By Luke Mott '19
“I want my sweatpants back,” yells Isabella Houle ‘19 from across the lawn of the Washington National Cathedral. Here at the Cathedral Close, dress codes are a controversial topic.
When discussing the issue of a dress code in education, people usually turn to studies and science that compare school dress and academic performance. Many studies argue that a dress code leads to academic prosperity. Many studies disprove such a link. There is no consensus on the matter. There is certainly no consensus on the Close.
At St. Albans, students must wear a blazer or sportcoat, a tie and a collared shirt, a belt, and solid-color pants or shorts. Turtlenecks are also acceptable. Instead of clothing requirements, NCS prohibits specific articles: leggings, yoga pants, pajamas, and sweatpants.
Some people enjoy their schools’ dress codes. Nolan Musslewhite, a sophomore, loves the STA dress code. Eleanor Boomhower, an NCS freshman, says, “I like the dress code. It allows me to wear what I want. I don’t really own sweatpants.” Richard Davies-Van Voorhis, a freshman, enjoys the STA dress code because “it creates opportunities to emulate your own style while remaining within the tradition of formal dress, giving the student body an aura of gravitas.”
Many more despise the codes. “Damn the dress code.” Over the course of my research for this article, fourteen people screamed this or some profane variant at me. “I hate the dress code,” says Sarah Muoio, an NCS freshman. “I don’t own clothing that fits the dress code, not because I like to dress ‘scandalously,’ but because I happen to not own five pairs of denim non-ripped jeans.” “What irritates me the most,” reflects Katharine Boasberg, an NCS senior, “is trying to find shorts with a five-inch inseam, which very few companies produce.” “The new dress code has cut my wardrobe in half,” says Taliyah Emory-Muhammad, an NCS junior.
Most people are ambivalent about the dress code. Noah Kang, an STA junior, says he is “fine with the dress code,” but he thinks “changes need to be made.” Kang feels that sometimes STA students should be allowed to wear polo shirts and sweatshirts. “I appreciate there being boundaries,” he says, “but those boundaries are often too strict.” Zoé Contreras-Villalta, an NCS junior, says she thinks the dress code is “irrelevant to how [she] functions at school,” adding, “I like jeans. I don’t need pajamas in class.” Mady Jones, an NCS senior, thinks that “either you should have a uniform or no dress code at all. You can’t restrict some things [e.g., ripped jeans, leggings] but not others.
There are many opinions on the dress code, but, overall, most NCS girls want sweatpants. Most STA guys don’t care.