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The New Uniform
One local high schooler is revolutionizing the uniform skirt. And her creations are positively stylish.

Ross models her own designs.

For Milwaukeeans who've attended private schools, or schools with uniform codes, you can sympathize with the yearly struggle to conform, yet show some personality and be comfortable - simultaneously.

And for Kendall Ross, a 17-year-old, soon-to-be senior at University School of Milwaukee, the uniform skirt has been problematic since she was a freshman. The worst part, she says, of abiding the uniform code was actually tracking down that appropriate, school-approved skirt - even in local malls. So she took it upon herself to find an alternative or, rather, make one. In three different styles.

Starting Sept. 7, Kendall will be selling the dean-approved skirts to other U-School girls.

The three styles (pictured above) - one A-line version with pleats and a flattering wide waistband; another a slimming, straight version, sans pleats, with a scalloped hem; and the last a straight-fit, five-pocket version in corduroy - will all be produced in the U.S. (New York, to be exact). She'll offer sizes from 0-12, and they're all priced under $90.

But to understand how Ross got to this point, the story starts when she was a freshman. Perhaps a bit earlier.

As a freshman, Ross says she attempted to find a skirt that met University School's uniform code, which dictates a "k
haki skirt which reaches at least to the knees." And it became apparent that her friends and field hockey teammates shared the same frustrations.

To begin to remedy this, Ross took the summer after her freshman year to enroll in  fashion design classes at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. There she studied model drawing, pattern making and apparel construction. Afterward, her parents (her mother Jami is a former buyer for Bloomingdale's, and her father Bruce is the CEO of Celebrity Fashion Group) connected her with pattern designers and a production team in New York.  Ross and the designers settled on the three final designs using fabric from Japan, and then she took them to her high school's dean for approval, which she received immediately.

The skirts, Ross says, are also a nod to her paternal grandmother, who died in 2005. According to Bruce Ross,  Audrey Ross was the original designer of the poodle skirt. And though the design classes surely helped Kendall, there must have been a bit of that design savvy in her genes. In the above left image, Ross and her grandmother wear their poodle skirts the day Kendall realized her grandmother had been the one to first create the classic '50s form.

How will the skirts fare locally? If the keen interest of her field hockey teammates is any indication, they'll do just fine. Ross says she's even had freshman call and declare, "I heard you have the skirts."

She certainly does.

Images courtesy of Kendall Ross.

This post has been updated with additional information.

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