Opinion: The Dress Code Must Be Updated

By: Rajae McClinek ’16
Photography Editor

Passionate discussion about the controversial dress code policy, which “reflects our belief that personal appearance affects manners, morale, attitude, and general conduct in any community,” echoed in the Peddie halls this past week.

An email sent out by Assistant Head of School for Student Life Melanie Clements, told students that three dress code violations will earn one day of in house suspension. In house suspensions were previously reserved to punish the offense of six Missed Obligations (MOs), making this an extremely harsh repercussion for three violations of dress code—all of which can be accumulated in one day.

This new rule will just reaffirm what we students already know: the dress code is unnecessarily strict.
First of all, it is gender specific, which restricts boys and girls to one standard style of attire, and perpetuates stereotypical gender roles. The dress code for family style reduces boys to wearing “a sport coat or blazer, collared shirt, a tie, pants (khakis, corduroys, or slacks), and dress shoes. Girls are only allowed to wear “a dress, or skirt and top, or dress pants and top, and dress shoes,” which similarly affects those who wish not to conform to the stereotypical dress for their gender. It is wrong for Peddie to make every girl dress one way and every boy to dress one way, especially since Peddie prides itself on its tolerance of all unique backgrounds and forms of diversity.

The dress code is absolutely outdated, and if Peddie has full control over what we are allowed to wear, then it should update its guidelines to incorporate the style of clothing of today’s time. How can Peddie expect its students to abide and respect the dress code if it assumes that the daily outfits of girls consist of turtlenecks, corduroys, and dress pants? Peddie should reevaluate the typical students’ style in order to reword the dress code statement, which has many gray areas left up to authority figures’ discretion.

The third issue of Peddie’s dress code is a controversial topic, which is met with an everlasting debate of modesty vs. practicality and convenience, and that topic is leggings. Leggings worn to class in a presentable fashion (for example with long socks, boots, and a long sweater or cardigan) should be adequate for class. Leggings are a versatile form of clothing that can be worn in many different settings, which makes them a very convenient clothing option. High school girls are constantly being reminded that our bodies are changing, and so Peddie should consider this and realize that pants can be problematic. With our frequently fluctuating weights and heights, the flexibility of leggings proves to be the most practical form of bottoms.

Students should feel comfortable and confident in the clothes we choose to wear to school. For years, students have matriculated into top universities with exceptional GPAs and athletic ability, and for years students have been violating the dress code. There is no real parallel to strictly abiding by the dress code and students’ performances on the field or in the classroom.