Fox has said that in enforcing school uniform policy he and his teachers "are conscious that we are preparing students for the world of work". But, of course, as Jodie's experience with the lipstick shows, the rules for women aren't ever simple. Girls and women are expected to tread this careful line – appealing but not revealing, pleasingly pretty but not sleazily sexy – from a very young age. It starts with a teacher telling you that your trousers hug your adolescent curves too snugly, and it ends with a sweaty-faced man in a straining white shirt telling you, irony of ironies, that you've lost your job because you "don't look the part of an attractive customer service team".
By now, even the most Francophile among us have figured out that Parisian children do, at times, throw food, some Mmes are fat, and their 35-hour work week hasn’t quite worked out as planned. However, in matters of fashion, perhaps it is still safe to defer to our Gallic friends. When I complained about British school uniforms, my French friend shrugged and recalled how, in France, before the student riots in 1968, children just wore their own clothes to school and put a smock over them for the school day, to protect them. This custom is now seen as an authoritarian anachronism in France, and its revival is tabled only occasionally by far-Right candidates. But still… Comfortable. Practical. One-size-fits-all. Perhaps we should give up on the notion of pre-professional dressing and follow the 'ancien French'. It may not be such a bad idea.