Some see it as a timeless classic. Others think it’s a bit old-fashioned. Any way you look at it, it’s indisputably iconic, representing at a glance all that is Notre Dame Prep. The blue dress. The NDP uniform.
It really hasn’t changed much over the years. The hemline has inched up. The zipper moved from the front to the back. What was detachable (cuffs, collars, belts) was made permanent. The side zipper and breast pocket are gone altogether. As are the thick, wool, Adler socks (fall and spring) and blue knee-highs (winter) of yesteryear. Replaced by short, ribbed, cotton socks or blue tights. The saddle shoes still remain, however. And polished if you know what’s good for you because the rules are still strict. You alter the uniform and a detention could be in your very near future. Tamper with the uniform at your own risk.
When I attended NDP we were only allowed to wear navy, cardigan sweaters over our uniform and the dress collar had to be on the outside. Pappagallo cable knit was the fashion then. I was also there during the era of the detachable collar and cuffs. I remember many a night hand-washing them with Ivory Snowflakes in the bathroom sink and draping them over the shower rod to dry. Detachable collars and cuffs meant whiter collars and cuffs. But it also meant missing collars and cuffs and another detention. My guess is, one too many lost collars and missing cuffs led to the permanent attachment of both. Everything’s a trade off, I guess.
Then there were the rules about hair accessories. Back then, quarter inch grosgrain ribbon in your hair was the standard. At first, it could only be navy. Eventually, the rules expanded to include wider widths, more fabrics, and just about any color. All the department stores (remember them?) had fabulous “notions” sections full of spools and spools of grosgrain, velvet, and satin ribbon in an array of colors. Kelly green was popular at the time. As was pink with white polka dots. You could buy 4 or 5 yards of multicolor ribbon for under a dollar.
Today, NDP blazers (sleeves rolled up, silk lining showing) have replaced the cable knit sweaters of the 60’s. And very wide headbands seem to be back in fashion. At least, they were a minute ago. Stay tuned. Not that long ago, those white ribbed socks were worn down below the ankle. Heck, they hardly showed above the back of the shoe (how comfortable could that have been?). Now, just a few years later, the girls pull the socks all the way up. Today, everyone wears her favorite hooded sweatshirt to and from school (never during school or, that’s right… detention). Athletic shorts under the uniform have replaced the petty pants of yesteryear. A vast improvement, in my opinion. However, you’d better not be able to see either under the dress or, well… you know. Surprisingly, nail polish is allowed but no colored t-shirt under the dress. Only white. The name tag, introduced more than 40 years ago is still pinned front and center, but now is likely to be surrounded by an array of other pins representing membership in clubs, on sports teams, and other school associations. I don’t know when that new trend started but it looks like a lot of fun.
The thing is, every generation takes the classic uniform and makes it her own. And that’s as it should be. It’s part of the age-old process of finding one’s voice, becoming independent, growing up. The girls are allowed just enough latitude to set themselves apart from previous generations, but not so much that the uniform and all that it represents becomes unrecognizable. And that, too, is as it should be.
The NDP uniform. A timeless classic. Signature NDP. Those who wear it say it’s quite comfortable. All who wear it wear it with pride.
Send Bluenote your memories of the NDP uniform. What were the styles and trends when you or your daughter attended NDP? What other changes have you or she noticed over the years? Talk with your old classmates, friends, and neighbors. Share your memories in the “leave a comment” section, below (at the end of the listed tags).