When the ringing phone woke me at 9:12 a.m. today — don’t judge, I’m retired — I was deep in a dream in which I was teaching someone to pleat.
To understand just how odd this is, you should know that I don’t think I’ve ever pleated anything myself. Pleating takes precision and measurement. I don’t do those things.
However, in my high school years, I’m guessing I ironed over a thousand pleats because part of the Pacelli High School (Austin, Minn., not Stevens Point, Wis.) uniform was a green-plaid wool skirt.
Yuk, yuk, yuk.
To this day, I don’t wear pleats, I don’t wear green plaid, and I don’t wear skirts. And don’t get me started on green blazers. Not gonna happen.
But that pleating dream did get me thinking about that uniform skirt. It was such an obvious hallmark of where I attended school that advisers told us we should wear our uniforms on job interviews because Pacelli had high academic and comportment standards.
The complete uniform consisted of the skirt, white blouse and green blazer. Go, you Pacelli Shamrocks! We could wear knee-highs, nylons, anklets or any other kind of stockings. My memory, though, is they had to be white.
But somewhere in the middle of my high school career, the administration had a mental hiccup and proclaimed we girls could wear any kind of shirt we wanted with our uniform skirts.
We went crazy!
I fondly remember an olive green paisley shirt that was a favorite of mine. It was passed down from a far-out cousin in California and I couldn’t wait to pair it with that horrible skirt. That same cousin had gifted me with a wild Hawaiian shirt, which I thought looked quite wonderful with green plaid. (Never been a fashion guru.)
My sister Therese took it as personal style challenge and never wore the same ensemble twice during the school year. Although, I think her variations may have included scarves and the pairing of sweaters and blouses.
Maybe it was this experience that brought me to the bit of style rabble-rousing I exhibited at the La Crosse Tribune. I was probably the first employee to occasionally wear jeans to work before we ever sponsored a Jeans Day.
At first, I would say I was going to tour a construction site and I couldn’t do that in dress pants. Or, I was going to go on a garden interview and you don’t do that in a skirt. Or, I was interviewing a musician and I should dress the way my interview subject was dressed. Pretty soon, I wasn’t even explaining it and by the time I retired I was wearing jeans every day.
But one thing I can tell you for sure. None of those jeans had pleats.