It isn't often that students take fashion tips from their teachers, but then, teachers don't normally dress as thugs and women out for a night on the town.
At Marine View Middle School on Wednesday afternoon, educators were teaching students what not to wear with a parade of dress-code violations — and a few "do's" — through a fashion show at a back-to-school assembly.
"Take a hint from your teachers today and avoid these fashion don'ts," said fashion show emcee Kristin Spencer, an eighth-grade science and Spanish teacher.
Teachers sauntered across the school's gymnasium stage obscenely chewing gum, listening to iPods and showing off tattoos written in what appeared to be red marker as students filled the bleachers and sat on black-and-white folding chairs cheering.
Female teachers wore short shorts, short skirts, too-high heels and too-long earrings as Spencer pointed out their fashion no-nos. Spaghetti straps, tank tops, visible bra straps and unnaturally dyed hair were all on the list, along with the year's newest addition — makeup.
The male teachers also got their turn displaying their boxers beneath sagging pants, showing off colorful Mohawks and hiding under hoodie sweatshirts and sunglasses.
Students roared with laughter and cheered as one of the school's most conservative and veteran teachers, Susan McDonald, who retired last year, but still comes back to substitute, swaggered up on the stage in an oversized red T-shirt, do-rag, sagging pants complete with chain, and strands of gold chains around her neck.
"I thought it was really funny, especially when Mrs. McDonald came out all gangster," said 12-year-old Melissa Applebee, the eighth-grade vice president.
Principal Roni Ellis introduced the fashion show when she took over the school last year to reinforce the school's strict dress code. Students are informed of the rules on the first day of school, and the assembly served to display what is and isn't acceptable, she said.
"Sometimes it's easier to really understand by seeing," she told the students. "This is a place of business. Even though you think it's just school, this is your job."
For the students, the show is a funny way to learn what is appropriate for school, but for the seventh- and eighth-graders who saw it last year, it was more fun than educational, Melissa said.
"It's mostly for the sixth-graders, but seventh and eighth still like it," she said.
The dress code, which Ellis tightened when she took over, isn't "that bad," Melissa said. She said she can even see how it creates fewer distractions for her male peers.
Before Ellis, the dress code wasn't really enforced, but since she cracked down and implemented the fashion show, the number of students showing up wearing violations has been night and day, she said.
"It helps get the focus on learning instead of how they look," she said.