August 04, 2004

Curse of the Plaid

Snapshots In My Time, Of My Time.....Hauntings.

My elementary school years: 1st-4th grades

It is now back to school time and I always think of plaid. I do not wear anything plaid now but there was a time when it was all I could wear....

Plaid Origins:The Highlander of old (pre-1746) would often have worn the feileadh mor, Gaelic for a large piece of woollen tartan material wrapped round the body, belted at the waist and pinned over the shoulder. It no doubt also served as a blanket while campaigning - the word 'plaid' is the Gaelic plaide meaning blanket. A sensible garment which could give warmth or be worn lose with sword arm free. Origins may lie with the ancient Roman or Celtic tunic.

My mother loved plaid. I guess that was the fashion when I was in elementary school. I recall buying school clothes with her and leaving the stores with plaid skirts, solids shirts and contrasting solid sweaters as well as plaid dresses and the matching shirt or color coordinated turtle neck to match. The shoes were always Buster Brown. I wore varying shades of plaid in first grade. It was okay then. The same thing occurred in 2nd grade and then I began to look at what the other kids were wearing. Not plaid. Atl least not all the time.

I recall asking my mother for some more trendy clothes. Her response was "always buy the classics as they never go out of style." (She still says that to me to this day and she is now in her 70's. In fact I have heard that my whole life....especially when in college I was wearing DEVO flower pots on my head and all black leather clothes. ) That was a NO! I was stuck with plaid. I looked like I was wearing a uniform everyday but it was really just nice dressy dresses that I was wearing. The daughter of a school teacher had to look nice, even at school.

Plaid was a deterent to playing. I had on nice dresses and I played but I was told not to get that plaid dirty! Plaid eventually turned out to be a curse. There was no way I could get away from it. I remember the summer of the year I was to begin the 4th grade. We had moved and my mom transferred to a new school district. I was going to a new school as well. Even before we began school shopping I told her I did not want any plaid clothes. We were not Gaelic so why was I always dressed like someone who was?

My anti-plaid pleadings fell on deaf ears. I remember crying in the store as more plaid dresses were bought and more buster brown shoes were purchased. I was doomed to look like the outside packaging of Scotch tape once again ...for another year. There was nothing I could do. I could not buy my own clothes. I did express my opinion and the response I got was that if I did not want plaid, I would get nothing and that I could wear what I head at home again. I was a growing child. Last years clothes were too small. Plaid it was. I did get a 3 year break in middle school were I did not have many plaid clothes. But that was the calm before the storm. I was placed in a private, catholic high school and guess what? All we wore was plaid for 4 long years.

Since that time, I have not bought one peice of plaid clothing and I have never bought anything plaid for anyone else either. When I look back in my parents photo albums, my pictures are always very colorful. They are plaid. The thing that I see now that I did not realize before, is that I was not the only one under the plaid curse. Every single school picture of my bother shows him in a plaid shirt! His play clothes all consisted of plaid pants and shirts also. Some of the most horrifying pictures of all are of my brother--and there are numerous, different pictures of him wearing plaid shirts and plaid pants and that the plaids do not match!
The curse has continued with him. He has continued the curse of the plaid with his sons.


  1. Your story reminds me a bit of mine... not that I had to wear the same clothes you mention but it was more or less the same, and this depending on the country you live in. As for me... I had the same brown colored shoes ( I was in 4th grade) and that was the most studpid shoes I have ever wore, I could not wear what I liked or what I wanted to, even if it wasn't expensive... I simply didn't have any option to choose. I did not look uggly with what was chosen for me. But simply, it was not my style at all. I looked like a nun. And I wanted to wear colourful clips and nice skirts. But I realize that I could start chosing for me later very later on.