I thought it might have been fun to offer a daily question for discussion between teachers on the forum. I would, as I'm sure others would as well, love to hear the thoughts and varying opinions.
Teens, as you might have noticed, have always embraced new clothing styles. Every single day, you're bound to witness something out of the ordinary. Sagged pants, bright jean colors, suits, blazers, you name it. We're approaching the point where quite a few students just don't care about the opinions of the people anymore, and wear what they feel like. And on the other hand, we're seeing students endorse the varying styles that they see and mirror them in their own.
As teachers, what are your initial impressions when seeing these new trends (beyond the "I'm glad to see they're branching out" reaction).
How Do Teachers React to the Clothing Styles Adopted among Teens?
I absolutely disagree with your contention that students dress the way they do because they do not care what others think. I believe that concern for other's opinions is the number motivating force behind most teen clothing choices, especially for the girls.
Like the others here, I generally ignore most of the trends, knowing that they will change soon enough. The one trend that is hard to take is the girls who put far too much of their bodies on display. I wish they would realize that they look cheap, and that no one will ever take them seriously when they look so trashy. Schools are a place of business, and clothing choices should, at the minimum, avoid disruption the conduct of that business.
I do not care what my students are wearing as long as the clothing is appropriate and does not disrupt class. I love seeing the new trends in the high school that I teach at. The trends give me a small hint about what my junior high daughter may be coming to ask me to buy.
There's the Latin phrase "De gustibus non disputandum" which is a fancy way of essentially saying "there's no accounting for taste." In other words, teens are always going to dress in ways that older people don't like. Personally, I don't care. The way my students dress has never bothered me because I figure it's just what the style is now. (But check back with me in a couple of years and see if I can be that tolerant of my own children...)
I have to confess that I don't understanding highly visible piercings and massive tattoos, especially the latter. Surely the tattoos will look worse and worse as time moves on. I don't understand why anyone feels the need to make a spectacle of himself or herself; it smacks of vanity and/or insecurity, at least in my opinion. But I may just be an old fogey in this as in so much else. :-)
While I don't necessarily agree with all the fashion choices my students make, I try to remember that my teachers probably didn't agree with all my clothing options either. The only time I really object is when the clothing is inappropriate. I had a particular reoccurring problem with the young ladies who chose to show a little too much of themselves. There were several girls I had to take aside and have a little chat with. Several of them seemed to like the attention and I had a difficult time convincing them that this was not good attention.
I try to take it in stride and don't think much of it unless someone is wearing something blatantly inappropriate. I do become uncomfortable when girls wear the skin-tight leggings, and boys wear pants that sag so low I can see their boxers, but there's not much I can do about it. As far as trends go, and can't really complain much because I know I was a trend following in high school and still follow certain treds. I do like when students dress with their own unique style because it shows their individuality. Clothes say a lot about a person and I know a lot about my students based on what they wear day-to-day.
I just reflect on the poor fashion choices I made in the Eighties (blue lipstick, eye shadow and blusher still makes me cringe) and keep my mouth closed. Unless I see too much flesh or body parts generally deemed appropriate to cover up, I keep my opinions to myself. If asked, I point out my own Eighties errors, (plenty of terrrible images on Google) how trendy I was then, and how ridiculous the trends are on reflection.
I try to keep in mind that the bell-bottom pants, tie-dyed shirts, stacked heels and long hair that I wore in the early 1970s drove my own parents crazy when I look at the dress of today's teenagers. I know it's a sign of independence for teens to dress differently from adults, and I try and keep my personal thoughts to myself. Personally, I think the incredibly long shorts worn by many teens (and young adults) today are similar to clamdiggers--mid-calf pants that are worn by girls (and little boys in the 1960s). The saggy pants which have to be held up by one's free hand so they don't fall off makes no sense to me; and deliberately exposed underwear began in prison, and I don't understand why any free man would emulate convict dress styles. Multiple tattoos and piercings are equally mystifying to me. As a teacher, I try not to stare and keep my mouth shut, but inside I'm thinking, "OMG!"
As a parent of a teenager and a teacher of middle and high school students, I don't really have too many thoughts when it comes to the particular clothing styles and trends I see. When I was in school myself, bodysuits with jeans were in style, and before that, we wore what are now "skinny jeans." The destroyed look of today's fashion is a throw-back to the jeans we destroyed ourselves (much to the chagrin of our parents). There isn't really anything new in today's styles - fashion tends to recycle itself.
Having said that, I am always entertained when the topic of school uniforms is raised. The most vehement opponents, using the argument of taking away their individuality and expression, tend to be those wearing the newest Abercrombie and Hollister. Having purchased much for my own children, I know that the desire to wear those brands has nothing to do with the superior quality :/ or affordability :/ and everything to do with wanting to wear what a lot of others do. How, then, is that expressing one's individuality? Just something I've always found amusing...