What Are Dress Codes?

March 3, 2023

What Are Dress Codes?

Dictionary.com defines a “dress code” as “a set of rules specifying the garb or type of clothing to be worn by a group or by people under specific circumstances”. Dress codes are usually put in place by schools and employers, and the people they affect are required to abide by those rules during school or work hours.

Why do we have Dress Codes?

Organizations have dress codes to promote an image. For a company, it might be neatness, professionalism, and knowledge. Schools have a similar objective. They often want to convey safety, learning, and appropriateness. 

The U.S. Supreme Court first weighed in on student expression in 1969. The case (Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District) was brought about by high school students protesting the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. These protests were passive of course, however, the Court reached the decision that schools can limit what students are able to wear. Another reason a school might implement dress codes is because of the preparations it gives the students for a professional environment in their later life.

Why do some oppose Dress Codes?

Some oppose dress codes because of the outdated and sexist stereotypes associated with them. Dress codes are often restrictive and feminine-targeted, limiting how students can express themselves. According to thisisgendered.org, dress codes implemented in schools affect students’ mental health. It states that restrictive dress codes convey a shaming of women’s bodies. A common sentiment is that the problem does not lie with policing women. Others argue that Dress codes continue to maintain a safe learning environment and are necessary.

A survey was taken during EHS lunch shifts. The Majority of students thought that the Dress Code should be changed in some form.   A collection of yearbook photos from past years at EHS have been garnered in order to compare the previous fashion status quo.


The clothing in these photos lacks variety. Most of the women wear a blazer or sailor collar and most men a suit.

This time era tends to replicate and also stray from the previous one. There is more variety in the type of clothing, however, the clothes are still considered to be formal.

This era is the one that stands out most. Not only does the type of garment change, but also patterns and cuts change. Stripes, short sleeve shirts, and color-block designs are popular.

Some believe these changes are due to more freedom and room to express oneself with clothing. Many also speculate whether school is a place for self-expression and if it should primarily focus on education. The Dress Code debate is an active one, and new takes are being made every day.

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