By Stella-Grace Ford '23
I can’t remember a time when my classmates and I weren’t complaining about some part of the NCS dress code. It’s been a longstanding source of debate among the NCS student body, with some people advocating for mandated uniforms in the Upper School while others argue that no clothing regulation is necessary at all. Right now, the dress code stands firm against exposed midriffs, thin straps, and skirts or shorts with the dreaded less than five inch inseam (although many students who have been “dress coded” may attest to these rules being varyingly enforced depending on the teacher). The dress code also notably prohibits any sort of athletic clothing, meaning that athletic shorts, sweatpants, and leggings are not allowed.
The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on NCS’ operation meant that all of these clothing rules were lifted during the 2020-2021 school year. Even with a newly relaxed dress code, none of my classmates came in wearing excessively revealing clothing or risqué outfits; instead, we sported what any worn out highschooler functioning on minimal sleep would wear: big shirts, athletic shorts, leggings, and sweatpants. This daily attire of comfortable bottoms paired with a loose sweatshirt became a uniform of sorts for me, and I found that it actually increased my focus on learning. I didn’t have to worry about how I looked or about picking out my outfit every morning, alleviating some of my anxiety about school. Like many, my grades dropped when we were learning online, but once NCS went into a hybrid system where I spent most of my days at in person school, my test scores went back up. This increase in my performance wasn’t hindered in any way by the athletic clothes I wore, fitting with the results of a study from the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences.
In that study, researchers found a positive correlation between the degree of comfort students rated their clothes as and their test results. When students wore their most comfortable attire, they tended to study for longer and rate their confidence about their assessments as higher, while also gaining higher scores. Formal work clothes averaged around a B, or a 85.7, for the subjects, but dressing for comfort awarded them an average of an A-, or a 90. Comfortable clothes like leggings and yoga pants also increase productivity, morale, and concrete thinking in the workplace, according to the New York Post. If the NCS student body was able to maintain the same level of academic excellence that NCS strives for while wearing sweatpants last year, why shouldn’t we be allowed to do the same now?
Of course, it goes without saying that comfort is relative. Some people find formal wear more comfortable and confidence-inducing than athletic clothes, and I watched in awe last year as some students showed up totally composed in fancy dresses and high heels every day. However, many of us agree that our performance is tied to our comfort, and our ability to manage NCS’ academics in supposedly unsuitable clothing should be a testament to the benefits of relaxing the dress code for this school year.