By Emily Friedman and Faire Davidson
Assistant to Head of Upper School Michelle Bracken keeps a box of shirts in a cabinet beside her desk. These shirts, mostly extra Peer Support shirts, are used once or twice a year when a student is cited for violating the dress code.
Sometimes students who have felt uncomfortable or self-conscious about their outfits have even requested the shirts, Bracken said. Although the shirts arenât a part of an official policy, for the past five or six years deans have often sent students they find in violation of the dress code to Bracken.
“Students should wear clothes that are clean, neat, appropriate, and they cannot wear underwear as outerwear,” Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo said.
“I never want to see a studentâs underwear; it is completely inappropriate for school and unnecessary,” Bracken said. “It is completely possible to be fashionable and not reveal undergarments or too much skin.”
At the middle school, the dress code is more specific and outlined explicitly for newer students. “The following are prohibited: torn clothing, revealing clothing including low-cut or revealing necklines, halter tops, tube tops, spaghetti straps, pajamas, clothing with offensive printing, and tights or semi-opaque leggings which are worn instead of pants,” Dean Kate Benton said.
“Mostly, it has to do with the apparent comfort level of the people around them,” Cuseo said. “If someone is dressed in such a way that itâs making teachers or peers uncomfortable then we would definitely say something.”
If a dean sees a student dressed inappropriately, he or she will approach the student and suggest that they change or cover up, informing them that there are shirts available to do so.
“Itâs so subjective, I could see two people wearing exactly the same thing and might find it appropriate in one case and inappropriate in another,” Cuseo said.
Jessica Lange â10 was cited for violating the dress code at the middle school. Dean Karen Wareham pulled her aside because her shirt was too low for school. Lange got detention but did not stop wearing the shirt.
“It didnât faze me, because I was expecting it,” Lange said. “Iâm pretty racy, I was kind of shocked it hadnât happened before that point.”
Other students who describe themselves as dressing provocatively donât mind the attention it gives them.
Alyssa Garcia â09, who often wears shirts with a low back, said, “I dress scandalously because I like it when guys [become aroused] in public.”
Pearl Wengrod â09 was also pulled aside by a dean for wearing leggings as pants, which was violating a new rule at the Middle School banning leggings worn that way.
“I was incredibly upset about the unfair and clearly biased treatment,” Wengrod said.
Leggings are now very popular at the Upper School.
“Iâve worn leggings as pants several times and have never gotten in trouble,” Molly Maddock â09 said.
Cuseo said there are many deans and faculty members who have advocated uniforms to prevent dress code violations and unfair treatment, because the dress code is so subjective.