Of Skirt Lengths and Uniforms

I came into Friends Academy from a public school, where the words ‘dress code’ weren’t even in the students’ vocabulary. The freedom to wear comfortable clothes all week was definitely a plus, but what I wore to school never became a major problem in my mind until I actually had to start thinking hard about it.

In all honesty, I didn’t mind the dress code. Freshman and sophomore year was spent getting fun, funky dresses and skirts out of my closet until it was too cold to not wear pants. I’m not the biggest fan of pants, anyway. I would stretch dress-wearing weather for as long as possible. I absolutely hate the cold and the only layers I want to wear are sweatshirts and sweatpants. Even leggings are a bit-iffy for me.

So, when I heard rumours of the new dress code changes during field hockey preseason, I was shocked. I, legit, own one dress that reaches my knees. All of my dresses and skirts reached my fingertips, which was in code for the past two years, and I considered them modest length. I enjoy back to school shopping, and got a lot of fun dresses, tops, skirts, and (perhaps by fate) jumpsuits. Yes, for some reason, I got really into jumpsuits this summer and begged my mother to get me a few. 

Second day of school came, and I’m wearing my white denim skirt with my blue top, and decided to let rumours just be rumours. Nothing happens. For a blissful two-ish weeks, I get to wear my dresses and skirts and not have to worry about a thing.

That’s when retreat day hits. And, we have a blast. My grade goes bowling and I have some more ammo to throw at my siblings as to why my school is better than theirs. Yet, due to timing, we had to end the day with the infamous dress code talk.

I’m not blind. I could tell that the boy’s dress code was much more restrictive than the girl’s. And, writing this now, I can’t help but feel like some sort of hypocrite because this article is being written after the girls are on the receiving end of a restrictive dress code. But, this new dress code got everyone talking, and I’ve heard some pretty interesting thoughts and wanted to write about them.

Right away, two things flew through my mind. One, are jumpsuits in the dress code? (Spoiler alert: yes) And two, everyone around me is sharing their opinions about dress code. This is the perfect opportunity to plug in Inkwell’s opinion section. To anyone that’s got opinions, feel free to write about them. It’s what I’m doing.

At practice, we were supposed to scrimmage. Instead, our coach had to beg us to stop talking about our opinions and play field hockey. However, it was interesting to hear each grade’s opinions on this. Interestingly enough, the information from each grade didn’t seem to match. The seniors were told no tights were allowed, while we were told tights were allowed as long as they were opaque. This practice also brought a new-ish idea into light: uniforms.

This article is being written after Andrea Kelly’s meeting to clarify the dress code. At first, I was furious at the changes. There are not a lot of dresses that will go to my knee because of my body type, and I know there are a lot of girls who feel similarly. I have a particularly long torso, so ‘longer’ dresses don’t go as far down on me as others. There was no way I could wear pants once the weather gets warm in the spring. I appreciate the clarification that skirt length goes into effect for formal dress code and not warm weather dress code. Hearing this made me less mad then when I first started planning this article. I don’t have to go out and buy a whole new closet. I’ll just save my pretty dresses for when the weather warms up again.

But there are still two points I wish to address. First, there was a lot of confusion surrounding the dress code when the changes were first initially announced. There were a lot of questions from both the student and teacher end of things, and it etched a gap between them. Hopefully, with this new clarification, dress code issues will be a thing of the past.

The second, first brought to my attention at practice, is the idea of a uniform. I have absolutely no experience with anything remotely close to a school uniform. And it got me thinking, would a uniform be better for Friends than a dress code?

I mean, it’s not a bad idea. Having a uniform eliminates a lot of the gray areas the dress code has. It’s much easier to follow and saves people a lot of time when choosing what to wear. This animosity towards dress code would be eliminated entirely because there’s no longer a dress code to follow. There are a lot of options for Friends to look at if they do end up wanting to have a uniform.

While I am not against having uniforms, but there are a few things I am concerned about. First, having everyone dress the same takes away the portion of individuality students have. While uniforms may be simpler, they also make it much easier to blend into a crowd. And second, everyone is shaped differently. A uniform that looks really good on one person would not look good on another. Some people have longer legs and others are shorter. We should be able to go to school looking and feeling comfortable, but we also should go to school feeling like we look good. If people were forced to wear something that they don’t think they look good in, then they’re not going to feel comfortable at school. And that’s the last thing anyone wants.

In the end, I feel like conversations about dress code and uniforms are good to have. It’s a low stakes example of how a variety of opinions are important in the decisions we make. Our dress code is not perfect. It will never be perfect. In my opinion, no dress code will ever be perfect. Dress codes are the compromise between free dress and uniforms. As much as I miss wearing sweatshirts and leggings to school every day, I can’t help but feel more comfortable wearing a nice dress and I enjoy looking good when I go to school.

(Plus, this gives me an excuse to wear those jumpsuits I was talking about earlier. Can’t really complain about that.)