In her callout for reader submissions, Olga shared her own dress code story:
I started high school, in McKinney, Texas, right after Columbine. One of the Columbine shooters was wearing black during the attack. Therefore, in my public high school, we were not allowed to wear all black. That meant no black blouses with black skirts, no little black dresses, no black dress shirts with black slacks. There had to be at least one colorful element. This was, fortunately, during a preppier era, but suffice it to say my current look would not comply.
A few readers also recalled bans on trench coats, including this one: “I was actually suspended the day after Columbine because my trench coat was ‘gang-related clothing.’” In the aftermath of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, much of the media pointed fingers on the “trench coat mafia.” Here’s a New York Times report from the day after the massacre:
Rendered virtually invisible among the athletes and popular classmates who surrounded them, a small group of students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., found their way out of anonymity by banding together and dressing in Gothic-style clothing highlighted by long, black coats.
They called themselves the trench coat mafia.
The group was easy to notice among the 1,870 students at the school, because every day, no matter the weather, they wore their coats. [...] But investigators now believe that among the dozen or so students in the group were the people responsible for yesterday’s mass shooting at the high school, which left an estimated 25 people dead and at least 20 others wounded.
But the narrative that the assailants were part of a group of embittered goths turned out to be false. Here’s Dave Cullen, reporting for Salon in 1999: