Sascha Hume, '23
In starting this article, I’ll admit that I’m not as knowledgeable on the St. Albans dress code as I really should be in writing this article. I have read through the dress code several times, and pasted it at the end of this article, but I know little of its history or evolution at our school, or how it resembles and/or differs from dress codes at other similar schools in the area. The goal of this article on my part is just to bring up a few benefits of our dress code, because people tend to focus on the downsides of it rather than the positives.
The dress code adds a sense of studiousness and professionalism to our classrooms and labs. Of course, dressing everyone in suits and ties has the obvious effect of making everyone feel like they’re an adult working a real job, but there’s more to the dress code’s creation of a professional environment than just that. The fact that every single student takes the effort to dress up formally each day, whether they like it or not, makes the dress code a kind of investment into the school community. When I walk into one of my classes and see all of my classmates wearing dress shirts, blazers, and ties, I feel obligated to respect their taking time out of their morning to dress in such a manner in order to attend school; I thus feel a responsibility to engage seriously with my classes or else feel like I am doing a disservice to those who have made an effort to come in and learn. Walking into a classroom on a free dress day is a different story altogether: I know that everyone or almost everyone in the room woke up a little later than normal and just threw on whatever casual clothes came first in their closet. The lackadaisical and unserious nature of free dress means that I, at least subconsciously, don’t feel the same drive to approach my classes in earnest than I would on a normal day. Obviously I don’t blame anyone for dressing the way they do on free dress days. Nor do I want to abolish free dress days, as they are a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful series of weeks. However, there is a reason why our classes tend to be less organized and productive on free dress days. In theory, classes can be taught just fine with everyone in casual clothes, but we all know that they never are. No one takes them seriously.
None (or almost none) of us dress formally in our free time; some of us certainly detest having to spend extra time every morning putting on archaic and uncomfortable clothes. The point is, we all do it anyway. We all choose to sacrifice a bit of our time, individual comfort, and perhaps even style, out of respect for the rules and traditions of our school, and because each of us knows that the rest of our St. Albans community will be with us in our observance of the ritual. Generations of St. Albans students have grumbled about the dress code, but so have generations of St. Albans students upheld it. I’d suggest we not break the chain here, but maintain a tradition which keeps us grounded, brings us closer together, and connects us with those who walked the halls of STA before us. Let’s keep the dress code.
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