Dress in a “Modest Manner”

In society, what we wear is a huge deal, not only to teens, but adults, too. One place where I think people can be told what they can and cannot wear is the workplace, where sometimes appropriate clothing can be a matter of safety. However, schools are not workplaces, and the reasons behind the dress code are not clear, which makes me not want to follow it. In addition, the dress code is not specific enough, and it is only enforced partially, not fully, which makes it confusing for students who get in trouble because of what they wear.

I understand that the school dress code was created to create a more “professional” environment to help students learn. The dress code on WCI’s website says that “Dress, appearance and grooming are positive indicators of the serious purposes of attending school. Distracting, immodest or unsafe clothing will not be permitted.” I find that while these are good reasons to have a dress code, the problems lie in the code itself as well as how it is enforced.

The dress code states, “Students are NOT to wear: … Provocative clothing… Skirts, dresses and shorts that are too short, too tight and/or too frayed.” But, how short is “too short”? How tight is “too tight”? How frayed is “too frayed”? What is considered “provocative”? The lack of specifics makes it hard for students to follow the dress code. If the code stated that clothing had to go down to your knees, or down to your ankles, or above your collarbone, or anything specifying a certain length, I think more people would listen.

I know many people who get in trouble for the dress code, including myself, but one person in specific is Emma T, a grade 12 student at WCI. When I asked her about her experiences, she said, “I get told to put a sweater on pretty often, even when it’s above 30 degrees.” She went on to say, “I’ve worn tank tops, the ones with the thin spaghetti straps. I get in trouble for that when there’s five or six people around me wearing the exact same type of top. It’s unfair to people like me because everyone else gets to wear what they want and I can’t.”

The example she gave me shows the inconsistency in the implementation of the dress code. I have experienced and witnessed similar inconsistencies. I have worn spaghetti strap tops to school on multiple occasions. On one of those occasions, I was told to put a sweater on, while there was another student wandering the halls in sweatpants, a bandeau and a zip-down hoodie. Nothing was said to her.

There are a few items in the dress code that are still worn frequently at WCI. One of those is ripped jeans. The school’s dress code states that “students are NOT to wear tattered clothing,” yet students still wear ripped jeans on a daily basis. The problem is that ripped jeans are fashionable right now, so the policy needs to be clearer about what “tattered” means, especially with changing fashion trends. 

Another one of the items in the school’s dress code that is worn frequently is hats. The dress code also states that “NO hats, hoods, toques, etc. may be worn in school except for medical or religious reasons.” Wearing hats in school seems to be a serious issue for students, as it is also a fashion trend for many, or it is something to cover their hair on a bad hair day. This rule is in place to maintain safety of the staff and students in the school, so that the security cameras can see that someone is a student and not an intruder. The dress code at our school does not express why the rule is in place, and instead staff make sure the rule is followed by all students. We need to be informed about why these rules are in place and why we need to follow them.

The dress code is inconsistent and lacks detail. People at school get “busted” for dress code violations frequently. Maybe students need to have more information in order to follow the rules more closely.