Fashion Lessons From Mercy High School

Wearing a uniform every day can teach you a lot about fashion.

Today I'd like to discuss fashion. More to the point, of late I have been thinking a lot about fashion. And how personal it is and unique to each person and fun and frustrating and, quite frankly, at times anathama.

I mean, is there nothing trickier on this earth than getting a scarf to tie just right so it hangs just so? Or how about this - you like something on someone else but not on you. Or...you'd like it to look good on you but it just will never ever happen. Have we not all been there?

So here are but a few of my thoughts on fashion. I feel compelled to say at the outset that I went to Mercy High School. Why is this so significant and worth noting? Because much of the building blocks of fashion I learned there. Yes - there. Wearing a uniform each and everyday teaches you something. It teaches you what the classics are and how important they are. A skirt that hits right above the knee still to this day looks best. Substantially shorter or longer - much harder to wear...and that goes for anyone.

What else did I learn at Mercy High School? That shoes make the outfit. They really do. While we all wore plaid skirts it was the shoes that gave you your individuality. And you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they choose to wear. I still remember that some girls (opting to "dress up" their look) chose to wear pointy-toed kitten heels. The ones that were into pragmatics wore shoes with laces. To this very day I can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they choose to wear. Shoes are actually very telling.  Me? I loved my loafers. Yes, a penny tucked inside. Classic.

It was at Mercy High School that I began my love affair with turtlenecks. Yes, turtlenecks. Love them to this day. I have met with a lot of resistance within my family when I have tried to pass on some of my turtlenecks. The chorus of, "I'd never wear that...it makes a person look like they have no neck" ensued. I finally gave them to Goodwill. My thoughts are this on the entire turtleneck issue...back to Mercy High School. There is nothing more classic-looking than a turtleneck under a crew neck sweater. Classic and timeless. And as for all the nay-sayers....let me say this: google Ann Margret sometime in Viva Las Vegas. The black turtleneck and leggings were and are an iconic look. Elvis didn't think she was dowdy and/or frumpy or a no-neck.

(A sidebar on the entire turtleneck issue - I was mentioning this to a guy once and he added, "Yes, turtlenecks are good...provided you can fill them out." Enough said.)

More lessons from Mercy High School. Accessories matter. Bigtime. You can tell a lot about a person by the bag they carry and their hair. Again, there we were - a school full of teenage girls. How you did your hair or the jewelry you wore or the bag you carried....that was you "individuating" yourself. And that is true for all women everywhere. One cannot be "put together" and be carrying around a ratty old bag. Just cannot happen.

And above all, I learned this from my time at Mercy High School: girls are lucky. We're the gender that has more clothing choices. We get to wear skirts or pants. Whatever you choose, wear it with aplomb.

Regards on this wintry afternoon,



P.S. I like to think my writing and songs I choose to go with my posts mirror my own clothing choices. One day fun, another day more serious. Today's musical selection by Cake - very fun and quite witty. Love the similes comparing such disparate items.

P.P.S. A guy once inquired of this song "Why the long jacket? The short skirt is just fine on it's own." (Another lesson from Mercy High School - the jacket provides the air of mystery. Put another way, showing everything all at once is not in anyone's best interest. Ever. Any Mercy Girl worth her salt would tell you that.)



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mercy High School February 06, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Lea, Great article!! I had to share it with the faculty and staff. Can't wait to hear their comments. Thanks for putting a smile on my face today - I know many alums will agree !!
Lea Tomaszewski February 06, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Hello Marie, Thank you for the kind words. Many aspects of my time at Mercy have never ever left me. Mercy High School has it right - girls shouldaspire to be women of substance. Again, thank you for writing and a warm hello to all from the Mercy community. Regards, Lea
Katie Molloy February 06, 2013 at 02:39 PM
When I was at Mercy I tried to be the quirky punk rock girl by painting the blank "M" on the white polo shirt with bright colored nail polish. I had a green, yellow, pink and a sparkly one. I also removed the buttons from my skirt and replaced them with bright yellow ones and whatever other decorative ones I could find. I wore sensible laced shoes, but they were Doc Martens! I would decorate them with fancy shoe laces. All my bags were adorned with band patches and pins. Accessories were key, especially the candy necklaces they provided a whimsical snack throughout the day! To be extra rebellious, I shaved the underside of my hair and colored it blue, then red, then bleached it. When it was down or in a low ponytail, I wouldn't get in trouble. If I put it high up, I could get the staff angry! Once I tried to color my whole head red and Mrs. Montemerlo was kind enough to hide me in the corner that whole day of PSATs so I wouldn't get in trouble. The deal was I had to make an emergency trip to the salon that night! Those were the days! P.S. Choice of boxers at Mercy? HUGE fashion statement! Katie Molloy '01
Lea Tomaszewski February 06, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Hi Katie and thanks for commenting on my post. Yes, there were "alternative" types at Mercy when I was there. I remember the safety pin as earring thing quite well. Your comment underscored my entire point - accessories matter and add character and uniqueness to an outfit - school uniform or otherwise. I do hope my post has brought back a lot of memories for many Mercy alumni and students alike. I appreciate the comments and look forward to reading everyone's comments. One thing that has crossed my mind more than once is this: once a Mercy girl, always a Mercy girl. We are the ultimate modern-day sorrority. And how lucky are we all to have spent our adolescent years in such a wonderful school whose message to all of us that we could be whatever we wanted in life and not to let anything stand in our way. All the best, Lea


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