones on your top or even your bag. As long as they’re not too obvious, these accessories can blend in perfectly.

4) Be creative with your belts. Unless you’re also required to use a certain type of belt with your pants or shorts, you can use scarves, rope (the kind used for crafts), or even a pretty tie-sash from your dress. For a more European flair, you can also opt for suspenders or braces, as they’re called in the UK.

5) Exercise your right to shoes. If the footwear department is not a problem, you have plenty of options to choose from: floral oxfords and sneakers, embellished ballet flats, platform oxfords and creepers. If you’re stuck with plain old white sneakers (like I was), do some DIY decorating with beads, washi tape (find them on our sister site YesAsia.com!), rhinestones or fabric paint. Replacing your shoe laces with colorful, funky ones will certainly put a spring in your step. Another option is to choose colorful socks to go with your uniform. This ranges from patterned knee-highs and delicate lacy ones to scrunch socks and even loose socks, like how Japanese school girls do. Kakkoi!

6) It’s in the bag! Bags are the easiest way to smarten up a uniform. Keeping in mind how much stuff you need to carry each day, you can go for the tried-and-tested backpack. Since your carryall will be your stamp of individuality, choose a patterned or colorful one to differentiate it from everyone else’s. If you want to look a little more preppy, messenger bags and satchels are the way to go. These days, satchels come in a riot of colors ranging from neon to color-block versions. Like satchels, totes are also definitely in the cards if you want something more versatile that you can take from campus to an after-school job or event. Go for a tote with a zip closure for extra security plus plenty of pockets for all the little things in your daily life.

7) Add more accessories. I already mentioned pins and brooches, but there are other accessories you can add to your daily campus look. Think headbands and hair pins decorated with beads, lace, bows or even feathers (really fancy!), or minimalist fashion jewelry like simple chain necklaces, thin metallic bangles or a cute colorful watch. And (Only if you can get away with it!) consider wearing a fake fringe or hair extensions the same color as your hair so that you’ll look like you’ve given yourself a makeover!

Again, these are just ideas to help you jazz up your uniform and give it your personal brand of uniqueness. Good luck!