Spring is here, heralding the emergence of that perennial warm-weather menace: the shoulders and lower femurs of teenagers. It’s only March, and students from Fresno to Baltimore are already protesting what they say are unfair and antiquated school dress codes. As Li reported last year, it’s often girls who feel singled out by these rules.
It’s not just students who are up in arms. A group of parents are suing a charter school in North Carolina because the school says girls must wear jumper dresses, skirts, or “skorts” each day.
Some school dress codes, granted, are nothing radical—they’re similar to what you’d encounter in an entry-level job. But others seem to drag far behind mainstream social norms. (Barring a sister-wife situation, in what other context would women not be allowed to wear pants?) Many school clothing rules seem puzzling because they’re so at odds with real-world business attire.
Here’s my personal head-scratcher: 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.
Below are some Atlantic staffers’ most perplexing dress-code rules. We invite readers to submit their own. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, tell us the rule, the time and place (roughly, if you prefer), and whether the school was public or private. Please also let us know if we can use your name.