January 27, 2006

"Not everyone -- male or female -- belongs in a skirt. "

Says Robin Givhan on the occasion of a high school boy's fight for the right to wear a skirt to school as long as the girls are allowed to wear skirts. The ACLU helped Coviello get the school to agree to let him wear a skirt. No court announced a right here. But even if there were such a right, you don't want to be doing everything you've got a right to do. It's in the exercise of discretion that you prove your character -- and your fashion sense. So the boy, Michael Coviello, really ought to refrain from wearing a skirt, and so -- Givhan blurts out -- should Hillary Clinton:
After eight years as first lady wearing innumerable skirt suits that did little to flatter her physique, she now wears pants almost exclusively. As a matter of personal style, this is a good thing. The senator looks more streamlined and elegant.
Back to Coviello, whose real complaint was that they wouldn't let him wear shorts after October 1st and before April 15th:
It is tempting to chuckle at the image of Coviello in his skirt. And truth be told, there was a bit of tittering on our part. It is also tough to get riled up and indignant about students being denied the right to wear shorts to school once the temperature drops. Wouldn't they get cold anyway?
Givhan should come to Wisconsin. It's January yet it is 50°. I guarantee you the campus area is full of young guys in shorts. The desire to wear shorts is really out of control. I would ban the damnably inadequate pants year round, myself. These are manly boys, though, and cold isn't going to stop them.

But should we laugh at a boy in a skirt? It's a kilt:


Do you seriously think he'd look better in something else? Leave him alone!

Note about me: I used to get in trouble, back when I was in junior high school, for wearing mini skirts. I can remember the teachers expressing concerns about my getting cold and predicting the fad of the moment would have to be abandoned when the cold weather set in. That only hardened my fashion choice into a matter of principle. And I am still pissed off at the teachers who sent me to the vice principal's office and at my Chemistry teacher who tried to block me from getting onto the Honor Society for having a character flaw.

IN THE COMMENTS: I reveal an additional reason I got sent to the vice principal's office when I was in junior high school. And there's some talk about tartans, prompting me to reveal my clan. Clue: it's rather Shakespearean. Laughing Wolf responds here with rival clannage.

45 comments:

Brendan said...

I used to get in trouble, back when I was in junior high school, for wearing mini skirts.

Please supply photographic evidence.

Truly said...

Character flaw, no. Judgment flaw, maybe. (I HATE skirts, so this is my own prejudice talking--no offense, Prof.)

Jillene said...

I am always confused as to why teachers try to tell us not to do things that deal with fashion and our expression. If you tell us not to do it...we will! My mother and grandmother don't want me to get me nose pierced; so next week I am going. This is a simple principle, you are essentially daring me!

Ann Althouse said...

Truly: You don't realize that back when I was in school the girls were all required to wear skirts. I never wore pants to school until I went to college.

tiggeril said...

Meanwhile, when I was in school, we thought about wearing skirts as akin to being infected with the plague.

sonia said...

Personally, I am against all clothes: skirts, shirts, pants and all the others. But I applaud trhe guy. One victory at a time. Or maybe I should applaud the school. First they ban shorts, then skirts, maybe they will eventually ban all clothing and force students to show up naked. Some day, over the rainbow...

le which said...

Back in the days of Jesus, men wore robes and women wore pants. And it is said in the bible that women should not wear men's clothing and vice versa.... I wonder what happened!

Truly said...

le which: women wore pants? Are you sure about that?

le which said...

Yes, if you think I'm joking, look at the drawings in "The Good News Bible" or biblical paintings.
P/S: Not exactly the kind of pants we wear - kind of like what MC Hammer used to dance with.

Freeman Hunt said...

Awesome. I am going to wear "Hammer pants" to work tomorrow and claim that they are Biblically mandated.

Truly said...

You have to work tomorrow? Poor you.

jeff said...

When I was in high school (first half of the 80s) the principal banned the really short "silky" shorts, which of course only affected females.

We all figured it was to keep him from having a second heart attack.

I personally think that unless I'm wearing swimwear, any lower outergarment I'm wearing had better have room for keys and a wallet.

Meade said...

Junior high school girls who got in trouble for wearing mini skirts and went around humming Petula Clark's "Downtown" were the ultimate object of lust for certain fifth grade boys in 1964.

Drew W said...

I'm no fashion expert, but isn't the garment worn by Coviello in the photo widely known as a kilt? And haven't Scotmen worn such garments with pride for centuries? It's not like the kid's dressed like a lap-dancer or something. (Not that there would be anything wrong with that.)

From this photo, he does bear a passing resemblance to Hurley from "Lost." (Not that there's anything wrong with that either, dude.)

Drew W said...

Sorry for missing your ID of the garment as a kilt. I should never venture to comment on fashion.

But I will second Brendan's request.

Pogo said...

Ah, the perennial fight over dress codes. Is there anything more American than this indefatigable topic?

It's got everything: lawsuits, sex, first amendment, gender, rebellion, sex, rights, authority, religion, and sex all wrapped up in one soon-to-be-regretted fashion statement.

It's my sign that things have returned nearly to normal, when the news is flooded with complaints about sartorial excess, fashion fights, and flouted decrees in the public schools. All is right with the world, albeit briefly.

AJ Lynch said...

Hard Head + Must Wear Short Skirts To School + Great Memory So I Hold Grudges Forever..... sounds like more than one flaw to me.

The bright side is you were lucky the old chem teach could only spot one.

Meade said...

AJ: Funny comment but I think you're mistaken about that grudge holding thing.

wildaboutharrie said...

Boy in kilt? Whatever. I support school uniforms. Make them national, even!

sprattman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sprattman said...

oops sorry - wrong link. try this one:
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1543820

re: are men and women different?

Ann Althouse said...

Meade: What are you saying? Is there some grudge I was supposed to hold that I've forgotten about?

chuck b. said...

I periodically have bad dreams that I wear a skirt to school and people laugh at me. I don't think I've ever tried on a skirt, so I'm not sure how I have the material to dream about wearing one. But it's usually quite vivid and distressing usually because I feel vulnerable and exposed. I don't know how women, or Scotsmen, do it. Pants are better than skirts.

Goatwhacker said...

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton... looks more streamlined and elegant.

Um. Must control self.......not...stoop...to...cheap...humor....

lindsey said...

It's really boring to wear pants all the time. Why does Hillary have to go from all skirts to all pants? That's weird. She should break it up some. Show some imagination. A black pantsuit is a basic but it's also BORING. I want a little creativity in my politicians.

And what she really means by "stream-lined" and "elegant" is thinner.

Mark the Pundit said...

Do you seriously think he'd look better in something else? Leave him alone!

A shot below the, er, belt!

Simon said...

I attended high school not in the U.S., but in England; there was a school uniform (shirt, tie, blazer, even) it was an all boys school except in the sixth form (the concept doesn't exactly map to American norms; basically, the Brits finished high school at 16, but could elect to carry on for another two years for extended qualifications before college), the sixth form being "mixed," as the term went. Needless to say, the sheer joy brought forth by the decision of some of the sixth-form girls - terribly grown up at age sixteen, from our pubescent perspective - to parade around in skirts that I suspect even Ann might consider a little too mini was indescribable.

Simon said...

"After eight years as first lady wearing innumerable skirt suits that did little to flatter her physique, she now wears pants almost exclusively. As a matter of personal style, this is a good thing. The senator looks more streamlined and elegant. "

Be that as it may, it doesn't hurt that age has been very kind to Clinton; as she's gotten old, she's grown into her features, and generally looks a great deal more attractive now than she did as first lady.

Synova said...

Heh. My Mom got in trouble for wearing *pants*.

Boys should be able to wear kilts. At least they are manly. A friend of mine told me that one of the boys in her son's kindergarten class was sent to school in dresses. Apparently he asked to wear them and his mom didn't want to warp his little mind with gender stereotypes.

I can sympathize a *little*. It's not always easy to explain the concept of "appropriate" to kids without sounding disapproving of their choices, but it's something parents have to figure out how to do. If it's not clothes, it will be something else. The skill is necessary.

Elizabeth said...

While my preference doesn't lean towards men, I really enjoy the look of a man in a kilt. Maybe it's a tribal thing, from my Celtic genes. I have a friend who says that just 'cause you're on a diet don't mean you can't read the menu. So, men in kilts = hot.

I've never been a fan of dress codes, and hair codes, either, so I have a kneejerk response to cheer this young man. Spare me the sensible reasons for making school kids conform. I know them; I just don't give a damn.

Aspasia M. said...

When I was in high school a boy in my class went on a church missionary trip to somewhere in the south seas (Bali? I think?). Anyway, he wore a skirt-thing worn by males of the Island to school.

Nobody had a problem with it. I don't think the administration even blinked.

Eli Blake said...

I just don't understand why people get so riled about what other people are wearing.

I can understand that some people find some things offensive (solution: turn your head) and I don't even feel all that comfortable standing in line with my kids at the supermarket if they have the latest issue of 'Cosmopolitan' on display (my then seven year old asked me two years ago what an 'o-r-g-a-s-m' was and why having a better one was important while reading the cover while we were in line), but I don't think that any of it rises to the level where it makes it worth restricting someone else's freedom (and if I really found the magazine covers that offensive, I know where I could shop to avoid them-- and I know to get in line first and quickly pick up the top copy of Cosmo and turn it around if its something I don't want my kids to look at).

I live in a little cowboy town, and I can't imagine any of the guys here wearing a skirt, but I certainly wouldn't be the one to criticize them if they did. Now their classmates, that might be a whole other matter.

CCMCornell said...

I remember when I was in jr high in the early 90's, the school tried stopping everyone from "slacking" their pants - wearing them well below the waist. It was something that hadn't quite yet reached our white suburb, but one or two people were sorta doing it. Those few were sent to the office, which angered everyone and just set us to start doing it in defiance, even though most of us originally thought it was dumb.

Craig Ranapia said...

I don't know if Mr Coviello is wearing a kilt or a pleated gym skirt. But if it's the former, I certainly hope he's not following the Scottish tradition of wearing the garment sans underwear.
I assume even the ACLU would grant that there is no constitutional right to indecent exposure?

And with all due respect to Professor Althouse, I personally hope that Mr. Coviello has some family connections with the clan whose tartan he appears to be wearing. Just a thought.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: "I've never been a fan of dress codes, and hair codes..."

That reminds me: I also got sent to the vice principal's office on multiple occasions for having long bangs -- in the style of Mike Clarke of the Byrds. They even sent the school nurse to talk to be about the problem, as if somehow it was detrimental to my health. The consequence of it was that I came to view long bangs as a religion.

Craig: "And with all due respect to Professor Althouse, I personally hope that Mr. Coviello has some family connections with the clan whose tartan he appears to be wearing." Let me just say that I have a clan connection: MacBeth (the family name is Beatty).

John(classic) said...

I have always been very fashion conscious.

For instance a few winters ago when I locked myself out of the house while using the hot tub on the back deck and needed to seek help at a neighbor's, I was faced with a quandry.

Fortunately my innate sense of fashion decided that the tasteful, though a bit short, silver gray barbecue cover was much more flattering than the loud blue tarp on the woodpile that would clash so with my complexion, an d would so shout "Walmart".

Of course these days, with natural fabrics and eco-consciousness being so strong an influence, perhaps stripping off a couple of boughs from the Black Hills spruce would be even more fashionable. Sort of a back to basics...

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said...
Meade: What are you saying? Is there some grudge I was supposed to hold that I've forgotten about?

Not that I can recall.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elizabeth said...

My brother was suspended twice during high school ('68, '69) for hair 1/2 inch over his collar. My father backed him up, and called the principle to complain about rules made by balding, middle-aged men with *&%##ed priorites. Not having met the principle, he wasn't aware that he was indeed bald.

irish guard said...

I have worn a kilt in college......but it was required as part of a uniform. This kid is a whining attention getter.

Elizabeth said...

Irish, whew! I'm relieved you had a good reason for wearing a skirt.

Craig Ranapia said...

Professor Althouse:
And I'm sure you'd be most charming in either the modern or ancient MacBeth tartan. :) I didn't mean the comment to sound like I was bitching at you, but I'm old school about tartans - much as I am about regimental or school ties. I happen to look damn good in my father's regimental tie, but I wouldn't wear it anymore than his medals. I just didn't earn the right to wear them on the battlefields of WWII.

To the informed eye, a clan tartan places the wearer in the history and culture of Scotland. Not something I want to treat lightly as a fashion statement.

Kirk Parker said...

"Ah, the perennial fight over dress codes"

Hey, come one! Dress codes were wonderfully useful--draining off all that youthful rebellion against something that was, in many ways, trivial....

-Kirk (veteran of the high school dress-code wars of the late 60s/early 70s.)

Renée said...

This is funny!
If women were not allowed to wear a skirt they would be screaming "blue bloody murder"
I think that girls who have memories of being frozen, waiting on a school bus, have a lot of reasons to not want to wear a skirt. Lots of negative memories associated with not having a choice.
A skirt allows a woment to be extremely feminine. Wearing a skirt allows a woman to move, sit and walk in a manner that is uniquely feminine.
No matter how well cut a pair of pants, no pants can ever match the feminine appearence of a skirt.
Pants are pants. Sure, you can have some variation on a theme, but with a skirt, it can be slim like a pencil skirt (for girls who have that fabulous shape) or it can be full amd flirty for girls who have lots of curves and love their shape. The wonderful thing about a skirt is, no matter what your shape (and girls come in all shapes and sizes) you can always find a skirt that will make you look fabulous. Not so with pants!
I agree, some women look great in pants, but the same women look great in skirts too.
At the same time, any man in a skirt looks like a man in a kilt. Withourt the hips and the curves, a man can never do justice to a skirt.
So girls, love those skirts! They are uniquely feminine. You don't have to wear them every day, but on those special days when you put on a skirt, enjoy being a women, enjoy your curves and enjoy your femininity when you sit and when you walk in your skirt. The boys are watching, even if you think they are oblivious.

Renée

voodoo said...

Ok this is a kilt
Men in pants is a modern idea it is more healthy for a man to wear a kilt then it is for a man to wear pants all the seams in pants are in the same place you put your manhood. Women have no idea what it is to be a man becuase they do not have the same body type if they did they would have fought for womens right to wear skirts long ago. Yes i wear kilts they are comfortable and i have plenty of room :D Yay! and really i do not care if anyone likes it or not. The women that love men in kilts love them the ones that do not like it dont like it that is ok too. To all you enslaved pants wearing men when was the last time a woman thought about or asked you about your under garments? I wear the same thing under my kilts as you do under your pants only larger. By the way i thought this was the land of the free. not the home of the enslaved.
I hope this message does not get removed !