Believe it or not, fashion can tell more about a society’s culture than most history books; it is the predominant means of personal expression and, although many may disagree, an important art form. For instance, bulky skirts heaving with layers of petticoats were the prevailing fashion trend for women in Victorian London. The skirts, both physically and symbolically, confined women of the period and kept them down. In 18th century Versailles, Marie Antoinette adopted and made popular the trend of elongated panniers (the side hoops that were worn underneath gowns). This trend gave presence to the female figure. At formal dinners, ladies of the court took up three times as much space as their male counterparts, relaying their new found importance in the enlightened world.
With the succeeding centuries, however, the trends in women’s fashion have moved toward clothes that are thinner, shorter, tighter, and generally, more fitted, culminating in today’s world of skeletal models and sizes that run double-zero.
At Prep, the principal trend for the female students was, for a very long time, the very short skirt. As if they knew nothing of the social ordeal that women had to endure to attain the right to be the "one who wears the pants around the house," many girls at Prep find slacks to be an objectionable alternative. But who could blame them? Prep pants are wide, pleated, and obviously designed for a male figure; it made girls look dowdy and matronly.
And so, when the administration decided last year to take away the skirts (because of their licentiously short heights), the girls at Prep groused, protested, and petitioned. Unfortunately for them, their protests fell on deaf ears; the administration was resolved on its decision and Prep girls were forced to resolve themselves to wearing pants...with a few minor adjustments, of course.
Knowing that skin-tight pants are "in" and unable to tolerate the wide, straight-leg Prep slacks, many girls have had their pants fitted even though the administration has made this new trend "illegal." One Prep student has said, "It’s sad cause they’re trying to regulate a dress code with a faction of girls who would rather get carpal tunnel than not be able to tote around some colossal ‘status’ bag."
And what does this all say about our culture? Fashion has become (not only at Prep, but in American society-at-large) an integral part of people’s lives. Hundreds of Prep students risk detention every single day in order to show off their "style" (or lack thereof). In a way, this dress code violation is a quiet revolution; not against conformity, but against control. During a time when the U.S. government has exercised unprecedented power over the American people, fashion and even our popular culture (i.e. Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan) lean toward the breaking of rules and insurgence.
How long will it last? Well, ephemerality is, after all, one of the key characteristics of fashion. Perhaps, next fall, Prep may see the revival of baggy pants. Until then, Prep girls will be rocking the skinny ones.